Loved for his roles as a dreamy sailor in the musical “Les Demoiselles de Rochefort” or the nostalgic filmmaker Salvatore in “Cinema Paradiso”, actor and director Jacques Perrin is also remembered for his commitment to filming the planet’s wonders and its fragility.
French actor and filmmaker Jacques Perrin, who starred in dozens of films including “Cinema Paradiso” and “The Young Girls of Rochefort” and co-directed “Winged Migration”, died on Thursday at the age of 80.
“He passed away peacefully,” his family announced in a statement.
The son of a director and an actress, Perrin was born in Paris on 13 July, 1941 and made his acting debut in Marcel Carne’s “Les Portes de la nuit” when he was just five.
He appeared in more than 70 films in a long career spanning from the 1950s to the present day. He was also a member of the Academie des Beaux Arts (Fine Arts Academy).
He got his first leading role starring alongside Claudia Cardinale in “La fille à la valise” (Girl with a Suitcase) in 1961.
The softly-spoken actor was frequently cast as a military officer and was known for “The 317th Platoon” in 1965, “Drummer-Crab” in 1977 and “A Captain’s Honor” in 1982, all three directed by Pierre Schoendoerffer.
For many people in France he would always be Maxence, Catherine Deneuve’s dreamy lover in the 1967 “Les Demoiselles de Rochefort”.
Three years later he starred alongside Catherine Deneuve in another Jacques Demy musical “Peau d’Ane” (Donkey Skin) in which he played prince charming.
Those two films were his only experience in working with the French New Wave of the 1960s. He thanked Demy for the opportunity but always maintained “these characters weren’t me,” deeming himself better suited to more traditional roles.
Among his best-known later roles, Perrin played the adult filmmaker Salvatore reflecting on his childhood in the Oscar-winning “Cinema Paradiso”.
Perrin was also co-producer of some 15 films, including Coasta-Gavras’ “Z” (1969), which won Oscars for best foreign picture and best film editing.
“The Chorus” (2004), directed by his nephew Christophe Barratier, was a huge hit in France, selling 8.6 million tickets at the box office.
Perrin’s final film role was in the environmental thriller “Goliath” – released in March – which denounced the pesticide scandal in France and reflected his deep interest in the natural world.
A committed conservationist, he co-produced several documentaries, including “The Monkey Folk”, “Microcosmos” and “Himalaya”.
He had a taste for adventure. As co-director of “Oceans”, which won the Cesar for best documentary film in 2011, he picked up on the tradition of Jacques Costeau but with more modern techniques. The mammoth shoot took five years on five continents.
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For the Oscar-nominated “Winged Migration” (2001) he and his crew spent months getting the birds used to flying cameras.
“Jacques was pure charm. He succeeded in everything he touched,” tweeted former Cannes Film Festival president Gilles Jacob.
“He is one of the most subtle, most interesting French producers,” “Z” director Costa-Gavras said on France Info, saluting the memory “of a man of great curiosity and also of extreme kindness”.
Perrin was famously modest saying his own talent lay in “knowing how to bring talented people together”.