Al Zimmer is one of those cigar-chomping execs with perpetual dollar signs in his eyes. He's the big boss man for Hollywood's Kinograph Studios in The Artist, and his loves are movies, babes, stogies, and money. Not in that order.
When he's not wheeling and dealing while sitting around in his own cigar smoke, Zimmer's dating George's demanding co-star, Constance (who's definitely with him for the connections).
They've Got Him Wrapped Around Their Finger…Or Do They?
Initially, Zimmer and George are often at odds—George tends to waste Zimmer's time with his goofy antics and Zimmer puts up with it begrudgingly because he knows the public will pay to see George do anything.
Zimmer's easily persuaded and charmed by the beautiful celebrities that surround him. When George makes a scene at his premiere, hogging the stage and neglecting Constance in the wings, Zimmer lets it slide. When Peppy attempts to convince Zimmer to produce a film starring her and George—"Hey, I'm blackmailing you here!" she explains—Zimmer eventually agrees.
Hey: anything for his biggest star, right?
But that's the thing: Zimmer only really cares about George when George can rake in the moolah. He is, first and foremost, a businessman. He tries to stay on top of the trends of the movie biz—and if that means making talkies and losing his best silent film star, so be it:
ZIMMER: I wish it wasn't like this, but the public wants fresh meat, and the public is never wrong.
GEORGE: I'm the one people come to see. They never needed to hear me!
When Peppy wants to get George back on set, she's canny enough to know that to keep Zimmer happy she'll have to pitch something different from all the other movies out there. We think that's why she chooses the dance number at the end of the film—it, like the silent films of the past, requires its actors to be athletic rather than talkative, and showcases both Peppy and Valentin wonderfully.
And Zimmer eats it up with a spoon:
ZIMMER: Perfect. Beautiful.
It's like he can already see the bags of money rolling in.