“I was very tired for some time. It went off quietly, ”said his lawyer.
French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, one of the most established interpreters of French cinema, died this Monday at his home in Paris at the age of 88, announced his lawyer to AFP.
“I was very tired for some time. It went off quietly, “said his lawyer, Michel Godest. Nicknamed in the world of cinema as “Bébel”, Belmondo participated in 80 films, some of them unforgettable, such as “À bout de souffle” (“Breathless”, “On the edge of the getaway”) or “L’homme de Rio ”(“ The man from Rio ”).
Belmondo, one of the last great popular stars of his generation, along with Alain Delon or Brigitte Bardot, has almost completely disappeared from movie screens since he suffered a stroke in 2001.
Fame by chance
His fame came, however, from the hand of Jean-Luc Godard, renowned director of the Nouvelle Vague, under whose orders he would give life to a captivating criminal in the iconic “À bout de souffle” (“Out of breath”, “Al filo of the getaway ”, 1960).
“Come to my room, we will make a movie and I will give you 50,000 francs,” Godard then told Belmondo, whom he had passed on the street. The interpreter was not yet 30 years old.
After the success of the film, the filmmakers “came to me”, Belmondo recounted in 2016 in a scrapbook, “Mille vies valent mieux qu’une” (“A thousand lives are worth more than one”).
A physical actor
Belmondo acted under the orders of the most renowned directors of the time, such as Vittorio de Sica, François Truffaut, Claude Chabrol, Alain Resnais and Claude Lelouch.
In addition to occupying a central role in the Nouvelle Vague, “Bébel” also left the mark of a physical actor, lover of fights, cultivating a large dose of humor, as he did in “Le Cerveau” (“The Brain”, 1969) .
His boxer physique would earn him popular hits in “L’homme de Rio” (“The Man from Rio”, 1964) by Philippe De Broca, “Le Professionnel” (“The Professional”, 1981) by Georges Lautner or “L ‘ as des as ”(“ Ace of aces ”, 1982), by Gérard Oury.
His career was thus strewn with successes, to which are added “Pierrot le fou” (Pierrot the madman, 1965) by Godard or “Itinéraire d’un enfant gâté (The lion’s empire, 1988) by Lelouch, for which he won a Caesar for best actor.
However, a stroke in 2001 overshadowed his star and made him virtually disappear from the screen. But he remained one of the benchmarks of the seventh art, “one of the last heroes of French cinema”, for the actor Jean Dujardin.
The Cannes Festival rewarded his entire career with a Palm of Honor in 2011 and the Venice Film Festival with a Golden Lion five years later.
Both the Cannes and the Venice film festivals paid tribute to “Bébel” on Monday, praising him as a “generous” man and actor, as well as as an “icon” of cinema.
For her part, the Italian actress Claudia Cardinale, who worked with Belmondo in films such as “Cartouche” (1962) or “The Clan of the Marseilles” (1972), said she was “shocked” by his death and that the actor was “the very image of vitality ”.
Born on April 9, 1933 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, an affluent suburb of Paris, Belmondo grew up in a family of artists. His father, of Italian origin, was a renowned sculptor.
The love life of this eternally tanned seducer fed the press of the heart. After the divorce with his second wife, the star Natty, he had a relationship with a former Belgian model, from whom he finally separated in 2012.
Belmondo was the father of four children: Patricia (tragically deceased), Florence, Paul and Stella, whom he had at age 70.
Jean-Paul Belmondo “has gone to meet his old friends from the Conservatory,” wrote his family in a statement, about the death of this “pillar”, whose “frank smile will always be there.” (I)
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French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo dies at 88 | People | Entertainment