An essential face of French cinema, actor and director Jean-François Stévenin died this Tuesday, July 27, 2021 in the Paris region. He was 77 years old.
Inescapable face of French production, actor in nearly 200 films, TV films, series and short films, director of three feature films and patriarch of a true film tribe (he is the father of actors Robinson Stévenin, Salomé Stévenin, Sagamore Stévenin and Pierre Stévenin), Jean-François Stévenin passed away this Tuesday, July 27, 2021 in Nueilly-sur-Seine, after “well beaten” according to comments reported by his relatives to AFP. One of the last films he will have shot, Illusions perdues by Xavier Giannoli adapted from Balzac, is due to be presented in competition at the Venice Film Festival next September.
Beginnings in Cavalier, Rivette, Truffaut …
A student at HEC and passionate about cinema, Jean-François Stévenin is writing a thesis on cinema economics. Having gone to Cuba for an internship on a set, he learned on the job and carried out all trades, from technician to assistant director, including second assistant – a role he played in Alain Cavalier’s film La Chamade in 1968.
Along with his function of assistant director with Jacques Rivette or Peter Fleischmann, Jean-François Stévenin becomes an actor: we see him in particular in Out 1: Specter (1970) by Jacques Rivette or in L’Enfant sauvage (1970), Une Belle fille comme moi (1972) and The American Night (1973), three films by François Truffaut. But it was his interpretation of Monsieur Richet, by the same director, in L’Argent de poche, in 1975, which gave a boost to his career. He toured several times with the big names of French cinema: Truffaut, Rivet, but also Bertrand van Effenterre, Jean-Pierre Mocky, Bertrand Blier, Robert Enrico, Laetitia Masson.
A film with … Stallone
In 1978, the actor went behind the camera for the very first time and directed his first feature film, Le Passe-montagne, in which he staged himself. He gives, for the occasion, the reply to Jacques Villeret. In 1980, the French actor flew to the United States for the needs of the film Les Chiens de guerre by John Irvin. He will also star in John Huston’s film Own the Victory in 1981, in which he stars Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone.
At the rate of three films per year, Jean François Stévenin becomes a key figure in French cinema. The 80s resonate in the career of the actor, with auteur cinema. These films include Une chambre en ville by Jacques Demy, Passion by Jean-Luc Godard, Notre histoire de Bertrand blier and 36 daughter of Catherine Breillat. In 1986, the actor-director went behind the camera for the second time and directed the detective film Double Messieurs, with Carole Bouquet and Monsieur Stévenin himself. Two years later, he took the lead role in the drama Peaux de vaches, by Patricia Mazuy and shared the poster with his daughter for the very first time, Salome Stevenin, which plays its first role here.
An unclassifiable and prolific supporting role
Unclassifiable actor, Stévenin alternates, in the 90s, between thrillers with Le Grand pardon II by Alexandre Arcady in 1992, intimate film with Les Aveux de l’Innocent by Jean-Pierre Améris (1996), and more popular films with Les Bidochons by Serge Korber in 1995 and Le Bossu in 1997. In 2002, he directed his third feature, the dramatic comedy Mischka, in which he directed Salome Stevenin and Robinson stévenin. A follower of supporting roles, Jean-François Stévenin is showing in many mainstream films. Among them, Le Pacte des loups, where he plays opposite Vincent Cassel and Samuel Le Bihan, Love alongside Virginie Ledoyen, L’Homme du train by Patrice Leconte, Pas si grave or even The Chamber of the Dead.
The end of the 2000s remains a fruitful period for the actor who goes on filming. Father of Denis Lavant in Capitaine Achab by Philippe Ramos in 2008, Stévenin made a foray into television for the series Mafiosa the same year. A multifaceted actor, the Frenchman is at ease in all registers: police officer (In the electric haze by Bertrand Tavernier in 2009), comedy (Route bis in 2010) or drama (Frontlines, id.).
Very prolific, the actor began the 2010s on top of the hats with L’Enfant d’en Haut in 2012 alongside Léa Seydoux and Comme un lion in 2013, Samuel Collardey’s second feature film after his acclaimed The Apprentice in…