Mort à 74 ans d’André Wilms, iconoclaste passionné au service du théâtre

DISAPPEARANCE – The French actor died on Wednesday. First a man of the stage in plays by Molière, Euripides or Nabokov, he made remarkable incursions into the cinema under the direction of Aki Kaurismäki, Étienne Chatiliez or Patrice Leconte.

Disciple of Grüber in the theater, of Armand Gatti for politics, the actor André Wilms died this Wednesday at the age of 74. This great theater enthusiast, actor then director of Euripides at the Comédie-Française, he will have developed throughout his life the taste for thinking against oneself, and not being satisfied with ready-made ideas and easy postures.

In the cinema, where he only made quick passages, but always noticed, he worked in particular under the direction of Aki Kaurismäki, Étienne Chatiliez and Patrice Leconte. His admirers will also have the joy of seeing him again in a few weeks on the big screen, since Patrice Leconte has chosen to take him alongside Gérard Depardieu in his new adaptation of an investigation by Commissioner Maigret, created by Georges Simenon.

André Wilms was born on April 29, 1947 in Strasbourg. After a plasterer’s CAP, he left his hometown for Toulouse. Having become a machinist in a theatre, he was then tempted to step onto the stage. He achieves this as an extra. “I was always put in the roles of Nazis, because I spoke good German,” he recalled. This mastery of the language of Goethe will serve him when he goes to Paris and lands a role in Faust directed by Klaus Michael Grüber. The two men, who have a common vision and a marked political commitment very to the left, will work together again on The Death of Danton by Büchner (1989) and The Pole by Nabokov (1996).

In his youth, André Wilms was indeed involved in the Proletarian Left, a Maoist organization of the early 1970s. “We were looking for this utopia, desperately (…) so we hoped for the Chinese Revolution (.. .) It all fell apart. I have a few comrades, some have committed suicide, others have become mute. I really believed it. I even believed that the theater could change,” he explained.

For the seventh art, André Wilms has lent his talent and his rigor to intellectual and renowned filmmakers such as the Finnish Aki Kaurismäki (La Vie de bohème, Le Havre, The Leningrad Cowboys meet Moses). Films marked by poetic dialogues, with a certain tenderness for its characters.

In Le Havre, André Wilms was thus a shoe shiner, who extended his hand to a young African without papers. The Other Side of Hope orchestrated the meeting between a Syrian migrant stranded against his will in the Finnish grayness and a restaurant owner separated from his alcoholic wife. “Aki is one of the rare directors who does not take the actors for illiterates, although there are many of them”, he said again about the director.

He will also become one of the faithful of Étienne Chatiliez (Life is a long quiet river, Tatie Danielle, Tanguy, Confidence reigns). Supreme honor, for this entertainer obsessed with the perfection of the game, André Wilms will become in 2013, officer of arts and letters.

The reason for his death, which occurred in a Paris hospital, was not communicated by his family, his agent Sébastien Perrolat told AFP on Thursday. André Wilms, who will forever remain like Mr. Le Quesnoy, a senior executive at EDF who uses the formal address for his wife and is addressed by his five children in Life is a Long Quiet River (1988) by Étienne Chatiliez, had given his agreement for several future commitments, he said.

A film encounter with André Wilms

By Editor

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