Alain Delon is “completely devastated” by the death of his friend and rival Jean-Paul Belmondo

“I’m completely devastated. Now I’m going to try to hang in there so as not to do the same thing in five hours … Notice, it wouldn’t be bad if we both left together. It’s a part of my life, we debuted together 60 years ago, “the hallowed movie monster, 85, told CNews, his voice shaking with emotion. Delon and Belmondo have acted in several films including “Borsalino” (1970).

The two giants of French cinema have had parallel careers, most often at the top of the box office, and their friendship tinged with a certain rivalry has fueled the legend of these two characters that were opposed to each other.

It was six days apart in March 1960 that the two actors came to light: Jean-Paul Belmondo, the insolent with ordinary physique, caused a sensation in the UFO “Breathless”, while the audience swoons in front of Alain Delon’s aquamarine gaze in “Plein soleil”.

The young men already know each other: they had met on the set of “Be beautiful and be silent”. Beginners, they then camp petty crooks. At the time, it was Delon’s role as the bragging brawler. Belmondo embodies a small strike, hidden and taciturn.

They rub shoulders with the same bars in Saint-Germain-des-PrĂ©s: “Between us, begins a friendship that has never dried up”, wrote Bebel 60 years later in his autobiography “A thousand lives are better than one”.

And yet, “we will be opposed throughout our lives, seeking to create an adversity on which the legend could feed,” he continues. “In fact we are close, despite an obvious divergence of social origins. Her childhood was as sad, poor and lonely as mine was happy, bourgeois and full of love.”

& nbsp; Jean-Paul Belmondo and Alain Delon at a Parisian evening at the end of the 1980s. (FRANCIS APESTEGUY / FRENCH SELECT)

Belmondo was born in 1933 in Neuilly (west of Paris) into a loving family of artists. He attended the conservatory with the blessing of his father. Unclassifiable actor, animal and energetic, he embodies the post-war generation who wants to bite into life. With his physical appearance, he easily slips into the skin of the “Parisian titi”, close to the public. It is for this reason that Jean-Luc Godard hires him in the street for “A bout de Souffle”.

Born in 1935, Alain Delon was entrusted at the age of 4, after his parents’ divorce, to a foster family whose father was a guard at Fresnes prison. A boarder, he ran away from home several times. When he engages in Indochina, no one holds him back. Dark, taciturn, flayed alive … He does not share the inner serenity that will benefit Belmondo.

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However, the two men continue their race at the top of the box office, each cultivating their image, playing in turn, like two Siamese brothers, cops, thugs and killers. Belmondo plays on humor, lightness, casualness when Alain Delon appears as a tense and distant loner.

In 1970, Jacques Deray reunites the two in “Borsalino”, the story of two young criminals who become friends and become the kings of the underworld in Marseille.

In the film, the two men walk side by side in their radiant youth, impeccable three-piece suits and matching pockets, the cigar at the corner of the lips, the famous gangster hat slightly tilted on the head. They become inseparable after a memorable brawl where they surrender blow for blow.

However, a quarrel breaks out between the two stars about a contractual formulation not respected on the poster. Belmondo, litigator, drags Delon to court and wins. “It was quarrels of lovers”, he swept away years later. Nevertheless, Bebel will not go to the premiere of the film which has nearly 5 million admissions.

The two men have always paid tribute to each other. “Jean-Paul followed his path. Me another, that’s all. He’s a great national star. He has a lot of talent and like me, he loves his job and the risks,” said Alain Delon. “We always talk about this so-called rivalry but, for me, there can be no rivalry between us, we do not have the same job at all. Delon doesn’t bother me and I don’t think I bother him” , added Jean-Paul Belmondo.

Patrice Leconte brought them together in 1998 in “Une chance sur deux”. “At no time would we have been able, the day before the shooting, to switch their roles,” said the director. “They are diametrically opposed, which makes them complementary and, at the same time, extremely close to each other. It is very curious, two actors, who, like them, have both everything and nothing to do with the other.”

An unwavering friendship, a mixture of tenderness and virility, that Paris Match will stage until the end, in June 2019, in a tug-of-war. Alain Delon, his voice trembling with emotion, said he was “completely devastated”.

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