Gaspard Ulliel, star of French cinema best known outside his native country for having played the young Hannibal Lecter in “Hannibal Rising” and the fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent in “Saint Laurent”, died Wednesday, the day after a skiing accident in France . He was 37 years old.
Mr. Ulliel’s family confirmed his death in a statement to Agence France-Presse, the French news service.
His death, from a head injury, according to the French press, came just weeks before Mr. Ulliel was due to appear in Marvel’s ‘Moon Knight’ series for Disney+, due out March 30. .
Roselyne Bachelot, French Minister of Culture, was among the many French political and cultural figures to pay tribute to him. “His sensitivity and the intensity of his acting made Gaspard Ulliel an exceptional actor,” she added. said on Twitter. “Cinema today is losing immense talent.”
Mr. Ulliel was born in the suburbs of Paris on November 25, 1984. He appeared in many French television shows and films while still a teenager and studied film at a university in Paris, hoping to become director. But he had to give up when his acting career took off, he told The New York Times’ T magazine in 2010, although a return to directing is “always on my mind”, he said. he stated at the time.
In the same interview, he opened up about his love for skiing saying, “Half of my family comes from the French Alps. As a child, I skied almost before I walked.
His rise to global prominence came in 2003 with his first starring film role, in “Strayed,” playing a traveling teenager helping a woman flee Nazi-occupied Paris during World War II. Karen Durbin, in a review for The Times, said he was the film’s “scene stealer”.
“He seems fully arrived, showing us the facets of a complex, mercurial character like a blackjack dealer shuffling a deck of cards,” she wrote.
For the performance, Mr. Ulliel was nominated for a César award, the French version of the Oscars.
He became best known to audiences in the United States when he took the lead in ‘Hannibal Rising’, the 2007 prequel to the 1991 hit ‘The Silence of the Lambs’, playing Hannibal Lecter as an oddly likable, albeit always horribly murderous. . The film received mixed reviews.
But he won more unanimous praise for later films like “Saint Laurent” (2014) and “To the Ends of the World,” a 2018 war film set in Vietnam. AO Scott, commenting on “Saint Laurent” in The Times, said Mr Ulliel portrayed designer Yves Saint Laurent as never having experienced a moment of self-doubt throughout his career while “conveying a haunting mix and quietly charismatic in sensitivity and coldness.”
“Saint Laurent” earned Mr. Ulliel a nomination for Best Actor at the Césars, an honor he won in 2016 for his performance in Xavier Dolan’s “Ce n’est que la fin du monde”, in which he played an award-winning writer who comes home to tell his family that he is dying.
Fittingly for someone who has embodied one of fashion’s biggest idols, Mr. Ulliel has also moved easily in the fashion world, having graced the cover of French Vogue and fronted a campaign for Chanel’s Bleu perfume. .
No details about his survivors were immediately available.