A French leading man usually in light comedy and often compared by cineastes to the American actor Tom Hanks, Thierry Lhermitte began in show business on stage in his teens and made his feature film debut in "L'an 01" (1972). In the mid-1970s, he was one of the founders of Le Splendid, a comedy troupe similar to Chicago's famed Second City. A sketch Lhermitte co-wrote about life at a Club Med called "Les Bronzes/Sun Tan" became a hit in France when made into a motion picture in 1976 and spawned an equally successful sequel. He went on to essay leading roles in "Les Heroes n'ont pas froid aux oreilles" (1978), and "Le Pere Noel est une ordure" (1981). The latter had Lhermitte running a crisis center on Christmas Eve and served as the inspiration for the 1994 Steve Martin vehicle "Mixed Nuts." Established as a major star of French cinema, Lhermitte. who also penned many of the scripts in which he acted. attempted to cross-over to the international market with a role in "Until September" (1984) but the film failed to catch on with American audiences. Returning to his native land, he went on to star in several films that were eventually Americanized including "Le fete des peres/Father's Day" (1990), in which he played a gay man who wants to father a child, "La Totale!" (1991), which James Cameron turned into "True Lies" (1994), and "Un Indien dans la ville/Little Indian, Big City" (1996), about a French man who discovers he has a son raised as a South American Indian whom he brings to Paris. That movie was supposed to further raise Lhermitte's American profile but American audiences were unresponsive. It did, however, serve as the basis for the Tim Allen comedy "Jungle2Jungle" (1997). More recently, Lhermitte portrayed King Louis XIV in "Marquise" and played a Parisian publisher engaged in one-upsmanship with his friends in "The Dinner Game" (both 1997). Amercian audiences were exposed to his considerable charms in the sophisticated Merchant-Ivory production of Diane Johnson's bestseller when Lhermitte played a suave, very married French diplomat with a penchant for seducing naive young American women--in this case, Kate Hudson--with his slick, roguish appeal and gifts of Hermes Kelly Bags.