Pierre Curzi | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Pierre Curzi

Pierre Curzi. Actor, unionist and politician. (Montreal, 10 February 1946 - ) Pierre Curzi enjoyed a long and rewarding acting career onstage, in film and on television before entering the world of politics in the 2007 Quebec general election.

Curzi, Pierre

Pierre Curzi. Actor, unionist and politician. (Montreal, 10 February 1946 - ) Pierre Curzi enjoyed a long and rewarding acting career onstage, in film and on television before entering the world of politics in the 2007 Quebec general election. He appeared in roles large and small in more than 50 theatrical productions and nearly as many films. His unionist and populist leanings, which led him to serve as president of the Union des artistes for approximately a decade, eventually inspired the actor, a committed sovereignist, to move into politics.

Pierre Curzi was among members of the class of 1969 at the NATIONAL THEATRE SCHOOL OF CANADA who marched out of the institution before graduating on grounds of a lack of openness to Quebec-based creation. In 1998, he and seven others were reinstated as alumni of the school in recognition of their positive role in its development. Following a debut in the collective creative effort Pot-T.V. at the THÉÂTRE DE QUAT'SOUS (1969), Pierre Curzi played a number of roles at the THÉÂTRE DU NOUVEAU MONDE in works including La Guerre, yes sir! by Roch CARRIER, Les oranges sont vertes by Claude GAUVREAU and Molière's Les Fourberies de Scapin with the Jeunes Comédiens troupe. He next joined the ranks of the Grand Cirque Ordinaire, a company dedicated to the approach of collective creation that marked the theatre practice in Quebec, taking on roles in productions such as L'Opéra des pauvres (1973), La Tragédie américaine de l'enfant prodigue (1975), La Steppette impossible (1976) and Les Fiancés de Rose Latulipe (1978).

In the 1980s, Pierre Curzi appeared on stages throughout Montreal in a number of major roles, among them Vladimir in Beckett's En attendant Godot (Waiting for Godot) (1984, Café de la Place) under the direction of Jean Salvy and the male lead in Gibson's Deux sur la balançoire (Two for the Seesaw) (1986, THÉÂTRE DU RIDEAU VERT), directed by René Richard Cyr. Pierre Curzi's talents were showcased as the homosexual Molina in Le Baiser de la femme araignée (Kiss of the Spider Woman) by Argentina's Manuel Puig (1988, Théâtre de la Manufacture) and directed by Alexandre Hausvater. He participated in the creation Conte d'hiver 70 by Anne LEGAULT (1992, THÉÂTRE D'AUJOURD'HUI) under the direction of André BRASSARD, who also assigned him roles as the theatre director in Pirandello's Six personnages en quête d'auteur (Six Characters in Search of an Author)(1993, TNM), Trigorine in Chekhov's La Mouette (The Seagull) (1994) and the cook in Brecht's Mère Courage (Mother Courage and Her Children)(1995) at the Théâtre du Rideau Vert.

Beginning in the 1970s, Pierre Curzi also launched a rewarding career in film, appearing in works by Jean-Claude Lord, Pierre Harel, Jean-Pierre LEFEBVRE, Jean-Claude Labrecque and Paule Baillargeon. His role as Napoléon in Les Plouffe by Gilles CARLE, based on the novel by Roger LEMELIN, increased his visibility among general audiences in 1980; he returned to that character in 1983 in Le Crime d'Ovide Plouffe, filmed by Denys ARCAND. The latter helped to propel Curzi to international success with Le Déclin de l'empire américain (The Decline of the American Empire) in 1985, in which he played with abandon a worldly intellectual, a character he would explore again 17 years later in a sequel titled Les Invasions barbares (The Barbarian Invasions) in 2002. The actor, whose craft combines a strong physical presence with open-faced emotion, gave remarkable performances as a union activist Lucien Brouillard in the eponymous film by Daniel Carrière in 1981; in Pouvoir intime (1985), whose screenplay he co-authored; in Yves Simoneau's Dans le ventre du dragon (1988); and in T'es belle Jeanne by Robert Ménard, appearing in all four of these films alongside his wife, Marie Tifo, with whom he has two children.

While pursuing his activities on stage and screen, including in numerous hit television series (including Les Filles de Caleb, Marguerite Volant, Virginie, Le Négociateur and Providence), Pierre Curzi accepted the presidency of the Union des artistes, a position he held from 1997 through 2006. He campaigned during this period as co-president of Coalition pour la diversité culturelle to promote cultural diversity and served also as vice-president of the Association internationale des acteurs from 2004 to 2007. He eventually announced his retirement from artistic life and took the plunge into politics, winning the riding of Borduas as MNA for the Parti Québécois on 26 March 2007 and being re-elected on 8 December 2008. Appointed Chevalier of the Order of La Pléiade by the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie in 2003, Pierre Curzi was also awarded the Prix Camille Laurin by the Office québécois de la langue française in 2006 and a Prix Jutra-hommage (Jutra tribute award) at the 2007 Jutra awards.