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French actor Jean-Pierre Leaud, best known for playing Antoine Doinel in Francois Truffaut’s series of films about that character, will get this year’s honorary Palme d’Or during the Cannes film festival.
After Agnes Varda in 2015, Clint Eastwood, Manoel de Oliveira, Woody Allen and Bernardo Bertolucci in recent years, Leaud will receive the honor during the 69th Cannes festival’s closing ceremony May 22.
Leaud at stars as King Louis XIV in Spanish director Albert Serra’s La Mort de Louis XIV (The Death of Louis XIV), which is part of the fest’s Special Screenings.
Leaud was discovered by Truffaut, who made him the young hero Doinel in his first film, Les 400 Coups (The 400 Blows). Doinel is seen as Truffaut’s alter ego in the film. Leaud made his first appearance on the Croisette in 1959 “as an extrovert, unruly 14-year-old,” the festival said. “His spontaneity was representative of the wind of freedom that the French New Wave brought to cinema.”
Doinel and Truffaut continued to support him with Antoine et Colette (Antoine and Colette, 1962), Baisers voles (Stolen Kisses, 1968), Domicile conjugal (Bed and Board, 1970) and L’Amour en fuite (Love on the Run, 1979).
He later began a long partnership with Jean-Luc Godard on films such as Masculin feminin (1966) and La Chinoise (1967). Leaud also served as assistant director for several Godard films, such as Pierrot le fou (Crazy Pete) and La Peau douce (The Soft Skin).
Leaud then starred in films by Bertolucci (Last Tango in Paris) and Jacques Rivette (Out 1).
Jean Eustache’s La Maman et la Putain (The Mother and the Whore, 1973) featured what the festival called “offbeat acting” by Leaud that was “emblematic for a whole generation.” The film won the Cannes jury’s special Grand Prix.
Since then, he has starred in movies by Aki Kaurismaki (I Hired a Contract Killer), Olivier Assayas (Paris Awakes), Bertrand Bonello (The Pornographer) and Tsai Ming-liang (What Time Is It There?).
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