François l’Embrouille, the king of candid camera
François Damiens, a Brussels comedian better known as "François l’Embrouille", is considered to be an undisputed candid camera master in the French-speaking regions of Europe. His accent and his embarrassing tricks have made him a household name.
Born in Uccle in 1973, François Damiens has been a fan of practical jokes since he was a child. He was offered the chance to present candid camera on television. In 2000, he assisted and then replaced Jean-Michel Zecca, the host of the candid camera show Si c’était vous on RTL-TVI. For the occasion, he created the emblematic character François l’Embrouille, whom he presented in all sorts of places, from the chip shop to the airport, including a dental surgery and ski resort. Extremely popular in Belgium, he was forced to move his work to France and Switzerland because he was no longer able to disguise himself without being recognised.
Alongside his work as a comedian, François Damiens also gradually started to work in film. He played a series of supporting roles in comedies such as the cult Belgian film Dikkenek, and in Taxi 4 and Rien à déclarer. But it was the romantic comedy L’Arnacœur that revealed him to the French public in 2010, earning him a nomination for a César award for best supporting actor. After this, he starred among other things as the leading male actor in La Délicatesse, in which he forms an unlikely couple with Audrey Tautou.
He then turned his hand to drama and was nominated for the César award for best actor in 2015 for La Famille Bélier, as well as in 2016 for Les Cowboys, in which he played the leading role. In La Famille Bélier, he plays the deaf-and-dumb father of the young starlet Louane, an amazing performance unexpected from a comedian used to playing comedy roles.
However, François l’Embrouille had not turned his back on his old practical jokes. He also produced Mon Ket, his first feature length film released in 2018. The specific feature of this film is that it is filmed entirely in candid camera.
Copyright photo: Flickr