Acclaimed French actor Jean-Louis Trintignant died Friday at his home in southern France, according to Variety. He was 91.
Trintignant was the star of many Oscar-nominated European films, including My Night At Maud’s, Three Colors: Red, The Conformist. Three of the films in which he starred, A Man and a Woman (1966), Z (1969,) and Amour (2012), won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.
A somewhat reluctant actor, Trintignant tried to retire from the stage and screen several times. But he kept coming back. In the end, his career spanned 67 years and he amassed nearly 150 credits, as well as numerous stage appearances. He wrote and directed two films in the 1970s, A Full Day’s Work and Le maître nageur, that were considered artistic successes even though they weren't box office hits.
His range encompassed romantic leading men to dark character roles, all imbued with his signature charisma and almost taciturn introspection. Despite being self-deprecating about some of the lesser films in his body of work, Trintignant wasn’t afraid to turn down work, rebuffing both Francis Ford Coppola for a role in Apocalypse Now and Steven Spielberg for a role in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Trintignant was raised around auto racing, and sometimes remarked that he’d rather race cars than be an actor. He studied law at university, but turned to film school and stage acting in 1950. His big break came when Roger Vadim cast him opposite Brigitte Bardot in …And God Created Woman. He and Bardot began an affair and were often hounded by the press, which drove Trintignant out of the movie business and into the army to escape the spotlight.
But he soon returned, and went on to work with directors such as Bernardo Bertolucci, Krzysztof Kieślowski, Costa-Gavras, Francois Truffaut and Michael Haneke. It was Haneke who prompted Trintignant to emerge from his last “retirement” to take the role of Georges opposite Emmanuelle Riva’s Anne in Haneke's Amour.
Although he was never nominated for an Oscar, he did win awards for his performances at prestigious film festivals, including Cannes and Berlin. He was also nominated for five César awards, winning one for Amour in their Best Actor category.
Trintignant is survived by his wife Marianne and son Vincent, an actor, writer, and director.