French actress Emmanuelle Riva, best known for her roles in Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959) and Amour (2012), passed way on Friday afternoon at a clinic in Paris aged 89, after a screen career that spanned nearly six decades.
According to her agent Anne Alvares Correa, Riva died after a prolonged battle with cancer, the Associated Press reports. But she had worked last summer on a new film, Alma, in Iceland, according to Us Weekly.
Alma is still in production, but it will be the last film to feature the iconic French actress, according to her agent Correa. But she will also appear in Paris Pieds Nus (2016) to be released in France next March, the Daily Mail reports.
— Mei Ling Moore (@MeiLingMoore) January 28, 2017
Riva was nominated for an Academy Award for best actress for her performance in Amour (2012). She was nominated alongside stars, such as Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence, and Naomi Watt. But Jennifer Lawrence won the Academy Award for best actress for her role in Silver Linings Playbook, a romantic comedy-drama directed by David Russell.
In an interview with U.K.’s the Guardian, Riva described the nomination as “wonderful, marvelous and extraordinary gift.”
Michael Haneke’s Amour is a moving depiction of the life of an aging and loving Parisian couple beset with the challenges of illness and death. George and Anne, both octogenarians and retired music teachers, go through difficult times when Anne suffers a stroke. Riva starred in the film alongside the French movie icon Jean-Louis Trintignant.
Her fans assumed that as an elderly person she must have found her role in the film emotionally upsetting. But she insisted in multiple interviews that the atmosphere on the set was happy and that she would not hesitate to take a similar role in the future.
— •Stanwyck• (@irmadesmond) January 28, 2017
“I love life to death,” she said frankly.
“If I don’t act in another film who cares? I’m 85, it doesn’t matter. I’m still alive and that feels great.”
Amour won the Academy Award for best foreign-language film. The film also won the Palme d’Or at Cannes. And for her performance in the film, she won best actress at the British Academy Film Awards.
She started her acting career relatively late, in her mid-20s. She got her big break in Hiroshima mon Amour which premiered in Cannes in 1959.
Riva was born as Paulette Riva in the Vosges region of eastern France to working class parents. She was being prepared for a career as a seamstress when she joined a regional theater and eventually left for Paris to pursue a career in acting, according to Variety. She gained a scholarship to study at the ENSATT theater school at the age of 26.
R.I.P Emmanuelle Riva ????One of the greatest film performances ever… Hiroshima, Mon amour (1959) pic.twitter.com/JnkPoj2fyH
— Maëva (@bouledegum) January 28, 2017
— Peter Bradshaw (@PeterBradshaw1) January 28, 2017
Oscar-nominated actress Emmanuelle Riva has sadly passed away https://t.co/ZzbmghOCbL
— JustJared.com (@JustJared) January 28, 2017
Her first stage role was in George Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the Man. Alain Resnais noticed her performance in Arms and the Man” and she ended up playing the lead role in his Hiroshima mon Amour.
The film is regarded widely as a major contribution to twentieth-century cinema. It was the story of an ill-fated romantic entanglement between a Japanese architect and a French actor.
Besides being an accomplished actress, Riva was also a photographer who had several of her works published, including photographs taken in Hiroshima during the filming of Hiroshima mon Amour. The photographs were published in 2008.
She was also a published poet who produced three collections of poetry from 1969 to 1982.
President Francois Hollande of France said in a statement in honor of Riva that she “created intense emotion in all the roles she played” and “deeply marked French cinema.”
[Featured Image by Evan Agostini/AP Images]