15 January 2018

Bernard Giraudeau

French actor Bernard Giraudeau (1947-2010) was with his bright blue eyes one of the most attractive but also talented stars of the French cinema. For his roles, he was twice nominated for the French Oscar, Le César. Giraudeau also worked as film director, scriptwriter, producer and writer.

Bernard Giraudeau
French autograph card.

Bernard Giraudeau
French postcard in the Acteurs Français series by Les Editions Gil, no. 5.

Passion of Love


Bernard René Giraudeau was born in 1947 in La Rochelle, France.

In 1963 the 15-years-old enlisted in the French navy as a trainee engineer, qualifying as the first in his class a year later. He completed two around the world cruises before his service ended. He served on the helicopter carrier Jeanne d'Arc in 1964–1965 and 1965–1966, and subsequently on the frigate Duquesne and the aircraft carrier Clemenceau before leaving the navy to try his luck as an actor.

He studied acting at the CNSAD (Conservatoire National Superieur d'Art Dramatique). Giraudeau first appeared on film in the Franco-Italian crime film Deux hommes dans la ville/Two men in Town (José Giovanni, 1973) starring Jean Gabin and Alain Delon. He played a kidnapper in Revolver (Sergio Sollima, 1973) with Oliver Reed.

Two years later he had a supporting part in another crime drama by José Giovanni, Le Gitan/The Gypsy (José Giovanni, 1975), starring Alain Delon and Annie Girardot.

In 1977, he played the male lead in Bilitis (1977) directed by photographer David Hamilton with a music score by Francis Lai. The erotic and romantic coming-of-age drama starred Patti D'Arbanville as Bilitis. The film was shot in the soft-focus schmaltz style that was common of David Hamilton's at the time very popular photography.

Giraudeau also co-starred with Jodie Foster in the French film Moi, fleur bleue/Stop Calling Me Baby! (Eric le Hung, 1977). He co-starred again with Alain Delon in the futuristic war film Le Toubib/The Medic (Pierre Granier-Deferre, 1979), and appeared in the hit comedy Boum/The Party (Claude Pinoteau, 1980) with Sophie Marceau in her film debut.

Then followed his breakthrough as a handsome dashing officer who falls desperately in love with an ugly but passionate woman (Valeria d’Obici) in the Italian drama Passione d'amore/Passion of Love (Ettore Scola, 1981). The film was entered into the 1981 Cannes Film Festival and served as the inspiration for the 1994 Broadway musical Passion by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine.

Soon followed leading roles in international films like the French-Swiss drama Hecate (Daniel Schmid, 1982) with Lauren Hutton, the French-Canadian crime film Le Ruffian/The Ruffian (José Giovanni, 1983) also starring Lino Ventura and Claudia Cardinale, and the French drama L'année des méduses/The Year of the Jellyfish (Christopher Frank, 1985) with Valérie Kaprisky.

Another box-office hit in France was the buddy-action film Les Spécialistes/The Specialists (Patrice Leconte, 1985). in which he co-starred with Gérard Lanvin. DB Dumonteil at IMDb: “A deft, energetic buddy movie interspersed with unexpected twists, suspenseful chases and stunts and a sharp humor into the bargain. Everything you could wish for to spend a comfortable evening in front of the telly without reservations. (…) One shouldn't forget the two main actors which contribute in making the film a little winner. Gérard Lanvin and Bernard Giraudeau are on top form.”

Bernard Giraudeau in Rue barbare (1984)
French autograph card. Photo: Luc Roux, Première. Publicity still for Rue barbare/Barbarous Street (Gilles Béhat, 1984).

Gérard Lanvin, Bernard Giraudeau, Les Spécialistes
French postcard by Les Editions Gil in the série acteurs, no. 3. Publicity still for Les Spécialistes/The Specialists (1985, Patrice Leconte) with Gérard Lanvin.

Water Drops on Burning Rocks


In 1987, Bernard Giraudeau made his first film as director the TV film La Face de l'ogre/The Face of the Monster (1988), though he continued to work as an actor.

He co-starred with Isabelle Huppert in the romance Après l'amour/Love After Love (Diane Kurys, 1992). In the drama Le Fils préferé/The Favourite Son (Nicole Garcia, 1994), he played the brother of Gérard Lanvin and Jean-Marc Barr.

Giraudeau appeared in the lauded historical drama Ridicule (Patrice Leconte, 1996), set in the 18th century at the decadent court of Versailles. The film won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and received several César awards, but Giraudeau was only nominated for a Cesar as best Supporting Actor.

He played Molière in another historical film, Marquise (Véra Belmont, 1997) with Sophie Marceau and Lambert Wilson. In Italy he appeared in the drama Marianna Ucrìa (Roberto Faenza, 1997).

Back in France he starred in François Ozon’s drama Gouttes d'eau sur pierres brûlantes/Water Drops on Burning Rocks (2000), based on a German play by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Tropfen auf heisse Steine, written when he was 19 years old. Elbert Ventura at AllMovie: “The movie has an undercurrent of absurdist humor, but its laughs are muffled for the most part, with the exception being an out-of-left-field dance number that injects some needed energy into the dour, claustrophobic story. Beautifully structured and meticulously filmed, Water Drops on Burning Rocks is clearly the work of an intelligent filmmaker.”

Also interesting is Une affaire de goût/A Question of Taste (Bernard Rapp, 2000). The film tells about the growing dependency between a rich CEO (Giraudeau) and a handsome young waiter (Jean-Pierre Lorit) whom the CEO hires at an astronomical sum to serve as a personal food taster. David Anderson at Bunched Undies: “A Matter of Taste is a well-executed film: excellent production, nicely photographed and well-acted. But by the time it’s over, like the principle characters, you may find yourself feeling a bit empty.” The film received 5 César Award nominations, including nominations for Best Film and for Giraudeau as Best Actor.

Bernard Giraudeau
French postcard in the Collection 9.1/2 series by Editions Humour à la Carte, Paris, no. ST-63. Sent by mail in 2000.

The Hook


As a writer, Bernard Giraudeau wrote the text of books of photography and published children's stories (Contes d'Humahuaca, 2002) and several novels. He was also the reader on the French audio books of the Harry Potter series.

Since 1976, he was married to actress and author Anny Duperey, whom he had met while acting in the same play. They acted together on-screen in several productions, including the crime drama Le grand pardon/Grand Pardon (Alexandre Arcady, 1982), Meurtres à domicile/Evil in the house (Marc Lobet, 1982), La face de l'ogre (Bernard Giraudeau, 1988), and Contre l'oubli/Against Oblivion (Bernard Giraudeau a.o., 1991). They divorced in 1993.

From 1996 to his death, he was the companion of Tohra Mahdavi. Giraudeau and Duperey had two children: son Gaël and daughter Sara. Sara Giraudeau achieved success as an actress.

In 2000 Bernard Giraudeau suffered a cancer which led to the removal of his left kidney, with a subsequent metastasis in 2005 affecting his lungs. He said that the cancer led him to re-evaluate his life and understand himself better.

He devoted some of his time to the support of cancer victims through the Institut Curie and the Institut Gustave-Roussy in Paris.

His later films included La petite Lili/Little Lili (Claude Miller, 2003), featuring Ludivine Sagnier, the comedy Ce jour-là/That Day (Raúl Ruiz, 2003), and the thriller Je suis un assassin/The Hook (Thomas Vincent, 2004) with François Cluzet and Karin Viard.

In 2010, Bernard Giraudeau died of his cancer in a Paris hospital. He was 63.


Trailer Gouttes d'eau sur pierres brûlantes/Water Drops on Burning Rocks (2000). Source: Accent Film Entertainment (YouTube).


French trailer Une affaire de goût/A Question of Taste (2000). Source: jajuvabie (YouTube).

Sources: David Anderson (Bunched Undies), DB Dumonteil (IMDb), Elbert Ventura (AllMovie), Wikipedia and IMDb.
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