Jean-Paul Belmondo, the waterfall in the skin

Suspended in polka-dot underpants from a helicopter, twirling on the roofs, balancing upright on a metro train … Jean-Paul Belmondo left his mark on the cinema with the spectacular stunts he performed in his films, at the cost of great fears .

“Already at 14-15 years old, I was walking on the roofs, I don’t have vertigo!”, Confided the actor who “never understood why one (him) was reproached so much (his) stunts”.

Belmondo, the waterfall in the skin

Belmondo, the waterfall in the skin
AFP – ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT

“The Man from Rio”, “Fear of the city”, “Le Guignolo”, “Le Casse”, “Happy Easter”, “One chance in two” … At over 60 years old, Jean-Paul Belmondo was twirling still in the air in many of his films. Only his stroke in 2001 will mark the end of these famous stunts, which have become his trademark.

“If I did them,” he joked, “it was because it amused me. The cinema gave me the opportunity to do things I would never have done. It started with + L ‘ Rio + man and then I found myself hooked to a helicopter over Venice, Paris, Nepal … Where can I do that without ending up at the station? “

His first stunts, he performed when he was still very little known. During the gala of the Union of artists where a Yugoslav tightrope walker taught him to ride on a wire sitting on a motorcycle … On the film sets, Bébel, endowed with excellent physical condition, impressed all those who prepared with him aerobatic numbers.

“I’m having fun”

“He’s the best stuntman I’ve ever trained. He’s a lot better than me!” enthusiastically Gil Delamare, the professional who assisted him on the set of “The Man from Rio”.

Same story with Rémy Julienne, the cinema man of the cascade, who found him on the sets 14 times: “with him, we had to progress”.

Belmondo, the waterfall in the skin

Belmondo, the waterfall in the skin

Lover of risk, Jean-Paul Belmondo was sometimes scared in his acts and even had the right to sacred accidents: sprained left ankle on “The Man from Rio”, thigh torn after crossing a glass window in “Le Magnifique”, right hand fractured during the waterfall on the roofs of Galeries Lafayette in “Peur sur la ville”.

In “The Animal” (1977), a nasty tear with a sprain after having descended 80 stairs does not prevent him from directly redoing the scene … his foot heavily bandaged! The actor himself joked in his memoirs that he had this stunt “label” stuck on him. “People liked it, but for the Parisian intelligentsia, I no longer knew how to act: I had become a stuntman”. In fact, in the 1970s and 1980s, when each “Belmondo” came out, we talked more about the stunts than about the film itself.

But he didn’t care: “I get it right, without thinking about the danger. I always calculate the risks beforehand but when it is gone, I do not back down. If one day I have enough, then I will tell them. texts by Duras “.