Death of actor Michel Bouquet at the age of 96

The famous actor is dead. In 2005 he received the César for best actor for his performance as François Mitterrand in The walker of the Champ-de-Mars.

The actor Michel Bouquet, known for his roles in the unfaithful wife, Borsalino Y The walker of the Champ-de-MarsHe died this Wednesday at the end of the morning at the age of 96, after a life dedicated to the art of acting. The tireless actor, who had taken his first steps in the theater at the age of 19 in 1944, had waited until he was ninety-four years old to announce, after a 75-year career, that he would no longer be on stage.

This apprentice pastry chef who became a genius actor, follower of an often disturbing internalized game, loved cinema and theater with the same passion: “I had no preference because the two things are very different but have the same value”, he confided in AFP in 2019 when he retired.

“It is forgetting oneself that is the most important thing”, added this giant who preferred to disappear behind the papers: “I did what I could, as I could, and I did not ask too many questions. I made my way happily but without any intellectual pretensions”.

His theatrical career was remarkably consistent. She started in 1944 with The Tartuffe, ended in 2017 with the same currency. Meanwhile, he will have acted in about 80 plays, with a predilection for Molière (the imaginary patient) and Eugenio Ionesco (the king is dying), but also Anouilh, Pinter, Beckett and Camus.

Its course follows the history of the century. Born in 1925, he was destined for the bakery when a “mysterious force” changed his destiny and pushed him “on strike one Sunday morning”. [de 1943] at the door of a great theater teacher,” Maurice Escande, who took him under his wing and taught him everything, said in The world in 2016. He entered the Conservatory where he met Gérard Philippe and became one of the most fashionable actors. In 1947, Bouquet participated in the Festival d’Avignon from its first edition, but struggled to get along with the masters of the day: Jean Vilar, Claude Régy and Roger Planchon.

off the beaten track

In the cinema, he made his way into quality popular cinema and appeared in more than 65 feature films and some fifty telefilms under the direction, in particular, of François Truffaut (the bride was in black), Jacques Deray (Borsalino), Jose Giovanni (two men in the city), Henri Verneuil (The snake), Yves Boiset (a count), Andre Cayatte (reason of state) and Alain Corneau (France Limited Company). He is one of Claude Chabrol’s favorite actors (the unfaithful wife, Pickled Chicken), in whom he embodies the prototype of the unfriendly bourgeois:

“During the six movies I shot for him, I always tried to guess his point of view: what secrets are hidden behind his desire to make this or that movie? Because I could well declare to have written especially for me. the unfaithful wifeI personally didn’t feel anything in common with this character of a bourgeois hit man…”, he said telerama in 2010.

Often employed in the roles of notary, banker or policeman, he excelled at troublesome characters. A well-known face in the thrillers or political films of the 1970s, Michel Bouquet also lent his voice to several documentaries, including the famous night and fog by Alain Resnais in 1956.

Blessed with comedic good timing, Bouquet has also appeared in a number of sitcoms. dumb gangster in Pope the little boats (1971) by Nelly Kaplan, also lends itself to the extravagances of Michel Audiard in Good kisses… see you on Monday (1974). Inside The toy (1976) by Francis Veber, he plays Pierre Rambal-Cochet, a ruthless billionaire who makes Pierre-Richard your child’s toy

He does not hesitate to go off the beaten track and entrust his destiny to young directors. Pierre Zucca hires him to Vincent put the donkey in a paddock (and came to another) (1975), where Fabrice Lucchini also makes his debut. Bouquet befriends the director. Edward Luntzauthor of several amazing films, including green hearts they have become untraceable. However, thanks to Luntz, Bouquet retains two of his best roles in the last jump (1970) and wandering mood (1972).

Bouquet in Mitterrand, a comedy lesson

The 1990s and 2000s saw him change his record. Rarer, he revels in Lips from Bertrand Blair (in the theater in 1997, then in the cinema in 2003), then moved The Champ de Mars walker (2005) by Robert Guédiguian, which allowed him to win the César for best actor in 2006. At 80 years old, he offers a lesson in comedy: without makeup or language tricks, Michel Bouquet manages to revive former president François Mitterrand.

Six years later, the director Gilles Bourdos offers him with Renoir the role ‘that has touched me most in life’, that of the august painter. A role that earned her a new César nomination, but that did not mean the end of her film career. In particular, she accepts in 2019 Bernard Stora’s proposal to appear in a drama as he likes, in a context of struggle for power, Villa Capricewhose title now sounds like a final snub at the end that I knew was close.

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