Gilles Marini, known for his roles in ABC's "Brothers & Sisters" and the first "Sex and the City" film, fulfilled a 10-year-old dream on Wednesday - he was sworn in as U.S. citizen, just in time for the Fourth of July.
The 36-year-old French actor had passed a naturalization test in May. He first arrived in Los Angeles 10 years ago. He lives there with his wife, Carole, and their children - son Georges and daughter, Juliana, in 2002.
On Wednesday, Marini was seen sitting and wiping his eyes as he sat among a group of thousands of people waiting to take the oath of citizenship at a naturalization ceremony at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
"It's very difficult to express what I feel just because it's 10 years in the making," Marini told OnTheRedCarpet.com. "I've been working really hard and I adore this country, so for me it means really something very special. You get choked up, you know? It's fantastic. I'm an American. So I have to speak with less accent. Oops."
"I arrived in Los Angeles in 2002. Went through visa, then green card. Just worked really, really hard and the dream that I had when I arrived was, more than anything, becoming an American. So it's done and now it's the beginning of a new life that I'm sure will be more exciting than before and more successful than ever."
Marini was born in France to a Greek mother and an Italian father. He worked in his dad's bakery from age 8 until he graduated high school, after which he served time in the French army in Paris and also worked as a fireman, according to the actor's website.
He later became a model and after he completed his military service, he moved to Los Angeles. He starred in several commercials, including an ad for Bud light beer, and made his film debut in the horror flick "Screech of the Decapitated."
He later would go on to play both Italian and French studs in TV shows such as "Ugly Betty," "Dirty Sexy Money" and soap operas "Passions" and "The Bold and the Beautiful," before he was cast in the 2008 movie "Sex and the City," playing what would become his breakout role - Samantha's sexy beach house neighbor, Dante, who enjoys showering outside in the nude.
Marini later starred as Renaldo Panettiere on two episodes of "Nip/Tuck" and then began portraying his recurring role of Luc Laurent in the ABC drama series "Brothers & Sisters." The show ended in 2011 after five seasons. Marini went on to play Angelo on the new ABC Family series "Switched At Birth" and guest starred on the TV Land sitcom "Hot In Cleveland" as Captain Lebeau.
Marini told OnTheRedCarpet.com that he planned to film the debut season finale of "Switched At Birth" right after he left the Los Angeles Convention Center."This is actually probably why they gave me this citizenship - because I'm a hard-working person," he said.
The actor said his wife had also applied to become a U.S. citizen but did not receive the documents at the same time he did.
"I think she's going to do it next month," he said, adding that his family members are currently "overseas anyway."
"I'm alone here for about two weeks," he said. "The Fourth of July will be a big party because that's when they're coming back."
Marini also posted on his Twitter page a photo of a form letter of congratulations from President Barack Obama. Such documents are issued automatically to new U.S. citizens.
"That is the most important letter I ever had ;)" Marini Tweeted. "Thanks to @BarackObama. Yes, surreal but now I am American citizen!"
He had joked a day earlier that he would eat a crepe as his "last supper as a French man." On Wednesday, he Tweeted a photo of his "first true American mean as an American citizen" - a cheeseburger and French fries from California fast food chain In-N-Out Burger.
In addition to his acting roles, Marini was a contestant on the ABC ballroom dancing contest show "Dancing With The Stars" in its eighth season during the spring of 2009. He and partner Cheryl Burke came in second place, losing to Olympic Gold Medal Gymnast Shawn Johnson and Mark Ballas. ABC plans to produce an "All-Stars" edition of the show in the fall and has not announced which former celebrity cast members will compete again."We're in the process of talking about what's going on," Marini told OnTheRedCarpet.com, when asked about the possibility of returning to the show. "I am not sure yet. But I'm not against the idea at all. There's just a lot of work that I'm doing as we speak so I don't know if I can squeeze it in."