French film legend and amateur pilot Jean-Louis Trintignant dies at 91 after battle with cancer

French film legend Jean-Louis Trintignant, who in a career spanning 74 years became one of the best actors in his country, has died at the age of 91.

The silver screen icon passed away surrounded by his family after a three-year battle with lung cancer, his wife said.

President Emmanuel Macron called Trintignant “a wonderful voice and artistic talent”.

Macron told the press this afternoon: “He has followed our lives through French cinema. It is a page that reveals a wonderful talent and artistic voice.’

Trintignant, pictured at the 70th Cannes Film Festival in 2017, has died after battling lung cancer.

Trintignant starred opposite Brigitte Bardot in her first film appearance over 65 years ago.

Trintignant, portrayed on the set of 1982's The Big Pardon, starred in 31 films from 1966 to 1974 alone, earning praise for many of them.

Trintignant, portrayed on the set of 1982’s The Big Pardon, starred in 31 films from 1966 to 1974 alone, earning praise for many of them.

A flurry of leading roles in seminal European films between the late 1960s and mid-1970s made Trintignant one of the continent’s best-known film stars.

Trintignant’s prolific run between 1966 and 1974 saw the actor star in no fewer than 31 films. By the end of his career, he had appeared in over 130.

His wave of success included the political dramas Z (directed by Costas-Gavras) and The Conformist by Bernardo Bertolucci, as well as the spaghetti western The Great Silence by Django director Sergio Corbucci.

Trintignant’s unmistakable, impassive expression, in films in which he often played repressed antiheroes, made him a figurehead of European cinema at a time when cold austerity was a common target.

After The Conformist gained global acclaim, Trintignant was offered the lead role in Bertolucci’s follow-up to Last Tango in Paris.

He refused because of nudity. Marlon Brando took on the role.

Trintignant is portrayed on the set of the 1972 crime thriller And Hope to Die during its heyday.

Trintignant is portrayed on the set of the 1972 crime thriller And Hope to Die during its heyday.

During the 1950s, Trintignant had a tempestuous love affair with Brigitte Bardot, his co-star.

Although she complained about her appearance, Bardot later admitted that Trintignant was one of the two “greatest loves of my life”.

In 2012, he starred in the romantic drama Amour, earning further acclaim for his performance in the Oscar, BAFTA and Palme d’Or winning film.

A dashing young actor with an intense expression, Trintignant burst onto the scene in the mid-1950s alongside Brigitte Bardot.

A dashing young actor with an intense expression, Trintignant burst onto the scene in the mid-1950s alongside Brigitte Bardot.

He died at his home in southwestern France, according to Bertrand Cortellini, who ran a vineyard with the actor and visited him on the Thursday before his death.

Trintignant married first film star Stéphane Audran, then film director Nadine Marquand, with whom he had three children: Marie, Pauline and Vincent.

The couple divorced and he married Mariane Hoepfner, a former racing driver.

Marie Trintignant was murdered by her rock star husband nicknamed the ‘Jim Morrison of France’ in 2003.

Heartbroken, Trintignant said he was devastated by her murder but forgave Bertrand Cantat.

He was one of the main actors in post-war France and one of the last remaining artists of his generation.

Tributes were paid after the announcement of Trintignant’s death on Friday afternoon.

In middle age, Jean-Louis (pictured promoting Amour in 2012) started driving race cars

In middle age, Jean-Louis (pictured promoting Amour in 2012) started driving race cars

Trintignant attended Cannes in 2017 to promote Happy End, his penultimate film role.

Trintignant attended Cannes in 2017 to promote Happy End, his penultimate film role.

Born on December 11, 1930 in Piolenc, southern France, Trintignant began acting in theater but gained wider fame in film, most notably starring with Bardot in And God Created Woman in 1956.

He starred in Italian films and several films by legendary French director Claude Lelouch, most famously A Man and a Woman in 1966, which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Trintignant played a race car driver, a passion he pursued off-screen, in a complex novel opposite Anouk Aimee.

His uncle, Louis, was killed on the track when Trintignant was three.

Another uncle, Maurice, won the Monaco Grand Prix twice in the 1950s.

Trintignant (pictured right with a cigarette) is pictured on the set of 'A Man and a Woman', 1966

Trintignant (pictured right with a cigarette) is pictured on the set of ‘A Man and a Woman’, 1966

Trintignant continued acting on stage and screen into his 80s, and gained new international attention in Michael Haneke’s Amour, a raw depiction of an elderly couple after one of them had a stroke.

The actor began his long career on stage, but turned to the screen when high-profile opportunities arose.

He joked in 2017: ‘I could have spent my whole life doing theater. But the cinema pays better!’

However, Trintignant rarely starred in high-budget films, preferring the art scene.

A particular late-career highlight came in 1995, Three Colors: Red, nominated for an Oscar three times, the last film by Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski.

Trintignant poses with Isabella Huppert on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2012

Trintignant poses with Isabella Huppert on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2012

Trintignant (right) starred opposite fellow French legend Emmanuelle Riva (left) in Amour

Trintignant (right) starred opposite fellow French legend Emmanuelle Riva (left) in Amour

Trintignant played Joseph Kern, a retired judge drawn into a series of philosophical dilemmas.

But as with many of his most iconic roles, Trintignant’s stoic character may be more powerful than he looks.

Variety film critic Guy Lodge tweeted: “Trentignant was one of my all-time favorite actors: sexy, brooding, mischievous, capable of deep, searching sadness.

‘What a body of work. What a face.’

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: