The actor was the narrator in ‘Night and Fog’, the documentary by Alain Resnais about the Nazi death camps.
French actor Michel Bouquet, a giant of the theater and acclaimed on the big screen, died at the age of 96, according to the French media.
Among the hundred titles that make up his filmography, collaborations with filmmakers such as Claude Chabrol, François Truffaut, or Henri-Georges Clouzot stand out, as well as an important uncredited work: providing the voice of the narrator in Night and Fog (1956), the overwhelming documentary by Alain Resnais on the Nazi death camps.
Throughout his career, Bouquet’s work has been recognized with two César awards for best actor for Comment j’ai tué mon père (Anne Fontaine, 2001) and Presidente Mitterrand (Robert Guédiguian, 2005), where he played the French president Francois Mitterrand.
However, above all, Bouquet was a theater actor, a legend on the French stage for almost three-quarters of a century; His last performance was Tartuffe, by Molière, in 2017. Nominated seven times, he won the Molière Award for Best Actor twice and in 2014 an Honorary Molière Award for a lifetime in which he shone especially playing Shakespeare, Beckett, Bernhard, Diderot, Ionesco, and Harold Painter.
He made his film debut in the late 1940s, shortly after Albert Camus was fascinated by one of his tests at the Odeon Theater and recruited him to be part of his production of Caligula. His first major role was in Manon (1949), Henri-Georges Clouzot’s adaptation of Abbé Prévost ‘s post-war book. That same year he also took part in Pattes blanches, by Jean Grémillon.
The tiger perfumes itself with dynamite (1965) was the first collaboration of his fruitful artistic relationship with Claude Chabrol, who directed Bouquet on five other occasions, integrating him into his troupe of recurring supporting actors: La ruta de Corinto (1967), La mujer unfaithful (1969), the rupture (1970), at dusk (1971) and chicken in vinegar (1985). Chabrol also directed it on stage with Strindberg’s Dance of Death.
At the end of the 1960s, Michel Bouquet’s two collaborations with François Truffaut are also memorable: in The Bride Wore in Black (1968) as the second victim of the vengeful outraged bride played by Jeanne Moreau, and in The Mermaid of the Mississippi (1969) as the detective touches the noses of Jean-Paul Belmondo and Catherine Deneuve too much.
In addition to being seen in films like Borsalino (Jacques Deray, 1970) or Every Morning in the World (Alain Corneau, 1991), the actor’s last great role is in Renoir (Gilles Bourdos, 2015), the biopic where he played the painter Impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir and earned his latest César nomination. The drama The Villa Caprice Case (Bernard Stora, 2020) was his last film credit.