Philippe Noiret qualifies as the ultimate European Renaissance actor. A burly, unconventionally handsome figure with a distinct countenance, Noiret established himself as a force on stage and screen, effortlessly straddled countless genres, and graced the casts of French, Italian, British, and occasional American films up through the end of his life.
Born in Lille, France, on October 1, 1930, Noiret trained as a thespian at the Comedie de l'Ouest and subsequently joined Jean Vilar's TNP stage ensemble. He segued into film at the behest of Agnès Varda -- then a photographer assigned to snap pictures of the TNP -- in her 1955 directorial debut, La Pointe Courte. In that picture, Noiret and Sylvia Montfort play a Parisian couple who migrate to a rural village and attempt to sort out their relationship while the town organizes a workers' union.