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Michel Piccoli, renowned French acting veteran, dies aged 94

The Guardian logo The Guardian 18/05/2020 Andrew Pulver
Michel Piccoli wearing a suit and tie looking at the camera: Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters © Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters

Michel Piccoli, the veteran French actor renowned for a string of celebrated performances for directors such as Luis Bunuel, Jean-Luc Godard and Louis Malle, has died aged 94. It was reported by AFP, who said his family had announced the news, but no cause of death was given.

Related: Film: The French connection

Piccoli’s acting career stretched back to the 1940s, but he began his association with major directors in Jean Renoir’s French Cancan in 1955. He was first cast by Bunuel a year later in Death in the Garden, where he played a priest; he would go on to act in a further six Bunuel films, including Diary of a Chambermaid, Belle de Jour and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeosie. However, the high point of his 1960s work was arguably Godard’s Contempt, in which he played opposite Brigitte Bardot as the scriptwriter hired to work on an adaptation of The Odyssey.

Michel Piccoli wearing a suit and tie smiling and looking at the camera: Michel Piccoli, who has died aged 94. © Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters Michel Piccoli, who has died aged 94.

In subsequent decades, Piccoli became a stalwart of French art films, appearing in Death in a French Garden (1985), Leos Carax’s Mauvais Sang (1986) and Jacque Rivette’s La Belle Noiseuse (1991). One of his final appearances was in another Carax film, Holy Motors in 2012.

Piccoli was married three times: first to Eléonore Hirt, then to singer Juliette Gréco (until 1977), and to Ludivine Clerc, who survives him.

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