Jean-Pierre Léaud’s familiar face graces the cover of the new March/April issue of Film Comment, waiting out his final days in Albert Serra’s new film The Death of Louis XIV. As Yonca Talu observes in her feature on the film, “The film relies heavily on Jean-Pierre Léaud’s vulnerable acting. Famous for his vibrant, unrestrained body language as the enfant terrible of the French New Wave, the legendary actor exists in a state of complete paralysis here, dependent on others to meet his basic needs.” In some ways, she continues, the film serves as a symbolic conclusion to the Antoine Doinel cycle—Jean-Pierre Léaud’s mere presence adds a layer of film-historical context to the film that might not otherwise be there.

This week’s episode of the Film Comment podcast explores the nuances of legacy, persona, and presence when it comes to acting. As with Léaud, we watch actors with enduring careers mature onscreen, developing their crafts and playing off of already formed associations that viewers might have with their earlier work. The panel—Shonni Enelow, English professor at Fordham and author of Method Acting and Its Discontents; Nick Pinkerton, regular Film Comment contributor and member of the New York Film Critics Circle; Michael Koresky, Director of Editorial and Creative Strategy at the Film Society of Lincoln Center; and Violet Lucca, Film Comment Digital Producer—muses on the shifting modes of expression and physicality of performers like Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, Gerard Depardieu, and Sissy Spacek.