French 'Hannibal Rising' actor Gaspard Ulliel dies after ski accident

Nicolas Vaux-Montagny
Associated Press

Lyon, France – French actor Gaspard Ulliel, known for appearing in Chanel perfume ads as well as film and television roles, died Wednesday after a skiing accident in the Alps, according to his agent's office and local authorities. He was 37.

Ulliel portrayed the young Hannibal Lecter in 2007's “Hannibal Rising” and fashion mogul Yves Saint Laurent in the 2014 biopic “Saint Laurent.” He is also in the upcoming Marvel series “Moon Knight,” and was the advertising face of the Chanel men’s fragrance Bleu de Chanel.

Gaspard Ulliel stars as a young Hannibal Lecter in 2007's "Red Dragon" prequel "Hannibal Rising."

On Tuesday afternoon, Ulliel collided with another skier on a slope marked as intermediate after turning left, presumably to join his friends on an adjoining slope, Anne Gaches, the Savoie prosecutor in Albertville, said in a statement issued Wednesday.

Preliminary findings from an investigation indicated that "both skiers fell to the ground after the collision," the prosecutor said. Ulliel was “motionless and unconscious when rescuers arrived,” while the other skier was unharmed, Gaches said.

Ulliel was transported by helicopter to Grenoble University Hospital, where doctors tried to revive him, she said. The actor was pronounced dead on Wednesday, shortly after 4 p.m. local time, Gaches said.

The office of the actor's agent confirmed Ulliel died on Wednesday. It provided no details.

Ulliel started in television while still in middle school and went on to win two of France's top cinema awards, the Cesar.

Tributes poured in from shocked fans and the corridors of power. French Prime Minister Jean Castex tweeted an homage that said, “Gaspard Ulliel grew up with cinema and cinema grew up with him. They loved each other madly."

French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin said she was deeply saddened by Ulliel's death, describing the actor as “a child prodigy of cinema, who embodied perfectly the French style all over the world.”

The accident conjured up memories of when Formula One great Michael Schumacher was seriously injured in a 2013 skiing accident in the French ski resort of Meribel, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from where Ulliel was skiing. Both were treated at Grenoble University Hospital.

French actor Gaspard Ulliel appears during a photo call for the film "Juste La Fin Du Monde" (It's Only The End Of The World) at the 69th international film festival, Cannes, southern France on May 19, 2016.

Schumacher suffered serious head injuries when he fell and hit the right side of his head on a rock off the side of a demarcated slope. The German auto racing legend was skiing with his teenage son while on a family vacation in the Alps.

Schumacher, 53, has not been seen in public in eight years, and his family has revealed few details of his condition since the accident. His wife, Corinna, said in a Netflix documentary last year that her husband is “different, but he is here” and that the family, including the couple's son, Mick, now a Formula One driver himself, cares for him.

After Ulliel's accident, the mountain police service for the Rosiere ski area said its personnel have been carrying out five or six rescues per day as the snow hardened in recent days.

In the neighboring Haute-Savoie region, a 5-year-old girl was killed Saturday when a skier crashed into her. The man was handed preliminary manslaughter charges, according to the Haute-Savoie prosecutor, who cited excessive speed as the likely reason for the accident.

Angela Charlton in Paris contributed.