Philippe Noiret is considered one of the greatest actors in French cinema. He was the first person to win the César Award for Best Actor in 1976, and won out against his friend Jean-Pierre Marielle and Gerard Depardieu.
Enjoy some of his top films showing Sunday evenings in June on TV5MONDE
Starting on the stage
Born in 1930, Philippe Noiret grew up near Toulouse, in a provincial bourgeois family. He moved to Paris to study in high school but is quickly dismissed. He then takes his classes in a high school in Seine-et-Marne where he meets Father Oratorian, a teacher who will change his life.
Philippe fails the baccalaureat three times and his lifestyle suffers from being this failure. It is for this reason that he joins the choir, a first step into the world of the arts.
But it is his teacher, the Oratorian Father who helps him find his vocation as an actor by offering him parts in stage plays. He continued taking parts and then enrolled in drama classes in Paris and then the West in 1949.
In 1953, Philippe Noiret enjoyed his first experience in a theater troupe. He joined the Théâtre National Populaire and played classic theatre roles such as Le Cid by Pierre Corneille, Dom Juan, Molière's Malade Imaginaire and Macbeth by Shakespeare for seven years.
At the same time, he won his first major role in La Pointe Courte, the first film by Agnès Varda.
On leaving the troupe, Philippe formed a comedy duet with Jean-Pierre Darras at the cabaret in which they made fun of the politicians of the time.
He abandons his career in the theatre to devote himself to cinema. The beginning is difficult, as while cinema is being revitalised by the New Wave, Philippe Noiret makes films with directors of the old generation. He then turns to international cinema and more particularly to Italian cinema
Cinema, a new eldorado
1968 marks a turning point in Philippe Noiret's career. He enjoyed a first big success in the cinema with Alexandre le Bienheureux d'Yves Robert. The character, who stops working, conveys libertarian ideas and the film and was very well received by viewers and critics a few weeks before May 68. The film also stands out by featuring le Grand Blond avec une chaussure noire : Pierre Richard
With his success, Philippe Noiret toured with Alfred Hitchcock in L'Étau in 1969. He could by then play everything from comedy to drama, but he was never typecast being able to play everything.
In 1971, Noiret established himself definitively in French cinema thanks to his role in Jean-Pierre Blanc's La Vieille Fille. While distributors no longer wanted to support the release of the film, he finally enjoys a hit with critics and the public.
In 1974, Philippe Noiret met Bertrand Tavernier while playing in the L'horloger de Saint-Paul, the director's first film. Seven other collaborations follow, and a subsequent friendship between the two filmmakers, Noiret being a witness at the director's wedding.
It is in Le Vieux fusil, a film by Robert Enrico in which Philippe Noiret won his first César in 1976. He plays a doctor during the Second World War and is featured on the poster with Romy Schneider.
In the 1980s, Philippe Noiret worked with renowned directors such as Alain Cormeau, Claude Chabrol and Claude Zidi. He plays in big budget films and becomes a fixture in the French film scene.
In 1988, Philippe Noiret became an international celebrity thanks to his role in Cinema Paradisio by Giuseppe Tornatore, one of the favorite films at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival. The following year, he received his second César for best actor alongside his friend Bertrand Tavernier for his role in La vie et rien d'autre.
Philippe Noiret withdraws from the public eye a little from the mid-90s onwards, but in homage to his theatrical beginnings he enjoys a last big hit in Père et Fils de Michel Boujenah showing Sunday 23rd June at 9pm on TV5MONDE.
Now famous and a favoured by a whole country, he received the trophy of Meilleur Ouvrier de France in 2000 and the Légion d'Honneur in 2005.
The following year, in 2006, Philippe Noiret died at 76 years of age following cancer. Jean-Pierre Marielle and Jean Rochefort, devastated by the death of their friend forever, weren't able to attend the ceremony.
The Top 10 Philippe Noiret films
Le vieux fusil by Robert Enrico with Romy Schneider
Cinéma Paradiso by Giusseppe Tornatore
Coup de Torchon by Bertrand Tavernier with Jean-Pierre Marielle, Isabelle Huppert and Eddy Mitchell
Alexandre le Bienheureux by Yves Robert with Pierre Richard
La Vie et rien d'autre by Bertrand Tavernier with Daniel Russo
Que la fête commence by Bertrand Tavernier with Michel Beaune
Le Juge et l'Assassin by Bertrand Tavernier with Michel Galabru and Isabelle Huppert
La Nuit des généraux by Anatole Litvak
Masques by Claude Chabrol with Anne Brochet and Bernadette Lafont
Uranus by Claude Berri with Gérard Depardieu, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Michel Blanc and Michel Galabru
2006 - Prize Henri-Langlois d'Honneur - Actor
2000 - Nominated in Homage at the Cannes Film Festival
1991 - Prize for Best Actor at the BAFTA Awards in : Cinema Paradiso
1990 - César award for Best Actor in : La Vie et rien d'autre
1985 - Nominated for César for Best Actor in : Les Ripoux
1982 - Nominated for César for Best Actor in : Coup de Torchon
1981 - Nominated for César for Best Actor in : Pile ou face
1976 - César Award for Best Actor in : Le vieux fusil