Sunday, June 19, noon. Nadine Trintignant welcomes us to her home. She agrees to reveal a bit of her ex-husband, the father of her children. Memories and tenderness flow, not tears.
“His death was a shock… We expected it, and yet I didn’t believe it. I didn’t think about it, it was inconceivable. I often went to visit him, even recently… He could hardly see anymore, walked with difficulty. But Jean-Louis remained clear, he kept his intelligence and his depth until the end. He fought bravely.
This “never again” side is impossible to overcome
We met young, I was 22 years old. Since then, we haven’t stopped rubbing shoulders, talking to each other. He lived for a long time next to my house, in the Marais. His wife, Marianne, whom I love very much, was wonderful. She is going to feel terrible grief, a lack… When you find yourself alone, you suddenly understand that no one needs you anymore and it’s hard. Whether with Alain [Corneau] , Jean-Louis, Pauline or Marie, this “never again” aspect is impossible to overcome. And yet, here I am. I have to love life in a passionate way… even if there are always reasons to hold on, to hang on.
With Jean-Louis, we stopped being in love, but we didn’t stop loving each other
When, with Jean-Louis, we lost our daughter Pauline, Marie was 8 years old, there was no question of letting go. Life is stronger than you think. With Jean-Louis, we stopped being in love, these are things that happen, but we didn’t stop loving each other. He could have been fickle and so had I, not out of revenge, but to exist. He was a person of integrity. He could be cruel and infinitely gentle. In “Amour”, by Michael Haneke, Emmanuelle Riva whispers to him: “You are a monster, but you are so nice!” Proof that this director had grasped some secrets of Jean-Louis. I remember two films in which Jean-Louis looks like Jean-Louis. First “Red”, by Krzysztof Kieslowski. Look, it’s beautiful. And “The Conformist”, by Bernardo Bertolucci. He shot masterpieces; he chose well, often against everyone’s advice. When he accepted Sergio Corbucci’s western “Le grand silence”, our intellectual Italian director buddies called him crazy. He was right, it was a huge success, like Dino Risi’s “Fanfaron”, also performed against the opinion of a lot of people.
What governed his choices? Pleasure, his formidable intuition, if he felt that the film would be good. The most beautiful thing, which upset us, like me, was when, at 29, he played Hamlet in the theater. I went there every night. Shakespeare wanted us to doubt, to not know if Hamlet is mad or if he is pretending. Jean-Louis played it magnificently, with such ambiguity… It was disturbing.
Also read. In the Match archives – Jean Louis Trintignant in the Paris Match photo archives
After Pauline’s death, he brought forward the filming of Voyou, by Claude Lelouch, because he needed it. To continue. He didn’t stop working. Me, I didn’t do anything for a year and a half, before making a film about Pauline. It helped me. Jean-Louis turned constantly, a lot. If he was a fantastic father, he was less present for Marie when the cinema started to work. He and she got together, on stage, quite late, for the “Poèmes à Lou”. They only played two plays together; it’s a shame, because they played the same. Jean-Louis and I were different about that. As much as I enjoyed working surrounded by my family – I took on our son Vincent as an assistant, Marie as an actress, what happiness! – as much as Jean-Louis did not want it. When Téchiné needed an actress of our daughter’s age for his film with Jean-Louis, he didn’t want her to pass the tests. “I will never help my children”, he kept telling me. He had managed on his own, he didn’t know anyone when he arrived in Paris. In his comedy class at the Charles-Dullin school, he had been warned: “Listen, my child, you are not gifted, leave it…” And Jean-Louis persisted. He was having a hard time losing his southern accent. Jean-Louis was shy, reserved, almost silent.
Also read. Jean-Louis Trintignant, a life and a career in pictures
A few years after we met, I introduced him to friends, Jean Babilée and Michel Drach. I remember their remarks, funny, when the Cousteau documentary had just been released: “Your guy is ‘Le Monde du silence’, he has a Cousteau between his teeth!” He shouldn’t have uttered three sentences. Marie was also shy… Jean-Louis was very afraid of death, he said so. He had this very beautiful sentence, so true, during our last conversation: “When one of us dies, the other will lose the witness of his youth.” »