Gaspard Ulliel, Through the Green Eyes of Envy

by Pablo Calvi

8 January 2015

If I let my envy write the first few lines of this piece, she will say (and yes, my envy is a “she” and she is also green, apologies to the cliché-sensitive who may be reading this page), my envy would say that Gaspard Ulliel is not as tall as she thought, that he has a strange set of deep dimples on his cheeks that make his white complexion (a little too white, perhaps) resemble the skin of a lustered white eggplant. If my envy keeps writing, it will also take notice of the drops of sweat that roll down his wide forehead on a perfectly cool, Moroccan afternoon, and would speculate about the insecurities nestled in the hedge of his hairline.

Of course, this piece is not written by my envy, but, I would like to think, by me. And I have to admit that the actor, who plays Yves Saint Laurent in Bertrand Bonello’s biopic Saint Laurent—France’s entry for the foreign film Oscar in 2015—is as good looking as French guys get, which means that he is a very dapper version of a young Alain Delon.

Ulliel has already proven latitude as an actor. A millennial (b.  1984), and a model (Longchamp; Chanel), he’s played roles that show a skill stretching far beyond his piercing blue eyes: the self-mutilating Manech Langonnet in Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s A Very Long Engagement (2004, with a score by master Angelo Badalamenti); a morally self-righteous Hannibal Lecter in Peter Webber’s 2007 Hannibal Rising; and now, the persistently unsatisfied  couture master and fashion genius Yves Saint Laurent, through the eyes of director Bertrand Bonello.

“I wasn’t even expecting to be in Cannes, and that was the first thing that happened,” Ulliel told Grey in Marrakech, where he was invited to be a juror for the short film competition at the International Marrakech Film Festival. He was wearing a denim jacket, baby blue cotton shirt, jeans and black boots, nothing that YSL would have approved for his own wardrobe. “Everything that happened after with the film was already beyond what I expected.”

One of the striking details of the couturier’s life, Ulliel reveals after an unintended pause, was his constant fear of losing his hair. “You can find a lot of archival footage in which he is talking about his fear of getting bald … and I don’t know where it comes from. He had so much hair, he had a big bunch of hair, so I wonder why he would say this, and I will never know.”

-Are you afraid of that?

-A little bit. My father is losing his hair a lot. I might too, but it’s ok.

And my envy would certainly enjoy that, Gaspard, I must admit.

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