The Real Deal !

It must feel a bit surreal to find yourself, in the tradition of once-unknown European actors like Javier Bardem and Jean DujardIn, suddenly an American sensation. Just ask Matthias Schoenaerts, who starred last fall In the French art-house hit “Rust and Bone,” in which he plays Ali, a single father and mixed-martial-arts fighter who falls into a careless romance with Stéphanie, played by a de-glamorized Marion Cotillard, who has recently become a double amputee after being maimed by one of the whales she trained at a SeaWorld-type park on the Côte d’Azur. Schoenaerts’s performance, suffused with a clumsy gentleness that recalls Ryan Gosling’s career-changing role in “Half Nelson,” has earned him critical raves and media Infatuation. One day he’s a working actor living in Belgium, finding time to go to the gym; the next he’s a Hollywood man of the moment, with a string of movies on the docket.