Funeral of Claude Brasseur: “He left to join his friends in paradise”

WE WERE THERE – In the cold and the grayness of Paris, a small crowd of anonymous people and some movie personalities like Jean-Paul Rouve, Daniel Russo or the director Fabien Onteniente, attended the actor’s funeral in Saint-Roch church. Everyone wanted to applaud him one last time.

The sky is gray, the atmosphere icy. In addition to the several dozen journalists present, a large handful of anonymous people are posted in front of the Saint-Roch church, in the heart of the capital. They wait patiently in the bitter cold. Intrigued by this crowd, a passerby stops to ask what the hell is going on. They are not extras and it is a very bad film which is played in this setting of stones. “It’s the funeral of Claude Brasseur», Answers a worker in uniform of building site, come with his colleague to pay a last homage to the actor.

In more than sixty years of career, the actor able to take on all roles brilliantly will have marked several generations of spectators. “I’ve seen it since I was young, I watched Vidocq on TV when I was a kid», Confides Michel, a young retiree. For Isabelle, same age as Sophie Marceau, it is in The party that she discovered the actor. It was forty years ago. It was yesterday. “We keep an image of him as a bon vivant”, she said, also referring to “the man of the theater»And his last popular roles in the cinema, in Camping especially. “He left to join his friends in paradise», Finally slips Didier, another faithful hidden behind the photographer’s parterre. He evokes of course the film of Yves Robert that Brasseur had almost refused. “Actors too often have career plans, he lamented. My agent had urged me to refuse An elephant is very misleading (which will be followed by We will all go to heaven, Editor’s note). He thought it would displease my customers! I told him he was mistaking me for a grocer and fired him. There are too few good movies to miss.

These are generations that we will never find again», Didier regrets with a touch of nostalgia, as if a whole part of his past suddenly held between his four boards which emerge from the hearse in a leaden silence. Whereas, for him, Claude Brasseur, son of Pierre, it was above all a “banter“, a “old-fashioned character“With”a voice that we can hear at the end of the world and that we will recognize“. A good living. The actor had followed the advice of his father, the great Pierre, to choose the directors with whom to shoot. “If you want to go have a drink with him, you can go”, he told her. Claude Brasseur was a child of the ball. But by accident. A child of chance as he said after having discovered in the memories of his mother, Odette Joyeux, that she did not want a child. Chance would have it…

With his head concealed under a black felt fedora and blue ribbon, Alexandre Brasseur discreetly arrives with the imposing hearse carrying the coffin of his late father. The crackle of the cameras breaks this fragile moment as Christophe would say. His ex-wife, Juliette Brasseur, and his children Louis and Jeanne accompany him. Pandemic obliges, the guests are not numerous. The famous cinema family is reduced to its simplest device. But we can still distinguish behind the masks several personalities of the cinema. The actor Jean-Paul Rouve who played twice with Claude Brasseur in 2011 and 2012, Fabien Onteniente, the director of the trilogy Camping, Daniel Russo, Danièle Thompson, Nicole Calfan or even Jean Benguigui and Jean-Marie Bigard who arrive one after the other.

Alexandre Brasseur (left), Nicole Calfan (center) and Jean-Paul Rouve (right). STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP
Comedian Jean-Marie Bigard in front of Saint-Roch Church. Urman Lionel / ABACA

“You told me that your only small ambition would be to be part of the nostalgia for tomorrow. I believe that all of us here already have nostalgia for yesterday ”

Alexandre Brasseur

A few minutes before the start of the ceremony, the security offers admirers who wish to enter the place of worship. About a hundred of them accepted the invitation, with good grace. From the steps of “artists’ church»Until under the magnificent dome decorated by Jean-Baptiste-Marie Pierre, the coffin is escorted by the family, Michèle Cambon, the last wife of the actor, and mother of Alexandre, at the head. Accompanied by notes of the organ, the emotion is intense. Father Luc Reydel leads the mass, first leaving the floor to Alexandre. “Death is sad but life is beautiful. And God knows he loved her shamelesslyHe is moved, leaving small pauses between each sentence. “You told me that your only small ambition would be to be part of the nostalgia for tomorrow. I believe that all of us here are already nostalgic for yesterday. Thank you dad! We love you“. His son Louis, heir to a great line of actors, succeeds him at the desk to read in front of the assembly Happiness by Jacques Prévert. After a sober service, lasting less than an hour, in memory of Claude Brasseur, the church empties. And applause accompanies the release of the remains of Claude Brasseur. Remained outside during mass, the former driver René Metge, with whom Claude Brasseur – a great car enthusiast – traveled the Paris-Dakar tracks for three years, also came to tell him “one last goodbye“. In the frost and tears, the hearse sets off towards the Père-Lachaise cemetery, where the actor will rest with his father, Pierre.

Alexandre Brasseur and Michèle Cambon-Brasseur on the steps of the church. STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP

“SEE ALSO – Last tribute to Claude Brasseur, the actor of” a whole generation “


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