Trintignant, Jean-Louis: French and International Star Dies at 91

French and International Star Dies at 91

Trintignant gave many memorable performances, including “And God Created Woman,” “A Man and a Woman,” ‘The Conformist,” Z” and, most recently, “Amour.”

Jean-Louis Trintignant, the handsome and gifted French actor who headlined such art house classics as A Man and a WomanMy Night at Maud’sThe ConformistThree Colors: Red and Amour, has died. He was 91.

Trintignant died Friday at his home in the Gard region of southern France, his wife Marianne and agent confirmed.

Trintignant received many accolades throughout his 65-year- career, including the best actor prize from Cannes in 1969 for Costa-Gavras’ political thriller Z and a Cesar Award in 2013 for Michael Haneke’s Amour, which also won the Oscar for best foreign-language film.

Photo: Amour

With more than 130 screen and 50-plus stage credits to his name, Trintignant was highly prolific and respected talent who could perform anything from Shakespeare to commercial French comedies, from art house fare by Bertolucci, Kieślowski and Truffaut to popular romances and sci-fi flicks–as providing the voice of talking brain in The City of Lost Children (1995).

Trintignant became international star after his turn as a race car driver and lover of Anouk Aimée in Claude Lelouch’s A Man and a Woman (1966), which won Oscar Awards for best screenplay and foreign-language film.

He and Aimée were hailed as “the best screen couple since William Powell and Myrna Loy” by The Guardian.

In 2017, Trintignant said in an interview he was done as actor. But he decided to take on one last role, reprising the character he played opposite Aimée in Lelouch’s epilogue to A Man and a Woman (2019).

Although he was major French star for half-century, Trintignant remained out of the public eye except for much-publicized fling with Brigitte Bardot during the shooting of And God Created Women (1956), directed by her husband, Roger Vadim (he played the deceived husband in the film).

Photo: And God Created Woman

The affair thrust Trintignant onto front pages of the local tabloids, while the movie transformed Bardot into an international sex symbol.

His life was marred by tragedy: In 2003, his first daughter, the actress Marie Trintignant, was murdered by French rock star Bertrand Cantat during a hotel room dispute in Lithuania. And in 1970, his second daughter, Pauline, died at 9 months old while the actor and his then-wife, Nadine, were shooting a movie in Rome. (The event was fictionalized in the 1971 film It Only Happens to Others, starring Catherine Deneuve and Mastroianni.)

Jean-Louis Trintignant Dead: 'Man and a

Photo: Amour

In one of his last interviews, he wryly reflected on his profession: “I was extremely shy. And being famous didn’t interest me,” he said. “You know, it’s amusing the first time around, then not at all. Why do they give us awards? We’re already well paid. They’d be better off giving Oscars to people working jobs that aren’t fun at all.”

Trintignant was born on December 11, 1930, in the southern French town of Piolenc. His father, who fought in the resistance during World War II, was a local industrialist and mayor. His uncle, Maurice, was the first French Formula One driver to win a championship, inspiring Trintignant to take up race car driving.

The actor drove his own stunts in A Man and a Woman and was part of France’s Star Racing Team. He suffered a near-fatal accident during the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1980.

After the family moved to Aix-en-Provence, Trintignant began acting in his late teens and early twenties, performing plays by Molière and Shakespeare. He then studied to become a film director at the famous IDHEC film school in Paris. In order to pay the bills, he took on minor screen roles, landing his first big break in 1956 as one of the three men involved with the promiscuous Juliete (Bardot) in And God Created Woman.

Trintignant then fulfilled his mandatory military service, which included a stint in the Algerian War.

But he returned as one of the leads in Vadim’s adaptation of Dangerous Liaisons (1959), starring alongside Gerard Philipe, Jeanne Moreau and Boris Vian.

He made dozens of movies in the next decade, most notably A Man and a Woman; Alain Robbe-Grillet’s The Man Who Lies (1968), which earned him a Golden Bear in Berlin; Claude Chabrol’s erotic thriller Les Biches (1968); the Oscar foreign-language winner Z, in which he played an idealistic young lawyer; and Eric Rohmer’s My Night at Maud’s (1969), considered one of the best French films of the ’60s.

Trintignant began the 1970s with what was his best screen role, playing tormented assassin in The Conformist, Bertolucci’s political thriller set in pre-WWII fascist Italy. Trintignant claimed it and Amour were the finest movies he ever made.


Trintignant also was a regular stage presence in Paris, starting with 1960 production of Hamlet at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees. He performed in plays by Jean Giraudoux, Françoise Sagan, William Gibson and Louis Aragon, earning Molière nomination in 2005 for Samuel Benchetrit’s Moins deux.

Late in life, he performed live readings of poems by Guillaume Apollinaire, Jacques Prevert, Boris Vian and Robert Desnos.

In the mid-1990s, he spent more time in his native southern France, where he invested in a vineyard, specializing in prized Cotes du Rhone.

The end of his career was marked by some major roles. He played the retired Judge Kern in Krzysztof Kieślowki’s Three Colors: Red (1994), which was nominated for 3 Oscars.

He also starred in Jacques Audiard’s first two features, See How They Fall (1994) and A Self-Made Hero (1996), and earned Cesar nomination for supporting actor in Patrick Chereau’s Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train (1998).

His performance at age 82 in Haneke’s Amour (2012) became one of his career highlights, earning Trintignant Cesar Award. Playing a husband tending to his incapacitated wife (Emmanuelle Riva), he rendered an incredibly moving performance.

Of the film, Trintignant said: “The character moved me enormously. Like him, I’m at the end of my life. And like him, I think a lot about suicide. Whatever part Haneke wants to cast me as next, I’ll take it.”

One of Trintignant’s last screen roles was in Haneke’s Happy End, which he performed most of his scenes from a wheelchair. He continued to act on stage until 2018 in a poetry and music show titled Trintignant/Mille/Piazzolla.

He then joined Aimée for one more go at the A Man and a Woman saga in Les Plus belles annees.

“Growing old is just a series of problems,” he said after his cancer diagnosis. “But in the end, it was good I stayed alive for so long. I was able to meet a lot of interesting people.”