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Jean-Louis Trintignant (11th December, 1930 - 17th June 2022) was a thoughtful and enigmatic actor whose watchful screen presence and skill at portraying troubled characters was used to great effect in some of the most intelligent and morally complex films of French and Italian cinema. He was perhaps best known for Bertolucci's Italian New Wave classic The Conformist, and his unique persona lent an air of anti-heroic sensibility to many French New Wave films.


see also articles on:
Top 10 Films by Actor Performance || French New Wave History ||
French New Wave Film Guide || French New Wave Men's Style


Jean-Louis Trintignant
actor Jean-Louis Trintignant

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Jean-Louis Trintignant was born in 1930 in Piolenc in the South of France as the son of a wealthy industrialist. He moved to Paris in 1950 to study drama and appeared in a number of theatre productions in the early 1950s including Britannicus, Don Juan and Responsabilité Limitée.

His first major film role came in Roger Vadim’s international hit Et Dieu crea la femme (And God Created Woman, 1956) opposite Brigitte Bardot. The film brought him widespread attention, but his career was interrupted soon after by compulsory military service in Algiers.

By the time he returned from duty, he’d made up his mind to give up acting, but an offer to star as Hamlet in Paris changed his mind. Critical acclaim lead to further film roles in Vadim’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses alongside Jean Moreau and Gerard Phillipe, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze’s romantic comedy Le Coeur battant (The French Game, 1960), Abel Gance’s Austerlitz (1960) and Georges Franju’s Pleins feux sur l’assassin (Spotlight on a Murderer, 1961).

In 1962, Trintignant starred as a right-wing terrorist on the run in Alain Cavalier’s political thriller Le Combat dans lîle (Fire and Ice). He then went to Italy to co-star with Vittorio Gassman in Il Sorpasso (1962), which was so successful that the two actors teamed up again in a sequel Il Successo (1963). The films that followed were variable in quality with Costa-Gavras’s all-star Compartiment tueurs (The Sleeping Car Murders, 1965) a highlight.

At the 1966 Cannes Film Festival, Trintignant was the star of three films on show: Le Dix-Septième Ciel (Seventeenth Heaven), La Longue Marche (The Long March), and Claude Lelouch's Un Homme et une femme (A Man and a Woman). The last of these won the Palme d’Or and became a huge global success. Trintignant, who comes from a family of celebrated racing drivers, was perfectly cast as the widowed driver who learns to love again, and the film made him an international star.

Despite his fame, Trintignant refused to play it safe, choosing to work on offbeat pictures like Alain Robbe-Grillet’s Trans-Europ-Express (1966), and Safari diamants (Safari Diamonds, 1966). Though he did join the all-star cast of René Clément’s World War II epic Paris brûle-t-il? (Is Paris Burning?).

Returning to Italy, Trintignant worked on two pop psychedelic giallo movies, Col cuore in gola (I Am What I Am, 1967) and La morte ha fatto l’uovo (Death Laid an Egg, 1968) before turning in an enigmatic performance as a mute gunslinger in the cult Spaghetti western Il grande silenzio (The Great Silence, 1968).

In the same period, he continued his association with French New Wave directors, working with Robbe-Grillet again on the enigmatic L’Homme qui ment (The Man Who Lied, 1968), with Claude Chabrol on the sexually charged Les Biches (Bad Girls, 1968), and with Eric Rohmer on the brilliantly conceived morality tale Ma nuit chez Maud (My Night With Maud, 1969).

Trintignant’s next major role was as an idealistic young lawyer in Costa-Gavras’ political thriller Z (1969). Based on events surrounding the assassination of democratic Greek politician Gregoris Lambrakis in 1963, the film won plaudits around the world and a clutch of awards, including the Oscar for best foreign film.

The following year, Trintignant gave perhaps his greatest performance in Bernardo Bertolucci’s Il Conformista (The Conformist, 1970) as Marcello Clerici, a guilt-ridden, cowardly fascist who has spent his whole life accommodating others so that he can “belong”. Clerici is a brilliantly detailed creation, his studied self-conscious movements and impassive expression hiding a murky past.

