Jean-Louis Trintignant


  1. Jean-Pierre Mocky, Paradise des pilotes perdus, France,  1949.    Mocky, was also the (well-named) director, a one-man New Wave before la nouvelle vague began. In his earlier acting days, he was something of  pre-Delon Alain Delon.  (Visconti took  shine  to them both). Here, he easily trumped such tough opposition as Trintignant and Maurice Ronet.   Neither one ever made a Mocky film. He usually played his own leads –  his budgets were cheaper that way. This  title was reversed in the US: Hell For Lost Pilots.
  2. Michel Reynal, Les fruits sauvages, France, 1953.   Among the first auditions of the future star – alongside his future wife  Stephane Audran,  and their  actor pal and  future producer-director Claude Berri.  [Acting tip. JLT once told actress Laura Morant: “If you think of nothing, the scene works.”]
  3. Maurice Ronet, Ascenseur pour l’echafaud (UK: Lift to the Scaffold; US: Frantic),   France, 1957.    For the ex-paratrooper half of the murderous adulterers  (with Jeanne Moreau) in his first feature, new French auteur Louis Malle thought of Brigitte Bardot’s partner in the global triumph of  Et Dieu crea la femme but preferred Ronet from the less renowned Rendez-vous en juillet.
  4. Jean-Marc Bory, Les amants/The Lovers,  France, 1958.    This time, Louis Malle began shooting without a male lover.  “Jean-Louis was the one actor I wanted.” He shot a test of JLT with leading lady (and Malle’s lover) Jeanne Moreau, for la scandale.  Didn’t work out. Moreau said Bory was no better,  just “not there” in the the sex  scenes. JLT had to do  his military service, a toughtime  with taunts (from all ranks) about living with Brigitte Bardot; worse, on one weekend pass, he went home  early… to discover her in bed with singer Gilbert Becaud. JLT made  two other films with Jeanne Moreau : Les Liaisons Dangeureuses, 1959, and Mata Hari, agent H21, 1964. Bory was never a star. He knew his place… Jean-Marc Boring.
  5. Sami Frey, La Verité/The Truth,  France, 1960.  Days after having her son, Nicolas, Brigitte Bardot insisted on her old co-star and lover being cast.  Except JLT had a broken leg… Realisateur Henri-Georges Clouzot, known for having “the head of a mule,” refused to wait and set out to show who was boss –  with a series of tests of BB with  all the current leading young men. .Which is how he found a new co-star and she, a new lover.
  6. Marc Michel, Lola,  France-Italy, 1960.    Jacques Demy wanted Trintignant for  the bored young man falling for the titular Anouk Aimée. (Didn’t we all). Demy and Michel’s initial meeting did not gell well. Leaving the auteur’s office, the actor  ran into actress Francoise Prévost. After hearing his tale, she invited him  to her  party that night for the Cahiers du Cinéma magazine clan. When they arrived, she put him and Demy together on a sofa…  and they bonded..  For JLT, 1960 was the year of achieving his major ambition. Hamlet.  He was better than the production but then as he told me in Paris:”You can’t mak a Hamlet without breaking eggs.”
  7. Henri Serre, Le Combat dans l’ile, France, 1962.    “Take your  pick of the two guys,” said Alain Cavalier, an IDHEC school mate and copain  of Trintignant and his family, now making his  directing debut.  One guy was a right-wing terrorist, the other  a left-wing printer. “I chose l’homme de droit.  He was more interesting, more difficult and, in the end, more spectacular.”
  8. Alain Delon, Mélodie en sous-sol (US: Any Number Can Win),  France-Italy, 1962.   All set as Ze Beeg Break when Delon flexed his increasing power and talked réalisateur Henri Verneuil out of JLT and into AD – by offering to make the heist caper for free (well, some overseas rights, alors) and paying off Trintignant.   Delon wanted to work with the (once) great Jean Gabin, and given the choice, Gabin voted for the new, young M’sieur Box Office to shore up his dwindling importance.  Trintignant  told  it another way. He rejected the offer because of Gabin – who’d always impressed him until now as he kept playing only “Gabin”.  So JLT  had no desire  to work with him – and never did. MGM backed the movie and wanted Delon after his  double 1959 whammy of  Rocco e i suoi fratelli (Rocco and his Brothers) and Plein soleil (US: Purple Noon). JLT’s whammies included Roger Vadim’s Et Dieu crea la femme (…And God Created Woman)  and Les Liaisons dangereuses but he didn’t hit the big time until after the double-Oscar-winning Un homme et one femme (A Man and a Woman) in 1965. He later co-starred with Delon in Flic Story, giving him a lesson in acting and the use of silence – of which Trintignant is a master, even more so  than Depardieu.
  9. James Fox, The Servant, 1963.    “Je ne regrette rien.”  The self-exiled US film-maker Joseph Losey went to all the right French movies,  yet found it difficult to land the players he admired… who could leap the language-barrier. Anyway, JLT was far too busy in France and Italy. How else would you describe four features and a tele-film in one year. 
  10. José Valera, Evariste Galoi, France, 1965.    “He refused the character,” explained auteur Alexandre Astruc about his 30-minute short, “because he could never  play a mathematician – ‘I know nothing about algebra’.”  He  regretted  his decision upon seeing the short – starring the future director and author.  And made sure he was in Astruc’s next endeavour, La longue marche, 1965.  Jean-Luc Godard said Astruc was the Uncle of the New Wave.

