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International Star You Should Know: French Actor Pierre Niney

Dashing, refined and articulate, 26-year-old French actor Pierre Niney gained mainstream popularity in France with EuropaCorp romantic laugher “It Boy,” and broke out last year on a larger stage in Jalil Lespert’s “Yves Saint Laurent.” His performance as the famed fashion designer earned him a Cesar award for best actor.

EARLY YEARS

Niney trained at the prestigious Comedie-Francaise, and started his acting career in theater, but he has a soft spot for silent film comedy. “I grew up watching Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton,” he says. “When preparing a role, I work first on the body language and physical aspects of the performance; the psychological dimension comes naturally, once I’m in character.”

FEST FAVE

Niney wowed the crowd with his versatility at the recent COLCOA fest celebrating French films in L.A., playing a troubled writer in Yann Gozlan’s Alfred Hitchcock-influenced thriller “A Perfect Man” (which has grossed a healthy $4 million in key overseas territories), and collecting the audience prize for the short he directed, “Pour le role,” which made its world premiere at the festival.

BRANCHING OUT

Having just finished production on “Altamira,” his English-language debut, starring opposite Antonio Banderas, the actor is reading scripts with his agent at UTA. And he’ll star with Audrey Tautou in “The Odyssey,” a biopic of legendary ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau. But he’s also preparing to launch a film company to partner with local talent, and emerging screenwriters and directors. He singles out Leonardo DiCaprio and his Appian Way Prods. as an influence. “He’s a model for me,” Niney says. “I like the way he leads his career and initiates projects.”

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