Full Name: Gaspard Thomas Ulliel
Date of Birth: November 25, 1984
Place of Birth: Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, France
Eye Colour: Blue
Hair Colour: Brown
Height: 5′ 9 ¾”
Gaspard Thomas Ulliel was born on November 25, 1984 in the Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine to Christine, a stylist and runway show producer, and Serge, a fashion designer. He was an only child. His great-grandfather, Raoul Ulliel (1889–1943), was a bronzesmith who distinguished himself in combat during World War I. Gaspard’s dream had always been to direct a movie, and after completing his studies at the lycée (French high school), he majored in cinema at the University of Saint-Denis, and began his acting career.
Early Career (1997 – 2003)
Gaspard began acting while he was still in school, at eleven years old, when a friend of a friend of his mother was working at an agency and was looking for young actors. She asked Gaspard if he wanted to give it a try and he said “yes”, but just for fun. It was only after he turned seventeen that he really decided to continue working in this industry. He left the University of Saint-Denis after two years because he was getting more offers as an actor, but he still dreamed about writing and directing his own film, stating in a 2011 interview for Anthem Magazine; “I wake up every morning with this idea stuck in my mind that I want to write and direct my own film one day. As I work more and more on different sets, I see how hard it is to be a director. It’s insane the amount of work and confidence that goes into it. I’m so respectful of filmmakers and I admire what they do. I hope that one day I’ll find the right subject and the confidence to try it. I’m still young.”
He made his acting debut with a small part in one episode of Une femme en blanc, a 1997 miniseries for French television starring Sandrine Bonnaire. He continued appearing in made-for-television films and TV series during the late 1990s and early 2000s, and then became known as a film actor in France.
In 2001, Gaspard made his feature film debut with a minor role in Christophe Gans’s Brotherhood of the Wolf. In 2002, he played the role of Loic in Michel Blanc’s romantic comedy-drama film Summer Things, for which he earned his first César Award nomination for Most Promising Actor, as well as winning the Lumières Award for Most Promising Actor.
He also performed at the Cours Florent, where he was discovered by director André Téchiné, who cast him in the lead role of his World War II drama film Strayed in 2003, starring opposite Emmanuelle Béart as a mysterious teenager who protects her family. For his breakthrough performance in the film, Gaspard was nominated for a César Award for Most Promising Actor, and won the Étoiles d’Or for Best Male Newcomer.
English-language films and Stage Debut (2004–2012)
Gaspard had his first English-speaking role in Peter Greenaway’s 2004 film The Tulse Luper Suitcases, Part 2: Vaux to the Sea, where he played a French man named Leon.
In 2004, he starred in Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s World War I drama A Very Long Engagement, co-starring with Audrey Tautou and Marion Cotillard, and won a César Award for Most Promising Actor for his performance as soldier Manech Langonnet, the fiancé of Mathilde, Tautou’s character, who disappeared in the trenches in 1917 and whom she refuses to believe is dead and starts investigating what happened to him. That same year, he also starred in Rodolphe Marconi’s drama The Last Day, opposite Mélanie Laurent and Nicole Garcia.
In 2005, Gaspard played Izik in Richard Dembo’s World War II drama Nina’s House. In 2006, he appeared in Gus Van Sant’s “Le Marais” segment of the anthology film Paris, je t’aime, opposite Marianne Faithfull and Elias McConnell, in which he played Gaspard, a young gay man flirting with a male print shop worker played by McConnell.
In 2007, he starred in the title role in the movie Hannibal Rising, his major English-language film where he portrayed the young Hannibal Lecter. That same year, he also played the title role in Laurent Boutonnat’s historical film Jacquou le Croquant. In 2008, he starred as François, a scientist researching black holes in the sci-fi film The Third Part of the World, directed by Eric Forestier. He also starred as Joseph, the son of Isabelle Huppert’s character in Rithy Panh’s drama The Sea Wall, based on the 1950 novel of the same name by Marguerite Duras.
