The “Magnificent” is gone. Jean-Paul Belmondo died on Monday at the age of 88, his lawyer, Michel Godest, told AFP. “He had been very tired for some time. He died quietly, ”said the latter. The actor will forever remain the sacred monster of French cinema. In more than fifty years of career, he appeared as well in films of authors as in popular feature films.
“You will never succeed in this profession with your physique!” »Jean-Paul Belmondo could not have done better to lie this judgment heard at his beginnings. Born April 9, 1933 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, the young Belmondo grew up in a family of artists. His father is a recognized sculptor. He likes playing the clown and dreams of the theater. The one who was part of the “conservatory band” alongside Jean Rochefort, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Bruno Cremer, Pierre Vernier and Michel Beaune thus played on the boards, mainly in the 1950s, at the start of his career, and in the 1990s.
Characters entered into the collective memory of the French
Then comes the meeting that seals his fate, in the person of Jean-Luc Godard: “He was the one who made me love cinema. Before Breathless, I had been told so much that I was not good that I doubted, ”he confided in 2001. Always in front of Godard’s camera (Pierrot le fou, A woman is a woman), but also from François Truffaut (The Mississippi Mermaid), Henri Verneuil (A monkey in winter, Fear over the city…), Philippe de Broca (Rio man, The magnificent…) or Claude Lelouch (Itinerary of a spoiled child…) or Georges Lautner (The Guignolo, the professional), Jean-Paul Belmondo embodied characters that have entered the collective memory of the French.
Emotion at the Caesars
Made Commander of the Legion of Honor in 2007, Grand Officer of the National Order of Merit in 2017 and Commander of the National Order of Arts and Letters, Jean-Paul Belmondo has received some of the greatest distinctions of the nation.
Awarded the César for best actor in 1989 for Itinerary of a spoiled child, he refused the award. The Académie des Césars did not hold it against him since, in 2017, it dedicated a tribute to him for his entire career. Standing ovation by the profession, he had reacted with emotion.
A year earlier, the Venice Film Festival celebrated all of his work with a Golden Lion of Honor. At the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, a Palme d’honneur was awarded to the actor who, physically diminished following a stroke in 2001, has not appeared in a leading role on the big screen since. A man and his dog in 2009.
“I’m not afraid of the end. I had such a happy life, ”he told Corsica-Morningin the summer of 2018. During the same interview, he confided that he still “wanted to shoot”.