40 years ago, Patrick Dewaere disappeared: Un Fauve, the last day of a unique actor

Editions du Rocher bring out the excellent biography of Enguerrand Guépy written in 2016. The author, for Le Figarolooks back on this fatal day of July 16, 1982 and on a shattered destiny.

It was a summer day, 40 years ago. On July 16, 1982, Patrick Dewaere killed himself at home by shooting himself in the mouth. The announcement of the suicide of one of the most emblematic actors of the 1970s shocks the whole of France.

The novelist-biographer, Enguerrand Guépy, has just emerged A wild beast (Du Rocher) wrote in 2016, the story of this tragic day. He tried to understand what happened in the head of the actor, who the very morning of the drama, will have shot a few tests under the direction of Claude Lelouch for the film Edith and Marcel.
The author told the Figaro how, fascinated by the personality of Patrick Dewaere, he wanted to imagine his last day.

LE FIGARO. – Why did you choose the form of a novel to recount the suicide of Patrick Dewaere?

Enguerrand GUEPY. – The personality of Patrick Dewaere has fascinated me for a long time. But I had the feeling of not being able to contribute anything more by signing a new biography. The works of Christophe Carrière, Bertrand Tessier and Jean-Marc Loubier are quite detailed and perhaps definitive. The complexity of Dewaere, I wanted to approach it differently. Literature made it possible to grasp the mystery of a dramatic but also highly romantic character.

In A wild beastyou also describe the state of mind of the French, this day of July 16…

I was only eight years old but this suicide marked me. And I also remember that people were in shock. It’s weird, but I have a feeling I knew this man. Dewaere was a human, fragile hero who belonged to the public. I must recall that, moreover, France was experiencing a kind of national mourning. The team of Michel Platini and Marius Trésor had just lost the semi-final of the Football World Cup in Seville against the Germans. Patrick Dewaere’s stroke of madness knocked out the weakened French. It may be a detail but it is not insignificant to understand the impact of this disappearance.

You think people at the time projected themselves when they learned of this tragic end…

Yes, because Dewaere is part of us. And this, because his game is of an appalling sincerity. In Black sequence, he really smashes his head against a car. The technicians on set were scared. In Coup de tête, the rape scene hesitates between a biting humor and an authentic sexual assault. When Dewaere commits suicide, he does not miss. His life merges with his characters. He does not play.

When we talk about Dewaere, we often say “the lively skinned”, “the hyper-sensitive”. Why did you choose Un Fauve to title your novel?

Un Fauve refers to the animality of Patrick Dewaere but also, indirectly, to Claude Lelouch. The filmmaker felt a real passion for the actor. By offering him the role of boxer Marcel Cerdan, he entrusted him with both a wild and sensitive character. Claude has a kind of prescience. He certainly unconsciously believed thatEdith and Marcel could save Dewaere, protect him from his demons. This view is entirely subjective. This is how I saw this last day.


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