In 2009, Gaspard starred opposite Jean Reno in the thriller Inside Ring (also known as Ultimate Heist), directed by Laurent Tuel. He also portrayed the angel Xas in Niki Caro’s English-language romantic drama film A Heavenly Vintage (also called The Vintner’s Luck), based on the 1998 novel The Vintner’s Luck by Elizabeth Knox, in which he appeared opposite Jérémie Renier, Vera Farmiga, and Keisha Castle-Hughes. That same year, he also starred as Nathanaël in Alain Tasma’s drama Ultimatum, set in 1990’s Israel during Gulf War.
In 2010, he portrayed Henry I, Duke of Guise in Bertrand Tavernier’s romance film The Princess of Montpensier, based on the 1662 novel of the same name by Madame de La Fayette. In 2011, he played William in Emmanuel Mouret’s comedy film The Art of Love.
In 2012, Gasprd made his stage debut in Que faire de Mister Sloane?, an adaptation of English author Joe Orton’s 1963 play, Entertaining Mr. Sloane, in which he played the title role and was directed by Michel Fau at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. That same year, he also voiced Jack Frost in the French version of the animated film Rise of the Guardians; and played Balthazar, one of the four sons of Nicole Garcia’s character in Brigitte Roüan’s comedy film, A Greek Type of Problem.
Saint Laurent and It’s Only the End of the World (2014–2019)
Gaspard portrayed French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent in the 2014 biographical film Saint Laurent directed by Bertrand Bonello, which earned him a Lumières Award for Best Actor and nominations for the César, and for the Globe de Cristal for Best Actor. In December 2014, he was a member of the jury of the Cinecoles Short Film section at the 14th Marrakech International Film Festival.
In 2015, he starred as Tomas in an adaptation of Lars Norén’s play Démons, directed by Marcial Di Fonzo Bo at the Théâtre du Rond-Point in Paris. In 2016, he appeared in two films: the lead role in Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only the End of the World as Louis, a playwright who returns home after twelve years to tell his family that he’s dying, in which he starred opposite Marion Cotillard, Vincent Cassel, Léa Seydoux and Nathalie Baye; and in Stéphanie Di Giusto’s The Dancer, an unconventional biopic of American dancer Loie Fuller where he portrayed Count Louis Dorsay.
In 2017, Gaspard was nominated for the Jury Prize for Best Actor at the Riviera International Film Festival for his role in Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only the End of the World alongside co-star Vincent Cassel. He also won his second César Award, this time for Best Actor, for his performance in the film, and also earned second nominations for Best Actor in both the Lumières, and the Globe de Cristal awards (the latter with Cassel also nominated).
In 2018, he co-starred with Isabelle Huppert in Benoît Jacquot’s drama Eva, adapted from the 1945 novel Eve by James Hadley Chase. That same year, he portrayed French soldier Robert Tassen opposite Gérard Depardieu in Guillaume Nicloux’s First Indochina War drama To the Ends of the World; and also starred in F. J. Ossang’s science-fiction film 9 Fingers; and in Pierre Schoeller’s French Revolution film, One Nation, One King, opposite Louis Garrel, Niels Schneider and Adèle Haenel.
In 2019, Gaspard portrayed actor Igor Maleski in Justine Triet’s comedy-drama film Sibyl; and starred as Vincent Dauda in the Arte/Netflix’s time-travel miniseries Twice Upon a Time, directed by Guillaume Nicloux. In 2007 and 2019, Ulliel was a member of the jury of the Deauville American Film Festival in France.
Final Projects (2021–2022)
In October 2021, Gaspard appeared as plastic surgeon Danley Marchal-Widkins in Alex Lutz and Arthur Sanigou’s La Vengeance au Triple Galop, a comedy TV film for France’s Canal Plus opposite Marion Cotillard and Audrey Lamy.
He also voiced the doll Scott in Bertrand Bonello’s hybrid live-action and animation film Coma, which had its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival where it competed in the Encounters section on 12 February 2022.
In June 2021, Gaspard finished shooting his last film, More Than Ever, directed by Emily Atef and set to be released in 2022. In July 2021, he joined the cast of the Disney+ streaming superhero miniseries Moon Knight, set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and released on 30 March 2022. He portrayed the villain Anton Mogart / Midnight Man opposite Oscar Isaac, Ethan Hawke and May Calamawy.
