The great actor Serge Merlin died this Saturday at 86, in Paris. During his career, Serge Merlin played with the greatest directors (Patrice Chéreau, Matthias Langhoff, Andre Engel, Alain Françon, etc.) and he had been marked forever by his two interpretations of King Lear of
"He had a form of genius. He was totally involved in the theatrical object to be created, sometimes even to the negation of the real, "said Frédéric Franck, co-director of the Montansier theater in Versailles, who worked with him on several projects at the Théâtre de la Madeleine and at the Théâtre de l'Oeuvre, Extinction Thomas Bernard, or The last band and Game over from Samuel Beckett.
"It was a witness of the century, he had known Albert Camus and played in front of Visconti"
"He never denied his films, but he lived for the theater," and especially for the plays of Thomas Bernhard, the Austrian writer and playwright. "It was to Thomas Bernhard what Alain Cuny was to Paul Claudel," summarized Frederic Franck. "He taught me what the artistic gesture was: in his life no gesture was innocuous," he added.
"He had a near-religious relationship to the theater," said his friend and former agent Nicolas Derouet, who sees in his disappearance a major loss for the theater. "He was a witness of the century, he had known Albert Camus and played in front of Visconti," he recalls.
"The glass man" in Amélie Poulain
In addition to his many roles in the theater, Serge Merlin had played in twenty films. His most famous role on the big screen was undoubtedly the character of Raymond Dufayel, whom he played in Amélie Poulain in the early 1990s. A particularly poignant character, since he embodied "the glass man", a painter suffering from the disease of glass bones and living cloistered.
He had also played in another famous film by Jean-Pierre Jeunet,The City of Lost Children. His last role at the cinema was that of Louis XI in A people and its king by Pierre Schoeller, released last year indoors.