He captured America’s fancy when he appeared on screen in the first Sex and the City movie, then he waltzed into the country’s living rooms on Dancing with the Stars. Now, just in time for the Fourth of July, Gilles Marini will celebrate just like many Americans – by manning the grill and watching fireworks.
“I’m a very happy camper,” Marini, 36, who was born in France, tells PEOPLE of officially becoming an American citizen on June 27.
The star of ABC Family’s Switched at Birth star found the Los Angeles swearing-in ceremony to be “such an emotional thing. I wasn’t expecting it,” he said. “I cried about becoming an American. It’s inexplicable the love I have for this country. I’m on cloud nine and I can’t get down.”
While he waxes poetic about his new allegiance, Marini does admit with a laugh that there are a few typically American things he’s looking forward to doing:
Burgers for dinner: “I think In & Out is a good example of a true 1950s American meal,” he says. “I have a 1953 Chevy pickup truck and I drove it to In & Out yesterday. It was great. I think I have put on one or two pounds with all that I’ve been eating. I haven’t had any apple pie yet, but I think I will.
Revving his engine on the open road: “I love my Harley. It is very American, my Fatboy 100th Anniversary bike,” Marini tells PEOPLE. “It reminds me of what Marlon Brando was in his prime.”
Camping: “I am a regular guy and I love to go camping and sleep in a sleeping bag,” he reveals. “I love going to Joshua Tree and sleeping outside. I tell stories to the kids. It’s one of the American things I love the most.”
I can’t wait to go and vote: “I want to try my best, in my heart, to make America. I want to be remembered that way.”
Baseball, Football and Basketball: “I love American sports,” he explains. “I love the Lakers! In France we play soccer but in America I play a bit of catch with my son [Georges, 13]. We throw the baseball around a bit and it’s good.”
Just don’t look for Marini to sing the National Anthem at a stadium or arena any time soon. “If you want it to snow in Los Angeles or rain for six months, let me sing the national Anthem. I could maybe train and try to be good at it – and I think it still wouldn’t sound very good.”