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Creator / Jean-Paul Belmondo

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"I would say I've done everything I wanted to."

Jean-Paul Charles Belmondo (April 9, 1933 - September 6, 2021) was a French actor and producer of Italian descent.

The son of sculptor Paul Belmondo, he started a boxing career before shifting to acting. His rise to national and international stardom came with French New Wave vehicles such as Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless and Pierrot le Fou as well as dramas such as Jean-Pierre Melville's Léon Morin, Priest, Magnet of Doom and Henri Verneuil's A Monkey in Winter. He would remain a very successful leading man in French cinema throughout The '60s, The '70s and The '80s and became one of the highest-grossing actors of all time at the French box office, only equaled by the likes of Alain Delon (his longtime friend), Louis de Funès or Gérard Depardieu.

His crowd-pleasing shift as soon as the early '60s and even moreso in the '70s was much to the chagrin of critics who held his New Wave/more auteurist roles in very high regard, but pleasing crowds was just what he loved doing. He most often played Anti Heroes in crime films or hammed it up as dashing Aces, Lovable Rogues, Casanovas, Cowboy Cops or any role falling in-between, usually with heavy stunt work (which he tended to perform himself). Such characters tended to be showy, very sarcastic and very quotable and made him the undisputed quintessential Action Hero of French cinema for over three decades.

His film career slowly declined starting in the second half of the 1980s and he focused more on stage work instead, with his runs in that field such as Jean-Paul Sartre's Kean and Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac becoming big popular successes. He won the César Award for Best Actor in 1989 for his role in Claude Lelouch's film Itinerary of a Spoiled Child, but didn't show up at the ceremony, treating it like a invokedConsolation Award. He suffered a brain-damaging stroke in 2001 and retired from acting, only returning for one last role on the big screen in 2009. He passed away at age 88 on September 6, 2021 and received a national homage at the Invalides in Paris.

His older brother Alain Belmondo is a producer who worked with him on many of his films. He was the father of four, including Patricia (1953-1993, died in a house fire), Paul Alexandre (born in 1963, became a race car pilot), Florence (born in 1960) and Stella (born in 2003). One of his grandchildren, Victor (son of Paul Alexandre, born 1993) followed in his footsteps and became an actor.

He is often nicknamed "Bébel" in France.


Tropes & Trivia in his works:

  • Billed Above the Title: In The '70s and The '80s when he was working with publicist and editor René Chateau, Belmondo's name was always above the title (and often bigger than the title) on the posters of his films. Since he was a national superstar, his name alone would easily sell a film.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting:
  • Cowboy Cop: He played cops with unorthodox methods in Peur sur la Ville, Cop or Hood, Le Marginal and Le Solitaire.
  • Leslie Nielsen Syndrome: He had a noticeable comedic shift in his late 1960s roles which would intensify to Farce levels in the mid-1970s starting with Le Magnifique, although he never stopped playing dramatic roles alongside them.
  • Lovable Rogue: A strong contender for the quintessential example in French cinema as the thieves and bank robbers he played, usually in comedies, were often either The Charmer (Cartouche, Hold-up) or hammy goofballs (L'Incorrigible, Le Guignolo).
  • No Stunt Double: A prime example, as he did much of the body stunt work in his films on his own between 1962 and 1985, which caused him plenty of injuries. For car stunts as well, though he would sometimes leave it to his stuntman friend Rémy Julienne when closeups were not needed. A severe head injury on the set of Hold-up convinced him to go back to stage work. The very last stunt he did was climbing a rope ladder under a helicopter that lifts off in the 1998 action comedy Half a Chance when he was 65.
  • Production Posse:
    • Frequently worked with directors Jean-Pierre Melville, Philippe de Broca, Henri Verneuil and Georges Lautner.
    • He frequently worked with Jean-Paul Rappeneau as either screenwriter, director or both.
    • His Lautner films (and some others) often had dialogues written by Michel Audiard.
    • Four of his films were scored by Ennio MorriconeLe Casse, Peur sur la ville, Le Professionnel and Le Marginal.
    • Some of his vehicular stunts were performed and staged by Rémy Julienne.
  • Smoking Is Cool: From Breathless all the way to his early 1980s roles, his characters smoked very often, with a few Cigar Chompers in the lot.
  • Those Two Actors:
    • He co-starred with Claudia Cardinale in Le mauvais chemin, Cartouche and La Scoumoune. They both appeared in the 1976 Italian comedy Anthology Film Un sorriso, uno schiaffo, un bacio in bocca, although they're not seen together.
    • Played alongside his longtime friend and fellow superstar Alain Delon in Sois belle et tais-toi, Les Amours célèbres, Is Paris Burning?, Ho!, Borsalino and 1 Chance sur 2.
    • Belmondo also played alongside Michel Beaune in Le Corps de mon ennemi, Cop or Hood, Le Professionnel and Joyeuses Pâques.
    • Played three times with singer and actress Marie Laforêt, in Cop or Hood, Les Morfalous and Joyeuses Pâques.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Belmondo was supposed to star in Barracuda, a film about a Hostage Situation in Chad. Creative differences and Belmondo's commitment to Le Professionnel killed the project, although Le Professionnel retained the françafrique thing (French meddling in post-colonial African politics).
    • It was announced in 2018 that he would return in a sequel to 1988's Itinerary of a Spoiled Child. He passed away in 2021 without the project having had time to materialize.


SAG 2022 In Memoriam Montage

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