Michel Bouquet

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Michel Bouquet
Bouquet in 2010
Born(1925-11-06)6 November 1925
Paris, France
Died13 April 2022(2022-04-13) (aged 96)
Paris, France
Years active1944–2021
Ariane Borg
(m. 1954; div. 1967)

Michel Bouquet (6 November 1925 – 13 April 2022) was a French stage and film actor. He appeared in more than 100 films from 1947 to 2020. He won the Best Actor European Film Award for Toto the Hero in 1991 and two Best Actor Césars for How I Killed My Father (2001) and The Last Mitterrand (2005). He also received the Molière Award for Best Actor for Les côtelettes in 1998, then again for Exit the King in 2005. In 2014, he was awarded the Honorary Molière for the sum of his career. He received the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor in 2018.


Michel François Pierre Bouquet was born on 6 November 1925 in Paris.[1] When he was seven years old, he was sent to a boarding school where he stayed until the age of 14.[2] He aspired to become a doctor but had to quit school at the age of 15 after his father had been taken prisoner during World War II.[3] Bouquet worked as a baker's apprentice, then a bank clerk, to provide for the family.[3] After a short stay in Lyon, he returned with his mother to Paris.[4] Marie Bouquet was passionate about theater, and that helped the young Bouquet to find his vocation.[2] He took acting classes under the tutelage of Maurice Escande, a member of the Comédie Française, and made his stage debut in the play La première étape in 1944.[1] Then he studied at the Conservatory of Dramatic Arts in Paris where he met Gérard Philippe.[4]

Stage career[edit]

Bouquet in a 1943 publicity photo

In the mid-1940s Michel Bouquet began working with the playwright Jean Anouilh and director André Barsacq, who staged plays at the Théâtre de l'Atelier in Montmartre.[4] In 1946, Anouilh gave Bouquet a part in Roméo and Jeannette, followed by The Rendez-vous of Senlis and The Invitation to the Castle in 1947.[5] In the 1950s, the actor met another stage director, Jean Vilar, with whom he would frequently collaborate. Bouquet played many roles from the classical repertoire at the Festival d'Avignon, created by Vilar in 1947 (Henry IV in 1950, The Tragedy of King Richard II in 1953, and The Miser in 1962).[6] Bouquet regularly worked with Anouilh until the early 1970s, then helped popularize in France the works of the British author Harold Pinter: The Collection in 1965,[7] The Birthday Party in 1967[8] and No Man's Land in 1979.

At the same time, at the end of the 1970s, Michel Bouquet was appointed professor at the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts and taught there until 1990.[4] In the 1980s-1990s, he returned to the Théâtre de l'Atelier where he once began his career. In 1994, he played in Exit the King by Eugène Ionesco, the role he would perform many times until 2014.[6] In 1998 he received the Molière Award for Best Actor for Bertrand Blier's Les côtelettes, then again for Exit the King in 2005. In 2014, he was awarded the Honorary Molière for the sum of his career.[9] A year later, the actor received accolades for his performance in Taking Sides by the British playwright Ronald Harwood.[10] Bouquet announced his retirement from stage in 2019.[11]

Film career[edit]

Bouquet in 2014

Though Bouquet made his screen debut in 1947, his film career was slower to develop. In 1949, he appeared in Pattes blanches, adapted by Jean Anouilh from his own play and directed by Jean Grémillon, then in Henri-Georges Clouzot's Manon (1950) and Anouilh's Deux sous de violettes (1951). Three years later, he acted in Abel Gance's historical melodrama La Tour de Nesle. In 1955, he narrated Alain Resnais' documentary Night and Fog. In 1965, he worked for the first time with director Claude Chabrol in Our Agent Tiger. Bouquet went on to act in several Chabrol films and received wide acclaim for his performances[3] in The Unfaithful Wife, The Breach, and Just Before Nightfall.