  11. Claude Dauphin, Two For The Road, 1968.  His  Engleesh had still not improved enough for him  to join Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney.  Odd castuing as  JLT was 39, and Dauphin… 65!
  12. Jacques Perrin, Z,  France-Algeria, 1967.    How to win the Best Actor prize at Cannes… Well, it helps having three films in competition: Giuseppe Patroni Griffi’s Metti, una sera a cena,  Erich Rohmer’s Ma nuit chez Maude and the Costa–Gavras classic.  “A few weeks before shooting began, and with the agreement of Costa, I asked Perrin  to choose which role he wanted.  Finalement,  because  the dates suited me, I played the judge.”  Perrin, one of the producers, chose the photographer. Trintignant stole the film.
  13. Marcello Mastroianni, Ca n’arrive qu’aux autres (US: It Only Happens To Others), France-Italy, 1970.     After  the tragic cot-death of their nine-month-old baby daughter, Pauline, auteur Nadine Trintignant wrote a film about it and expected her husband to play himself. He refused point blank. Friends of the family took over as the couple: Mastroianni and Catherine Deneueve. Nadine wrote a book about the 2003 murder of their actress daughter, Marie, and another after the 2010 death of her second husband, director Alain Corneau. Writing, said the family’s agent Dominique Besnheard, was like an exorcism for Nadine, while the great Trintignant, already semi-retired,  withdrew from all acting until Amour – the Golden Palm-winning best film at  the 2012 Cannes festival.
  14. Dennis Weaver, Duel, 1971.     The tele-film that launched a new director called…. Spielberg. “I had enough propositions in Europe  and my roots are in France. Not in America.”

  15. Marlon Brando, Last Tango In Paris, France-Italy, 1971.
    After the beautiful and tense final scene in Il Conformista,  Bernardo Bertolucci asked JLT what he had been thinking about. “The tyres of a Mercedes,” he said.  “He could have been  been joking or it  could have been true..” (It was the latter).The Italian maestrohad two words for Trintignant: changeable and sinister. Shocked by his refusal to tango, Bertolucci asked JLT’s  wife, Nadine, to try and  persuade him. She  read the script and  told him:  “But you’re mad or what?  Because you know how pudique Bernardo is. He’s not into vulgarity.  And so far, it‘s just a script… It’s Bauderlairien, it’s magnificent.“ And JLT agreed – after seeing the film… At the time, he told his wife  Non!   “I was too shy, physically, for such a role, even though I loved the character.   I’d even  worked  on the scenario with Bernando.”  But the main reason was young Marie Trintignant also read the scenario and didn’t fancy the idea of her father in naked sex scenes – “imagine what they’ll say in school.”  Said Papa: ”I‘m ready to refuse anything to keep her happy.“  Bertolucci  had first planned to re-match his Conformists, Trintignant and Dominique Sanda. However, JLT’s  brother-in-law, Christian Marquand, had unobligingly married  her … and made  her pregnant. Enter: Brando, Marquand’s alleged lover since the summer of 1949. Furthermore, Brando’s co-star, Maria Schneider, was the illegitimate  daughter  of Marlon’s  other alleged lover, French movie star Daniel Gelin!  More  quadrille than tango…

