Journalist Bernard Pascuito has just published Between two lives a biography of the great actor who died on September 6 in which he highlights the human qualities of the unforgettable Bébel. The author confided in Figaro.
“I hasten to laugh at everything for fear of having to cry“. For Bernard Pascuito, the author of Belmondo, between two lives, a new biography devoted to the immense actor who died on September 6, this maxim of Figaro, – the spiritual valet created by Beaumarchais -, says a lot of the philosophy of the one that his admirers nicknamed “Bébel”.
The author tells us why, according to him, the memory of Jean-Paul Belmondo, the man as much as the magnificent acrobat, will never be erased from our memories.
FIGARO. – What prompted you to write a new biography on Jean-Paul Belmondo?
BERNARD PASCUITO. – I believe it is his courage. We retain from him, of course, his flamboyance, his appetite for life that he has been able to communicate to others. But there is a tragic side to Belmondo. Basically, he will have had two lives. On August 8, 2001, his existence changed because he suffered a stroke. And this slow-motion life will last twenty years. But never, hear me very well, he will never complain. Belmondo, with as much modesty as courage, was a true hero in life. It is for that, as much as for his films, that people, anonymous or famous, cried when he left us.
Basically, what do you think was the real engine of his life? What were his passions?
I think he loved his family above all else, that is to say first of all his father Paul and his mother Madeleine then after his four children. Belmondo is a Latin for whom the family means everything. In the last years of his life he fought for a museum dedicated to his father, the sculptor Paul Belmondo. He truly worshiped his mother, Madeleine, to whom he came to read because she had become blind at the end of his life. And for Paul, his son, he never stopped encouraging him to become a racing driver when he wanted to get into Formula 1. He was also very close to his brother Alain and very loving to his others. children. In fact, his humanity was nestled in this certainty of belonging to a lineage, to a family, which would continue to bite into life after him.
Was the cinema a great passion for him?
The big screen, I’m not sure he took it seriously like Alain Delon, who finds it important to have had masters such as Jean-Pierre Melville, Luchino Visconti and René Clément. Belmondo never returned, over and over again, to Breathless and Léon Morin priest. What burned in him was the theater. This is why he attended the Conservatory and forged indestructible friendships with Rochefort, Marielle, Vernier and all the others. His return at the end of his magical career in the costumes of Kean and of Cyrano is no accident.
If you had to try to retrace Belmondo’s fate in a few words, what would you say?
He may have been spoiled as the film by Claude Lelouch suggests, but he was able to prove in the tragic moments of his life such as the death of his eldest daughter that he knew how to remain dignified and out of modesty hide an immense sorrow. Bébel, in everyday life, was both the sensitive François Merlin in Philippe de Broca’s film and the magnificent Bob Saint-Clar. This courage, this incredible grace, it was him. He forged his intelligence with sport like Albert Camus who, remember, once uttered this astonishing and wise sentence: “ Everything I learned about morals I owe to football.“
* Belmondo, between two lives of Bernard Pascuito, Robert Laffont