French film icon Michel Piccoli has passed away at the age of 94, his family confirmed to AFP. The veteran actor is reported to have died in his wife Ludivine’s arms, alongside his children Inord and Missia, after suffering a stroke.
Piccoli was one of the biggest names in French cinema and starred alongside the likes of Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve throughout his career, which spanned an impressive seven decades. He also worked with renowned directors including Alfred Hitchcock, Luis Bunuel, Louis Malle and Jean-Luc Godard.
Tributes poured in on social media after the news broke on Monday, with colleagues and fans alike paying tribute to Piccoli. French President Emmanuel Macron described Piccoli as a “giant” in the industry.
One fan wrote: “One of the greatest of all screen actors passes. RIP Michel Piccoli. Thank-you for showing us the way. That is all I can say.”
Another said: “Michel Piccoli was that rare thing: the actor who could do anything. Big leads, robust support, weird character turns, sincerity, irony, singing dancing… Too many films to mention.” While another wrote: “May your beautiful soul rest in peace. Today the world cinema lost one of its best legends.”
I’m sad to report that French film legend Michel Piccoli has died at the age of 94. In a career spanning more than 60 years he was in everything from Melville’s Le Doulos to Hitchcock’s Topaz from Bunuel’s Diary of a Chambermaid and Belle du Jour to Louis Malle’s Atlantic … pic.twitter.com/JxShkI6e8t
— TonyWendice (@tonywendice1954) May 18, 2020
Piccoli began his career in the 1940s and starred in more than 150 films. His last appearance on the silver screen was in 2011’s We Have a Pope, in which he played a newly-elected pontiff who was crippled by panic attacks.
He will be best remembered for roles in the likes of Belle de Jour (1967), The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) and Jean-Luc Godard’s 1963 hit Contempt, in which he starred alongside screen siren Brigitte Bardot.