C’est qui?

We cast a spot­light on a fig­ure mak­ing the head­lines this month

France - - Culture -

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.”

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