French cinema legend Jean-Louis Trintignant dies aged 91

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French actor Jean-Louis Trintignant, who became world-renowned in the 1960s with films like "And God Created Woman" and "A Man and a Woman", died on Friday aged 91.

Among the legends that emerged during French cinema's New Wave in the 1960s, Trintignant had one of the most durable careers, still making ground-breaking films into his eighties.

His quiet authority and sonorous voice left their mark on some 120 films, from the notorious "And God Created Woman" alongside Brigitte Bardot in 1959, through classics like "A Man and a Woman" and "Z", to later powerful dramas such as "Three Colours: Red" and "Amour".

"He accompanied our lives through French cinema," said French president Emmanuel Macron when he was informed of the news during a tech conference in Paris.

"It's a page that turns on a wonderful artistic talent and voice."

He was surrounded by his family in the Gard region of southern France when he passed away, his wife said. No cause of death was given.

French New Wave

The New Wave love story from director Claude Lelouch starred Trintignant as a racing driver -- his real-life passion -- and turned him into an international star after it won two Academy Awards and the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

He won the best actor award at the festival three years later for political thriller "Z".

"The most beautiful voice that we've heard in theatre or cinema," Lelouch told French radio on Friday.

"He made us a gift of his scars. He was a remarkable man... I owe him everything," added Lelouch, who worked with Trintignant on seven films.

Despite his screen success, Trintignant was known to say that he preferred the theatre.

"I could have spent my whole life doing theatre," he said in 2017, adding: "But cinema paid better!"

After his breakout role alongside Bardot -- with whom he had a brief affair -- Trintignant went on to be seen as one of the most gifted actors of the postwar generation, playing an array of traitors, thugs and crooks or ambiguous and perverted types.

"Trintignant was one of my all-time favourite actors: sexy, pensive, mischievous, capable of deep and searching sadness," tweeted Variety film critic Guy Lodge. "What a body of work. What a face."

In 2003, Trintignant's life was marked by one terrible trauma when his daughter Marie was beaten to death by her rock-star boyfriend Bertrand Cantat.

In 2012, he returned to triumph, starring in Michael Haneke's Oscar-winning "Amour" as a man in his eighties struggling to look after his wife after a stroke.

Trintignant first married actress Stephane Audran, then film director Nadine Marquand, with whom he had three children -- Marie, Pauline and Vincent. The couple divorced and he then went on to marry Mariane Hoepfner, a former racing driver like himself.

(with newswires)

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