Bon voyage et bon chance, Jacques Perrin
Born during the German occupation, Jacques André Simonet came from a Paris theatre family– he made his first uncredited film appearance at age five. Typically credited as Jacques Perrin, he was a part of almost 100 films either as an actor or behind the scenes, with some of his best work in Pierre Schoendoerffer’s gritty assorted 1960s-70s war movies including The 317th Platoon— which did Apocalypse Now before Apocalypse Now did– Le Crabe-tambour, and A Captain’s Honor.
Blonde and soft-spoken, his crooning young sailor in the 1967 musical Les Demoiselles de Rochefort, is memorable.
He also had a great role in Operation Leopard, about the Foreign Legion’s unsung Kolwezi mission in Zaire in 1978. In the latter days, American audiences not a fan of obscure war movies are most likely to have seen Perrin in his cameo at the close of Brotherhood of the Wolf.
A special reservist (réserve citoyenne) with the rank of Commander in the French Navy, Perrin served as an ambassador for the organization both at home and abroad for decades akin to what R. Lee Ermey was to the Marines in later life, albeit not so gruff. This was fitting as he had a great love of the ocean and was a member of the French society of maritime artists.
Jacques Perrin passed away Friday, at age 80.
The French Navy held a special service for Perrin last week: