This madness would become part of Léaud's real life and a feature of his onscreen persona as it developed from the early 1990s. With Truffaut's death in October 1984, Léaud lost his mentor and protector. His dependence on this surrogate father had been reinforced by the director's insistence on paying him a monthly allowance rather than by the film; Truffaut academic Paul Michaud recalls that one month Truffaut withheld the money because of the state of the actor's personal hygiene and that the 35-year-old Léaud came to ask Truffaut to cut his hair and nails. Unsurprisingly, a period of psychological turmoil followed the film maker's death. Neighbours in Léaud's Parisian apartment block were said to have seen him stand ing naked in the courtyard waving a crucifix and bawling 'Back, Satan!' while in 1987 he assaulted an elderly woman he believed was spying on him with a flowerpot. He was given a three month suspended sentence; the psychiatric report stated that he was depressed following Truffaut's death.
I was doing some research and gathering some background info for a piece I am planning to write about Jean-Pierre Léaud and I found this article from Sight and Sound. Isn't that whole paragraph just distressing to hear? I like to think of my JPL as the sweet, happy-go-lucky in Stolen Kisses, not someone as sad and almost pathetic as Norma Desmond. I'm really curious to read a biography about him should one ever come out (and it's not looking likely since Léaud didn't even want his correspondence with Truffaut to appear in Truffaut's book of correspondence) but if it's filled with sad things like this, I don't know how I'll ever finish it.
I'm putting the citation here because I found the article through my school's database and I don't know if everyone can get to it through the interweb. I wanted to make sure that Mr. Darke got his due credit for writing such a great piece. If anyone is curious about it, email me and I'll pass it on.
Chris Darke. (2006, October). Jean-Pierre Léaud: LORD OF THE LEFT BANK. Sight and Sound, 16(10), 36,38-39,1. Retrieved September 11, 2009, from Research Library. (Document ID: 1149195741).