Film star Jean-Louis Trintignant is dead

Trintignant was last seen in cinemas in 2019 when he was in front of the camera for Claude Lelouch’s “The Most Beautiful Years of a Life”. The film followed on from the legendary classic “A Man and a Woman” from 1966, with which Lelouch shot a nouvelle vague epic and last but not least helped his actor Trintignant achieve an international breakthrough.

Trintignant was in front of the camera in more than 150 cinema and television films, with his most famous works being “Ein Mann und eine Frau” and the scandal film “Und immer luret das Weib” by Roger Vadim with Brigitte Bardot from 1956 – and last but not least the political thriller “Z” by Costa-Gavras, for which he won Best Actor at Cannes in 1969. “The Great Error” by Bernardo Bertolucci and “The City of Lost Children” by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro are further milestones in a great body of work.

Several times for Michael Haneke in front of the camera

Trintignant was closely associated with Michael Haneke: in 2009 he acted as the narrator in “The White Ribbon – A German Children’s Story” for the Austrian filmmaker before delivering a now legendary performance as an aging husband alongside Emmanuelle Riva in 2012 with “Love”. And in 2017 he again played the suicidal grandfather of an upper-class family in Calais, northern France, in Haneke’s last work to date, “Happy End”.

Cannes Film Festival

Trintignant in a scene from the Haneke film “Love”

Trintignant had already announced his departure from film and theater a few years earlier. In 2013 he wanted to say goodbye to his long acting career with a reading of his favorite poems by Boris Vian, Jacques Prevert and Guillaume Apollinaire. “I’ll leave the place to the boys,” he said at the time. But nothing came of it, despite prostate cancer.

Preference for complex roles

In his almost 70-year career, Trintignant has embodied mysterious and difficult-to-fathom people who were not what they seemed at first glance: the cold-blooded killer, jealous husband, uptight bourgeois and closeted homosexual. With a few gestures, a controlled expression and seemingly expressionless eyes, Trintignant established himself as a multi-layered character actor.

Jean Louis Trintignant, 1973

APA/AFP

Trintignant’s career spanned almost 70 years – here in a photo from 1973

Liaison with Brigitte Bardot and escapes into the army

Born in Piolenc near Orange in southern France, the son of a wealthy industrialist discovered his love of acting while studying law in Aix-en-Provence when he discovered Moliere’s play The Miser.

Trintignant also had drama away from the stage. When he fell in love with Brigitte Bardot in 1956 with “Undever lures the woman”, the tabloids were in top form. To escape the media hype surrounding his liaison with Bardot, he voluntarily fled into the army and only returned about three years later. It shouldn’t be Trintignant’s only celebrity relationship. He also had an affair with Romy Schneider during the shooting of the film “Le Train – Nur ein Hint von Glück”.

Jean-Louis Trintignant at the Cannes Film Festival

Reuters/Stephan Mahe

Trintignant performing at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival

Heavy blows of fate

Later, the actor’s life was not free of strokes of fate. He lost one of his three children with his ex-wife Nadine to sudden infant death. His daughter and actress Marie Trintignant died in 2003 at the age of 41 as a result of violence at the hands of her boyfriend, rock star Bertrand Cantat. She had appeared in several films and plays along with her father.

Trintingant came from a racing family, and his last wife was also a racing driver. The couple lived near Uzes in southern France. Trintingant saw it as an expression of life situation and character: “My south is a bit like me: barren, not very friendly. But it’s quiet, and that’s good for me.”

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