Death of Jean-Paul Belmondo: “An actor is not someone who stays”


Status: 06.09.2021 5:33 p.m.

With his roles, especially as an action hero, Jean-Paul Belmondo achieved world fame. And his passion for the canvas drove him into old age. “Bébel” has now died at the age of 88.

By Sabine Wachs, ARD-Studio Paris

“Bébel”, as the French call him, was one of the greatest French film stars. In front of the camera, Jean-Paul Belmondo portrayed the action hero, daredevil or crook, as in Godard’s masterpiece “Out of breath”. He was also convincing in more serious roles, such as that of a French resistance fighter in “Das As der Ase”. Today the acting legend died at the age of 88.

Fatally hit, Belmondo collapses on the street. The last drag on the cigarette escapes his mouth. The beautiful traitor bends over him and with his last breath he verbally hits her in the face: “You really suck up.”

The final scene of the film “Out of breath” went down in cinema history. The 1960 film by director Jean-Luc Godard was the breakthrough for the then 27-year-old Belmondo, who actually wanted to become a professional boxer.

In front of the camera instead of in the boxing ring

Tuberculosis thwarted his plans. Only the kink that made his nose one of his trademarks has remained from that time.

“When I was 16, I told my father I was going to be an actor – and he said, ‘Thank God,'” Belmondo recalled himself . “

A sunny boy into old age

Speaking was difficult for “Bébel”, as the French lovingly called their film legend, in the last years of his life. After a stroke in 2001, the ex-boxer had to fight his way back to life. He did it.

Belmondo liked to present himself in public even in old age, still tanned, with a beaming smile. Quite the sunny boy.

An immense life’s work

In February 2018 he was back on the big stage. The Académie des Lumières in Paris awarded him the prize for his extraordinary career. Belmondo was visibly touched: “Ca me fait très plaisir. Merci beaucoup.” – “That makes me very happy. Thank you very much.”

His life’s work, for which he was awarded the Palme d’Or in Cannes in 2011, is immense. In France he was the face of the film movement “Nouvelle Vague” – he became known worldwide as an action hero in films such as “The Professional” or “The Gripper”. And the stunts, that was a matter of honor, were shot by the actor himself.

Several private setbacks

But whether as a daredevil, a heartbreaker or a gentleman – Belmondo shone in all of his roles.

In real life, however, Bébel had to accept some turbulence: from the death of his daughter to the stroke and two divorces. Finally, the nerve-wracking separation from his 40-year-old girlfriend. To make matters worse, she is said to have exempted the film star financially.

The longing for the canvas

But none of that could knock the ex-boxer away. At the age of 85, Bébel wanted to go back to the screen. Playing – for him a life’s work:

An actor is not someone who stays, he is not a painter or a writer. For the actor, the moment counts.

Belmondo had countless of these moments in his more than 50-year acting career. Fortunately, most of them were captured on film. As a reminder of a great one, they will remain that way even after his death.

Actor Jean-Paul Belmondo died at 88

Sabine Wachs, ARD Paris, 6.9.2021 5:15 p.m.

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