  16. Jacques Brel, L’aventure, c’est l’aventure (US: Money, Money, Money), France, 1971.        “It’s the second time, he refused me,” said réalisateur Claude Lelouch (after Le soleil se leve a l’Ouest, 1966, never made as it had been written exclusively for JLT). “I began to understand: two consecutive films with the same director was impossible for him. And L’aventure was right after Le Voyou.” Not quite. Lelouch made one other film (and Trintignant four) between the two Films 13 productions. No, it was the absurd script that did not attract him, not the director… responsible, after all, for the actor’s biggest hit, Un hommne et une femme, 1966. Brel, the extraordinary Belgian singer, wanted to direct films and snapped up the opportunity to “spy” on Lelouch at work – and became great friends with co-star Lino Ventura. In 1971, JLT had one role only in mind. The role. A second stab as Hamlet. With a broken leg in plaster. (You can’t make a Hamlet without breaking…) For the same director as eleven years before, Maurice Jacequemont. That was the problem. They flopped again. JLT got his revenge in his directing debut, Une journée bien remplie… He had one of his favourite directors, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, playing an actor playing the great Dane (for eight minutes on-screen!) and then, not only Hamlet was killed but the actor playing him, as well. 

  17. Sami Frey, César et Rosalie, France-Italy-West Germany, 1972.
    “I’m scared of not being good enough,“ he told Claude Sautet, a director he’d heard much about from Romy Schneider. (She played Rosalie; Yves Montand was Cesar). As if Sautet didn’t have enough problems trying to find his autobiographical leads, the third part of the eternal triangle was another headache. One day, Belmondo… another day, JLT.  “He couldn’t accept my offer to my great regret.”  And so David was played by another ex-lover  of Bardot… once suggested for Rosalie, herself.  JLT was smitten with Romy, one of Alain  Delon’s exes.. “A superb actress with a stupefying  beauty. When she approached me in one scene, she took my breath away,“ he said of Le Train, 1972. “it was impossible that someone could be so beautiful.“ They became lovers. He said he’d quit Nadine, but Romy knew he wouldn’t.  (Later Nadine left him for auteur Alain Corneau… and JLT moved into the apartment next to theirs!). “Trintignant  was the love of her short  life,“ said another  of Romy’s  co-star lovers, singer Jacques Dutronc. All her affairs were tragedies.

  18. Jacques Brel, L’emmerdeur (US: A Pain in the A**),  France-Italy, 1973.  The classic Francis Veber comedy did not interest Trintignant going through  a political period at the time.  (Not that he made anything  as powerful as Z since 1969).  Billy Wilder surprisingly botched the Hollywood re-hash because he had a tired  duo (Jack Lemmon-Walter Matthau), while Edouard Molinaro lit the blue touch paper of Lino Ventura-Jacques Brel. (Can he act? asked Ventura Ever seen him sing,  was the usual reply). 
  19. Paul Gégauff, Une partie de plaisir (US: Pleasure Party), France-Italy, 1974.   Gegauf was among réalisateur Claude Chabrol’s regular co-scenarists (from his 1958 debut, Les cousins, on through  Les bonnes femmes, Ophelia, Les biches, Que la bête meure) and suggested Trintignant to play his mid-life crisis. Chabrol, however, preferred Gégauff and his wife, Daniele, killing  their marriage – with their daughter  playing their daiughter and in their own luxurious country home. Although nothing like the US title, this is Chabrol’s most unpleasant happening. Gégauff was stabbed to death by his second wife in 1983. Chabrol refrained from filming that tragedy.
  20. Donald Sutherland, Il Casanova di Federico Fellini  (Fellini’s Casanova), Italy-US, 1976.   “I was willing, of course, but [super Italian director Federico] Fellini needed me for an entire year“ – il maestro was renowned for taking his time, working to his own rhythm,  Mastroianni tried to persude his JLT to accept thje gig. . ”But I’d already signed several  other  contracts.” 

