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He's Just Kidding, 01.02.02 ...


Has there been a kinder, sweeter, more uplifting character on TV than Michel Gerard on The Gilmore Girls?

The answer, of course, is yes. Thousands of them.

Gerard is the snooty Frenchman who abuses patrons from behind the Independence Inn reception desk on The Gilmore Girls. The quirky hour, starring Lauren Graham as single mom Lorelai raising her teenage daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel) in a quaint Connecticut town, is fast becoming a hit in its second season on The WB (Tues., 8 p.m.) and Global (moving to Wednesday nights later this month).

The part of Gerard is played to the hilt by not-so-snooty Yanic Truesdale, a native of Montreal. Truesdale describes his character as arrogant, patronizing and sarcastic -- all the qualities tourists encounter on their first trip to Paris.

"It's totally based on the American perception of French people," says Truesdale, who admits that the perception is not totally false. "I have been in Paris and I have been treated very poorly on some occasions," he says.

"It's not that they're rude, it's just that they're very opinionated," he explains. "They have a way of expressing their opinions that makes you feel that if you don't have the same view, you're stupid. They don't mean it that way."

Truesdale landed the part two years ago. It was his first audition in L.A. and only his second acting job in English.

In fact, three years ago, when he lived in New York, he could barely speak English at all. A crash course at the Lee Strasberg Acting Institute brought him up to speed.

Now he's starring on arguably the chattiest show on television.

Truesdale admits that the weekly scripts are "quite thick and heavy for an hour show. That's (executive producer Amy Sherman-Palladino)'s style -- very talkative."

Truesdale says that the idea for the quaint country inn came from a trip the producer took to New England before creating the series. "Everybody there was nice and polite. What, are they on drugs?" was Palladino's impression.

The Inn needed a cranky character to play off the idyllic setting. Presto -- Gerard was born.

It's the kind of a character that's never been seen on American TV before, according to Truesdale: "a European, French, black guy who lives in the U.S. It's kind of unique."

He adds that Gerard is the kind of character who says out loud what other people think but usually keep to themselves. "That's healthy in a way," says Truesdale. "We like to have those characters around."

He's heard that the writers may be working on an episode where we get to meet Gerard's mother or brother. "That would be a lot of fun, to see just what kind of a family this guy comes from."

As for his own family, Truesdale was raised by his mother and his grandmother in Montreal.

He has dual Canadian-American citizenship because his father is from New York.

He got into acting "by accident" when a friend suggested he audition for a school play. He was 17 at the time and liked the experience so much he later graduated from The National Theatre School in Ottawa.

The 31-year-old starred for six seasons in Quebec on The Duval Family and also acted on the CBC hockey drama He Shoots, He Scores, although he admits he couldn't really skate.

"It was kind of embarrassing," he says. "The extras who were doing the game scenes were real hockey players. I had to watch them just to learn how to put on the equipment."
Credit: Jam! Showbiz


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