François Truffaut was looking for an actress for the part of Colette for the episode of the film Love at Twenty that he was directing, Antoine and Collette.
He placed an annoucement in Cinémonde: “François Truffaut seeks fiancée for Jean-Pierre Léaud and for Love at Twenty. Jean-Pierre’s partner must be a real girl, not a Lolita, not a leather-jacket type, not a little young woman. She must be simple and cheerful, and have a good average culture. If too ‘sexy’ please abstain.”
Marie France-Pisier got the part.
During the preproduction of the film, Truffaut fell in love with her with such intensity that he wanted to leave his wife and children. He confided in Helen Scott, in an intimate letter:
“I’m very tired, very much on edge and sad, because I’m terribly in love with a young girl who is seventeen and a half; just for her, to make myself available for her, I’m going to bring tragedy around me and it’s distressing. Not counting the fact that I might be ruining the next two or three years for her too. Dear Helen, I’m up to my neck in tragedy and havoc. You’d like the girl; she’s modern very feminist, left-wing, Sartre-Beauvoir, very hardworking (…) She’ll be very tough with me, that I know…; we’ll fight, I’m sure; I admire her enormously and I’m very distraught.”
Indeed, on December 25, 1961, Truffaut left his home and moved into a hotel. But he ended up returning one month later, reconciling with his wife.