“Jean-Paul died today. He’s gone to meet up with his old accomplices from the Conservatory. His honest smile will always be there, ”read a statement released by Belmondo’s family. Belmondo can look back on around 80 films and over 40 theater roles. Belmondo was last seen on screen in 2008 in “A Man and His Dog”.
Alongside Alain Delon, Belmondo had made a name for himself as one of the most versatile actors in all genres. The French were an important representative of the French Nouvelle Vague and were considered a symbol of rebellion and anarchism. He was part of a new generation of movie stars who were no longer beautiful heroes.
From the 1970s on, he also played in numerous comedies and action films. In most of these films he managed to do stunts without a double, climbed rope ladders to helicopters and jumped over moving trains. In the movie “The Boss” he injured his head in a stunt and ended his risky actions at the age of 52. He was experienced in fighting.
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Breakthrough with “out of breath”
As a youth, Belmondo, born on April 9, 1933 in the Paris suburb of Neuilly-Sur-Seine, was considered undisciplined. He changed schools several times and discovered boxing during this time. The son of a Parisian sculptor and a dancer had fought his way through the traveling theater as a professional boxer and into the big cinema class.
One of his best-known roles, which also meant his breakthrough as a screen star, was that of petty criminal Michel in Jean-Luc Godard’s Nouvelle Vague classic “Out of breath” from 1960. His gestures and looks, such as the superior grin and the turning, are unforgettable the cigarette between your fingers.
Films like “And yet they live” with Sophia Loren, “A woman is a woman”, “The millions of a hunted man” and “Fear over the city” made him a cult figure in French cinema. He played daredevils and gangsters. Great directors such as Godard, Claude Sautet (“The Panther is Chased”), Francois Truffaut (“The Secret of the False Bride”) and Philippe de Broca (“Adventure in Rio”) fought to work with Belmondo. But in the 80s the cinema turned away from him for a time, and Belmondo returned to the theater. In 1991 he bought his own theater in Paris, thereby fulfilling a childhood dream.
Jean-Paul Belmondo is dead
French acting legend Jean-Paul Belmondo died on Monday in Paris at the age of 88. This was announced by his lawyer Michel Godest. Belmondo remained active in front of the camera and as a writer until he was 80 years old.
Inspiration for Steven Spielberg
For many of his younger colleagues, Belmondo was an absolute role model until his death. The actor Jean Dujardin described him as “one of the last heroes” of French cinema. His role in “Adventure in Rio” even inspired US director Steven Spielberg to write “Indiana Jones”.
Health problems began at Belmondo over 20 years ago. He suffered a heart attack on stage in 1999 and a stroke in 2001. It then took him two years to speak again. Years later, Belmondo said he owed his rebirth to his fighting spirit. Will makes many things possible, he was convinced. In the end he was “very tired”, according to his lawyer: “He died quietly.”
“Glowing arts of seduction”
Again and again, Belmondo made headlines with his private life. He never made a secret of his admiration for beautiful women. He shot with colleagues like Claudia Cardinale, Gina Lollobrigida, Brigitte Bardot and Jeanne Moreau. He was suspected of being the lover of all actresses, Belmondo said in an interview with the women’s magazine “Madame Figaro”. But that was never true. The only exception was with Ursula Andress. Belmondo met Andress while filming in 1965. The relationship with the first Bond girl lasted seven years.
Belmondo was not well received by Brigitte Bardot. He grabbed her breasts several times while filming “The Truth” in 1960, he admitted on a TV show in early 2017. But it didn’t work out. He wrote about Bardot in his 2016 memoir. She resisted his “convincing and ardent seduction skills”.
His four children come from relationships with the dancers Elodie Constantin and Nathalie Tardivel. His liaison with Barbara Gandolfi, who was around 40 years his junior, ended in 2012 after four years with a separation.
Macron: “Forever the devil”
French President Emmanuel Macron praised the actor as a hero and national treasure: “Belmondo will always be the devil.” He was referring to the 1973 film of the same name, in which Belmondo played a writer and would-be secret agent. With his voice and lithe body, Belmondo was “a familiar figure, a tireless daredevil and a magician of words,” explained Macron. “We all found each other in him.”