We cast a spotlight on a figure making the headlines this month
Name: Jean Rochefort.
Occupation: Actor. Tell me more: Jean Rochefort, who died in October aged 87, was one of France’s best-loved actors, appearing in comedies, blockbusters and art films in a career lasting five decades.
Rochefort was born in Paris but grew up in Nantes. The actor described himself as being “bored as a child”, and gained an interest in theatre from listening to the radio. He studied acting at the Paris Conservatoire in the 1950s but had to leave to complete military service.
On his return to Paris in 1960, the young actor began appearing in cabaret and in plays before switching to films. He made his name in costume films including Captain Fracasse (1961), in which he played a swashbuckling pirate, and the Alexandre Dumas adventure The Iron Mask the following year.
His role as a priest in the 1975 period drama Let Joy Reign Supreme earned him a César for best supporting actor, and in 1978 he won the best actor award as a naval captain in Le Crabe-tambour. In 1999, he was awarded a lifetime achievement award at the Césars.
The actor also starred as an unfulfilled middle-aged man in a number of sex farces including The Hairdresser’s Husband, which was an international hit in 1990. He also appeared in Lost in La Mancha, a 1998 documentary about Terry Gilliam’s failed film adaptation of Cervantes’s Don Quixote.
Rochefort retired from acting in 2015. Known for his wit and self-deprecating humour, he joked: “I am part of French national heritage. There is Bayonne ham, Philippe Noiret, Jean-pierre Marielle and me.”