Via Movie City News and AlloCiné comes word of Gerard Lefort‘s report in Libération confirming that actor David Dewaele, who’d been missing for three weeks, died on February 27 following a heart attack. He was only 37. Bruno Dumont, who’d given Dewaele small roles in Flanders (2006) and Hadewijch (2009), cast him as the lead “guy” in Hors Satan (Outside Satan, 2011) and refers to Dewaele in Lefort’s story as his “alter ego.” Dumont speaks at length with Lefort about Dewaele’s approach to his roles, the first two taken simply as a way to earn enough to pay for his cigarettes and beer. When Dumont told Dewaele he’d be playing the lead in Hors Satan, Dewaele brushed him off, telling the director he was crazy. But Dewaele found a way in, thinking, for example, of the death of his grandmother while “the guy” contemplated murder.
“Credited only as ‘le gars’ (roughly, ‘the guy’), David Dewaele’s weathered transient lives in the countryside of wind-swept northern France,” wrote John Semley, reviewing Hors Satan for Slant in January. “Quite literally, he lives in the actual countryside, taking shelter from the elements behind two feet of busted brick wall, sleeping on a rolled-out blanket, subsisting on sandwiches and cigarettes. Early in the film, he’s contracted by a nameless young girl (Alexandra Lemâtre) to take out her stepfather, who has been abusing her. The eye-for-an-eye approach to retribution has a distinctly Old Testament feel, suggesting that Dewaele’s drifter occupies some hazy place between a vengeful god and the figure of Satan. The crags running across Dewaele’s visage prove impossible to divine in aid of an answer, the actor retaining a purposefully unreadable flatness that further complicates easily reckoning with Dumont’s film as a kind of straight-ahead religious allegory.”
Dewaele, by the way, is not to be confused with the David Dewaele of the Belgian band Soulwax, who, by all accounts, is alive and well.