Jean-Pierre Léaud, ComM (French: [ʒɑ̃pjɛʁ le.o]; born 28 May 1944) is a French actor, best known for playing Antoine Doinel in François Truffaut's series of films about that character, beginning with The 400 Blows (Les Quatre Cents Coups, 1959). He also worked several times with Jean-Luc Godard, and is a significant figure of the French New Wave.
Born in Paris, Léaud made his major debut as an actor at the age of 14 as Antoine Doinel, a semi-autobiographical character based on the life events of French film director François Truffaut, in The 400 Blows. To cast the two adolescents, Truffaut published an announcement in France-Soir and auditioned several hundred children in September and October 1958. Jean Domarchi, a critic at Cahiers du cinéma, had earlier recommended the son of an assistant scriptwriter, Pierre Léaud, and the actress Jacqueline Pierreux.
Truffaut was immediately captivated by the fourteen-year-old adolescent, who had already appeared with Jean Marais in Georges Lampin's La Tour, prends garde ! (1958). He recognized traits they both shared, "for example a certain suffering with regard to the family...With, however, this fundamental difference: though we were both rebels, we hadn't expressed our rebellion in the same way. I preferred to cover up and lie. Jean-Pierre, on the contrary, seeks to hurt, shock and wants it to be known...Why? Because he's unruly, while I was sly. Because his excitability requires that things happen to him, and when they don't occur quickly enough, he provokes them".:129 In his final interview, Truffaut mentioned he was happy with how Léaud improvised within the flexibly written script.
Jean-Pierre Léaud, then in the eighth grade at a private school in Pontigny, was a far from ideal student. The director of the school wrote this to Truffaut, "I regret to inform you that Jean-Pierre is more and more 'unmanageable'. Indifference, arrogance, permanent defiance, lack of discipline in all its forms. He has twice been caught leafing through pornographic pictures in the dorm. He is developing more and more into an emotionally disturbed case".:129 But this unstable boy, who often ran away with the older students on their nights out, could also be brilliant, generous, and affectionate. Extremely cultured for his age,:130 he was already very good at writing, and he even claimed to Truffaut that he had written a "verse tragedy", Torquatus.:130
Throughout the production of The 400 Blows (Les Quatre Cents Coups, 1959), wrote Jay Carr "Truffaut would take Léaud to see rushes of Godard's Breathless each evening. They'd sit up late talking film with Godard, Rivette, Rohmer, Eustache, Orson Welles.” Upon the filmmaker’s death, the actor reminisced Truffaut was the first person he admired and that he “spoke to children like they were adults. He realized that children understood things better than adults did. He was purely intuitive. We operated in a sort of complicity.”
During and following the filming of The 400 Blows, Truffaut’s concern for Léaud extended beyond the film set. He took charge of the difficult adolescent’s upbringing after Léaud was expelled from school and kicked out of the home of the retired couple taking care of him. Truffaut subsequently rented a studio apartment for Léaud. Truffaut also hired him for assistant work on The Soft Skin (La peau douce, 1964) and Mata Hari, Agent H21 (1964).
Léaud starred in four more Truffaut films depicting the life of Doinel, spanning a period of 20 years—after the short-film Antoine et Colette in 1962—beside actress Claude Jade as his girlfriend, and then wife, Christine. Those films are Stolen Kisses (1968), Bed and Board (1970) and Love on the Run (1979). Truffaut stated that Léaud was the source of inspiration for the Antoine Doinel character and "I created some scenes just because I knew he would be funny in them—at least I laughed during the writing as I thought of him." He also collaborated with Truffaut on non-Antoine Doinel films like Two English Girls (Les Deux Anglaises et le Continent]], 1971) and Day for Night (La Nuit américaine, 1973) and became the actor most commonly affiliated with him. Although Antoine Doinel is his most familiar character, he often found his performances in other films to be compared to his Doinel character whether there were legitimate similarities or not.
Léaud is one of the most visible and well-known actors to be associated with the French New Wave film movement and, aside from his work with Truffaut, collaborated with Jean-Luc Godard (nine films), Jean Eustache, Jacques Rivette and Agnes Varda. The early 1970s was perhaps the peak of his professional career when he had three critically acclaimed films released: Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris (1972), Truffaut's La Nuit américaine, and Eustache's The Mother and the Whore (both 1973). In the Bertolucci film, Léaud appeared in the same film as a hero of his, Marlon Brando , although the two men never met, since all of Léaud's scenes were shot on Saturdays and Brando refused to work on Saturdays.
