Between the stage and life, Denis Podalydès at the height of roles

The mist slowly lifts over the moor. Is it dawn or dusk? A figure plods along, as if overwhelmed by the years, until it reaches its throne and drops into it. This king of English lands is probably over 80 years old and does not yet know that he is heading towards madness and decay. The time has come to get rid of his power and put it back in the hands of his three daughters, to “move lighter towards death”. Denis Podalydes is King Lear.

The “King Lear”, for an actor, is the Tourmalet of a cyclist. A must. A consecration.

This Saturday, September 10, thirteen days before the premiere, in the Salle Richelieu of the Comédie-Française, the first filming of Act I of William Shakespeare’s play takes place, in cathedral silence, only punctuated by thunderous laughter. by the German director, Thomas Ostermeier, one of the great references of European public theatre. A monster piece, which will make its first entry into Molière’s house repertoire.

King Lear, for an actor, it’s a cyclist’s Tourmalet. A must. A consecration. A summit at the top of which you can turn around to tell yourself that, well, it’s a busy career that you’re leaving behind. But, for Denis Podalydès, 59, it’s even more than that…

Everywhere, all the time

The general public discovered him in the mid-1990s, in the films of his older brother Bruno, as the balding cousin of Pierre Richard. Less blundering, more intellectual, but just as lunar, not knowing what to do with her ageless body. A false calm, terribly anguished and stunned. He enters our imagination as an ordinary gentleman unsuited to this era of performance that a Sempé would have loved to draw.

Today, it has become a reference. The French actor, in all his glory. In the line of Michel Bouquet, Louis Jouvet or Jean Vilar. A trademark of excellence. As we talk about Limoges porcelain or Morteau sausage. “The actor has become a great actor”, simply sums up his Conservatory buddy Eric Elmosnino. “A great actor, adds Marcel Bozonnet, the former administrator of the Comédie-Française. It’s anything but a great mutt. Denis is an ascetic, a great language metaphysician. »

Denis Podalydès, in the home of the actors of the Comédie-Française, in Paris, on September 6, 2022.

The actor is everywhere, all the time. An average of three to four films per year for almost twenty years. At least two pieces per season. Often a scene. He wrote six books (including the last, Celidan gone, released on October 6 by Mercure de France), recorded numerous audio books. It is without exception. On September 18, he was at the Parc de Sceaux, near Paris, for a children’s reading of the adventures of Babar, accompanied by a pianist. ” I love that “, he exults. One could take this enthusiasm for coquetry. It would seem not. “He puts everything on the same level, everything interests him: playing in the Cour d’honneur or reading at a small festival”, assures Eric Ruf, administrator of the Comédie-Française.

You have 88.48% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.

Between the stage and life, Denis Podalydès at the height of roles