Gad Elmaleh

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Hailed as "the Ben Stiller of France", dashing actor Gad Elmaleh is arguably the country's biggest and best-loved comedic star.

The sexy French export has also popped up on the radar of international directors - he appeared in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris and The Adventures of Tintin by Steven Spielberg. In early 2012 Gad shot to wider attention as Charlotte Casiraghi's new love interest.

At first no one was quite sure what to make of the unlikely match. As well as being 15 years his junior, the Monaco royal is one of the Europe's most eligible ladies. Their relationship went from strength to strength however and by summer the following year it was being reported that Charlotte was pregnant.

The funnyman soon found himself forced to address the interest surrounding their romance. "[Monaco] is another world in form but not in substance, it is also the world of human relations and of love," he told one journalist, pronouncing the word 'lurve' to give his comment an ironic touch.

Sophisticated and well travelled with striking blue eyes, he has charmed his fair share of attractive women – both on screen and off. His amours have included ballet star Aurelie Dupont, TV golden girl Marie Drucker and actress Anne Brochet.

In November 2000, Anne presented him with a son named Noe who often acts as a sounding board for his father's comic routines and characters.

Just like his son, the charismatic actor was exposed to the showbiz life early on as his father was a professional mime artist. He was born Gad Elmaleh on April 19, 1971 to a Jewish family in Morocco. This mixed background gave him a flair for languages: he speaks Arabic, Hebrew, French and English fluently.

At the age of 17, he began studying political science in Montreal, before dropping out to perform skits on the comedy club scene.

From Canada he moved to Paris, taking the stand up world by storm with a series of one-man shows. To imagine the impact think of the endless inventiveness of David Walliams combined with the firecracker energy of Billy Connolly.

It wasn't long before Gad hit the big screen, opposite talents like Gerard Depardieu and Audrey Tatou. In the romantic comedy Hors de Prix he plays a hotel barman and dogwalker who becomes infatuated with a professional escort; the only way he can get close to her is to become one himself.

The comedian proved he could tackle serious roles too, with a performance in La Rafle, a film about a Jewish family's deportation during World War II.

Gad has also been in the director's chair, most notably with Coco in 2009. Based on a one-man show he created, the film follows the misadventures of a businessman who goes to ridiculous lengths to throw his son a bar mitzvah he'll never forget.

Success brought him a healthy pay packet – Coco alone earned him €1.93 million (₤1.66m) – that allowed him to buy a house in Los Angeles. With Charlotte by his side, his star is very much in the ascendancy.

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