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Denis Lavant

Denis Lavant
File:Denis Lavant 2013.jpg
Born (1961-07-17) July 17, 1961 (age 54)
Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, France
Occupation Actor
Years active 1982–present

Denis Lavant (born 17 June 1961) is a French actor known for his distinctive face and the physically demanding aspects of the roles he plays, which often involve slapstick, acrobatics or dance, as well as for his long-standing association with director Leos Carax. Lavant has played the lead role in all but one of Carax's films. Lavant is also known for his roles in Claire Denis' Beau Travail, and Harmony Korine's Mister Lonely.

Life and career

Lavant was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, in France. At 13, he took courses in pantomime and the circus, fascinated by Marcel Marceau. He trained at the Paris Conservatoire under Jacques Lassalle,[1] and began his professional career in 1982 in theatre, acting in Shakespeare's Hamlet and The Merchant of Venice. In 1982 he appeared in the television film L'Ombre sur la plage, before playing the minor part of Montparnasse in Robert Hossein's Les Misérables,[1] which was entered into the 13th Moscow International Film Festival where it won a Special Prize.[2] He appeared in several further minor roles before making his breakthrough in 1984 as the lead in Boy Meets Girl, playing a depressed, aspiring filmmaker who falls in love with a suicidal young woman. The film marked the directorial debut of Leos Carax, with whose films Lavant has been associated ever since.

In 1986, Lavant and Carax worked together again on the thriller Mauvais Sang and again in 1991 on Carax's third film, Les Amants du Pont-Neuf. In both Mauvais Sang and Les Amants du Pont-Neuf, Lavant starred opposite Juliette Binoche. In 1998, Lavant appeared in the iconic Jonathan Glazer-directed video for the UNKLE song Rabbit in Your Headlights, and in 1999, he played one of the lead roles in Beau Travail, directed by Claire Denis. In 2007, he appeared in Harmony Korine's Mister Lonely, in which he portrayed a Charlie Chaplin impersonator. Lavant, who does not speak English, took an intensive language course in preparation and learned his lines phonetically.[3] His longtime associate Leos Carax appears in a supporting role as the main character's talent agent.

In 2008, Lavant and Carax re-united for the anthology film Tokyo!, which marked their first work together since Lovers on the Bridge and Carax's first major directing work in nearly a decade. Carax's segment for the film, called "Merde," starred Lavant as a violent monster who lives in the sewers of Tokyo and speaks in a gibberish language, venturing out occasionally to attack passersby.

In 2012 he starred in Leos Carax' film Holy Motors where he plays a "chameleonic actor on assignment, ferried around Paris in a white limousine and changing en route from beggar-woman to satyr to assassin to victim."[4] The film was an entrant at the Cannes Film Festival.


Year Title Role Notes
1982 L'ombre sur la plage Mathieu TV movie
1982 Les Misérables Montparnasse
1983 After Midnight short
1983 Paris ficelle Joe short
1983 Entre Nous Un militaire
1983 The Wounded Man
1984 Viva la vie Caviar delivery man
1984 Boy Meets Girl Alex
1985 Partir, revenir Le patient de Simon Lerner
1986 Mauvais Sang Alex
1987 L'étendu short
1989 Un tour de manège Berville
1989 Mona and I Pierre
1991 C'est merveilleux short
1991 Les Amants du Pont-Neuf Alex Nominated – European Film Award for Best Actor
1992 Drôle d'immeuble short
1993 Fuis la nuit short
1993 De force avec d'autres Denis
1994 La partie d'échecs Max
1995 L'ennemi Higra short
1995 Visiblement je vous aime Denis
1997 Wild Animals Emil
1998 Don Juan Pierrot
1998 Le monde à l'envers Yann
1998 Melody for a Hustler L'auto-stoppeur
1999 Beau travail Galoup
1999 Tuvalu Anton
2000 Deep in the Woods Stéphane
2000 The Squale Le joker
2001 Married/Unmarried Love video
2001 Affaire Libinski Anatoli Libinski short
2001 Sofor The Driver short
2002 Sous-commandant Père Noël short
2002 La merveilleuse odyssée de l'idiot Toboggan voice
2004 Low Street Old Man short
2004 Luminal Ryu
2004 A Very Long Engagement Six-Soux
2004 Le soldat inconnu vivant TV movie
2005 Wild Camp Blaise
2006 Elegant short
2007 Le passeur short
2007 Mister Lonely Charlie Chaplin
2007 Captain Ahab Capitaine Achab
2007 Iyi Seneler Londra Gerard
2008 Tokyo! Merde Segment "Merde"
2008 Comment Albert vit bouger les montagnes
2009 Les Williams short
2009 Tamanrasset Philippe TV movie
2009 The Temptation of St. Tony Count Dionysos Korzybski
2009 Les cow-boys n'ont pas peur de mourir short
2009 Obsession(s) Marc Douelec TV movie
2010 Bury Our Dogs Lucas voice
2010 Je, François Villon, voleur, assassin, poète TV movie Bezon
2010 Tandis qu'en bas des hommes en armes Vilard short
2010 Hitler in Hollywood Denis Lavant
2011 Waster short
2011 Experiment 5ive: Atlantic Jack short
2011 My Little Princess Ernst
2011 Les amours perdues Vincent short
2011 Le petit poucet L'ogre
2011 L'oeil de l'astronome Kepler – Jean
2012 Holy Motors Mr. Oscar Chicago International Film Festival's Silver Hugo for Best Actor
IndieWire's Film Critics Poll: Best Performance[5]
International Cinephile Society Award for Best Actor
Toronto Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor (runner-up)
Nominated – César Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor (runner-up)
Nominated – National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor (runner-up)
Nominated – New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor (runner-up)
Nominated – Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Village Voice Film Poll: Best Actor (runner-up)[6]
2013 Michael Kohlhaas


  1. ^ a b "Denis Lavant" (in French). Retrieved 30 December 2014. 
  2. ^ "13th Moscow International Film Festival (1983)". MIFF. Retrieved 31 January 2013. 
  3. ^ Interview with actor Denis Lavant
  4. ^ BBrooks, Xan (11 June 2012), Kylie should be so lucky as film hits the jackpot, The Guardian 
  5. ^ "Indiewire 2012 Year-End Critics Poll". IndieWire. 
  6. ^ "The 2012 Voice Film Critics' Poll". Village Voice. 

External links

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