French actor Gaspard Ulliel, star of “It’s Only the End of the World” and Marvel’s upcoming “Moon Knight” series, has died following a ski accident in the French Alps on Wednesday, according to news agency AFP. He was 37.
The Cesar-winning actor was skiing in the Savoie region when he collided with another skier and suffered a serious brain trauma on Tuesday. He was transported by helicopter to a hospital in Grenoble. Local authorities have opened an investigation into the accident, according the AFP.
Ulliel was one of France’s best known actors and worked with critically acclaimed filmmakers in Europe and abroad. He began acting at the age of 12 with an uncredited role in the French TV movie “Une Femme En Blanc” (“A Woman in White”). After several TV films, series and shorts, he held small roles in Christophe Gans’s “Brotherhood of the Wolf,” Jean-Paul Salomé’s “Belphegore: Le fantôme du Louvre,” and Michel Blanc’s “Embrassez qui vous voulez,” before landing his first leading role opposite Emmanuelle Beart in André Techiné’s “Les Egarés” in 2003. Four years later, he took his English-speaking debut in Peter Webber’s “Hannibal Rising.”
He delivered a powerful performance as the famous French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent in Bertrand Bonello’s “Saint Laurent,” which competed at Cannes. Ulliel, who was highly selective about the roles he chose, also starred in Xavier Dolan’s “It’s Only the End of The World” alongside Marion Cotillard, Léa Seydoux and Vincent Cassel; Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s “A Very Long Engagement”; as well as Bertrand Tavernier’s “La Princesse de Montpensier.” All three films also competed at Cannes.
Ulliel worked with a few promising filmmakers, including Stéphanie Di Giusto who directed him in “The Dancer” with Lily Rose-Depp. Underscoring his international profile, Ulliel was cast as Midnight Man in Marvel’s highly anticipated “Moon Knight.” The actor was currently shooting a recurrent role in a crime thriller mini-series directed by Xavier Giannoli (“Lost Illusions”) for Canal Plus. Among Ulliel’s many projects was “La bête,” a science fiction movie reteaming him with his “Saint-Laurent” director, Bonello, and Lea Seydoux.
Webber paid homage to the actor on Twitter, saying “Shocked and saddened to hear about the death of Gaspard Ulliel at such a young age in a skiing accident. I have such fond memories of working with him all those years ago on Hannibal Rising. Rest in peace, dear friend.”
Shocked and saddened to hear about the death of Gaspard Ulliel at such a young age in a skiing accident. I have such fond memories of working with him all those years ago on Hannibal Rising. Rest in peace, dear friend. pic.twitter.com/U1gmxMvHJE
— Peter Webber (@PeterWebber) January 19, 2022
Xavier Dolan, who directed him “It’s Only The End of The World,” posted a moving tribute in French on Instagram, saying “It’s unbelievable, absurd, and so painful to even think of writing these words. Your discreet laugher, your caring gaze. Your scar. Your talent. Your listening skill. Your whispers, your kindness. All these personality traits that emanated from a shining softness. Your whole being transformed my life, a being that loved deeply and that I will always love. I can’t say anything more. I feel drained, shaken by your (death).”
“Gaspard belonged to this new generation of actors who were making tomorrow’s French cinema. He knew how to select his roles and shaped his career which filled every promise,” said Thierry Fremaux, the director of the Cannes Film Festival. “Each appearance on the red carpet, from ‘La Princesse de Montpensier’ to ‘It’s Only The End of the World’ illustrated his presence, both discreet and full of kindness. He was equally brilliant and talented. He gave a lot and we’ll always remember him.”
The young actor, who was known to be elegant and friendly, won a flurry of laurels through his career including two Cesar awards, in 2005 with ” A Very Long Engagement” and in 2017 with “It’s Only The End of The World.” Ulliel was also a sought-after model: He was the face of the Chanel fragrance Bleu de Chanel and starred in a commercial directed by Martin Scorsese for the brand.
Ulliel is survived by his 6 year-old son Orso and his girlfriend Gaelle Petri, a French model and singer.