Jacques Villeret

  1. Pierre Richard, La chevre, France, 1981.     What was planned for Lino Ventura-Villeret became Gérard Depardieu-Richard – and they were so good, they made two more Francis Veber comedies.  Villeret got his own Veber hit with Le diner des cons, on stage, 1993, and screen, 1998.
  2. Dominique Besnehard, A nos amours (To Our Loves), France, 1983.    Returning to aid realisateur Maurice Pialat, after their bitter row during Passe ton bac d’abord… in 1978, Dominique Besnehard set about locating the heroine’s  violent brother.  The film was written by Pialat’s lover, Arlette Langmann, based on her life and her brother: none other than the #1 French producer-director Claude Berri… who also  made his mark with films about his own childhood and adolescencew. (How French can you get). Despite  making snide, anti-gay slurs about Besenhard really searching among young actors for a new lover, Pialat  saw the final selection them. Villeret, Jackie   Berroyer, Patrick Bruel, Jacques Gamblin, Vincent Lindon, Robin Renucci – all slapping poor Sandrine Bonnaire several times in their tests. And he then gave the role to… Besnehard! He’d started as actor and  various directors he’d worked with  told him  to go for it. Next day, Pialat typically declared: “Not sure if it’s a good idea… [Pause]  OK, just don’t be be too gay.  Then again, Berri is a bit homo!”
  3. Roland Giraud, Trois hommes et un couffin, France, 1985,  Of the three guys in the smash-hit movie, only Michel Boujenah was chosen without question (he won the best supporting César actor; the film  was nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar… while Chicago critic Roger Ebert seethed against  “the stupidity on the screen.”) Producer Jean-François Lepetit wanted Roland Giraud as Pierre, but auteur Coline Serreau preferred Daniel Auteuil – he spiit for Jean de Florette and his supporting César. Serreau had little luck with Gérard Depardieu (he was Jean de Floretter!)or Jacques Villeret, so Giraud won the day, after all.    I avoided the Paris Press screening – who needed another horror movie – after mistaking couffin (cradle) for coffin!  
  4. Daniel Auteuil, Jean De Florette & Manon des sources, France-Italy-Switzerland, 1985.    ”Don’t worry, ma poule,” Coluchetold his mentor, auteur Claude Berrri, “I’ll be your Ugolin.”And he tried but tests proved him incapable of capturing either Ugolin’s Midi accent or his lovelorn soul. (“It’s not me that’s crying. It’s my eyes”).The comic, who had won a Cesar for Berri’sTchao Pantin,1983, then balked at the eight-month shoot and demanded 10m Euros -to help free Berri into searching elsewhere. He took a long time talking with Villeret while the ideal candidate had the same name as the area where Berri shothis tests – Auteuil.Ironically, the same tests proved how Yves Montand (merely helping Coluche out by playing opposite him) proved perfect forthe role he had already refused: the Cesar Soubeyran, akale Papet. In turn, he refused the chubby Villeret. “We’re not doing Laurel & Hardy!”
  5. Michel Blanc, M Hire, France, 1988.    The idea had been on auteur Patrice Leconte’s mind for some years.. A re-make of the 1957 Panique – Juulien Duvivier directing Michel Simon – based on the Georges Simenon novel, Les Fiancailles de M Hire.  Patrick Dewolf worked with Leconte on the scenario with Coluche in mind. “Physically, he was very close to the personnage created by Simenon.” But then the #1 French stand-up and Cesar-winning actor was killed in a motor-cycle crash. Another bulky star, Jacques Villeret, was considered, even the thinner Roman Polanski – although the film was perhaps too close to his Tenant. Leconte decided he needed a pal for the ride, and called up Blanc from their   highly succesful Bronzés comedies – and asked him to do much the same as he’d asked another bronzé, Gerard Jugnot, to do in Tandem – go off-circuit,  try something totally new… for both of them! And it worked,. Splendidly. 
  6. Claude Brasseur, Camping, France, 2006.Died just before shooting and Brasseur agreed to play the role – “for Jacques upstairs.” One of the busiest characteractorsin French cinema, the chubby Villerethad five films released in the year of his death.
  7. Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Dialogue avec mon jardinier,  France, 2006.     When he was writing his script, auteur Jean Becker was thinking of the star of his Les enfants du Marais, 1998, and Effroyables jardins, 2002.When production began, the extremely popular alcoholic Villeret was dead. At 54.



 Birth year: 1951Death year: 2005Other name: Casting Calls:  7