Jean-Paul Belmondo and Philippe Druillet: the secret of a meeting at the top in Le Professionnel

INTERVIEW – Canvases by the famous cartoonist are enthroned in the apartment of Joss Beaumont’s best friend (alias Bébel) in Georges Lautner’s film released in 1981. The author tells the story Figaro behind the scenes of this telescoping between two sacred monsters.

What a surprise to discover at the turn of a key scene reviewed in the professional half a dozen paintings signed by comic book designer Philippe Druillet!

Even if “Bébel” has always professed his love for comics (he has inspired many heroes of the ninth art besides Blueberry), we are still entitled to be surprised to see large paintings by Philippe Druillet appear in the thriller. melancholy and vengeful by Georges Lautner (whose dialogues are by Michel Audiard) to unforgettable music by Ennio Morricone. The film was a huge success in France when it was released in 1981, and was seen by more than 5.2 million spectators. To clarify the mystery of such a meeting, Le Figaro interviewed Philippe Druillet …

Joss Beaumont (Jean-Paul Belmondo) meets his old friend, Captain Édouard Valera (Michel Beaune). Behind him, we see the board from the comic strip “Gaïl” from the Lone Sloane series. screenshot The Professional (1981)

LE FIGARO. – How did half a dozen of your works end up in a Belmondo film?

Philippe DRUILLET. – I admit that the story is amazing (laughs)! In the 1980s, I started to navigate the world of cinema. I am asked to design movie posters. I find myself propelled as a member of the jury of the Cognac detective film festival. During the grand opening dinner, I am placed at a table where the filmmaker Georges Lautner falls on me. He loves my job. I also have total respect for his films, whether they are Uncle gunslingers or from Cops and robbers… He begins to wonder if I would be willing to lend some of my boards for one of his next films. I accept of course. But it all seems rather vague to me. And then nothing …

What happened next?

After eight to ten months of silence, one fine day, I receive a call from a production assistant who works for Georges Lautner. “Mr. Lautner has an inordinate passion for your work. He asked me to contact you because he absolutely wants to include a dozen large format paintings in a sequence of his film. ” I admit that at the time, I was a little flabbergasted. I then made him send a dozen boards from the album Gail, which take place on the Isle of the Dead, a sequence in which I reinterpret Arnold Böcklin’s famous painting.

Behind Michel Beaune (Valera) we can see the painting by Philippe Druillet The Isle of the Dead. screenshot The Professional (1981)

How did it feel to find your boards in the film?

In fact, I had so much work at that time that I didn’t go to see the professional on its release in the cinema. But very quickly, many friends called me to tell me: “It’s incredible! We saw you at the cinoche! ” I was proud as a peacock.

Two large format paintings signed Philippe Druillet on the theme “The Island of the Dead”. © Philippe Druillet

When I finally saw the professional, I felt that the choice of my boards was very correct. For this meeting scene between the character of Joss Beaumont, the hero is drawn into a trap by the soldiers who abandoned him two years earlier. However, he ends up going to his former friend Valera’s apartment for a discussion that sounds like a goodbye. Beaumont is a sort of Count Monte-Cristo, animated by the same spirit of vengeance.

Philippe Druillet during the exhibition “Métal hurlant” and “(To be continued)” at Landerneau in 2013. Hélène and Edouard Leclerc Fund

Initially, the two men discuss the collection of Valera, these little robots that Belmondo brings back to his friend after each of his missions abroad. But quickly, they evoke death. Valera asks Bébel to surrender, before ruining everything. It’s too late. Death lurks. And Belmondo knows it. My drawings of Isle of the Dead who surround the two protagonists are there to prove it … That’s very beautiful, I think …


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