Teaming up again with Lelouch, Trintignant portrayed a nihilistic but debonair professional thief in Le Voyou (The Crook, 1970), then crossed over to the other side of the law to play a detective in Sans mobile apparent (Without Apparent Motive, 1971). Next, he was a French fugitive in Canada who gets involved in a kidnap plot in René Clément’s La course du lièvre à travers les champs (…and Hope to Die, 1972), and a French assassin in Los Angeles in Jacques Deray’s Un homme est mort (A Man is Dead, 1972).

In 1973, the actor made his directorial debut with Une journée bien remplie (A Full Day’s Work), then starred in Défense de savoir (Forbidden To Know, 1973), directed by his wife, Nadine Trintignant. Later that year he starred opposite Romy Schneider in the romantic World War II drama Le Train (The Last Train, 1973), as a Frenchman who falls in love with a German Jewish woman who is fleeing the Nazis.

Trintignant’s talent for portraying twisted, psychopathic characters was shown to great effect in Glissements progressifs du plaisir(Successive Slidings of Pleasure, 1974) as a policeman interrogating a woman suspected of being a witch, in Le Mouton enragé (Love at the Top, 1974) as a timid bank clerk turned rapist, in Le Secret (1974) as paranoid prisoner on the run, and in Flic Story (Cop Story, 1975) as a cold blooded murderer.

Always prolific, Trintignant kept up a heavy workload in the 1970s, appearing in sixteen films in just three years between 1975 and 1977. In 1978, he won acclaim as a bank employee standing up against corruption in the César-winning L’Argent des autres (Dirty Money). After several undistinguished features, he then starred opposite Fanny Ardent in Francois Truffaut’s last picture, film noir homage Vivement dimanche! (Confidentially Yours, 1983). The same year he made his English language debut in Roger Spottiswoode’s Under Fire.

In the 1980s Trintignant took on an increasingly diverse range of roles, from a theatre director putting on a production of Romeo and Juliet in Andre Téchiné’s erotic drama Rendez-vous (1985), to a secret service agent investigating infiltration in the black comedy Le Moustachu (The Field Agent, 1987), to a reformed alcoholic in La Femme de ma vie (The Women of My Life, 1986), to the bald headed Mr Holm in the visionary science-fiction movie, Bunker Palace Hôtel (1989).

In more recent years, the actor’s most widely seen performance came in Krzysztof Kieslowski’s arthouse hit Trois couleurs: Rouge (Three Colours: Red, 1994), as the disillusioned retired judge who spies on his neighbours while grappling with his own inner moral dilemmas. This was followed by his role as the older version of Mathieu Kassovitz’s character in the equally acclaimed Un Héros très discreet (A Self-Made Hero, 1996). Since then, Trintignant has worked less frequently in cinema, preferring to work in the theatre.

Jean-Louis Trintignant’s first wife was actress Stephane Audran. In 1960 he married Nadine Marquand, also an actress and later an accomplished screenwriter and director. They had three children: Vincent, Pauline (died in 1966) and Marie before divorcing in 1976. Marie Trintignant became an acclaimed actress in her own right appearing in films such as Une affaire de femmes (1989) and Comme elle respire (1999). She died tragically in 2003 after being hit by her boyfriend, rock singer Bertrand Cantat during a lovers quarrel.

Trintignant died on the 17th of June, 2022.

with New Wave Directors
Complete Filmography

French Title
English Title
Et Dieu… créa la femme And God Created Woman 1956 Roger Vadim Michel Tardieu
Les Liaisons dangereuses Dangerous Liaisons 1959 Roger Vadim Danceny
Le Coeur battant The French Game 1960 Jacques Doniol-Valcroze Francois
Pleins feux sur l'assassin Spotlight on a Murderer 1961 Georges Franju Jean-Marie
Les Sept péchés capitaux The Seven Deadly Sins 1962 Various Paul
Le Combat dans l'île Fire and Ice 1962 Alain Cavalier Clément Lesser
Château en Suède Nutty, Naughty Chateau 1963 Roger Vadim Eric
Compartiment tueurs The Sleeping Car Murders 1965 Costa-Gavras Eric Grandin
Trans-Europ-Express 1966 Alain Robbe-Grillet Elias
La Longue marche Long March 1966 Alexandre Astruc Philippe
Un homme et une femme A Man and a Woman 1966 Claude Lelouch Jean-Louis Duroc
Les Biches Bad Girls 1968 Claude Chabrol Paul Thomas
L'Homme qui ment The Man Who Lies 1968 Alain Robbe-Grillet Jan Robin/Boris Varissa
Z 1969 Costa-Gavras The Examining Magistrate
Ma nuit chez Maud My Night with Maud 1969 Eric Rohmer Jean-Louis
Le Conformiste The Conformist 1970 Bernardo Bertolucci Marcello Clerici
Le Voyou The Crook 1970 Claude Lelouch Simon Duroc
Glissements progressifs du plaisir Successive Slidings of Pleasure 1974 Alain Robbe-Grillet The police Lieutenant
Le Secret The Secret 1974 Robert Enrico David Daguerre
Le jeu avec le feu Playing with Fire 1975 Alain Robbe-Grillet Franz/Francis
Vivement dimanche! Finally, Sunday 1983 Francois Truffaut Julien Vercel
Viva la vie! Long Live Life 1984 Claude Lelouch Francois Gaucher
Partir, revenir Going and Coming Back 1985 Claude Lelouch Roland Rivière
Rendez-vous 1985 Andre Téchiné Scrutzler
La Vallée fantôme 1987 Alain Tanner Paul


