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Written by Timothy Sexton
Classically trained as a stage actor, Belmondo had made a series of appearances in a handful of films before Breathless shot him to worldwide fame. Like the other actors, most of the lines Michel speaks were delivered to Belmondo just before shooting began. As a result, the actor became increasingly convinced that his performance and the film as a whole was going to be a disaster that, mercifully, would be forgotten quickly since it was the first feature from a film critic convinced he could make better films. The reaction turned out completely the opposition, of course, catapulting Belmond to superstardom and a career that spans decades.
One-sixth of the entire budget for Breathless went to hire Jean Seberg. Although she had only made three films prior to being cast, two were directed by legendary Otto Preminger and one co-starred Peter Sellers, so Seberg was certainly the closest to a bona fide Hollywood star that the film got aside from its posters of Humphrey Bogart. The result of her being raised on Hollywood narrative-style of filmmaking and Godard’s New Wave DIY made for the kind of artistic clash which can producer either greatness or disaster. Like Belmondo, Seberg assumed as filming wore on that the result would unquestionably be the latter and never imagined that history would attach to strange little low-budget experimental feature she was making near-universal recognition as work of the former.
Police Inspector Vital
Boulanger made his acting debut in Breathless and would go to act in about a dozen movies over the next two decades. His primary contribution to film was as a writer whose work included such classics of French cinema as That Man from Rio and King of Hearts.
That guy in the shades reading the newspaper who seems to recognize Michel not too long before the police arrive and kill him? Well, the guy whom it can be safely assumes rats out Michel is played by none other than the director of the film, Jean-Luc Godard.
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