French actor Michel Bouquet died this morning in a Parisian hospital. He was 96 years old. Michel Bouquet was a legend in French entertainment, having specialized in playing bland, middle-class, ordinary Frenchmen, said The New York Times. His roles over the years have included both comedic and dramatic roles, in film and on stage.
Throughout Michel Bouquet’s long and storied acting career, he worked closely with directors François Truffaut and Claude Chabrol on The Bride Wore Black (1967), Mississippi Mud, and The Unfaithful Wife (1968). Bouquet also reportedly collaborated with Anne Fontaine for his award-winning performance in How I Killed My Father (2001) and Robert Guédiguian for The Last Mitterand (2005). Other directors he collaborated with over his seventy-year cinematic career include Alain Resnais, Jacques Deray, Francis Veber, Alain Corneau, Jean Becker, and Bertrand Blier, according to Deadline.
Who was Michel Bouquet?
In 1942, Michel Bouquet began acting at age 17. He studied under Maurice Escande, a member of the Comédie Française, and made his stage debut in 1944 in the play La première étape (The first step). Following his debut, Michel Bouquet worked closely with director André Barsacq and playwright Jean Anouilh, who gave Bouquet many opportunities in the form of Shakespeare adaptations like Romeo and Juliet and King Henry IV throughout the 1940s and 50s. He was appointed a professor at the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts in the 1970s.
As an actor, Michel Bouquet made his debut in 1947 in Monsieur Vincent, a biography of St. Vincent de Paul, along with a few appearances in film adaptations of plays by Jean Anouilh. In 1965, he began working with Charlie Chabrol in Chabrol’s secret agent film The Tiger Smells Like Dynamite.
Bouquet married actress Ariane Borg, then divorced her in 1967, and later married Juliette Carre. Before his death, Bouquet was awarded two César Awards – equivalent to America’s Oscar Awards – for his performances in How I Killed My Father (2001) and The Last Miterrand (2006).
After Michel Bouquet died, French President Emmanuel Marcon released a statement on Twitter, saying the following:
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 burst the screen. A sacred monster has left us.