FILM (year) ... ROLE

Si tous les gars du monde (1956) ... Jean-Louis
La loi des rues (1956) ... Yves Tréguier
Et Dieu... créa la femme (1956) .... Michel Tardieu 

Club de femmes (1956) .... Michel
Parfois le dimanche (1959)
Les liaisons dangereuses (1959) .... Danceny
Estate violenta (1959) .... Carlo Caremoli
Le coeur battant (1960) .... François
La millième fenêtre (1960) .... Georges Desvignes
Austerlitz (1960) .... Ségur fils
Pleins feux sur l'assassin (1961) .... Jean-Marie
L'Atlantide (1961) .... Pierre 

Le puits aux trois vérités (1961)
Le jeu de la vérité (1961) .... Guy de Fleury
Un jour à Paris (1962)
Horace 62 (1962) .... Joseph Fabiani 

Les sept péchés capitaux (1962) .... Paul (segment "Luxure, La")
Le combat dans l'île (1962) .... Clément Lesser
Il sorpasso (1962) ... Robert Mariani
Il successo (1963) .... Sergio
Château en Suède (1963) ... Eric
L'enfer (1964) .... Marcel #2
Les pas perdus (1964) .... Georges Guichard
Avatar (1964) (TV)
Les siffleurs (1964)
Mata Hari, agent H21 (1964) .... Captain François
Lasalle Io uccido, tu uccidi (1965) .... (segment "La donna che viveva sola")
Fragilité, ton nom est femme (1965)
La bonne occase (1965) .... Jacques Danzac
Merveilleuse Angélique (1965) .... Claude le Petit
"Le train bleu s'arrête 13 fois" .... Mezure (1 episode, 1965)
Compartiment tueurs (1965) .... Éric Grandin
Trans-Europ-Express (1966) .... Elias/Himself
La longue marche (1966) ... Philippe
Le dix-septième ciel (1966) .... François
Un homme et une femme (1966) ... Jean-Louis Duroc 

Safari diamants (1966) ... Raphaële Vincente
Paris brûle-t-il? (1966) .... Capitaine Serge
Mon amour, mon amour (1967) .... Vincent Falaise
Un homme à abattre (1967) .... Raphael
Col cuore in gola (1967) .... Bernard
Remparts d'argile (1968) .... Entrepreneur
La société est une fleur carnivore (1968) ... Récitant/Narrator
La morte ha fatto l'uovo (1968) .... Marco
Les biches (1968) .... Paul Thomas
L'homme qui ment (1968) .... Jan Robin/Boris Varissa
Il grande silenzio (1968) .... Silence
La matriarca (1968) .... Dr. Carlo De Marchi
L'américain (1969) .... Bruno
Z (1969) .... The Examining Magistrate
Metti una sera a cena (1969) .... Michele
Le voleur de crimes (1969) .... Jean Girod
Ma nuit chez Maud (1969) .... Jean-Louis
Così dolce... così perversa (1969) .... Jean Reynaud 

Il conformista (1970) … Marcello Clerici
Las secretas intenciones (1970)
Le voyou (1970) .... Simon Duroc dit 'le Suisse'
L'opium et le baton (1971) .... Chaudier
Sans mobile apparent (1971) .... Stéphane Carella 

