Jean-Louis Trintignant, the successful actor with an indescribable filmography, is dead at the age of 91, this Friday, June 17.
Jean-Louis Trintignant appeared for the first time in the cinema with “A man and a woman” by Claude Lelouch, where he plays a racing driver in love with Anouk Aimée. Thanks to this role he becomes the actor who turns the most, like Belmondo and Delon. In total, he will play in some 120 films… He has a predilection for ambiguous, impenetrable, disturbing characters. He is as comfortable in mainstream films (“Is Paris burning?”, René Clément) as in the avant-garde (“L’homme qui ment”, by Alain Robbe-Grillet, him worth the Silver Bear for best actor in Berlin) or political, like “Z”. He also toured Italy, notably in “Le Fanfaron” by Dino Risi and “Le Conformiste” by Bernardo Bertolucci. His notoriety grew thanks to Z, by Costa-Gavras, for which he won the Interpretation Prize at Cannes in 1969. The proud and inflexible little Greek examining magistrate hides there behind dark glasses. What the public does not know is that he takes pleasure in embodying characters he hates.
Marie, the drama of his life
Jean-Louis Trintignant’s last appearance on the big screen was in 2019 with “The most beautiful years of a life”, where he found his partner Anouk Aimée and the director Claude Lelouch. This perfectionist was also a worried and reserved man who confided to having had suicidal temptations: “I admit that I have never been very cheerful”. This pessimism accompanies him long before the death of his daughter Marie with whom he maintained a great bond. She died in 2003 under the blows of her companion, the singer Bertrand Cantat. A few months earlier, father and daughter had performed Apollinaire’s “Poèmes à Lou” on stage as a duo. This tragic death would not cease to haunt him: “I could have stopped my life at that moment”. Pushed by his relatives, he was back on stage, finding a “therapy” in poetry and theater. The boards, his “real job”, he told AFP. “We make movies a bit out of vanity”, “so as not to be shy anymore”.
A carreer of 160 roles
Recognizable voice among all, magnetic presence tinged with melancholy : Jean-Louis Trintignant led an immense career for half a century, punctuated by some 160 roles in theater and cinema, from And God… created woman to Love. In September 2017, he publicly announced that he had cancer. “Old, blind and unhappy”, he said he felt the imminence of his end, with serenity.