The scar, the relationship with the princess and the talent that shaped the life of Gaspard Ulliel
Well known in France, he was preparing to make the international leap and shine in the new Marvel series. He tragically died at the age of 37.
Ulliel died in a skiing accident
What at first glance looked like a small dimple in his facial expression was actually a scar from a traumatic episode as a child. Gaspard Ulliel was just six years old when he was scratched by a Doberman Pinscher. The meeting left a lasting mark that did not ruin his chances of becoming a famous actor and model. On the contrary: it gave him something unique.
The biographical detail was revealed in an interview with Liberation in 2004, when the young French actor was already a serious case of talent on the French scene. A talent that would give him the confidence to play a younger version of the eternal Hannibal Lecter.
His promising career came to an abrupt end this Wednesday, January 19, after a skiing accident. A tragedy less than two months before the premiere of what could become one of the biggest hits of his career, the new Marvel series Moon Knight, in which he stars alongside Oscar Isaac and Ethan Hawke.
Gaspard Ulliel, a 37-year-old French actor, has died. According to the AFP news agency, he suffered a serious skiing accident. Ulliel was transported by helicopter to a hospital in the city of Grenoble but did not survive his injuries.
The scar could also have ruined a possible career in fashion, which came to fruition nonetheless. It was almost inevitable given that in addition to his beauty, Ulliel was also the son of stylist Serge Ulliel and fashion producer Christine Ulliel.
Choosing the role of Hannibal Lecter in Hannibal Rising made him a national celebrity and he quickly found his way onto the cover of French Vogue, sharing the space with model Doutzen Kroes. He was also voted the most visible face of Chanel’s Blue perfume by Chanel in a television campaign directed by Martin Scorsese. And later he would collaborate with Kate Moss in a campaign for Longchamp.
He later found a path between cinema and fashion in the biographical film about the life of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. Ulliel, who had already been linked to the project, was eventually chosen by Bertrand Bonello to portray the Frenchman at the height of his career in Saint Laurent.
Despite the coincidence that it was released the same year as Yves Saint Laurent — another biographical film that focused on the stylist’s early career — it earned Ulliel multiple nominations and awards for his performance.
At the age of 15 he began to take his acting career more seriously. “I developed a passion for cinema that was bigger than acting itself. Maybe that’s why I never did theatre,” explains the then young actor, who was trained at a drama school in Paris.
The work bore fruit. At 18, his role in Summer Things earned him a nomination for the Césars, the French Oscars, in the Most Promising Actor category; and the trophy in the same category at the Lumières Awards. And shone above all alongside established names such as Charlotte Rampling and Jacques Dutronc.
The following year he shone again in Les Égarés, a French drama that took him to Cannes, where Ulliel stood out for other reasons and swooned in the crowd. “I was there for the first time. I was very tired, I hadn’t eaten, I had just seen a movie,” he said.
It was only two more years before he got out of nomination status and took home the trophy. He got it alongside Audrey Tatou in Un Long Dimanche de Fiançailles, a film directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet.
He won the awards again in 2014 with the Lumières trophy for Best Actor and two years later with César for Best Actor for his role in Xavier Dolan’s Juste la Fin du Monde, where he played Léa alongside Marion Cotillard Seydoux and Vincent Cassel.
Less known outside France, Ulliel became a reference name for his beauty, for the talent that threatened to make him one of the new exports of French cinema, but also for his relationships. One of them, as quick as he was loud, led him to the side of Monaco’s Princess Charlotte Casiraghi. Caught together several times in 2007, the relationship was not to last long.
Ulliel moved in with French model and singer Gaëlle Pietri in 2013, with whom he had a son in 2016.