With François Truffaut he shoots as Comolli, the private detective murdered by Jean-Paul Belmondo in Mississippi Mermaid (1969) and as one of the victims of Jeanne Moreau in The Bride Wore Black.[12][13] For Chabrol he played the husband deceived by Stéphane Audran in The Unfaithful Wife, followed by Audran's wicked father-in-law in The Breach. Bouquet and Audran worked together in four Chabrol films.[14] In the 1970s Bouquet is the obstinate cop who terrorized Alain Delon in Deux hommes dans la ville (1972),[15] candidate for legislative elections in Defense de savoir (1973) by Nadine Trintignant, the hospitalized press boss who is surrounded by Claude Jade in Les Anneaux de Bicêtre (1976),[16] but in the same year he was also the formidable billionaire in the comedy Le Jouet by Francis Veber.[17] In this decade he played two dark roles for André Cayatte, in Il n'y a pas de fumée sans feu and La Raison d'État. Another film on the political subject is Plot by Yves Boisset. In the 1980s, he embodied a rotten notary and Stéphane Audran's enemy in Cop au Vin (1986), still with Chabrol.[18] In 1982 he took on the role of Javert in Robert Hossein's adaptation of Les Miserables with Lino Ventura as Jean Valjean and Jean Carmet as Thénardier in 1984, and with such talent that many Hugolians consider this interpretation as the embodiment even by Javert.[19]

Other works[edit]

Over the years, Bouquet recorded his readings of the works of Cervantes, Victor Hugo, Jean-Paul Sartre and other authors that were released on discs. An audio book of his readings of 13 selected fables of Jean de La Fontaine was released in 2019 to wide critical acclaim.[20]

Personal life[edit]

Bouquet was married twice. His first wife was actress Ariane Borg, whom he divorced in 1967.[5] His second wife Juliette Carré was also an actress, who often shared the stage with him.[21]

Bouquet died in Paris on 13 April 2022, at the age of 96.[22]

Selected filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Director
1947 Criminal Brigade Le tueur Gilbert Gil
1947 Monsieur Vincent The TB sufferer Maurice Cloche
1948 Manon The helmsman Henri-Georges Clouzot
1949 White Paws Maurice Jean Grémillon
1951 Three Women (episode L'Héritage) M. Lesable André Michel
1955 Night and Fog narrator Alain Resnais
1964 Les Amitiés particulières Father Trennes Jean Delannoy
1965 Our Agent Tiger Jacques Vermorel Claude Chabrol
1967 The Bride Wore Black Coral François Truffaut
Lamiel Doctor Sansfin Jean Aurel
The Road to Corinth Sharps Claude Chabrol
1968 Mississippi Mermaid Mr Comolli François Truffaut
The Unfaithful Wife Charles Desvalles Claude Chabrol
1969 Last Leap Jauran Édouard Luntz
1970 Borsalino Maître Rinaldi Jacques Deray
Just Before Nightfall Charles Masson Claude Chabrol
The Breach Ludovic Régnier Claude Chabrol
The Cop L'inspecteur Favenin Yves Boisset
Comptes à rebours [fr] Valberg Roger Pigaut
1971 Malpertuis Dideloo Harry Kümel
1972 Night Flight from Moscow Tavel Henri Verneuil
Trois milliards sans ascenseur Albert Roger Pigaut
Plot Maïtre Lempereur Yves Boisset
Il n'y a pas de fumée sans feu M. Morlaix André Cayatte
1973 Deux hommes dans la ville Inspector Goitreau José Giovanni
Le Complot [fr] Lelong René Gainville
1974 La Main à couper [fr] Georges Noblet Étienne Périer
1975 Au-delà de la peur [fr] Claude Balard Yannick Andréi
1976 The Toy Président Rambal-Cochet Francis Veber
1977 Les Anneaux de Bicêtre [fr] René Maugras Louis Grospierre
1978 La Raison d'État Francis Jobin André Cayatte
L'Ordre et la sécurité du monde Banquier Muller Claude d'Anna
1982 Les Misérables L'inspecteur Javert Robert Hossein
1984 Cop au Vin Hubert Lavoisier Claude Chabrol
1985 Le regard dans le miroir Mathias Jean Chapot
1990 Toto the Hero Thomas (at old age) Jaco Van Dormael
1991 Tous les Matins du Monde Baugin Alain Corneau
1993 The Eye of Vichy narrator Claude Chabrol
1994 Élisa Samuel Jean Becker
1997 Milice, film noir narrator Alain Ferrari
2001 How I Killed My Father Maurice Anne Fontaine
2001 Leïla narrator Gabriel Axel
2003 Les Côtelettes Mr Potier Bertrand Blier
2004 The Last Mitterrand President Mitterrand Robert Guédiguian
2010 The Little Room Edmond Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond
2012 Renoir Pierre-Auguste Renoir Gilles Bourdos
2015 The Art Dealer Raoul François Margolin
2016 The Origin of Violence Marcel Fabre in 2014 Élie Chouraqui
2018 Troppa grazia Gianni Zanasi
2020 Villa Caprice Marcel Germon Bernard Stora

