Born in Paris, Michel Hazanavicius achieved worldwide fame when he directed and wrote The Arist, which was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. Michel had dreamed of making a silent movie for years, because most of the directors he admired came from silent cinema. When he wrote the screenplay, he had Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo, his real life partner, in mind for the lead roles.
Before working in film, Michel started in television in 1988. He also directed commercials before making his first short film, Echec au capital (1997). Although he'd directed a full length film for TV (Ca detourne in 1992), his first theatrical film was the crime comedy Mes Amis (1999).
It would be another seven years before his first "OSS" movie, OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies, was released. An action comedy, it was an homage to classic spy films, about a spy who poses as the head of a poultry firm in Cairo while at the same time foiling Nazi holdouts, bedding local beauties and bringing peace to the Middle East. The film was nominated for several Cezars (France's equivalent of the Academy Awards), winning one for Best Production Design. It also won the Tokyo Grand Prix at the Tokyo International Film Festival and Best Film at the Seattle International Film Festival.
The follow up, OSS 117: Lost in Rio, was nominated for two Cesar awards. Both films were popular with audiences, and they gave Michel the credibility he needed to get funding for The Artist, which was filmed on location in Hollywood on the Warner and Paramount lots.
Michel and Berenice, who live in France, have two children together.