“I didn’t like the idea of finding a kid on the street and asking his parents, “Would you let him make a movie with me?” For this first feature film of mine about children, I wanted the children to be willing—both the children and their parents. So I used the ad to get them to come to a studio near the Champs-Elysées, where I was doing 16-mm. screen tests every Thursday. I saw a number of boys, one of whom was Jean-Pierre Léaud. He was more interesting than all the rest, more intense, more frantic even. He really, really wanted the part, and I think that touched me. I could feel during the shoot that the story improved, that the film became better than the screenplay, thanks to him.”
François Truffaut’s Last Interview
by Bert Cardullo
Seeking a young actor to play the autobiographical hero in The 400 Blows – François Truffaut first feature after three short films – Truffaut placed an ad in the newspaper France-Soir. Of the nearly 400 boys who answered, it was 14-year-old Jean-Pierre Léaud who stood out. Son of a screenwriter and an actress, Léaud was also a troubled youth whose school career was shaping up as disastrously as Truffaut’s had. In fact, one of the reasons Truffaut chose Jean-Pierre Léaud for the role of Antoine is his evocation of longing and nervousness. Truffaut notes that in casting Antoine He was looking for a “moral resemblance to the child I thought I had been”.
To watch Jean-Pierre Léaud’s audition for The 400 Blows, please take a gander at The Genealogy’s of Style‘s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228?ref=aymt_homepage_panel