  21. Christian Marquand,  Apocalypse Now, 1976.  
  22. François Truffaut, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1976. Steven Spielberg wanted only Truffaut (and could hardly believe he agreed). His (eleven) producers also put out feelers to JLT, Yves Montand, Philippe Noiret, Lino Ventura to play Claude Lacombe (based on real-life French UFO expert and documentary director Jacques Vallée). Casting Truffaut, the New Wave director icon, greatly raised the tenor of the sf tale.
  23. Alain Delon, 3 hommes à battre, France, 1979.   Designed as a second teaming of Trintignant  and journalist-cum-réalisateurPhilippe Labro – after Sans mobile apparent, 1970. Then, Labro’s producer couldn’t locate a company willing to co-produce. Eventually, Delon moved in for a (dumb) version far removed from the original Jean-Patrick Manchette novel, Peut bleu de la côte Ouest. With Delon and gun three times on  the poster.  Ego figure!
  24. Marcello Mastroianni, La donne della domenica (US: The Sunday Woman),  Italy, 1980.    “When we started, I was the police inspector, Mastroianni the homosexual.  After the first scene, [director] Luigi Comencini made a sign.  ‘Come here,  you two.  Would it bother you to swop roles?’  Mastroianni asked me: ‘Would that bore you?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘and you?’ After lunch, he became the cop and me the homo” – the well-named  Massimo Campi. JLT said Comencini  was  a bit of an authoritarian,  ”He has a whistle. He uses a whistle!!!”  He preferred Marcello…. ”Mastroianni is one of the men I love the most…. A  magnificent man, the most interesting of The Four Colonels (Gassman, Tognazzi, Sordi).  Intelligent, modest,m tolerant, generous.  I really love him! We discussed everything – life, women, because  we are….pistachiers (flirts). I saw him, seduce une bombe, une bomb sexuelle, an actress  –  I won’t tell you her name – but the way he did that! Incredible, incredible!” Mastroianni more or less played JLT in Nadine Trintignant’s  Ca n’a arrive qu’aux autres  [see #13]. 

  25. Oleg Yankowskiy, Nostalghia, Italy-Russia, 1982.        
    Andrei Tarkovsky, hailed as the finest Russian film-maker since Sergei Eisenstein, was making his first film outside of the motherland. And that is what it and his future short life – was all about. “That state of mind peculiar to our nation which affects Russians far from their native land.” He never returned home and “the stifling sense of longing that fills the screen was to become my lot for the rest of my life.” The narrative (or dream?) follows a Russian poet and his Italian translator researching the life of an 18th Century composer in Tuscany. The poet was planned for Kaidanowsky (barred from leaving Russia) or his Anatoliy Solonitsyn, who died prematurely from cancer. Italian money meant Marcello Mastroianni and UgoTonazzi had to be considered. Next, on my birthday, March 26, 1982, Tarkovsky’s (and, indeed, Antonjoni’s) scenarist, Tonino Guerra, suggested Jean-Louis Trintignant – “a delicious man,” the director said after a joyous meeting in Milan.  There was a moment when the couple would be Jean-Lou and Fanny Ardant, but they switched to Truffaut’s finale, Vivement dimanche! A lucky break for Yankowskiy,  making up for 1976 when Tarkovsky had offered him merely Laertes in a Hamlet staging, with the main role (then as now) given to his greatest rival, Solonitsyn. The director made one more film before his death in France in 1986. Ingmar Bergman hailed him as “the most important director of all time…. the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream.”

