Monday, March 12, 2012

Jean Dujardin: Will he be cursed by Oscar?

You’ve probably heard about the Oscar curse – the mysterious jinx that some actors suffer after winning an Academy Award. The sad fact is that an Oscar win can have a disastrous effect on an actor’s career. Logic would dictate that winning the highly prestigious Oscar should catapult an actor’s career upward and guarantee success and career longevity. But many performers have seen their careers skid and plummet after they’ve collected their golden statue. Not all have become heralded Oscar-winners with unstoppable careers like Tom Hanks or Meryl Streep.

After Jean Dujardin’s Oscar win for The Artist this year, I started thinking about which direction his career will take now that he’s won Hollywood’s highest honour. Do you remember Roberto Benigni? He won an Oscar for his role in Life is Beautiful in 1998. After that he made only five other films, one of which was a critical and commercial disaster – Pinocchio. After that he starred in a little known film called The Tiger and the Snow and he’s done little else since.

The Oscar curse usually manifests itself in a few different ways. Some Oscar-winners can’t live up to their Oscar win and try too hard post-Oscar by choosing roles in an effort to prove themselves as serious actors (Helen Hunt, Kim Basinger, Charlize Theron, Hilary Swank.) Others give up all efforts to put out decent work (Halle Berry, Renee Zellweger, Cuba Gooding Jr.), and then there are those who are celebrated today and seemingly gone tomorrow (Tatum O’Neal, Roberto Begnini, Marcia Gay Harden, Mira Sorvino.) But there are actors whose careers have flourished after nabbing Oscar gold – Geoffrey Rush, Marion Cotillard, Cate Blanchett – who have worked a lot post-Oscar and have made some really good films. Despite the Oscar curse and all of its supposed detriments, it’s also about opportunity and the choices an actor makes in his/her career that determine the trajectory of their success.

It’s hard to predict what might happen with DuJardin’s career. The Artist is a special film and his was a truly rare performance. Sometimes awards season overexposure can backfire and Oscar winners may be left alone to give audiences time to miss them a little. Certain performers aren’t as easily cast-able by typical Hollywood standards. As a French actor from French cinema, it will be interesting to see if DuJardin will cross-over into making American films with the same degree of success as his compatriot Marion Cotillard. His fellow European Oscar-winners, Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz have also fared very well.

Will casting directors utilize his talent in other roles – speaking roles – that are a departure from his role as George Valentin? Will Dujardin’s career gain traction following his procurement of the film industry’s highest accolade and with the right opportunities; will he make the right choices?

Let us know what you predict for Jean Dujardin in the comments section.


  1. I could easily see him continuing to make movies in Europe, like Juliette Binoche. As for Hollywood, he's gonna have to improve his English for sure.

  2. He'll be 100 villains in Hollywood films. Dujardin for Die Hard 5!

  3. oh man....i hope not. not for him. he's a man, and the curse doesn't usually apply to men. but i would love to see what else he does.

  4. I still haven't seen The Artist (I'm gonna watch it soon) so I can't speak to Dujardin's talent, but big Hollywood roles for thick-accented folks are usually few and far between. That being said, I'm sure he'll have at least a decent career in French movies.

  5. @Rich - both good points, and I agree with you.

    @Pete - I think he'd make a great villain, and Die Hard 5 is a good place to start!

    @Candice Frederick - It will be interesting to see what direction his career follows post-Oscar for sure. Hopefully he doesn't follow in the footsteps of Roberto Benigni and disappear.

    @Dave Enkosky - Agreed. I'm sure he'll have great success in French cinema, but it will be interesting to see what kinds of opportunities he lands in mainstream films. I hope he's given a chance at meaty roles like Javier Bardem got in 'No Country for Old Men,' or a role in a big blockbuster like Marion Cotillard will have in 'The Dark Knight Rises.'

  6. Sad to say, he will probably have to lose most of his accent to be in a lot of American films (see Roberto Benigni).

    Another "curse" is that a number of recent Best Actress winners have ended up getting divorced. It seems to be a combination of the husband actor not being able to handle his wife's greater success, and the wife looking at her husband and thinking, "I'm an Oscar winner. I can do better than this."

  7. @Chip Lary - Agreed. I mentioned Roberto Benigni because I wonder if Dujardin's career could suffer the same fate - hopefully not. His heavy accent might make it difficult for him to cross over, but maybe he'll succeed as Bardem, Cruz and Cotillard have. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what course Dujardin's career takes.

    I've heard about that other Oscar curse that seems to have plagued several Best Actress Oscar winners - it is a rather strange "coincidence" that the relationships/marriages of several Best Actress winners dissolved post-Oscar. I guess Meryl's safe since she already had two...?


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