In his first major film role as Antoine Doinel, Jean-Pierre Leaud exhibited a mature command as an unloved youth who turns petty thief in Francois Truffaut's memorable classic "The Four Hundred Blows" (1959). The film's final frozen image of Leaud's round face staring at the camera with a mixture of humor and confusion has become a familiar screen image. Truffaut went on to direct the actor in six additional films, four of which detailed the further adventures of Doinel. Leaud matured into a lanky, sharp-featured but furtive man. Over the course of the series, he proved to be a modest talent with his initial performance the best. As Leaud matured along with the character of Doinel, he demonstrated his limitations, playing against the sentimentality of "Stolen Kisses" (1968) and lending an almost cold presence to "Bed and Board" (1970, easily the weakest of the entries in the series). The final installment, "Love on the Run" (1979), was a modest effort.
Despite having allied himself with Truffaut (Leaud also gave adequate performances in 1971's "Two English Girls" and 1973's "Day For Night"), the actor also forged working relationships with several of the key figures of the New Wave, most notably Jean-Luc Godard. "Masculin-Feminin" (1966) offered Leaud a role not dissimilar for Doinel, a hopeless romantic searching for true love. He received some notice as the callow central figure in a love triangle in "La Maman et la putain/The Mother and the Whore" (1973). But after Truffaut's untimely death, Leaud seemingly lost interest while continuing to work. Reportedly dealing with personal problems, he became a much more haunted screen presence, often cast as filmmakers (e.g., Godard's "The Rise and Fall of a Small Film Company" 1986; Olivier Assayas' "Irma Vep" 1996) or neurotics (i.e., the father in "Paris at Dawn" 1991). The eternal question posed at the end of "The Four Hundred Blows" seems as appropriate in the 90s as it did in 1959: what was to become of this person? It is one only time could answer.
Assistant Direction (Feature Film)
Cast (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Worked as a 'technical collaborator' on Georges Lampin's "La tour, prend garde!"; also had bit role
First major role as Francois Truffaut's film alter ego in "Les quartre cents coups/The 400 Blows"; first time playing character of Antoine Doinel
Reprised Doinel in the Truffaut-directed segment "Paris--Antoine et Colette" of the omnibus film "Love at Twenty/L'Amour a vingt ans"
Was assistant director to Jean-Luc Goddard on "La Femme mariee/A Married Woman", Truffaut on "La Peau Douce/The Soft Skin" and Jean-Louis Richard on "Mata Hari, Agent H-21"
Starred in Godard's "Masculin-Feminin"
Reteamed with Truffaut as Doinel in "Stolen Kisses/Baisers voles"
Again played signature role of Antoine Doinel in "Bed and Board/Domicile conjugal"
First collaboration with Truffaut not portraying Doinel, "Two English Girls"
Appeared in the French TV serial "L'education sentimentale"
Co-starred in Jean Eustache's "La Maman et la putain/The Mother and the Whore"
Had feature role as an egotistical actor in Truffaut's Oscar-winning paean to filmmaking "Day for Night"
Final screen collaboration with Truffaut, "Love on the Run/L'Amour en fuite"; also last time playing Antoine Doinel
Narrated and appeared in Raul Ruiz's "L'Ile tresor/Treasure Island"; because of financial difficulties film was not screened until 1991
Played a filmmaker in Godard's "The Rise and Fall of a Small Film Company"
Portrayed the neurotic father in Olivier Assayas' "Paris at Dawn/Paris s'eveille"
Played a washed-up filmmaker in "Irma Vep"
Acted in the biopic "Elizabeth", about Queen Elizabeth I
Cast as a porn director attempting to reconcile with his son in "Le Pornographe/The Pornographer"; screened at Cannes
Cast as himself in Bernardo Bertolucci's "The Dreamers"