11 October 2017

Jean Rochefort (1930-2017)

Last Monday, 9 October 2016, Jean Rochefort (1930-2017) has passed away. The French actor had a successful career in the cinema that has spanned over five decades. He is best remembered for the comedy smashes Le Grand Blond avec Une Chasseure Noire/The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe (Yves Robert, 1972), Un éléphant ça trompe énormément/An Elephant Can Be Extremely Deceptive (Yves Robert, 1976) and Le Mari de la coiffeuse/The Hairdresser's Husband (Patrice Laconte, 1990). Jean Rochefort was 87.

Jean Rochefort
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin, no. 569.

Passion for horses

Jean Rochefort was born in Paris, France in 1930.

He was educated at the Lycée Pierre Corneille in Rouen. At 19, he entered the Centre d'Art Dramatique de la rue Blanche. Later he joined the Conservatoire National.

After his national service, in 1953, he worked with the Compagnie Grenier Hussenot as a theatre actor for seven years. There he was noticed for his ability to play both drama and comedy. He also worked as director.

In 1956, he made his film debut in the sentimental comedy Rencontre à Paris/Meeting in Paris (Georges Lampin, 1956). He decided to become a television and cinema actor.

Rochefort played supporting roles in the adventure films Le Capitaine Fracasse/Captain Fracasse (Pierre Gaspard-Huit, 1961) with Jean Marais, Cartouche/Swords of Blood (Philippe de Broca, 1962) starring Jean-Paul Belmondo, and Merveilleuse Angélique/Angelique: The Road to Versailles (Bernard Borderie, 1965) featuring Michèle Mercier.

During the shooting of Cartouche, he discovered his passion for horses and equestrianism. He was a horse breeder since then. His passion led him to become a horse consultant for French television in 2004.

Jean Rochefort
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, Berlin, no. 23/71, 1971. Photo: Unifrance-Film.

Jean Rochefort
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 12/78, 1978. Retail price: 0,20 DM.

Midlife Crisis Comedy

Jean Rochefort played his first big role in Les Feux de la Chandeleur/Hearth Fires (Serge Korber, 1972) with Annie Girardot as his wife and Claude Jade as their daughter. In this drama he starred as a man who leaves his family for ten years and then returns.

That year, he also starred opposite Pierre Richard as Chief of Counter-Espionage Louis Toulouse in the comedy Le Grand Blond avec Une Chasseure Noire/The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe (Yves Robert, 1972). The box office hit was remade in English as The Man with One Red Shoe (Stan Dragoti, 1985) with Tom Hanks and Dabney Coleman in the role of Rochefort.

He reprised this role in the sequel Le Retour du Grand Blond/The Return of the Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe (Yves Robert, 1974). In between he appeared in interesting films like L'Horloger de Saint-Paul/The Clockmaker (Bertrand Tavernier, 1974) and Le fantôme de la liberté/The Phantom of Liberty (Luis Buñuel, 1974).

He was the leading star of the midlife crisis comedy Un éléphant ça trompe énormément/An Elephant Can Be Extremely Deceptive (Yves Robert, 1976) as a man who risks his married life with Danièle Delorme for an affair with Anny Duperey.

Thanks to this comedy, Rochefort got a big popularity and he also starred in the sequel, Nous irons tous au paradis/We Will All Meet in Paradise (Yves Robert, 1977). The next step were such international films as French Postcards (Willard Huyck, 1979).

Jean Rochefort (1930-2017)
French press photo. Publicity still for Le cavaleur/Practice Makes Perfect (Philippe de Broca, 1979).

Jean Rochefort (1930-2017)
French autograph card.

The Hairdresser's Husband

During the 1980s, Jean Rochefort appeared in less prominent films. An international success was the comedy Le Mari de la coiffeuse/The Hairdresser's Husband (Patrice Laconte, 1990), co-starring Anna Galiena.

Also remarkable was the satirical comedy Prêt-à-Porter/Ready to Wear (Robert Altman, 1994), shot during the Paris Fashion Week with a host of international stars, models and designers.

Another success was the historical film Ridicule (Patrice Leconte, 1996) which examines the social injustices of late 18th century France, in showing the corruption and callousness of the aristocrats.

In 1998, he starred as Fernand de Morcerf opposite Gérard Depardieu in the mini-series Le Comte de Monte Cristo/The Count of Monte Christo (Josée Dayan, 1998). He won two César Awards: in 1976, Best Supporting Actor for Que la fête commence/Let Joy Reign Supreme (Bertrand Tavernier, 1975); and in 1978, Best Actor for his role as a dying French naval frigate captain in Le Crabe-tambour/Drummer-Crab (Pierre Schoendoerffer, 1977).

In 1960 he married Alexandra Moscwa, with whom he fathered two children: a girl, Marie (1962), and a boy, Julien (1965). They later divorced and in all he has five children: Marie, Julien, Pierre, Clémence and Louise.

Later films with Rochefort are Mr. Bean's Holiday (Steve Bendelack, 2007) featuring Rowan Atkinson, L'artiste et son modèle/The Artist and the Model (Fernando Trueba, 2012) and Astérix & Obélix: Au service de Sa Majesté/Asterix and Obelix: God Save Britannia (Laurent Tirard, 2012).

Jean Rochefort (1930-2017)
French collectors card in the series 'Portrait de Stars' by Edito-Service, 1994. Photo: V. Blier / Sygma. Publicity still for Tandem (Patrice Leconte, 1987).

Jean Rochefort
Original photo.

Sources: Wikipedia, and IMDb.

1 comment:

Bunched Undies said...

He has been in so many of my favorite films. Even in small roles, his charisma shines through.