THE CUTE French exchange student from Corrie has grown up to be a stand up. Franck Dubosc is a familiar face in France, be it on stage or on screen. His latest film Camping II – a follow up to the 2005 hit he co-wrote – is due out on April 21.
Dubosc was born in Normandy in 1963 and after secondary school and a course in English, he went to the school of performing arts at Rouen. He started his professional life in a stand-up show in Paris and in 1985 he landed the principal role in his first film.
In 1987 he crossed the Channel to play Patric Podevin, Jenny Bradley’s French fiancé, in ITV’s Coronation Street.
He proposed to her when they met in France only to break it off when he caught her kissing another man.
Sitting in his dressing room as he prepares to go on stage to perform his one-man comedy show, Franck speaks warmly about his time in Manchester.
“The people are very different. In England you have this ‘everything is possible, everything is to conquer’ attitude.
“The friends that I made were very strong and became important to me. I also found the British much less snobby than the French. And I ate well too.”
However, although he speaks English fluently, life in England wasn’t all plain sailing when it came to understanding the northern accent.
“When I first arrived I couldn’t understand a word,” he jokes and launches into an impersonation of a Mancunian accent.
“The other actors often had to repeat things three times before I got what they were saying. We even used sign language.”
For a man used to playing the fool, Dubosc seems quite normal face to face although he does speak amazingly fast, just as he does on stage or the big screen. But when asked whether or not he watches Coronation Street, he slows down and smiles … a smile that reveals what you suspect is a well-planned, mischievous answer.
“No,” he jokes. “I watch the opposition, EastEnders. The accent down south is much easier to understand.”
Throughout his professional career Franck has continued to play the romantic seducer – and, sitting in his civvies; casual grey trousers, black zip-up cardigan and new trainers, his middle-aged greying hair askew and contrasting with his cornflower blue eyes, it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t make any woman blush.
“The romantic I play in France is less rebellious than the one in Coronation Street and more of a classic French lover.
“But that’s the character I’ve created, I’m not like that at all,” he continues rather shyly.
“I love women but I’m not a French or Latin lover”.
In 1990 Dubosc returned to France and concentrated on stand-up comedy shows, touring all over France.
He went onto writing and appearing in films. In 2005 he co-wrote the comedy Camping, a film, mainly filmed in Arcachon, in which he played one of the starring roles and which was a huge success.
“For 36 years we went camping as a family to Cenac, near Sarlat in Périgord,” says Franck. “When my father died I realised that the moments when I really saw him smile were when we were camping.
“I thought it was bizarre that this type of film had never been done before and I wanted to recreate it. People like the simplicity of camping and to get together in a holiday atmosphere.
“The film is sincere and very, very French and I think that’s why it was a success.”
In 2006 Franck went on to co-write the comedy Disco, a film in which he appeared as the gyrating Didier Travolta alongside Gerard Depardieu and Emmanuelle Béart.
Whereas Camping was a very French film in terms of humour, Disco has been described as a cross between Saturday Night Fever and the British film The Full Monty.
So what does he really think about British comedy? “I love it,” he says. “Lots of French people love British humour.
“But there are two types. Firstly, you are capable of anything. You go so far. The British can do vulgar and chic. You can even make the vulgar look chic.
“It’s also very realist. In general your actors are very strong and superior to ours,” he continues. “The selection in England is very severe. It’s rare to see a film where an actor isn’t good.”
When asked about his favourite British films, Dubosc becomes quite shy as he attempts to pronounce Notteen ‘ill in English with a strong French accent. He also likes Four Weddings and a Funeral.
“I like all those sorts of films. They speak about people.”
But Dubosc is not so shy with his use of English when on stage or screen and always manages to slip in the odd English saying such as ‘as you like’ or ‘holidays’ in the middle of a set.
“At first it was quite chic for the French to do that,” he laughs, “but now it has become a habit. It normally concerns words that we don’t know how to say any other way.
“But the way I use English is all part of the character I play who wants to show off and make himself look like he can speak it. It makes people laugh.”
In 2009 Dubosc starred in two more films, Incognito and Cinéman. He also filmed Camping 2 (due to be released in this month) and brought his tour, Il était une fois Franck Dubosc, to a close after one and a half years. To cap it all, he married his partner Danièle and the couple had their first child Raphaël in January. So will he have time for anything else in 2010?
“I’m going to film, although I’ve haven’t chosen which ones yet and I’ll start touring again with my new show after that.
“I’ll be in London to do a show for the French. I’d like to have another role in the UK but it’s finding time – plus I’ve got my own comedy style and a character that works in France which I’m not sure would translate.”