French actor Gaspard Ulliel died on Wednesday following a serious skiing accident in Savoie. He was 37 years old, and more than twenty years of career behind him. Discovered in Les Egarés by André Téchiné, Caesarized for A long engagement Sunday by Jean-Pierre Jeunet then Just the end of the world by Xavier Dolan, he also stood out in Jacquou Le Croquant and Hannibal Lecter, but it is well in Yves Saint Laurent that he marked the screen forever, in 2014. Perhaps the role of his life, of which he spoke in these words to Grazia : “It was Bertrand Bonello and Saint Laurent who defined me as an actor. »
A cast of two years and about twenty actors
Despite the few awards (best actor at the Lumières award, best costumes at the Césars) and box office success (360,000 admissions), especially compared to the competing project by Jalil Lespert (caesar for best actor for Pierre Niney, 1.6 million admissions), Bertrand Bonello’s film, far from a classic, almost rebellious biopic, establishes Gaspard Ulliel as one of the greatest French actors. The director had chosen him after a casting of two years and among twenty actors. “I wanted his resemblance to Saint Laurent not to be the only factor. We experimented for three months, mainly to see if we could work and have a dialogue together, ”he explains in the press kit for the film, quoted by
For the anecdote, as Gaspard Ulliel confided to Allocinated, Bertrand Bonello is not the first to have imagined him as Yves Saint Laurent, since the American filmmaker Gus Van Sant had contacted him to play the couturier in a project, unfortunately aborted, an adaptation of the book Beautiful People: Saint Laurent , Lagerfeld, splendours and miseries of Alicia Drake’s fashion.
“Bertrand Bonello wanted to see as much of me as of Saint Laurent”
The book is also part of the documentation that Gaspard Ulliel has amassed for the role: “For our first working session, Bertrand sent me interviews available in the INA archives. He insisted on the particular diction of Saint Laurent, a grace which was, he said, fragility without being femininity. Something quite difficult to grasp and replicate. Yves had a tall silhouette with long arms, he was slender while having cheeks. I lost weight in order to get closer to this silhouette. I believe that at the time men were finer than today. »
Our file on Gaspard Ulliel
But it is not a simple work of mimicry, on the contrary. “Once I was buried under this mass of truth, I freed myself from it, he told 20 Minutes when the film was released in 2014. In the same way that a filmmaker shows a subject by his own prism, I then tried to appropriate it and put myself into my composition. His reference was I’m Not There, by Todd Haynes, on Bob Dylan, where the singer was embodied, reinterpreted, by several actors and actresses. “Bertrand Bonello was clear: he wanted to see as much of me as of Saint Laurent in the character we were creating together. “The role of his life.