His most memorable appearance came arguably during the French New Wave – starring opposite Brigitte Bardot in Godard’s 1963 masterpiece Contempt, with his dark hat and signature bushy eyebrows.

But Piccoli’s performances for Europe’s most iconic directors will also be remembered, including for France’s Jean Renoir, Jacques Rivette and Jean-Pierre Melville, Britain’s Alfred Hitchcock and Spain’s Bunuel. For the Spanish director, Piccioli starred alongside Catherine Deneuve in the 1967 masterpiece Belle de Jour and in 1972’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, which won the best foreign film award at the Oscars in 1973.

Jane Birkin and Michel Piccoli in Jacques Rivette's La Belle Noiseuse.

Jane Birkin and Michel Piccoli in Jacques Rivette’s La Belle Noiseuse.

Despite starring in Hitchcock’s 1969 English-language espionage thriller Topaz, Piccoli’s career in Hollywood didn’t take off.

In Europe, Piccoli won a host of accolades, including best actor in Cannes in 1980 for A Leap in the Dark by Marco Bellochio and a Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 1982 for Strange Affair by Pierre Granier-Deferre.

The actor’s last major role was in 2011’s Nanni Moretti’s We Have a Pope, which premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival.

Piccoli was married three times, to Eleonore Hirt, the singer Juliette Greco and finally to Ludivine Clerc. He had one daughter from his first marriage, Anne- Cordelia. Piccoli stayed with Clerc, whom he married in 1978, until his death.


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