  26. Philippe Leotard, La pirate, France,  1983.    Réalisateur Jacques Doillon recalled driving JLT somewhere. ”He  complimented my driving and I said – in my head – I couldn’t  care less about my driving, I just want you to  accept my film. But he didn’t like the script.” Nor did the Cannes festival screening – all hoots and hollers  and clanging seats as people  got up and fled.   Seven years on, JLT accepted  Doillon’s tele-film version of Nathalie Sarraute’s play, Pour un oui ou pour un non.  With André Dussollier.  
  27. Philippe Noiret, La familgia (US: The Family),  Italy-France, 1986.   Italian maestro Ettore Scola is the only director for whom  JLT broke his rigid rule about never working twice in a row  for the same  film-maker. After three films together, Scola wanted more. He told the actor: ”I wish you’d be in all my films.” Well, not this one. JLT fell ill… He was lying, of course. This was  his way of letting a director down gently. He’d  even been known to go as far as saying he had cancer!  And so the Noiret house phone rang.  Italian maestro Ettore on the line from Cinecitta.  “Jean-Louis is ill. Can you get here tomorrow to shoot the day after…? And brind a good suit.:  Which is how, as Noiret put it , he played Fanny Ardant’s husband or lover. “I never knew which.
  28. Christophe Malavoy, Le cri du hibou, France, 1987.   Réalisateur Robert Enrico first planned it a decade before Chabrol took it on.  During the 80s, JLT  was being offered 30 films a year. ”I mean films which were made, because there are many others which were not made. I have the repuation of making, well, not anything, but… difficult films, serious films. I love rolews that are… confusing.” (He made 141 in 62 years).
  29. Michel Piccoli, Maladie d’amour, France, 1987. Flashy Polish (now Ukrainian) film-maker Andrzej Zulawaksi wanted JLT opposite Isabelle Adjani or Beatrice Dalle. Finally, the French journeyman réalisateurJacques Deray chose Natassja Kinski.
  30. Gian Maria Volonte, Porte aperte (Open Doors), Italy, 1989.   A lesser known  Italian maestro Gianni Amelio wanted to work with JLT again after their Colpire al cuore, in 1982. He offered  another judge – while a decade earlier, he would have  been the guy in the dock: Ennio Fantastichini as a triple  murderer, as guilty as hell and wanting a  rapid trial and execution, grazie.  The judge, however, is anti-capital punishment. The problem for JLT: everything  was to be shot in Italian – live –  no dubbing, for once . A sea change for Italian cinema.
  31. Alain Delon, Le retour de Casanova, France, 1992. After Marcello Mastroianni (already perfect as the aged Casanova in La route de Varennes. 1982), director Edouard Niermans tried Trintignant. “But I gave the producer the rights and he signed a deal with Delon for four movies. ‘Well, if you want to do it, it’s got to be with Delon.’ I wasn’t sure, but then I felt it might be a good idea.  It wasn’t. The experience  with that actor was so frightening!”
  32. Jean Yanne, Regarde les hommes tomber, France, 1994.   After a few days, ex-philosophy professor Jacques Audiard (top scenarist Michel Aduaird’s son)  directing his first film,  suggested his script would work better if  his two stars exchanged roles.  He didn’t have to ask twice. “Not difficult to change,” said JLT. “I’m usually quite agreeable on the set, but here I started to resemble the guy – thoroughly objectionable  with everyone.  Horrible!”
  33. François Cluzet, L’Enfer, 1994.   The third teaming of Trintignant and Romy Schneider came to naught… The scenario, then called La jalousie,  was being shot in 1964 when Serge Reggiani “fell ill“ – another singer far from  delighted by Henri-Georges Clouzot’s brusque manner of directing, after  Hugues Affray in the La vérité. Clouzot (”a terrorist!”) called up JLT, then had a heart attack  cancelling a much  plagued production. Ironically, it  was Marie Trintignant who made it happen some 30 years later. Clouzot’s widow gave her the script and she passed it to Caude Chabrol. He shot it without  Marie but with, in JLT’s old role,  “the extraordinary” Cluzet – JLT’s  “son-in-law,” when he lived with Marie and fathered one of her four sons. 
  34. Michel Serrault, Nelly et Monsieur Arnaud, France, 1995. Jean-Lou refused auteur Claude Sautet a third time after César  et Rosalie and L’argent des autres in 1978.  And  never worked with him again as this proved to be Sautet’s final film.  “I love his work but as a director, I find him too rigid for my taste.“  As per usual, JLT avoided anything he felt would be complicated, boring or too rigorous.  He preferred the styles of Bertolucci, Lelouch, Michel Drach, Gerard Pires, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Scola, Nadine and eventually Haneke and Kielowski,  Sautet transformed Serrault into a clone of himself for the film, similar in theme (romantic restraint) to his Un Coeur en Hiver.  Chicago critic Roger Ebert  called it a delicate dance of erotic fascination as two people, intrigued by the notion of becoming lovers, hold back for fear of rejection and/or involvement
  35. André Dussollier, Les acteurs, France, 1999.   Retired from movies means…  means… retired… from movies, ça va?  Even for a  Bertrand Blier film crammed with…   count them…  Pierre Arditi,  Josiane Balasko, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Claude Brasseur,  Jean-Claude Brialy,  Alain  Delon, Gérard Depardieu, Albert Dupontel, André Dussollier Sami  Frey,  Michel Galabru, Michael Lonsdale, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Michel Piccoli,  Claude Rich, Maria Schneider, Michel Serrault, Jacques Villeret. Jean Yanne.   Encroyable!
  36. Fabrice Luchini, Alceste à bicyclette, France, 2012.    Auteur  Philippe Le Guay wrote the retired actor Serge Tanneur for the retired JLT.  He  was not so easily seduced back into a great role as Tanneur was in the script – greatly added to, for his  usual flamboyant style, often over-ze-top, by Luchini, himself.  When Trintignant decided to come back it was for Michael  Haneke’s Amour, winning most every director, actor and actress prize going, Best Foreign Film Oscar included, in 2012-2013. A good place to end, he said. 









 Birth year: 1930Death year: 2022Other name: Casting Calls:  36