Michel Piccoli played the title role in <em>A man too</em> (1967), the second feature film from Costa-Gravas.
May 19, 2020 14h08
Piccoli has marked the history of French cinema, writes Costa-Gavras
The great filmmaker Costa-Gavras mourns the loss of a friend and “a great actor”. Michel Piccoli will mark durably the history of French cinema, writes the director of Z, The confession and Missing in a telephone interview. “I was expecting for a long time because I knew that he was not well.”
The actor died on may 12, but his family announced his death a week later. The two friends knew each other since the very beginning of Costa-Gavras. Piccoli played a small role in Compartment tueurs (1965), the first feature film by the Franco-Greek. He had then assumed a character more so, that of the title role in un homme de trop (1967).
“After that, it is crossed very often and we wanted to work together again.” The stars were not aligned, even for Z (1969), the powerful film by award-winning director in Cannes and at the Oscars. Piccoli had expressed interest, but “it was not available and I could move the shoot”.
“We stayed for a very friends and we saw each other often. But he was not well from his role of pope [in Habemus papam Nanni Moretti, 2011], a brilliant film where you have a desire to laugh and cry at the same time.”
Regardless of his score, “he was truly the character, and it became something else. The theatre, it was even stronger”.
In spite of everything, the famous French actor was humility exemplary. “Michel is not about to be a star. What fascinated him, it was to embody a character, even small ones that were of interest to him, if it allowed him to transform. This is a great lesson and the reason why it has lasted so long. From 1944 until four years ago, he has not stopped working.”
A work ethic is linked to the risk appetite, recalls Costa-Gavras, joined in Paris to discuss her new film, adult Conversation (we’ll get to that later this week). “We can say that in France, there are only two actors who had such a large diversity of roles, Depardieu and him.”