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IN WHAT WAY? There's something with the space. It's not just about acting, it's about everything. The space, the cities, the way people are. People have room here. The French cities, the apartments, we don't have a lot of space. People don't take too much room in Europe, but here, people are like [he sprawls out on couch] this!

DO YOU THINK ABOUT SOUND IN A DIFFERENT WAY AFTER FILMING THIS MOVIE? Not really, actually. I think I did this movie, though, because of my love of silence. For example, that [he points to the ceiling to indicate the Muzak playing throughout the hotel lobby] is like torture. It's everywhere, even in restaurants. You can't have that special restaurant sound anymore, with the sounds of the forks and plates and everything. There's strange music everywhere! So the silence is the theme that I was attracted to, not really the lack of sound. But when I was editing the movie, I spent all day with black and white in silence, and then I would go outside and the contrast was very strong, yes.

WOULD YOU RATHER GET A DRINK WITH THE ARTIST'S GEORGES VALENTIN, OR OSS 117'S HUBERT BONISSEUR DE LA BATH? Probably Georges. Because Hubert is, well . . .

A LITTLE RACIST? Yeah. Plus, he's a bit of an idiot.

THERE'S SOMETHING VERY SIMILAR ABOUT THE TWO CHARACTERS THOUGH, NO? BOTH A LITTLE EGOTISTICAL BUT VERY CHARMING. Georges is very ego-centric, yes, but he's not racist, or so narrow-sighted. . . . . I love Hubert, though. But more so Georges, I think. Not all the time, of course! [Laughs.] I'll say Georges.

I WOULDN'T CALL THE ARTIST A COMEDY NECESSARILY, BUT THERE ARE SO MANY COMEDIC ELEMENTS IN IT THAT YOU ALMOST COULD. I tried to make an entertaining movie and I tried to be friendly. I'm asking people to come see a silent black-and-white French movie! I think it would be very impolite not to be entertaining. The main difference between this and the OSS films is there's no irony in The Artist. It's light jokes, grandfather jokes, in a way. I tried to put some comedic moments in a melodrama structure.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MOMENT OF THE FILM? I think it's when Georges goes to the movies to see Peppy Miller's movie, Guardian Angel, and he's in the crowd. It's the most violent shot in the movie to me, to see him alone, surrounded by people, watching her in the movie. That's one of my favorite moments. I'm also very proud of the beginning, because I had to figure out exactly the right way to make people accept a silent movie, right off the bat.

>> REVIEWThe Artist <<

THE DOG, UGGIE, PRACTICALLY STOLE THE FILM. WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO INCORPORATE HIM? I thought it was very "period" to have a dog with this character, because it was the kind of thing they would have done in those days. But I didn't realize how important the character of the dog really was. At the end of the day, the character is very, very important. First, because the dog we worked with, Uggie, is very good and very charming, but also because Georges is very selfish and egocentric. He could be construed as apathetic, but this dog always loves him and follows him, and this makes him a more sympathetic character. I have found that if you have a villain, or a very bad character who is loved by a dog, it saves the character. You trust the dog. If the dog loves him, deep down he must be a good person! And, I think it's very meaningful that the only character who stays with Georges from the beginning to the end is a character who doesn't speak. Fitting, no?

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Related: Review: The Artist, Rudy Hypolite brings Push back home, Steve James goes back to Chicago, More more >
  Topics: Features , film, Michel Hazanavicius, Interviews,  More more >
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