Public History: Romain Duris, The Elusive

On this day in 1993, Bruno Lévy, casting director of a film in the works called The Young Peril, is deeply convinced that he has found the rare pearl. It is located in the 3rd arrondissement of Paris opposite the Lycée Turgot. He has noticed this charismatic young man sporting huge dreadlocks and rings and seems to be waiting for his girlfriend. Bruno Lévy approaches him and offers him an appointment with a director, a certain Cédric Klapisch. The young man refuses and turns to him: “No, I want to read the script first.” Caught off guard, the casting director ends up laughing and explains that they sometimes distribute flyers on the street, but never scripts.

Almost thirty years later, Romain Duris, 47, is much less grumpy when offered to make a film. Between arthouse cinema, period films or romantic comedy, the actor has become a staple of French cinema. He will also appear on the E i ff el poster – which has been postponed to October 13, 2021 – a biopic about the visionary builder who transformed Paris. Paris, the city where Romain Duris was born like his father and grandparents. Dad is an architect, mom is a colorist, he has an older brother, François, who will become a designer at Peugeot, and a younger sister, Caroline, who is now a professional pianist. There is no television in the house, only a radio that broadcasts classical music. As for the family library, it is very well stocked! A bobo environment before the hour that pushes him to draw all the time, a gift acquired since childhood. The young artist also intends to make it his mother’s job and in 1993 he studies applied arts at the Duperré school. But overnight he stops drawing to devote himself to music: “I had a short period of keupon / psycho-billy at 14, where I listened to Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Cramps, Bérurier noir … been very short. Very quickly I approached regae, hip-hop, funk, electro … “, the actor confided at the premiere in April 2019. To make ends meet,” the student Duris is a candidate as a pizza delivery boy, but his meeting with Bruno Lévy he will put an end to this life project. Young Peril’s hit, released in the midst of the 1970s revival associated with Romain’s natural parasite, will hit the mark. With his French Johnny Depp look, the man becomes a generational actor who perfectly captures the spirit of the times. Duris is the young man in step with the times, grunge and reggae at the same time, he appeals to the female audience but less to the men who envy the beautiful dark brown of him, limiting themselves to slaps. “Guys don’t want to say they like me,” he noted in GQ magazine in December 2012.


1994: THE YOUNG DANGER As a rebellious high school student in front of Cédric Klapisch’s camera, he bursts onto the screen. It is also the beginning of a fruitful collaboration between the actor and the director.

1997: GADJO DILO Director Tony Gatlif makes him make Gadjo dilo, a film that explores the daily life of Roma in Bucharest. A decisive role that definitely launches Romain Duris.

2002: L’AUBERGE SPANOLE Reunites with Klapisch and breaks his rebellious image by playing an Erasmus student. A popular hit that will give two sequels.

2005: MY HEART STOPS Short hair and leather jacket… Romain Duris plays a ruthless real estate agent in this remake of Mélodie pour un tueur by Jacques Audiard.

2007: MOLIÈRE Laurent Tirard offers a lively and intelligent vision of the playwright. In the lead role, Duris steals the show from everyone.

2010: L’ARNACŒUR Brilliantly, the actor engages in the romantic comedy in which he fascinates Vanessa Paradis. Another box office hit.

2012: POPULAIRE An incisive and vintage film by Régis Roinsard, in which Duris plays the head of an insurance company in France in the late 1950s. The osmosis with Déborah François is total.

2018: OUR BATTLES An Amazon employee suddenly finds himself a lonely dad. A film that constantly oscillates between social drama and family news. Duris makes everyone agree.

2021: EIFFEL Return to period films in this prestigious biopic by Martin Bourboulon. A film-event to which Duris should definitely dedicate?

However, in his private life, the man is far from being a pilot. “I don’t feel ‘seductress’, I don’t want to go from one woman to another. In love, I like relationships that last {…}. He has never been a goal in and of itself that works with girls, ”he admitted to the Gala in March 2005 when he has been in a relationship since 2002 with actress Olivia Bonamy. As far as cinema is concerned, Romain moves on to films with Cédric Klapisch, Tony Gatlif, Jacques Audiard, Patrice Chéreau, Christophe Honoré who exfiltrate him from his comfort zone. He didn’t learn comedy, he became an actor thanks to a wild casting, but his radiant charisma is more than evident on the screen. Attracting all eyes, he is more and more present, more and more mature. With age, he ditched his rebellious look to approach the 2000s in a much more elegant way. He has cut his hair, worked more in his roles while maintaining his very Parisian “coldness”. We know that the actor likes to celebrate with his friends (Raphaël Fejtö, Benoît Magimel, Clément Sibony …) in the bars of the Bastille or the Oberkampf, dance at the Favela Chic in République and refuse to participate in show nights and others charity gala. “We felt he liked being in a band, blending into his group of friends, but above all not being the star, the actor doing his show”, writer Basile Parnurgias recalls to GQ in 2012. The actor appreciates champagne. (at the beginning of the evening) and vodka (at the end) and does not hesitate to a firecracker. Like a 30-year-old lambda from the 2000s that he will take care not to sink into addictions, avoiding too many exposures. “I systematically refuse photos and selfies. I don’t want my life, when I’m not working, to be made available to anyone, ”he explained in the columns of Marie Claire in April 2017. Funny, elusive star who never finds himself where he expects. When Romain Duris chooses a cause to defend, for example, he is also surprised. With him we are not in global warming or hunger in the world since for four years he has sponsored an association, CerHom, which helps men victims of male cancers, such as that of the prostate or testicles. With discretion, always …

“In love, I like relationships that last.”

Twenty years of love with Olivia Bonamy

With his air of a handsome dark in rebel mode, Duris performed very well in 1994 on the set of Young Peril. He later seduced the beautiful British film Lisa Faulkner and then Élodie Bouchez who plays his girlfriend. Subsequently, the man will reveal himself to be ultra-discreet about his love life … In 2002, on the set of Lost Girls, Fatty Hair, he meets Olivia Bonamy with whom he will have two young children: Luigi, born in 2009 and another with the remaining name secret, born in 2013. Almost twenty years together… A sort of business for a couple of actors.

Her looks From trashy dandy to cool dandy

After the tousled hair, goatee and loose Dr. Martens look of the 90s, Duris took a more elegant turn in the early 2000s. He was often seen in a very tight dark suit. with this particular sign: his many rings, memories of trips to Algeria or Palestine. Over time they gradually disappeared to give way to a more sober look that translates into the use of dark colors and few accessories … And an important detail: the actor has always taken on his hairiness, fashion metrosexual born in the 2000s that he had didn’t work with him: “Ah no, men’s cosmetics! Sin. I don’t wear perfume. I am in the old patterns, ”he confessed to Madame Figaro in October 2008.

Panic in Uzbekistan

In April 2017, on the France Info antenna, the actor tells a surprising and at the same time chilling anecdote: on the set of Shimkent Hotel (released in 2003), in Uzbekistan, the film crew is arrested by a drunk policeman who claims to the director of the film, pointing to Romain Duris: “He has no right to drive a car, we shoot him”. Something to calm down … The case will soon be solved by paying a $ 100 bribe that will save his life. we are so small …

Recognized designer

Since childhood, Romain Duris has been drawing continuously. “I like to let the pencil guide my hand. It is sometimes by blackening the page that we hang new, unexpected forms “, declared the actor in December 2019 on the columns of the Parisian weekend on the occasion of his exhibition called Féroce in a gallery in the Parisian district of the Marais. The man admitted in that moment that drawing after a shoot allowed him to reconnect with everyday life. Like a freed line …

Renaud Leclercq

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