Jean Dujardin wins best actor Oscar for 'The Artist'

Published: Sunday, Feb. 26 2012 9:22 p.m. MST

Actor Jean Dujardin, left, and Alexandra Lamy arrive before the 84th Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles.

Amy Sancetta, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — The world should plan on hearing a lot more from Jean Dujardin, the handsome and expressive actor whose portrayal of a silent film star has won him acting's top honor.

The actor, dubbed a French George Clooney, beat out the real Clooney on Sunday night for the best actor Oscar, capping a run of accolades heaped on him and "The Artist" in recent months.

"I love your country," the first Frenchman to win an acting Oscar said as he accepted the award.

He looked out on the audience packed with Hollywood's top stars and declared: "I love your country," adding: "So many of you here tonight have inspired me."

Dujardin singled out the first Oscar host, silent screen star Douglas Fairbanks, as helping make his remarkable success possible.

In "The Artist," Dujardin portrays a silent film superstar who falls from grace as talking pictures are introduced and he is upstaged by a beautiful starlet he once aided. Audiences virtually never hear from him in the film. In real life, Dujardin has relied on an English interpreter at times as he scooped up Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and other awards.

Throughout the process he has remained humble, self-deprecating and genuinely appreciative of his newfound stardom.

Dujardin's win came over Clooney and three first-time nominees, Demian Bichir, Brad Pitt and Gary Oldman.

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