Daniel Auteuil,

First in class


Seeing Daniel Auteuil on the big screen or the theater stage always inspires happiness. The guest of honor at the Lumière festival held his first ever Master Class at the Comédie Odéon, confiding in the audience without pretense, but not without humor. A conversation as genuine, funny and elegant as the man himself.


"He's one of the greatest French actors! I’m an unconditional fan of Pagnol, I was amazed at the quality of the adaptations he did as director." First in the queue, Katy Paulin would have not missed the master class of the phenomenal Daniel Auteuil, held this Monday at the Comédie Odéon, for anything in the world. With the generous charm that comes so naturally to him, the actor-director entertained the public with his devastating humor. It was an opportunity to unravel the thread of his career, from his first steps in the theater to his role in La Belle époque by Nicolas Bedos.

06-Masterclass-Auteuil-Odeon-lundi-ChassignoleCopyright Institut Lumière / Olivier Chassignole

“I’ve lived through my films with the same happiness.”

Born in Algiers, the son of opera and operetta singers, Daniel Auteuil caught the acting bug at an early age. "At four, I played the son of ‘Madame Butterfly.’ When I watched the actors play the ‘Trial’ (the comic role in an operetta), I said to myself, ‘That's what I want to do!’ And then I saw my parents fulfilling an occupation where they were laughing all the time!” Twelve years later, he played his first major role in the theater in Chekhov's “A Marriage Proposal.” Although he admits being “very modest,” Daniel Auteuil has never doubted his calling: "Performing operettas gave me confidence on stage. I always thought that nothing could happen to me on stage. I did not make any choices for my career, I made choices based on pleasure; I always lived through my movies with the same energy, the same happiness.”

Unforgettable Ugolin

In 1980, his role as "Bébel" in Claude Zidi's film The Under-Gifted introduced him to the general public. "It's thanks to this film, that has survived for decades, and thanks to the memory of the audiences that I'm still here," claims the actor. Six years later, he would become the heart-wrenching "Ugolin" in Jean de Florette by Claude Berri, a role initially intended for Coluche. The ten-month shoot was memorable in many ways for Daniel Auteuil. "It was a wonderful time. I met the mother of my daughter Nelly (Emmanuelle Béart), I worked with the great Yves Montand and I made lifelong friendships! "Auteuil blew up the screen; his performance of Ugolin earned him the César Award for Best Actor and captured the hearts of moviegoers everywhere.

Copyright Institut Lumière / Olivier Chassignole

"Claude Sautet and I created a character"

André Téchiné, Edouard Molinaro, Agnès Varda, Patrice Chéreau, Alain Corneau and Claude Sautet… The humble Auteuil boasts a filmography that would make many actors green with envy. The movie “A Few Days with Me" was his first collaboration with Claude Sautet: "We created a character who doesn’t have access to feelings; Claude and I invented something. He taught me rigor, honesty, he gave me a spine.” As a link between the generations of filmmakers, the actor-director praised Nicolas Bedos, who chose Auteuil to play Victor in "La Belle époque," commenting that Bedos "has a real talent as an auteur and has revealed himself to be great director. With this film, we all witnessed the birth of a great filmmaker." For the actor, time travel is useless; there is nothing ‘better than the present.’ The audience of the Comédie Odéon agrees: La Belle époque is every moment spent with Daniel Auteuil.


Laura Lépine



Categories: Lecture Zen