Gaspard Ulliel, an award-winning French actor known as the face of a popular Chanel cologne and who will appear in Marvel’s upcoming “Moon Knight,” died Wednesday as a result of a skiing accident. He was 37.
His death was confirmed to the Associated Press by his agent’s office. Ulliel was in Savoie region’s Rosiere ski area when the accident occurred, according to the Savoie prosecutor’s office.
Ulliel’s death comes one day after the debut of the trailer for “Moon Knight,” the new television miniseries featuring the actor alongside Oscar Isaac and Ethan Hawke, set to premiere in March. The trailer has been viewed 17.5 million times. While Ulliel has appeared in American productions before, “Moon Knight” would have likely exposed him to one of his largest audiences yet.
Ulliel was a star of French cinema, earning multiple Cesar nominations (the French equivalent of the Oscars). In 2005, he earned the most promising actor Cesar for his work in “A Very Long Engagement,” which followed a woman searching for her fiance, who may have died in World War I.
He earned a best actor Cesar in 2017 for his work in “It’s Only the End of the World” alongside Vincent Cassel, Marion Cotillard and Lea Seydoux. The film - which follows a playwright who reconnects with his family after 12 years apart only to inform them that he’s dying - was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016.
“Gaspard belonged to this new generation of actors who were making tomorrow’s French cinema. He knew how to select his roles and shaped his career which filled every promise,” Thierry Fremaux, the festival’s director, told Variety. “Each appearance on the red carpet, from ‘La Princesse de Montpensier’ to ‘It’s Only The End of the World’ illustrated his presence, both discreet and full of kindness. He was equally brilliant and talented. He gave a lot and we’ll always remember him.”
He also portrayed French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent in the 2014 biopic “Saint Laurent,” which was the French entry for best foreign language film at the 2015 Oscars, though it was not nominated.
American audiences may recognize Ulliel from his portrayal as a young Hannibal Lector in 2007s “Hannibal Rising,” the fifth film in the series. His most prominent role to date, however, may have been as the face of Bleu de Chanel. In 2010, he starred in a commercial for the fragrance directed by Martin Scorsese and soundtracked by the Rolling Stones’s cover of “She Said Yeah.”
“You don’t get a lot of occasion to meet huge American directors like this, when you’re a French actor. I’m usually working in France,” Ulliel said at the time. “It felt like I was in a movie, not a commercial.”
Eight years later, he worked with another powerhouse director, starring in a stylish Chanel commercial helmed by “12 Years a Slave” director Steve McQueen and soundtracked by David Bowie’s “Starman.” The ad has been viewed nearly 10 million times on YouTube.
“Gaspard Ulliel grew up with cinema and cinema grew with him. They loved each other madly. It is with a heavy heart that we will no longer see his most beautiful interpretations. We have lost a French actor,” tweeted French Prime Minister Jean Castex.
Alexandra Lamy, a fellow French actor, wrote on Twitter, “A heavy heart. From you I keep only these moments of joy, we laugh so much. You embodied beauty, kindness, talent, elegance, we will miss you so much. All my support to your family and loved ones!”
“This is so deeply tragic. I hardly know what to say. Ulliel had such a sharp, sinuous star quality, and I can’t believe we won’t get to see him age,” tweeted film critic Guy Lodge.