Philippe Petit (born 13th August 1949) is a real life high wire artist who was mostly famous for his high wire walk between the two towers of the World Trade Center. He is the main protagonist of the TriStar Pictures film The Walk.
Philippe Petit is an slender, French man with fair skin, brown hair, blue eyes, and an scar on his right foot (due to his accident at the construction site at the World Trade Center when he stepped on a nail).
For his high wire walk at the Twin Towers, He dons an black long-sleeved undershirt, pants and shoes. He was going to wear the matching turtleneck sweatshirt with the outfit, but loses it by accident whilst getting dressed.
Role in the filmEdit
Philippe Petit first appears on the statue of liberty with New York City and the Twin Towers in the background. He narrates his story to the audience about his life and his high-wire walk event at the Twin Towers.
In 1973, he was a French street performer and attempts to make a living in Paris with juggling acts, and wire walking, much to his father's exasperation. Philippe sometimes gets caught by the police for his illegal acts in the street and Philippe makes a clean getaway from them. During one of his performances, he tries to eat a hard candy which was given to him by an audience member and accidentally injures his tooth. Philippe visits the dentist and whilst in a waiting room, he sees a picture in a magazine of the Twin Towers in New York City. Philippe then pretends to sneeze, and tears out the page with the photo, under everyone's nose and studies it and plans an high wire walk event between the two towers.
Philippe explains how he is inspired by wire-walking as a child. He visited the circus and he watched an performer doing incredible tricks on a tightrope, Philippe practices his tightrope walking skills whilst his father, Edmond Petit watches, deeply annoyed that his son becomes a circus clown.
Philippe returns to the circus at night, and tries to practice on a high wire, until he is caught by the circus manager Papa Rudy. Whilst chasing him, Philippe shows off his juggling skills which impresses Papa Rudy. At Papa Rudy's house, He gives him lessons about how to salute on the tightrope, and when Philippe accidently and literally gets it wrong, the both get into a brief argument, ending with Papa Rudy ejecting Philippe out of the house. Philippe's father then boots his son out of the house, now fed up with his skills, despite his mother's pleas to give him another chance, but his father refuses and Philippe angrily agrees shouting that the carrots are cooked.
Whilst on the streets, Philippe catches sight of a beautiful young women and a fellow street performer named Annie Allix, Philippe unintentionally attracts Annie's audiences with his tightrope performance, leaving her alone. Whilst packing, Annie confronts him over his performance while Philippe tries to impress her with his good feedback about her singing. As the rain falls, Philippe makes an arrangement with Annie and explains that although he did not know it at the time, she was his first "accomplice". He tells Annie about his dream to walk between the towers of the World Trade Center and she supports him and gives him a perfect place to practice at her music school. and the two begin to fall in love.
One day, whilst practicing his balance, Philippe meets a photographer named Jean-Louis and befriends him, becoming Philippe's official photographer and second accomplice in his "coup". However, the wire breaks, resulting Philippe to return to Papa Rudy for tips.
Papa Rudy then agrees to help Philippe with better knot tying and rope rigging. One day, Philippe performs his first real wire walking event at the lake, but he gets annoyed by people not paying attention and a fishing contest taking place. The fisherman shouts, mocks and laughs at him, causing Philippe to lose concentration and balance resulting him to fall into the lake. After being humiliated and embarrassed by the fisherman at his failed performance, Philippe then plans a wire-walking event on the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris for a chance to redeem himself. He places the wire between the towers and eventually succeeds with the support of Jean-Louis, but Philippe is arrested in the end. Furious, that the French calls him a vandal, whilst the rest of worldwide respects him as a performer according to the newspapers, when Annie reveals that the twin towers are nearly completed, Philippe packs and heads to New York.
After arriving in New York, Philippe is having trouble convincing Jean-Louis about his walk and how he is going to plan it. When Papa Rudy explains to Philippe that not only that the support cables should be horizontal, but he should wear a safety line underneath his costume, Philippe refuses, stating that he wants to fulfil his dream without the safety line, leading to an argument between the two men. Finally, Annie convinces Philippe to apologize to Papa Rudy, Philippe does so and Papa Rudy explains to Philippe that he never allowed his performers to perform without a safety line, and they reconcile. Papa Rudy gives Philippe some souvenirs, along with the damaged money note, before leaving Philippe and wishing him good luck.
Back in France, and whilst practicing his skills, Jean-Louis then introduces Jeff, another accomplice who has a fear of heights, to Philippe and Annie, while explaining his idea to use a bow and arrow tied to a fishing line to get the cable across the Towers. Philippe agrees, and they travel back to New York, and Philippe marks the day that he plans his walk on August 6, 1974, and heads to the World Trade Center in various disguises, (a foremen, and a tourist) to take photographs, spy on construction works and gain information from people who work there, but however, during his walk around the construction site, he steps on a sharp nail sticking out on a plank, impaling his foot in progress. After having it treated and bandaged, Philippe is distressed about how he can do his walk with his injured foot, before accepting Annie's suggestion about crutches. He arrives the next day with crutches and a wheelchair. But whilst going up a lift, he meets Barry Greenhouse, a life insurance salesman who works in the building and was a fan of Philippe's and saw his performance at Notre Dame de Paris, and praises him for it. Philippe invites him to dinner, and he becomes another member of Philippe's team.
Philippe goes over the plan 20 (later 21) times with his gang, he shows off how he is going to walk on the wire, but he is suggested that he should wait, but Philippe refuses, stating that he wants to fulfil his dream and finally finishes his rant that he must be on the wire before the construction team arrive a 7:00 am, whilst the gang admit that he has lost his mind. That night, Philippe builds a crate that includes the equipment that he needs (though he imagines it as a coffin), Annie wakes up and asks him of what he is doing, Philippe explains that he is building his coffin which offends Annie and confronts him about him, with Philippe revealing that he dislikes the word "death", and finally admits that he gone mad, and congratulate everyone, until they calms down. Annie tells him to get some rest, Philippe gratefully congratulates everyone for joining him, and announces them to get ready in the morning.
The next day, Whilst Annie goes off to watch with her binoculars to see the walk the following day, Barry leads some of Philippe's men disguised as business men to gain access to the North Tower, whilst Philippe and the rest of his "coup" gain access to the South Tower, but delayed by the elevator supervisor, and they finally convince the supervisor, stating that if they do not make their delivery, they'll get fired. The supervisor agrees. But whilst Philippe and his team get to work, they face few obstacles such as avoiding the security guards.
Locations: World Trade Center •