Benoît Brière

Benoît Brière, actor (born 20 June 1965 in Longueuil, Québec).
Benoît Brière, actor (born 20 June 1965 in Longueuil, Québec).

Benoît Brière, actor (born 20 June 1965 in Longueuil, Québec). With his undeniable comic gifts, Benoît Brière quickly became a favourite with the general public for the many characters that he created in a long series of television commercials for Bell Canada (more than 140 over 14 years), for which he became famous in Quebec as “Monsieur B.” At the same time, Brière pursued a career in Québec theatre, films and television.

Brière graduated from the National Theatre School of Canada in 1991 and has played over 20 roles on the stage, many of them the comic roles in which he excels. That same year, in his very first season after graduation, he appeared in plays at three different Montreal theatres--Théâtre de Quat'Sous, Théâtre du Nouveau Monde (TNM) and La Nouvelle Compagnie Théâtrale—as well as in children’s theatre (Petit Monstre, by Jasmine Dubé, Théâtre Bouches Décousues) and summer theatre (Faux Départ, Théâtre des Grands Chênes). He returned to the Théâtre de Quat'Sous the following year in Nez à nez ou duel de naïfs, created by and starring Brière and fellow National Theatre School alumnus Stéphane Jacques as a pair of clowns and based on their very well received audition piece for that theatre the year before. Brière went on to play several colorful roles from the classical European repertoire, in which he combined fine comic readings of his lines with endearing physical buffoonery and hilarious facial expressions. These roles included Bastiano in Goldoni’s La Locandiera , directed by Martine Beaulne (TNM, 1993, Masque award for best supporting actor); Figaro in Le Barbier de Séville, by Beaumarchais, directed by René Richard Cyr (TNM, 1999); Monsieur Jourdain in Molière’s Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, directed by Denise Filiatrault (Productions Rozon, 1995); and Sganarelle in Molière’s Don Juan, first in a production directed by Martine Beaulne at TNM in 2002 (for which Brière received a Masque award for best actor), and later in an English-language version at the Stratford Theatre Festival, co-produced by TNM and directed by Lorraine Pintal, in 2006.

In addition to these many successes in comic roles, Brière has also explored drama, surprising audiences with convincing stage performances in Le Temps et la Chambre (written by Botho Strauss, directed by Serge Denoncourt, TNM, 1995), Hosanna (written by Michel Tremblay, directed by Serge Denoncourt, TNM, 2006), Bousille et les justes (written by Gratien Gélinas, directed by Micheline Lanctôt, Théâtre du Rideau Vert, 1999) and (written by Serge Boucher, directed by Richard Cyr, Compagnie Jean-Duceppe, 2007).

As of this writing, Brière has also appeared in 12 films. His roles have included Jambe-de-Bois in Séraphin, un homme et son péché by Charles Binamé (2002), a homeless man in Joyeux Calvaire (Poverty and Other Delights) by Denys Arcand (1996), and, most notably, Henri Giroux, the manager of the local credit union in La Grande Séduction (Seducing Dr. Lewis) by Jean-François Pouliot (2003), who also directed Brière in the famous Bell commercials in which he starred as Monsieur B.

Brière has appeared less often on television. His most memorable television roles have been Momo, a joyously stereotypical Frenchman, in the comedy series La P'tite Vie by Claude Meunier (1993-94-96), and his masterly interpretation of the inimitable Olivier Guimond in Cher Olivier (1996), for which he won a Gémeaux award for best actor in a leading role. Brière also delivered in a poignant performance as the adult Maurice in the television adaptation of L'Histoire de l'oie (The Tale Of Teeka), written by Michel Marc Bouchard and directed by Tim Southam (1998).