French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo passes away

French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo passes away

Renowned French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo has died at the age of 88, AFP reported on Monday, citing his lawyer.

No additional details were provided.

Jean-Paul Belmondo was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, a suburb of Paris on 9 Apr 1933, the son of Paul Belmondo, a sculptor whose statues grace many a Parisian park.

He failed at school and became an amateur boxer. In his short-lived career, he won 15 of his 23 bouts before giving up to concentrate on acting.

After performing on stage in provincial theatres, his movie break came with the role of Laszlo in Marcel Carné's 1958 film Les Tricheurs.

On the strength of his forceful portrayal, he was given his first starring role in A Bout de Souffle, BBC writes.

Determined not to be stereotyped, Belmondo also accepted more demanding roles such as the idealistic intellectual of Vittorio de Sica's La Cioclara in 1961, and as the young country priest in Philippe de Broca's swashbuckling Cartouche the following year.

He also enjoyed comic roles, in Godard's Une Femme est une Femme, and, particularly, in De Broca's L'Homme de Rio, in which he played a suave, unflappable secret agent.

By the mid-60s, he had switched completely to the commercial mainstream and formed his own production company, Cerito.

He even performed his own stunts in such films as Les Tribulations d'Un Chinois en Chine in 1965, though he gave this practice up after an accident in the 1985 film Hold-up.

He brightened many an all-star cast in international productions such as Is Paris Burning? (1966), the James Bond spoof Casino Royale (1967) and with Alain Delon in the gangster movie Borsalino (1970),

He moved away from action movies claiming that "I don't want to be a flying grandpa of the French cinema."

In 1987 Belmondo returned to the stage for the first time for nearly 30 years and divided his work between theatre and film for the rest of his career. Two years later he won a Cesar, the French equivalent of an Oscar, for his performance in Itineraire d'un Enfant Gate.

He branched out creatively as part of the ensemble in Varda's homage to international cinema Les Cent et une Nuits de Samon Cinema in 1995 and as the Jean Valjean figure in Claude Lelouche's re-working of Les Miserables in the same year.