Actor Jean-Paul Belmondo passed away at the age of 88. A statement from his lawyers to the French press (via The Guardian) released the sad news. The interpreter was one of the leading figures of the Nouvelle Vague, an artistic movement that sought to confront the classical structures of established cinema to give way to technical and creative freedom. François Truffaut, Claude Chabrol and Jean-Luc Godard are just some of the most recognized names in this trend.
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Belmondo went down in history precisely because of his alliance with Godard, with whom he worked on Sin Aliento – 100% (À bout de soufflé) and Pierrot the Fool (Pierrot le fou), films for which he rose to world fame. The actor began his career in the theater and his first step in the cinema was a disaster, as his scenes in À pied, à cheval et en voiture were eliminated from the final cut and caused him a dislike of the medium. However, just a couple of years later, Godard entrusted him to star in a film alongside Jean Seberg, one of the audience’s favorite actresses at the time.
His appearance and confidence in front of the camera gave him the opportunity to move into the action genre and even be part of Casino Royale – 29%, directed by John Huston and starring David Niven.
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Belmondo did not hesitate to leave acting when he felt that he no longer found satisfaction in the process. He would eventually return to filming, but he also began a whole process of becoming a producer, inspired by his friend and colleague Alain Delon. With his company called Cerito Films, Belmondo produced Dr. Popaul, which became the great success of director Claude Chabrol and helped Mia Farrow’s career.
For now, no details of his death are known, only that he died at home and that three weeks ago he was photographed for the last time at a party where he was accompanied by his children and grandchildren. Belmondo had stopped acting since 2000, although he had a couple of appearances, one of them in the short Allons-y! Alonzo !, from 2009, his last work. His absence was due to a heart attack he suffered in 2001 that caused facial paralysis.
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Throughout his life, Belmondo was recognized by various organizations. For example, in the early 1990s he was awarded the Legion of Honor as a Knight and in 2007 he was promoted to Commander. One of his last public appearances was when the Los Angeles Film Critics Association honored his long career. But just as he received important awards, he also had the luxury of rejecting them. In 1989, Belmondo won the César for Best Actor for his work in Itinéraire d’un enfant gâté, but turned it down, a decision that caused much controversy at the time.
Reportedly, the reason behind this action was that the sculptor who created the César award figure once spoke ill of Belmondo’s father, who was also a sculptor. In 2017, he was once again awarded a César Award, this time honorary, for his long career. Festivals such as Cannes and Venice also paid tributes to recognize his contribution to world cinematography.
Internationally, his work on action films was quite respected because he did his own stunts and continued that way until he had an accident in the mid-1980s. With the passage of time, and due to age, Belmondo stopped participating in so many titles of this genre and acted less and less. On occasion he confirmed that the reason was that he could not find interesting or different scripts, and that he was no longer in a position to maintain himself as an action figure. The actor was also very popular in the media due to his love life, although he was only married twice. In 2003 his last daughter was born, when he was already 70 years old. He is survived by 4 children and several grandchildren.
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