In March 1966, Léaud won the Silver Bear for Best Actor at the 16th Berlin International Film Festival for his role in Jean-Luc Godard's Masculin, féminin. He was nominated for a César Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1988 for Les Keufs and was awarded an Honorary César for lifetime achievement in 2000.
He is married to the French actress Brigitte Duvivier.
|1958||King on Horseback||Georges Lampin||Pierrot|
|1959||The 400 Blows||François Truffaut||Antoine Doinel|
|Testament of Orpheus||Jean Cocteau||Dargelos|
|1962||Antoine and Colette||François Truffaut (2)||Antoine Doinel|
|1965||Pierrot le Fou||Jean-Luc Godard||A Spectator|
|Love at Sea||Guy Gilles||Cameo Appearance|
|1966||Le Père Noël a les yeux bleus||Jean Eustache||Daniel|
|Made in U.S.A.||Jean-Luc Godard (2)||Donald Siegel|
|Masculin Féminin||Jean-Luc Godard (3)||Paul|
|Alphaville||Jean-Luc Godard (4)||The Waiter|
|1967||Weekend||Jean-Luc Godard (5)||Saint-Just|
|La Chinoise||Jean-Luc Godard (6)||Guillaume|
|The Departure||Jerzy Skolimowski||Marc|
|1968||Stolen Kisses||François Truffaut (3)||Antoine Doinel|
|1969||Pigsty||Pier Paolo Pasolini||Julian Klotz|
|Joy of Learning||Jean-Luc Godard (7)||Le Rousseau|
|1970||Bed and Board||François Truffaut (4)||Antoine Doinel|
|The Seven Headed Lion||Glauber Rocha||Preacher|
|1971||Two English Girls||François Truffaut (5)||Claude Roc|
|Out 1||Jacques Rivette||Colin|
|1972||Last Tango in Paris||Bernardo Bertolucci||Tom|
|1973||The Mother and the Whore||Jean Eustache (2)||Alexandre|
|Day for Night||François Truffaut (6)||Alphonse|
|1979||Love on the Run||François Truffaut (7)||Antoine Doinel|
|1981||Help Me Dream||Pupi Avati||Mario|
|1985||Treasure Island||Raúl Ruiz||Midas|
|Détective||Jean-Luc Godard (8)||Inspector Neveu|
|1987||Les keufs||Josiane Balasko||Commissioner Bullfinch|
|1988||36 Fillette||Catherine Breillat||Boris Golovine|
|1989||Bunker Palace Hôtel||Enki Bilal||Solal|
|1990||I Hired a Contract Killer||Aki Kaurismäki||Henri Boulanger|
|1992||La Vie de Bohème||Aki Kaurismäki (2)||Blancheron|
|1993||La Naissance de l'amour||Philippe Garrel||Marcus|
|1995||One Hundred and One Nights||Agnès Varda||Jean-Pierre|
|1996||My Man||Bertrand Blier||Monsieur Claude|
|Irma Vep||Olivier Assayas||René Vidal|
|2001||The Pornographer||Bertrand Bonello||Jacques Laurent|
|What Time Is It There?||Tsai Ming-Liang||Jean-Pierre/Man at Cemetery|
|2004||Folle embellie||Dominique Cabrera||Fernand|
|2005||J'ai vu tuer Ben Barka||Serge Le Péron and Saïd Smihi||Georges Franju|
|2009||Face||Tsai Ming-Liang (2)||Antoine/King Herodes|
|2011||Le Havre||Aki Kaurismäki (3)||The Informer|
|2012||Camille redouble||Noémie Lvovsky||The Jeweller|
|2014||La collection: Ecrire pour... la trentaine vue par des écrivains (2014 TV Mini-Series)||Cameo appearance in "Rosa mystica" episode|
|2016||The Death of Louis XIV||Albert Serra||Louis XIV|
|2016||M. (in post-production)||Cameo appearance|
|2017||The Lion Sleeps Tonight||Nobuhiro Suwa||Jean|
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