Jean-Louis Trintignant, a life and a career in pictures

Voice recognizable among all, magnetic presence tinged with melancholy: Jean-Louis Trintignant, who died Friday at the age of 91, led an immense career in theater and cinema for half a century, from “And God… created woman” to “Love”.

Entered the history of cinema with “A man and a woman” by Claude Lelouch – Palme d’or in 1966 -, he won the interpretation prize at Cannes for “Z” by Costa Gavras in 1969 and the César for ” Love” (2012) by Michael Haneke. Three peaks in his career.

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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.

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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”.

Raised the hard way

Born on December 11, 1930 in Piolenc in the Vaucluse, this son of an industrialist was brought up the hard way. A shy young man, he took Charles Dullin’s comedy lessons in Paris. He made his stage debut in 1951, in “Marie Stuart” by Schiller, and on the screen in “If All the Guys in the World”, by Christian-Jaque (1956).

He toured the same year alongside Brigitte Bardot (“And God…created woman”, Vadim). His affair with “BB” is much talked about. Returning from traumatic military service in Algeria, the actor leaves with “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” (Vadim). His nervous and sensitive playing seduces. With his composition of romantic lovers in “A man and a woman”, alongside Anouk Aimée, he becomes the actor who tours 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. Jean-Louis Trintignant himself directed two films, “A busy day” and “The lifeguard”, without much success.

A maverick

In the 80s, this non-conformist refocused his career on the theater. This does not prevent him from turning some great roles in the cinema, in “Watch the men fall” or “Three colors: Red”, where he plays a taciturn former judge.

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After the death of his daughter, he moved away from film sets for almost ten years, before coming back in force in 2012 in “Amour” by Haneke, in which he plays an octogenarian confronted with the slow agony of his wife, played by Emmanuelle Riva.

Read also: When Trintignant had dropped everything for the calm of the desert

He then found Haneke for the role of a suicidal old bourgeois in “Happy End”, in competition at Cannes in 2017, the year in which he offered himself a last show of readings of poems by Prévert, Vian and Desnos in Paris, then in tour.

Closing the loop, he found in 2019 Claude Lelouch and his partner Anouk Aimée for “The most beautiful years of a life”, following “A man and a woman” 53 years later.

Married three times, he married actress Stéphane Audran then director Nadine Marquand (Trintignant) with whom he had three children, Marie, Pauline (died when she was a baby) and Vincent. Since their divorce, this motor racing enthusiast shared the life of racing driver Marianne Hoepfner.

Jean-Louis Trintignant had lived for thirty years near Uzès (Gard), not far from his beloved vines.

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Jean-Louis Trintignant, a life and a career in pictures