Colo Tavernier O’Hagan, the revered screenwriter of award-winning films by Bertrand Tavernier and Claude Chabrol, died from cancer on June 13, according to a statement from the Lumière Institute in Lyon.
Throughout her prolific career spanning film and TV, Tavernier O’Hagan was a life-long, inspiring collaborator to her former husband, Bertrand Tavernier, on many of his most successful films, starting in 1980 with “A Week’s Holiday,” which competed at Cannes.
Born Claudine O’Hagan in England, with an Irish father and a French-Spanish mother, the screenwriter first earned critical acclaim with the script of Tavernier’s “A Sunday in the Country,” which earned her the Cesar Award in 1985 for adapted screenplay, and a National Society of Film Critics Award nomination out of the U.S.
She also collaborated with Tavernier on the Dirk Bogarde starrer “Daddy Nostalgia,” which competed at Cannes in 1990, and “Round Midnight,” a jazz-infused drama about a troubled musician who flees the U.S. to escape his problems and finds refuge in Paris. The movie took the best film trophy at Venice, and went on to win an Academy Award for original score and earn Dexter Gordon a lead actor nomination.
Tavernier O’Hagan also co-wrote with Tavernier the adapted screenplay of “Fresh Bait,” a riveting thriller headlined by Marie Gillain, which scooped the Golden Bear in Berlin in 1995 and was nominated twice at the Cesar Awards. With Chabrol, she collaborated on the Golden-Globe nominated “Story of Women” starring Isabelle Huppert in 1988.
Tavernier paid homage to his former wife via a statement released by the Lumiere Institute, over which he presides with Cannes Film Festival chief Thierry Fremaux.
“Life had separated us but I feel an emptiness and a sense of void. Colo formed me, shook me, [made] me grow,” Tavernier wrote in the statement. The pair had two children together, Nils, who has become a well-known filmmaker in France, and Tiffany.
“Colo knew how to unearth the most acute feelings and the most profound emotions, the little things [those foolish things’ like this famous jazz song] that make life worthwhile,” said Tavernier. “
Fremaux, meanwhile, said he remembers “a sunny personality, full of character and joy, caring to others and fiercely independent.”
“As a screenwriter, Colo was always choosing strong stories and would put very personal things in them and always made them very universal,” said the Cannes chief.
Aside for her career as screenwriter, Tavernier O’Hagan was also the author of “Les Maux des Mots,” a lyrical essay highlighting her love for the French language published by Plon in 2013.