Jean-Pierre Léaud is a French actor and a significant figure of the French New Wave, who best known for playing Antoine Doinel in François Truffaut’s series of films about that character, beginning with The 400 Blows (1959). He also worked several times with Jean-Luc Godard, and well-known filmmakers like Aki Kaurismäki, Agnès Varda, Olivier Assayas, Tsai Ming-Liang, Bernardo Bertolucci, Jacques Rivette, Pier Paolo Pasolini and so many others.
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. The actor who was born 28 May 1944, and now 73, was invited to
The 69th Cannes Film Festival to receive a special award from the event, which also programmed The Death of Louis XIV. Directed by experimental Catalan director Albert Serra, the movie is a mesmerizing showcase for Léaud, who looks world-weary and uncomfortable, wise and lonely. Needless to say, something more than an actor or even a movie star, Jean-Pierre Léaud is a man who has lived his life on film.
In an exclusive interview with the Press Office of 36th Fajr International Film Festival, the great Jean-Pierre Léaud talked about his Luck, his selective way of accepting the different project and his respect for Iran’s cinema.
All of us know you with the character of Antoine Doinel in 400 Blows (François Truffaut, 1959). But we also know that your successes aren’t limited to the years of youth. In fact, it was only two years ago that you received the Palme d’Or at the 69th Cannes Film Festival, and at the same time, they show one of your latest film The Death of Louis XIV (Albert Serra, 2016). What is the secret of this sixty-year success?
I think that if you don’t believe in a savior, you must believe in luck. Before I turned into a 14-year-old boy, I had a great chance and I was able to meet Francois Truffaut, and he chose me among all who liked to play this role. Of course, I really liked it too and I was eager to make my way through the world of cinema. Eventually, I was lucky enough to get this chance. Luck is something that you can regain even if it is lost. But this isn’t my whole story and the only chance I got. I had this chance that all those who were at that time around Truffaut were film critics and future filmmakers of the French New Wave, from André Bazin to Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Rivette, and other friends… So I got a chance to be accompanied by these great filmmakers and the New Wave. I was with them in movie theaters and artistic circles. So I can say that my success is indebted to interacting with this great director and those critics who later became filmmakers. In fact, with the role of Antoine Doinel, I got into the minds of all the directors of that era and got some other roles.
Well, what’s your advice for young actors or newcomers?
I know that they may like to play a movie for any reason or enjoy the proposition they have been given, but they should try to choose good directors because, after a chance, it is very important that you have the right choices. The fate of everyone depends on their chances and choices. I forgot to say that after my return to Paris, a ceremony in honor of my lifetime achievement will be held, and maybe they surprise me!
Any comment on the Fajr International Film Festival, your travel to Iran or Iranian cinema?
I am very happy and proud to be invited to this festival. The cinema of Iran enjoys international recognition, especially this year with good films in the Cannes Film Festival, and this is all thanks to young filmmakers of Iranian cinema; some like Asghar Farhadi who I like his films very much and his works are among the best films I saw.
With director Reza Mirkarimi at helm of 2018, Fajr Filmfest continues to herald stronger comebacks from Asia, Europe and Middle East. Whatever one says of Middle East cinema and its power rankings, the region’s best and most powerful showcase for cinema is, has been and for all foreseeable time will be this festival, which runs in Charsou Cineplex and other venues in Tehran until April 27.