The French actor in Godard’s “The contempt” was 94 years old – The Hollywood Reporter

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Michel Piccoli, the prolific French actor known for his leading roles in films such as Jean-Luc Godard Contempt and that of Luis Buñuel Beautiful day, is dead. He was 94 years old.

Piccoli’s family announced the news on Monday. Agence France-Presse and French newspaper Le Figaro also reported the news.

Piccoli has appeared in over 230 films during a career that spanned eight decades, beginning in the late 1940s and spanning until 2015. He also boasted of an abundant stage and television career. , performing in dozens of plays and TV movies.

Among the principal filmmakers with whom Piccoli worked were Godard (years 1963 Contempt, 1982 Passion), Luis Buñuel (years 1967 Beautiful day, 1969 The Milky Way, 1972 The discreet charm of the bourgeoisie), Claude Sautet (1970s Things of life, 1971 Max and the junkyard), Marco Ferreri (years 1969 Dillinger is dead, 1973 Feast), Jean Renoir (years 1955 French Cancan), Jacques Rivette (years 1991 The Beautiful Noiseuse), Jean-Pierre Melville (years 1962 The Doulos) and Alfred Hitchcock (playing a Soviet spy in the 1969s Topaz).

He received the best actor awards at Cannes in 1980 for Marco Bellocchio A leap in the dark and a Silver Bear in Berlin two years later for Pierre Granier-Deferre strange affair. Although he was nominated four times for a Caesar in France and twice for a Molière (the equivalent of Tony in his country) for playing the lead role in King Lear, he never received any award during his lifetime.

Piccoli’s last major role was as a newly elected pope with great concerns about his appointment to Nanni Moretti’s cabinet. Habemus Papam. The film was presented in competition at Cannes in 2011 and won him a David di Donatello Award for Best Actor in Italy.

Discreet and professional, Piccoli often played calm types with a dark streak or attractive types who could not be trusted. “When you play, you have to take a step back from yourself and remain extremely confidential about the character you play,” he told the French magazine. Telerama in 2011 during one of his last interviews.

Born in Paris on December 27, 1925, to a violinist father of Swiss origin and a French mother, Piccoli studied theater and landed his first major film role as a coal miner in Louis Daquin’s social drama. Brand of the day (1949).

He spent the next decade playing supporting roles in various short and feature films, including Renoir’s period play. French Cancan – before becoming a disgruntled and amorous playwright in the backstage drama of Godard Contempt.

The film, adapted from Alberto Moravia‘s novel but inspired by Godard’s personal life, also features Brigitte Bardot as wife; she ends up betraying him for a Hollywood producer played by Jack Palance. “The character was 99% Godard himself,” Piccoli said of the role. “The producers, who were his fans, gave him incredible freedom. I had no idea we were going to make a masterpiece.

The first time Piccoli was chosen by the Spanish author Buñuel was for the 1956 adventure film. Death in the garden, where he played a priest. In Beautiful day, his character denounces a housewife (Catherine Deneuve) in a brothel, and he works with Buñuel on four other feature films: Diary of a chambermaid (1964), The Milky Way, The discreet charm of the bourgeoisie and The ghost of freedom (1974).

“He taught me to be modest and to have a sense of humor,” Piccoli said of Buñuel. “Usually he didn’t really like actors, but he liked being surrounded by a cast of actors. You were chosen based on your personality, not because you were famous.

Piccoli’s other major collaboration was with French writer-director Sautet, for whom he directed five feature films throughout the 1970s. As Things of life, in which he starred alongside Romy Schneider, the other films – including Vincent, François, Paul and the others (1974) and Mado (1976) – were intimate and emotional dramas where Piccoli often played quietly anxious men in the midst of midlife crises.

In the ’80s and’ 90s, Piccoli continued to work steadily – he had eight credits on his own in 1982 – starring in films such as Passion, by Claude Lelouch Live life (1984), Leos Carax Bad sang (1986), Louis Malle May fools (1990) and that of Raoul Ruiz Genealogies of a crime (1997).

He memorably played a painter trying to capture the nude portrait of a young woman in Jacques Rivette’s 1991 four-hour drama about artistic creation and obsession, The Beautiful Noiseuse, adapted from Balzac’s short story “The Unknown Masterpiece”.

On stage, where he started performing in the 1940s, he performed in pieces by Strindberg, Ibsen, Kleist, Chekov, Schnitzler, Molière, Marivaux and Paddy Chayefsky, among others.

Piccoli also directed three feature films and wrote the autobiography I lived in my dreams (I lived in my dreams) with the former Cannes topper Gilles Jacob. Published in 2017, the book revisits his long and prosperous career and reveals his thoughts on acting.

“My ideal would be to amaze people with simplicity and unpretentiousness,” he writes. “A truly great actor can be extremely modest in his work, in the pleasure he takes in such an extravagant and fun profession. His success has nothing to do with being a mediocre swagger…. I prefer those actors who remain completely secret.

Piccoli married in 1954 the Swiss actress Eléonore Hirt, with whom he has a daughter, Anne-Cordelia. He was also married to French singer Juliette Greco from 1966 to 1977 and screenwriter Ludivine Clerc from 1978 until his death.


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