Awards and nominations[edit]

César Awards[edit]

Year Group Award Film Result
2002 César Awards Best Actor How I Killed My Father (Comment j'ai tué mon père) Won
2006 César Awards Best Actor The Last Mitterrand (Le Promeneur du Champs-de-Mars) Won
2014 César Awards Best Actor Renoir Nominated

European Film Award[edit]

Year Group Award Film Result
1991 European Film Awards Best Actor Toto le Héros Won

Globes de Cristal Award[edit]

Year Group Award Film Result
2006 Globes de Cristal Award Best Actor The Last Mitterrand Nominated

Molière Awards[edit]

Year Group Award Play Result
1998 Molière Awards Best Actor Les Côtelettes Won
2005 Molière Awards Best Actor Le Roi se meurt Won
2014 Molière Awards Honorary For his career[9] Won
Year Group Award Play Result
1987 Molière Awards Best Actor Le Malade imaginaire Nominated
1988 Molière Awards Best Actor Le Malade imaginaire Nominated
2000 Molière Awards Best Actor Taking Sides Nominated
2007 Molière Awards Best Actor The Miser Nominated


Bouquet was made Knight of the Legion of Honor in 1983, promoted to Officer in 1996, Commander in 2007, Grand Officer in 2013, and was awarded the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor on 13 July 2018.[23]


  1. ^ a b "Michel Bouquet - Cinémathèque française". cinema.encyclopedie.personnalites.bifi.fr. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  2. ^ a b Renault, Gilles (10 October 2017). "Michel Bouquet, persistant". Libération.fr (in French). Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Katz, Ephraim (1994). The film encyclopedia (2nd ed.). New York: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0-06-273089-4. OCLC 29386631.
  4. ^ a b c d "Michel Bouquet - La biographie de Michel Bouquet avec Gala.fr". Gala.fr (in French). Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Michel Bouquet". Premiere.fr (in French). Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Michel Bouquet : biographie, actualités et émissions France Culture". France Culture (in French). Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  7. ^ "The Collection, Paris, 1965". www.haroldpinter.org. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  8. ^ "The Birthday Party, Paris, 1967". www.haroldpinter.org. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Molières: le retour des récompenses et hommages". RFI. 3 June 2014. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  10. ^ "Michel Bouquet, 90 ans, tout en subtilité dans "A tort où à raison"". LExpress.fr (in French). 24 December 2015. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  11. ^ A.F.P.; Le Figaro (12 April 2019). "À 93 ans, Michel Bouquet annonce qu'il ne remontera pas sur scène". Le Figaro.fr (in French). Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  12. ^ Canby, Vincent (11 April 1970). "Screen: A New Truffaut:'Mississippi Mermaid' Uncoils Complexly". The New York Times.
  13. ^ Bamber, Martyn (21 March 2018). "The Bride Wore Black (François Truffaut, 1968)".
  14. ^ Bergan, Ronald (27 March 2018). "Stéphane Audran obituary". The Guardian – via www.theguardian.com.
  15. ^ "Review: Two Men in Town". Slant Magazine. 23 August 2005.
  16. ^ "Zwischen Tod und Leben". www.filmdienst.de.
  17. ^ "Das Spielzeug". www.filmdienst.de.
  18. ^ "Hühnchen in Essig". www.filmdienst.de.
  19. ^ "Die Legion der Verdammten (1982)". www.filmdienst.de.
  20. ^ Merle, Sylvain (10 March 2019). "Jean de La Fontaine raconté par Michel Bouquet, quel bonheur !". leparisien.fr (in French). Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  21. ^ "Juliette CARRE - Biographie, spectacles, films, théâtre et photos". Théâtres Parisiens Associés (in French). Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  22. ^ "Le comédien Michel Bouquet est mort à l'âge de 96 ans". France Bleu. 13 April 2022.
  23. ^ "Décret du 13 juillet 2018 portant élévation à titre exceptionnel à la dignité de grand'croix". legifrance.gouv.fr (in French). 14 July 2018. Retrieved 26 November 2019.

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