He was still in front of the camera even at an advanced age and shaped French cinema for many decades. Jean-Louis Trintignant has died at the age of 91, his family said. This is the end of an acting life that could look back on roles in around 150 cinema and television productions. Trintignant, who was born on December 11, 1930, became known with “Ein Mann und Eine Frau” (1966), and became legendary with Michael Haneke’s “Amour” (2012).
Trintignant was last seen in cinemas in 2019 when he was in front of the camera for Claude Lelouch’s “The Most Beautiful Years of a Life”. The film followed on from the legendary classic “A Man and a Woman” from 1966, with which Lelouch shot a nouvelle vague epic and last but not least helped his actor Trintignant achieve an international breakthrough. He embodied a racing driver who falls in love with a widowed woman, played by Anouk Aimée. More than 50 years later, Lelouch brought the duo back to their earlier locations in “The most beautiful years of a life” – a cinematic farewell, as it now turns out.
Trintignant was in front of the lens in over 150 cinema and television films, with his most famous works being “Ein Mann und eine Frau” and the scandal film “Und immer luret das Weib” by Roger Vadim with Brigitte Bardot from 1956 – and last but not least the political thriller “Z” by Costa-Gavras, for which he was awarded best actor in Cannes in 1969, “The Great Error” by Bernardo Bertolucci or “The City of Lost Children” by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro are further milestones in a great oeuvre .
Above all, however, Trintignant shared a close bond with Michael Haneke. In 2009 he worked for the Austrian filmmaker as the narrator in “The White Ribbon – A German Children’s Story” before delivering a now legendary performance as an aging husband alongside Emmanuelle Riva in 2012’s “Amour”. And in 2017 he again played the suicidal grandfather of an upper-class family in Calais, northern France, in Haneke’s last work to date, “Happy End”.
Trintignant had already announced his departure from film and theater a few years earlier. In 2013 he wanted to say goodbye to his long acting career with a reading of his favorite poems by Boris Vian, Jacques Prévert and Guillaume Apollinaire. “I leave the place to the boys,” he said at the time. But nothing came of it, despite prostate cancer.
In his almost 70-year career, Trintignant has embodied mysterious and difficult-to-fathom people who were not what they seemed at first glance: the cold-blooded killer, jealous husband, uptight philistine and closet gay. With a few gestures, a controlled expression and seemingly expressionless eyes, Trintignant established himself as a multi-layered character actor. Born in Piolenc near Orange in southern France, the son of a wealthy industrialist discovered his love of acting while studying law in Aix-en-Provence when he discovered Molière’s play “The Miser”.
Trintignant also had drama away from the stage. When he fell in love with Brigitte Bardot in 1956 in “And eternally lures the woman”, the tabloids were in top form. To escape the media hype surrounding his liaison with Bardot, he fled voluntarily into the army and only returned about three years later.
Even later, the life of the actor did not go unnoticed. He lost one of his three children with his ex-wife Nadine to sudden infant death. His daughter and actress Marie Trintignant died in 2003 at the age of 41 as a result of violence from her boyfriend, rock star Bertrand Cantat. She had appeared in several films and plays along with her father. (apa/afp/dpa)