The French actor – who has died at the age of 37 – played geniuses, psychopaths and great romantics in his cruelly curtailed career
Gaspard Ulliel has died at the age of 37 – a sentence that feels both surreal and unbelievable. The French actor, fashion plate and muse died in hospital on Wednesday (19 janvier), his agent confirmed, a day after he was involved in a skiing accident.
Lupine, striking and blessed with a delicate grace, Ulliel was just as convincing playing pinnacles of fashion and desire as he was monsters, his range outstripping his international renown as an actor.
That may have all changed, mais, with one of Ulliel’s final projects being the Marvel series Moon Knight. Who knows if he would have been thrust onto the world stage as a result, or if he would even have wanted to be? But that’s also one of the great tragedies of his early death – we’re left with far too many what if’s.
Tributes have already begun pouring in, led by French prime minister Jean Castex.
To commemorate his career, we’ve collated five of his must-see performances, from embodying a young Hannibal Lecter to playing one of the most important figures in fashion history.
Cette Silence of the Lambs prequel was something of a disaster, but it spoke to Ulliel’s fearlessness as an actor that he said yes to it. Playing a young Hannibal Lecter – a role most famously inhabited by Sir Anthony Hopkins – Ulliel is slippery, sinister and eerily seductive.
Ulliel matched his alien, angular beauty with an equally otherworldly performance here as Yves Saint Laurent, the fashion mogul and pioneer. Like so many of Ulliel’s movies, Saint Laurent is an imperfect beast, but its leading man conveys an inherent decadence and mystery that carries it.
Brotherhood of the Wolf
Based on a grisly piece of 18th-century history, this period thriller became one of biggest French releases of all time on the international stage. Ulliel’s role in it is small but memorable, as part of a cast that also included Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci. As feature film debuts go, this was a roaring success.
A Very Long Engagement
Ulliel starred opposite Amélie’s Audrey Tatou in this heart-rending 2004 drama about a woman’s search for her fiancé, who went missing during the first World War. Featuring a story told across two timeframes, the film was warmly received by critics, with Ulliel winning a Cesar award for Most Promising Actor for his efforts.
It’s Only the End of the World
Ulliel played the lead role in Xavier Dolan’s acclaimed 2016 drame, for what might be his best-known role. As Louis, a young playwright who reconciles with his estranged family after being diagnosed with a terminal illness, Ulliel gave a shining performance, ably navigating the script’s fraught emotions and intense, challenging dialogue.