On 18 January 2022 at around 4:00 pm, Gaspard was critically injured while skiing at the La Rosière resort in Savoie, France, when he collided with another skier at an intersection between two blue/intermediate slopes after turning left, presumably to join his friends on an adjoining slope, and suffered serious brain trauma. He was airlifted by helicopter to the trauma unit of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Grenoble Alpes in nearby La Tronche, where he died the following day around 4:00 p.m. at the age of 37. According to French magazine Paris Match, he arrived brain dead at the hospital.
An investigation indicated that both skiers fell to the ground after the collision, and that Ulliel was motionless and unconscious when rescuers arrived. The director of the La Rosière resort, Jean Regaldo, told France’s BFM TV that Gaspard was not wearing a helmet when rescuers arrived. Helmets are not required on French ski slopes. Regaldo also said weather conditions were “perfect” at the time of the accident and that there were no rocks in the area of the collision, which he described as easily accessible. The other skier, a Lithuanian man in his forties, was wearing a helmet and was not injured. He told the investigators that the collision was not too violent.
Upon hearing the Lithuanian skier and other eyewitnesses of the accident, the public prosecutor of Albertville, Anne Gaches, stated that wearing a helmet “would not necessarily have changed things”, and that “it was not noted excessive speed, inappropriate behavior or fault of one of the two skiers”. Following their testimonies, the prosecutor also declared that the two skiers evolved side by side and ran into each other. “For the moment, it is difficult to say whether it was the shock or the fall that led to Mr. Ulliel’s death”, she said. Gaches also stated that no autopsy would be performed on Gaspard’s body. The resort offered psychological support for both the Lithuanian skier, who was very shocked, and for Gaspard’s relatives. He was on vacation at the resort with his ex-girlfriend, Gaëlle Pietri, and their six-year-old son.
On 27 January 2022, a memorial service for Gaspard was held at the Church of St. Eustache in Paris. It was attended by nearly a thousand people, including his family, friends and co-stars such as Audrey Tautou, Marion Cotillard, Louis Garrel, Jérémie Rénier (who also acted as a pallbearer), Isabelle Huppert, Vincent Lindon, Niels Schneider, Nathalie Baye, Léa Seydoux and Vincent Cassel. He was buried in a private ceremony at the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. The La Rosière resort also paid tribute to Gaspard by symbolically stopping the ski lifts for one minute in tribute to him at 3:58 pm, which was the time of his accident on 18 January.
Among those who paid tribute to Gaspard following his death were France’s president Emmanuel Macron, who described him as “an icon of French elegance who dazzled the cameras”, France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex, and France’s Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot, as well as peers and collaborators such as Xavier Dolan, Martin Scorsese, Marion Cotillard, Isabelle Huppert, Juliette Binoche, Disney, Cannes Film Festival director Thierry Fremaux, Cannes Film Festival president Pierre Lescure, Jean Dujardin, Peter Webber, Pierre Niney, Louis Garrel, André Téchiné, and Bertrand Bonello.
On 25 February 2022, the 47th César Awards ceremony opened with a tribute video to Gaspard featuring his last scene in the 2016 film It’s Only the End of the World, and a message on the screen that read “this ceremony is dedicated to Gaspard Ulliel”. Later in the evening, Xavier Dolan, who directed It’s Only the End of the World, paid a tribute to him in the form of a letter addressed to Gaspard’s mother, which he finished by saying, “Because a mother’s love is stronger than anything. I believe it. Stronger than life. Stronger than art itself. And certainly stronger than death.” Dolan’s speech was followed by the ceremony’s “In Memoriam” segment, which also began with a tribute to Gaspard featuring scenes from the films A Very Long Engagement and Saint Laurent.
On 27 February 2022, Gaspard was honored in the “In Memoriam” segment from the 28th SAG Awards ceremony, which featured his last scene in A Very Long Engagement. Despite not being mentioned during the Oscars’ In Memoriam segment on 27 March 2022, Gaspard was included in the online memorial from the official website of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences among other artists who had died recently.