Gallic comic set to get serious

Comedian takes Pathe to drama

Jean Dujardin, the French star currently wowing Gallic auds in James Bond style spy spoof “OSS 117: Cairo Nest of Spies,” will tackle his first serious role in a new film being financed by Pathe.

Dujardin, whose bigscreen breakthrough was as a beach bum in last year’s Gallic box office smash “Brice de Nice,” will topline a yet-to-be-titled E7.5 million crime thriller with co-star Laurent Lucas.

Lucas played the husband in Dominik Moll’s “With a Friend Like Harry” and “Lemming,” last year’s Cannes opener.

Crime pic, slated to go into production in Paris in June, was written and will be helmed by Franck Mancuso, a former policeman who co-wrote the Gaumont-backed police thriller “36.”

That movie’s director and co-scribe, Olivier Marchal, is also a former policeman.

Dujardin will play a cop whose little girl is murdered. After her presumed killer is behind bars, doubts start to surface as to who was really responsible.

Pic is one of several being either produced or co-produced by Pathe.

The biggest is the sequel “Asterix 3,” which begins shooting in Spain next month.

Others include “Faubourg 36,” Christophe Barratier’s follow-up to “Les Choristes,” about the introduction of French worker holidays in the 1930s; Nicolas Vannier’s “Wolf”; and the animated pic “Evolution Man,” based on a popular book called “The Evolution Man: Or, How I Ate My Father” by Roy Lewis.

Pathe is also a noteworthy presence at the Cannes Film Festival this year, as co-producer and French distribber of two of the most-talked-about comptetition titles, Pedro Almodovar’s “Volver” and Sophia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette”.

Company is also presenting Sydney Pollack’s out of competion “Sketches of Frank Gehry,” which it is distributing in France.

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