Paris (AP) – Acting legend Jean-Paul Belmondo has passed away. The Frenchman, who made his breakthrough in cinema with “À bout de souffle”, has died at the age of 88. The office of his lawyer, Michel Godest, confirmed this to the German press agency on Monday. Jean-Luc Godard’s film “Breathless” made Belmondo the leading figure in “Nouvelle Vague” cinema alongside Jean Seberg in the 1960s. He became a symbol of rebellion and anarchism. In the film, the 26-year-old played the role of a police crook and murderer who lives aimlessly all day. Belmondo bequeathed to posterity no less than 80 films and more than 40 roles in the theater.

President Emmanuel Macron called the acting icon on Twitter a “national treasure.” Everyone would have been in him. “Belmondo will always be the devil,” Macron wrote, referring to the 1973 film of the same name, in which Belmondo plays a writer and a future secret agent. Prime Minister Jean Castex also paid tribute to Belmondo on Twitter from the film. As the French news agency AFP wrote about lawyer Godest, Belmondo had been exhausted for a long time. Now he fell asleep calmly.

Belmondo entered the history of cinema with his role as an anti-hero. With his boxer’s nose and crumpled face, he became the protagonist of a new generation of movie stars who were no longer handsome heroes. The most important directors of the “Nouvelle Vague”, who revolutionized French cinema with their innovative visual language, clashed for him. He directed the “Secret of the False Bride” with François Truffaut, another film with Godard was the love triangle “A woman is a woman”.

He reached his peak as a daredevil, gangster and action hero in the 60s and 70s. Alongside Brigitte Bardot and Jean Gabin, he was then one of the stars of the big screen. Philippe de Broca’s Adventure in Rio was one of his box office hits. He plays a young soldier involved in the most breathtaking adventures in search of his kidnapped girlfriend. In Henri Verneuil’s adventure film “$ 100,000 in the Sun”, he slipped into the shoes of the thug Rocco, who is on the run across the impassable Sahara.

In 1974 he stood in front of the camera for Alain Resnais – as an impostor and a fraud of millions in “Stavisky”. Belmondo was also appreciated by the general public as a former French secret service agent in “Der Profi” and as a foundling Sam Lion in “Der Löwe” by Claude Lelouch.

Belmondo, nicknamed “Bébel” by his French fans, was born on April 9, 1933 in the elegant Parisian suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine. His father Paul, whose family is from Sicily, was a well-known Parisian sculptor, his mother a dancer. As a child, Jean-Paul was considered particularly unruly. He changed schools several times and discovered boxing in high school. He fought several fights before deciding to become an actor.

The always tanned warrior had four children from relationships with dancers Elodie Constant and Nathalie Tardivel. In 2008, he met the former “Playboy” model Barbara Gandolfi. The affair with the Belgian, more than 40 years his junior, ended a few years later.

Belmondo last appeared on camera in a feature film in 2008. In “A Man and His Dog” by Francis Huster, he plays a lonely elderly man – marked by his stroke in 2001.