Charles Denner  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Charles Denner (May 29, 1926September 10, 1995) was a French actor. During his over 30-year career he had the chance to work with some of the greatest France's directors of his time, including Louis Malle, Claude Chabrol, Jean-Luc Godard, Costa-Gavras, Claude Lelouch and of course François Truffaut who gave him two of his most memorable roles, as Fergus in The Bride Wore Black (1968) and Bertrand Morane in The Man Who Loved Women (1977).

He was born in 1926 in the city of Tarnów in South-eastern Poland, before immigrating with his family to France, at the age of four. Passionate with theater from his childhood, he became a student of Charles Dullin, a famous theater teacher of his time, under whose guidance he remained until 1945. Another great personality of French theater Jean Vilar, impressed by his performance at Les mamelles de Tirésias (The Breasts of Tiresias) called him four years after he left Vilar to join the Théâtre National Populaire (TNP). It was there that he gave some of his most early stage performances in plays such as Heinrich von Kleist's Prinz Friedrich von Homburg, Alfred de Musset's Lorenzaccio, among others.

In 1955, director Yves Allégret offers him a small role in his upcoming movie La Meilleure part (The Best Part), thus presenting him for the first time in cinema audiences. Two years later, in 1957, he secured another secondary role in Louis Malle's legendary Elevator to the Gallows, next to Jeanne Moreau, a co-performer of his from the days of TNP. However, he'll have to wait for five more years and several small roles, until 1963, before being offered by Claude Chabrol his first leading role of his movie career in Landru, a film considered by many as his greatest on-screen performance. Despite his growing recognition on the big screen, the stage remained his true passion and the place where he gave his most memorable performances in plays like Molière's Les Fourberies de Scapin (Scapin's Schemings) and Brecht's Drums in the Night.


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