Michel Bouquet, French icon of stage and cinema, dies at 96


Michel Bouquet, an icon of French cinema and theater who starred in more than 100 films throughout his career and worked with some of France’s greatest authors, has died. He was 96 years old.

The Elysee Palace, the office of the French president, announced Bouquet’s death in a statement on Wednesday but gave no further details of his passing.

“For seven decades, Michel Bouquet brought theater and cinema to the highest degree of incandescence and truth, showing man in all his contradictions, with an intensity that burned the boards and punctured the screen. A sacred monster has left us,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in a Tweeter Wednesday.

In 1991, Bouquet won the European Film Award for Best Actor for his film “Toto the Hero”. He also won two Césars for “How I Killed My Father” (2001) and “The Last Mitterrand” (2005). His career on stage dates back to the 1940s and he retired in 2019. And on screen he emerged during the French New Wave and worked with directors like François Truffaut, Henri-Georges Clouzot, Alain Resnais and Claude Chabrol. , as well as shared the screen with Jean-Paul Belmondo.

Bouquet made his acting debut on the stage in 1944 in a play called “The First Step” and worked with another French stage and film actor, Maurice Escande, before studying at the Paris Conservatory of Dramatic Arts. On stage, he found breakout roles in productions of “Romeo and Juliet” and other roles from the classical repertoire.

But on screen, Bouquet found a knack for playing the ordinary guy who, beneath a simple facade, could be deeply complicated, jealous, troubled, or brooding. And he’s managed to show his range in everything from a victim in Truffaut’s “The Bride Wore Black” to playing Javert in a 1982 adaptation of “Les Miserables.” He was also the narrator of Resnais’ iconic documentary “Night and Fog” about the liberation of Nazi concentration camps.

Bouquet throughout his career has also done other taped readings of works by Victor Hugo, Cervantes and Jean-Paul Sartre, and his last film came in 2020 for a film called “Villa Caprice”.

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