Michel Serrault


  1. Louis de Funès, Carambolages,  France, 1962.    Who  could play a bastard written for Blier when Blier was not available?  The film’s star, Jean-Claude Brialy, suggested the stutter, splutter, mutter, nutter comic who ate scenery as if it were ratatouille.  Gaumont got him although  no one was keen because M’sieur Grimace’s films were still flopping. (de Funès always had the bad fortune to open opposite such hits as  Tati’s Mon Oncle, Disney’s Snow White, Belmondo’s L’Homme de Rio, Delon’s Tulipe Noir!).  Director Marcel Bluwal admitted pushing hard for  Serrault, instead. 
  2. Yves Robert, Le Cinéma de Papa, France, 1970.   For his fourth feature, Claude Berri (actor-turned-director and one of the most successful French producers) had a simple idea: “A son aims to be an actor, but it’s his father who becomes a star.” He had wanted his father to play himself. On his death, Berri searched everywhere: Serrault, Louis De Funès, Serge Reggiani, even Peter Ustinov, (Berri’s mother, Betty Langmann, played his mother in his sixth film, Le Mâle du siècle, 1974; his sister, Arlette, was an editor and scenarist mainly alongside Berri and her lover, realisateur Maurice Pialat).
  3. Jean-Claude Brialy, La Nuit de Varennes, France-Italy 1982.    Like Michel Piccoli, Serrault walked away from Marie-Antoinette’s gay hairdresser. “He has no dialogue, he does not exist!”Brialy andItalian director Ettore Scola changed all that -resulting in a fan letter to Brialy signed… Elia Kazan.
  4. Freddie Jones, E la nava va/And The Ship Sails On, Italy, 1983.    Super-Italian director Federico Fellini changed his mind, feeling that Serrault’s face was too well known from the Cage aux Folles films. “I met Fellini four times in Rome and Paris,” said Jones. “When I asked why he chose me, he burst out laughing – not done to ask him questions like that.”
  5. Richard Bohringer, Agent Trouble, France, 1986.   His usual star was instrumental in bringing Catherine Deneuve and auteur Jean-Pierre Mockytogether but when the schedule was set, Serrault was not.
  6. Daniel Auteuil, La fille sur le pont, France, 1988.    Realisateur Patrice Leconte was shocked when Jean-Pierre Marielle, 56,suddenly, tearfullypulled out of his drama – saying he was too old and had no wish to be poor 16-year-old Vanessa Paradis’ latest ancientstud.Serrault felt muchthe same at 60.
  7. Jean Yanne, Madame Bovary, France, 1990.   Since substituting Charles Boyer in Les fantômes du chapelier, 1981, auteur Claude Chabrol searched for another vehicle for Serault.   “Cha-Cha” pondered about  him being the chemist, Homais, in the Isabelle Huppert vehicle. But no – “I’m not a Flaubertiste.” And  not Betty, 1991, either. Eventually, they agreed on Rien ne va plus, 1997.




 Birth year: 1928Death year: 2007Other name: Casting Calls:  7