Michel Bouquet Dies: French Acting Legend Was 96

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Legendary French stage and screen actor Michel Bouquet has died. He was 96. The César Award winner passed away today at a Paris hospital, his spokesperson confirmed to AFP. A tribute on the official website of the Elysée Palace did not cite a cause of death.

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Born in 1925, Bouquet began his film career in 1947 and went on to appear in more than 100 movies. In the 1960s and ’70s, he collaborated with New Wave directors François Truffaut and Claude Chabrol in such films as Truffaut’s The Bride Wore Black and Mississippi Mermaid and Chabrol’s The Unfaithful Wife and Just Before Nightfall, among others.

Later in his career, Bouquet won a European Film Award for Jaco Van Dormael’s Toto Le Héros (1991) and took two Best Actor Césars for Anne Fontaine’s How I Killed My Father (2001) and Robert Guédiguian’s The Last Mitterand (2005). Other directors he worked with include Alain Resnais, Jacques Deray, Francis Veber, Alain Corneau, Jean Becker and Bertrand Blier.

Bouquet started out in the theater at age 17, growing to be a monument of the stage. He was known for playing the lead role in Eugene Ionesco’s absurdist drama Exit the King some 800 times and was awarded an honorary Molière for the ensemble of his career in 2016. The following year, he received the Legion d’Honneur.

French President Emmanuel Macron today paid tribute to Bouquet, saying: “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.”

The Cannes Film Festival also recalled Bouquet’s titular performance in 2012 Un Certain Regard entry Renoir:

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