La course du lièvre à travers les champs (1972) .... Tony
L'attentat (1972) .... François Darien 

Un homme est mort (1972) .... Lucien Bellon
Une journée bien remplie (1973) .... Le Metteur en scène de la troupe des 'Enfants du Gard'
Défense de savoir (1973) .... Jean-Pierre Laubray
Le train (1973) .... Julien Maroyeur
Les violons du bal (1974) .... Lui (Michel)
Glissements progressifs du plaisir (1974) .... The police Lieutenant
Le mouton enragé (1974) .... Nicolas Mallet
L'escapade (1974) .... Ferdinand
Le secret (1974) .... David Daguerre
L'agression (1975) .... Paul Varlin
Le jeu avec le feu (1975) .... Franz/Francis
Flic Story (1975) .... Emile Buisson
La donna della domenica (1975) .... Massimo Campi 

Il pleut sur Santiago (1976) .... Le sénateur/Senator
L'ordinateur des pompes funèbres (1976) .... Fred Malone
Le voyage de noces (1976) .... Paul Carter
Il deserto dei Tartari (1976) .... Le médecin-major Rovin
L'affaire (1977)
Les passagers (1977) .... Alex Moineau
Repérages (1977) .... Victor
L'argent des autres (1978) .... Henri Rainier
Le maître-nageur (1979) .... Le jardinier de Zopoulos
Melancoly Baby (1979) .... Pierre
La terrazza (1980).... Enrico D'Orsi
La banquière (1980) .... Horace Vannister 

Je vous aime (1980) .... Julien Tellier
Un assassin qui passe (1981) .... Ravic
Passione d'amore (1981) .... Doctor
Malevil (1981) .... Fulbert
Une affaire d'hommes (1981) .... Louis Faguet
Eaux profondes (1981) .... Vic Allen
Le grand pardon (1982) .... Commissaire Duché
Boulevard des assassins (1982) .... Daniel Salmon
La nuit de Varennes (1982) .... Monsieur Sauce
Credo (1983) (TV) .... Le professeur Lenski
Colpire al cuore (1983) .... Dario
Vivement dimanche! (1983) .... Julien Vercel
La crime (1983) .... Christian Lacassagne 

Under Fire (1983) .... Marcel Jazy
Le bon plaisir (1984) ... The President
Femmes de personne (1984) .... Michel Gilquin
Viva la vie! (1984) .... François Gaucher
L'été prochain (1985) .... Paul
Partir, revenir (1985) .... Roland Rivière
Rendez-vous (1985) .... Scrutzler
Sortüz egy fekete bivalyért (1985)
L'homme aux yeux d'argent (1985) .... Mayene
Un homme et une femme, 20 ans déjà (1986) .... Jean-Louis Duroc
15 août (1986) .... The unfaithful husband
La femme de ma vie (1986) .... Pierre
Le moustachu (1987) .... Le général Gougeard
La vallée fantôme (1987) .... Paul
Bunker Palace Hôtel (1989) .... Holm
Pour un oui ou pour un non (1990) (TV) .... H1
Julie de Carneilhan (1990) (TV) .... Herbert d'Espivant
'Merci la vie' (1991) .... SS Officer
La controverse de Valladolid (1992) (TV) .... Ginèse de Sepúlveda
L'instinct de l'ange (1993) .... Colonel Édouard
L'oeil écarlate (1993) .... René Montijoux
L'interdiction (1993) (TV) .... Le marquis d'Espard
Rêveuse jeunesse (1994) (TV) (voice)
Trois couleurs: Rouge (1994) .... Le juge
Regarde les hommes tomber (1994) .... Marx 

La cité des enfants perdus (1995) (voice) .... L'oncle Irvin
Fiesta (1995) .... Colonel Masagual
Un homme est tombé dans la rue (1996)
C'est jamais loin (1996) .... Elliot Spencer
Un héros très discret (1996) .... Albert Dehousse (old)
L'insoumise (1996) (TV) .... Roquepenne
Tykho Moon (1996) .... Le chirurgien
Ceux qui m'aiment prendront le train (1998) .... Lucien Emmerich/Jean-Baptiste Emmerich 

Janis et John (2003) .... M. Cannon
Galilée ou L'amour de Dieu (2005) (TV) (voice) .... Récitant/Narrator

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