Monument of French cinema, actor Michel Piccoli, famous for his roles in Le Mépris , Les choses de la vie or more recently Habemus papam , died on May 12 at 94, his family announced on Monday.

“Michel Piccoli died on May 12 in the arms of his wife Ludivine and his young children Inord and Missia, following a stroke,” said the family’s press release sent to AFP by Gilles Jacob, friend of the actor and former president of the Cannes International Film Festival.  

Revealed by Le Mépris by Jean-Luc Godard (1963) where he formed a couple of legends with Brigitte Bardot, the actor has walked his physique of seductive with bushy eyebrows in more than 150 films, from the provocateur of La Grande Bouffe to the Pope in prey to the doubt of Habemus papam (2011), his last big role on the screen.

With a remarkable longevity, his career is inseparable from the films of Luis Buñuel and Claude Sautet.

Under the direction of the first, he interpreted troubled characters ( The Diary of a Chambermaid , Belle de jour , The discreet charm of the bourgeoisie ) before becoming an incarnation of the Thirty Glorious, unchanging cigarette on the beak, in the second , in the 70s ( Things of life , Max and the scrap dealers , Vincent, François, Paul… and the others ).

Eclectic in his choices, he also toured under the direction of Renoir, Resnais, Demy, Melville, Varda and Hitchcock.

Tall, dark, balding over the years, a thundering or bewitching voice, this enigmatic character “enjoyed playing extravagance or the most disturbing delusions, breaking (his) image”, before launching himself in production, at age 70.

His role in La Grande Bouffe by Marco Ferreri, one of the biggest scandals at the Cannes Festival in 1973, is proof of this. He embodies a participant in a gastronomic seminar transforming it into a scatological and nihilistic orgy.

His refusal of career plans and his “anti-star” side also led him to shoot author films: Leos Carax, Jean-Claude Brisseau, Jacques Doillon.

In 1990, he greedily camped out a character of a fantastic bourgeois in Milou en mai by Louis Malle.

Gradually disappeared from the screens, this great modesty, born in 1925 into a family of musicians, will lift a corner of the veil at over 90 years old in a book of interviews with Gilles Jacob ( I lived in my dreams ). He confided his anguish at not being able to work anymore: “We would like it never to stop and it will stop […] it is very difficult”.

Four times nominated for a César, notably for La belle Noiseuse by Jacques Rivette in 1992, he has never been awarded by the Academy.