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Benoit Poelvoorde

 Actor (September 22, 1964) Benoît Poelvoorde was born in Namur in 1964. His father (who died when he was still a child) was a lorry-driver and his mother ran a grocer’s shop. After his education at the Jesuit School in Namur, he went to study applied arts in Brussels, specialising in acting, drawing and photography. He played a role in a 13-minute film made by two of his fellow-students, Rémy Belvaux and André Bonzel in 1987 called Pas de C4 pour Daniel Daniel, which was shot in Brussels and Paris. The film was well-received at specialist festivals, and, in 1992, Poelvoorde agreed to appear as the serial-killer Ben in Belvaux and Bonzel’s first full-length film C’est arrivé près de chez vous, a « mockumentary » which parodied the famous Belgian documentary series Strip Tease. To save money, the film was shot on 16mm black-and-white film and then transferred to 35mm film when it was selected for the Cannes Film Festival. It was the surprise hit of the Festival and went on to become a cult film among French-language film fans.

Poelvoorde’s performance led to his own comedy sketch series on Belgian television ( Jamais au grand jamais and Carnets de Monsieur Manatane) and to parts in 22 more films over the next 20 years, including Alain Berberain’s Le Boulet (2002) where he played an escaped convict who teams up with his former guard to chase the guard’s wife who has run off with their lottery winnings, and Yann Moix’s Podium (2004) where he played a manic Claude François impersonator. Poelvoorde was awarded the Jean Gabin Prize for Best Actor in 2002 and was a member of the jury (chaired by Quentin Tarantino, a big fan of C’est arrivé près de chez vous) at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.

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