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Tributes flood in for French actor Gaspard Ulliel after fatal accident

The César winning actor was skiing in Savoie when he collided with another skier at the joining of two blue runs. He was 37

Gaspard Ulliel has died at the age of 37 Pic: Andrea Raffin / Shutterstock

Actors, film critics and politicians from across Europe have paid tribute to French actor Gaspard Ulliel, who has died at the age of 37 following a skiing accident.

Mr Ulliel, who won two Best Actor César awards for his roles in A Very Long Engagement and It’s Only the End of the World, was one of France’s best-known actors, and was set to appear in Marvel’s forthcoming Moon Knight series. He was also the face of the Bleu de Chanel fragrance. 

The actor was on a family holiday in Savoie and was spending the day skiing in La Rosière on Tuesday (January 18) when, around 16:00, he collided with another skier at a junction between two blue pistes, Tétras and Gelinotte, France 3 reports.

Anne Gaches of the local public prosecution service wrote in a statement that “the two skiers fell to the ground. 

“When help arrived, Mr Ulliel was immobile, unconscious in the snow,” while the other skier was “unscathed.”

Mr Ulliel was airlifted to a hospital in Grenoble, but died yesterday (January 19). The cause of his death is being investigated, but it is believed that the impact of the collision caused a serious brain injury.

Ms Gaches also said that the actor was not wearing a helmet, but that “that would not necessarily have changed anything.” 

“This was a fairly easy, family run. The conditions were good, it was 16:00, the weather was really nice. These are often conditions where people’s speeds can be significant,” said Jean Regaldo, the director of La Rosière’s pistes.

Tributes from the acting world 

Mr Ulliel’s talent and charisma were saluted by actors and critics from France and abroad.

Filmmaker Nicolas Lasnibat tweeted: “We are all stunned” in response to the news. 

British actor and film writer Caspar Salmon also paid tribute to Mr Ulliel, tweeting:  “What a shock. R.I.P. to an actor of considerable magnetism, talent and beauty, who had already carved out an impressive and varied career. What a loss.”

Film news page Sens critique tweeted: “Thank you for these moments,” along with a montage of some of Mr Ulliel’s most beautiful scenes with other actors. 

Mr Ulliel’s fans also expressed their sadness at his death, with one tweeting: “Gaspard Ulliel, my teenage crush. 

“So sweet and accessible. Thank you for having had this positive impact on my life.” 

Homage paid by politicians 

Members of the French government and opposition parties were quick to share their sadness at Mr Ulliel’s death. 

“French cinema is losing a huge talent, full of charm and energy,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire tweeted. 

Prime Minister Jean Castex added: “Gaspard Ulliel grew up with the cinema and cinema grew up with him. They were madly in love with each other.

“It is with a heavy heart that we will rewatch his greatest roles and meet that gaze of his.”

President Emmanuel Macron also saluted “a talented actor whose blue-eyed gaze was emblematic of French cinema.” 

Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot said: “His sensitivity and the intensity of his art made Gaspard Ulliel an exceptional actor. Cinema has lost a huge talent today. I offer my condolences to his loved ones and my affectionate thoughts are with everyone who is crying for him today.” 

Fabien Roussel, France’s communist candidate for the presidential elections, tweeted: “The public discovered him in Summer Things (‘Embrassez qui vous voudrez’)” for which he was nominated for the Most Promising Young Actor César. 

“French cinema is mourning one of its talents, gone so soon, so unfairly.”

Paris’ Mayor Anne Hidalgo added: “So young, so talented, so full of light: with the tragic death of Gaspard Ulliel we lose a great actor who will have inspired all directors. He will be missed in French cinema. My thoughts are with his family and his loved ones.”

An inspiring career 

Gaspard Ulliel was born in Boulogne-Billancourt, just outside Paris, in 1984, and began appearing on French television while he was still at school. 

His first English-language film role was in Hannibal Rising, where he played a young Hannibal Lecter.

Mr Ulliel’s first César win came from his performance in It’s Only the End of the World, in which he starred alongside Marion Cotillard and Léa Seydoux.

He also earned a Lumières award and a César nomination for his portrayal of Yves Saint Laurent in the 2014 biopic Saint Laurent. 

Mr Ulliel leaves behind a young son and his partner, model and singer Gaëlle Piétri.

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