14 July 2013

Jean-Hugues Anglade

French actor Jean-Hugues Anglade (1955) is internationally best known for his sensual and ambiguous roles in the cult films 37°2 le matin/Betty Blue (1986) and Nikita/La Femme Nikita (1990).

Jean-Hugues Anglade
French postcard by Humour a la Carte, Paris, no. ST-164. Photo: J. Casano / Stills.

Jean-Hugues Anglade was born in Thouars, France in 1955. His father was a veterinary and his mother a social worker. He studied five years at the Conservatoire national supérieur d'art dramatique in Paris. After some TV performances, he made his film debut with a supporting part in the crime film L'indiscrétion/The indiscretion (Pierre Lary, 1982) starring Jean Rochefort. He was a revelation as a young man discovering his homosexuality in l'Homme blessé/The Wounded Man (Patrice Chéreau, 1983), written by Chéreau and Hervé Guibert. James Travers at Films de France: “The film stars Jean-Hugues Anglade in what remains his most courageous and striking screen role, playing the taciturn mixed-up adolescent Henri with so much conviction that it is hard to believe he is enacting a fictional piece of drama. Anglade pours everything he has into this performance and the film’s impact rests mainly on his sympathetic portrayal of Henri as a vulnerable victim of his own tragic humanity.“ The dark and quite raw film won the César Award for Best Writing and was also entered into the 1983 Cannes Film Festival. Anglade played a supporting part in La diagonale du fou/Dangerous Moves (Richard Dembo, 1984), starring Michel Piccoli. The film about two very different men competing in the final match of the World Chess Championship won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, the Prix Louis Delluc, and the César Award for Best Debut. Anglade then had a part as a roller skating bag snatcher in Luc Besson’s Subway (1985) starring Isabelle Adjani and Christophe Lambert. The film is now regarded as part of the Cinema du look movement and was the third most popular French film in France in 1986. Anglade’s definitive breakthrough came with 37°2 le matin/Betty Blue (Jean-Jacques Beineix, 1986). Betty (Béatrice Dalle in her debut role) and Zorg (Anglade) are passionate lovers who live in a shack on the beach. Betty's free-spirited nature and devotion to handyman Zorg develop into alarming obsession, aggression and destructiveness, and the film alternates between comedy and tragedy. Betty Blue received both a BAFTA and Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film in 1986. Four years later Anglade played Anne Parillaud’s boyfriend in another international hit, Nikita/La Femme Nikita (Luc Besson, 1990). This action thriller centres around a punkish, psychotic, and drug-ridden girl who is recruited to work as an assassin for the French government. Brendon Hanley at AllMovie: “writer/director Luc Besson's rhythmic, ultra-stylish, and gleefully ridiculous 1990 hit movie. A mixture of Pygmalion, Diva, and one of John Woo's choreographed action pictures, the film was one of a subgenre of action pictures to emerge in the 1990s, characterized by tongue-in-cheek stylistics and a hip, film noir-ish sensibility.”

Jean-Hugues Anglade, Beatrice Dalle
French postcard by Ebulittions, no. 16. Photo: publicity still for 37°2 le matin/Betty Blue (1986) with Béatrice Dalle.

Jean-Hugues Anglade
Vintage postcard.

Remarkable Turn
Jean-Hugues Anglade reunited with Patrice Chéreau for the lavish historical epic La Reine Margot/Queen Margot (1994), based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas, père. The film starring Isabelle Adjani was an international box office success, and won the Jury Prize and Best Actress Award at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival, as well as five César Awards in 1995. For his part as the doomed King Charles IX, Anglade was awarded the César for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. He co-starred with Eric Stoltz and Julie Delpy in Killing Zoe (Roger Avary, 1994) about a doomed bank heist. Despite being set in Paris, the film was shot almost entirely in Los Angeles. Killing Zoe was at the time a box-office disaster but is now regarded as a cult film. In the following years Anglade made films in both Europe and the US, including Nelly et Monsieur Arnaud/Nelly and Mr. Arnaud (Claude Sautet, 1995) with Michel Serrault and Emmanuelle Béart, the action film Maximum Risk (Ringo Lam, 1996), starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and Natasha Henstridge, and the Italian-French comedy Le affinità elettive/The Elective Affinities (Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, 1996) with Isabelle Huppert. Anglade wrote and directed himself the film Tonka (1996), with his partner Pamela Soo in the lead. The film was not a success. In the following decade his films were less prominent. Beineix’ Franco-German comedy-thriller Mortel Transfert (Jean-Jacques Beineix, 2001) was an artistic disappointment and a major commercial failure. He had supporting parts in the Italian drama Il più bel giorno della mia vita/The Best Day of My Life (Cristina Comencini, 2002) with Virna Lisi, the Hollywood thriller Taking Lives (D. J. Caruso, 2004) starring Angelina Jolie, and the war drama Shake Hands with the Devil (Roger Spottiswoode, 2007). Then he came back with leading roles in a series of interesting films. He played the lead in the drama Il prossimo tuo/Thy Neighbour (Anne Riitta Ciccone, 2008). In another good drama, Villa Amalia (Benoît Jacquot, 2009) he co-starred again with Isabelle Huppert. In Persécution (Patrice Chéreau, 2009) he played a madman who spies on and haunts Romain Duris. For his role, Anglade won the César Award for Best Supporting Actor. He also made a remarkable turn on French television in an instalment of Collection Fred Vargas titled Sous les vents de Neptune (2009). Recently, he appeared in the comedy Amitiés sincères/Kind regards (Stéphan Archinard, François Prévôt-Leygonie, 2012) with Gérard Lanvin, and the crime film L'autre vie de Richard Kemp/Back in Crime (Germinal Alvarez, 2013). Jean-Hugues Anglade has two sons, Pierre-Louis and Emile, with ex-companion Mali Lecomte.

Trailer 37°2 le matin/Betty Blue (Director's Cut)(1986/2009). Source: Watchculturetainment (YouTube).

French trailer Nikita/La Femme Nikita (1990). Source: Putois blogueur (YouTube).

Sources: James Travers (Films de France), Brendon Hanley (AllMovie), Yuri German (AllMovie), Wikipedia (French and English) and IMDb.
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