Top 100 actresses of French Cinema

100 actrices du cinéma français, du muet à nos jours, par ordre alphabétique.
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1.
Isabelle Adjani
Actress, Queen Margot
Isabelle Yasmine Adjani was born in Gennevilliers, Hauts-de-Seine, a suburb of Paris, to Emma Augusta "Gusti" (Schweinberger) and Mohammed Adjani. Her father was a Kabyle Algerian, from Iferhounène, and her mother was a Bavarian German. She grew up speaking German fluently. After winning a school recitation contest...
 
2.
Anouk Aimée
Actress,
She is the daughter of the actress Geneviève Sorya. In 1948 she played the part of Juliette in Les amants de Vérone. In the following years (fifties and beginning sixties) she made various films (e.g. Modigliani of Montparnasse and La Dolce Vita) but had only with Lola of Jacques Demy and A Man and a Woman of Claude Lelouch major success...
 
4.
Annabella
Actress, Le million
She arrived in the U.S. at a time when a great surge of foreign feminine mystique was invading Hollywood, led by Greta Garbo, Ingrid Bergman and Marlene Dietrich. A stunning and exceptionally gifted star beloved in her native France, Annabella was thrown into a string of mediocre films by her studio during her brief Hollywood courtship and...
 
5.
Fanny Ardant
Fanny Ardent was the youngest of 5 children born to a cavalry officer and his wife. She was raised in Monte Carlo where she was educated at a convent school. A voracious reader, she discovered Proust at age 15 and felt as though his writings were for her. When she was 17 her father died and the shock of his loss never left her...
 
6.
Arletty
Before Arlette-Leonie Bathiat went to the movies she was a secretary and had posed several times as a model for different painters and photographers. In 1920 she debuted on stage at a theatre. She only began to work in movies after 1930. After World War II she was condemned to prison for having been the lover of a German official during the ocupation of France...
 
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12.
Mireille Balin
Mireille Balin was one the most glamorous and best loved actresses of pre-war French cinema. She appeared in two of the best remembered French films of the 1930s: Pépé le Moko and Lady Killer, both opposite Jean Gabin. After the German occupation of France and her separation from her long-time fiancé...
 
13.
Brigitte Bardot
Actress, Contempt
Brigitte Bardot was born on September 28, 1934 in Paris, France. Her father had an engineering degree and worked with his father in the family business. Brigitte's mother encouraged her daughter to take up music and dance, and she proved to be very adept at it. By the time she was 15, Brigitte was trying a modeling career...
 
15.
Emmanuelle Béart
Emmanuelle Béart was born August 14, 1963, in Gassin, France. She lived with her mother, brothers, and sister on a farm not far from Saint-Tropez in Provence (southern France), because her father, singer and poet Guy Béart, did not want his children to be affected by the glamour world of Paris...
 
16.
 
18.
Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche was born in Paris, France, to Monique Yvette Stalens, a director, teacher, and actress, and Jean-Marie Binoche, a sculptor, director, and actor. Her mother was born in Czestochowa, Poland, of French, Walloon Belgian, and Polish descent, while her father is French. Juliette was only 23 when she first attracted the attention of international film critics with The Unbearable Lightness of Being...
 
20.
 
23.
Martine Carol
France's major sex siren of the early 50s, this lesser-remembered post-war French pastry pre-dated bombshell Brigitte Bardot by a few years but her brief reign did not compare and has not lived up to the Bardot era. The cult mystique is not there even after dying mysteriously and relatively young. Martine was born Marie-Louise Mourer on May 16...
 
28.
Marion Cotillard
Actress, Inception
Academy Award-winning actress Marion Cotillard was born on September 30, 1975 in Paris. Cotillard is the daughter of Jean-Claude Cotillard, an actor, playwright and director, and Niseema Theillaud, an actress and drama teacher. Her father's family is Breton. Raised in Orléans, France, she made her acting debut as a child with a role in one of her father's plays...
 
29.
Béatrice Dalle
Actress, Betty Blue
Rebellious. Passionate. Gifted. Beautiful. Béatrice Dalle could be a mix of some artist from many centuries ago and a rock star. Discovered in Betty Blue, Dalle has become a sex symbol and a respected performer. Known for her problems with justice, her relationships with rapper Joey Starr and her explicit talking...
 
30.
 
31.
Danielle Darrieux
Actress, Persepolis
Danielle Darrieux was born in 1917 in Bordeaux, France, but raised in Paris. She was only 14 when she auditioned for a secondary role in Le bal: she got the part, and the producer offered her a five-year contract. She had her first romantic lead in La crise est finie and scored an international...
 
32.
Cécile De France
Actress, Hereafter
Cecile de France was born in Namur in Belgium in 1975 and discovered her vocation at the early age of six. As soon as she was seventeen, she was off to Paris with the ambition of beginning a career on the stage. She studied drama with Jean-Paul Denizon, actor and assistant to Peter Brook, before being admitted to the Ecole National Supérieure des Arts et Techniques du Théâtre...
 
33.
Suzy Delair
Prototype of the sexy cheeky French lady, Suzy Delair was discovered by Henri-Georges Clouzot, who became her companion and gave her two memorable roles : Mila Malou, inspector Wens' unbearable girlfriend in two films, The Last One of the Six, which he wrote, and The Murderer Lives at Number 21, which he penned and directed; and the mythical one of Jenny Lamour...
 
34.
 
35.
Julie Delpy
Actress, Before Sunset
Julie Delpy was born in Paris, France, in 1969 to Albert Delpy and Marie Pillet, both actors. She was first featured in Jean-Luc Godard's Détective at the age of fourteen. She has starred in many American and European productions since then, including Disney's The Three Musketeers, Killing Zoe...
 
36.
Catherine Deneuve
Catherine Deneuve was born October 1943 in Paris, France. Her parents were actors. She made her movie debut in 1957, when she was barely a teenager and continued with small parts in minor films, until Roger Vadim gave her a meatier role in Vice and Virtue. But her breakthrough came with the excellent musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg...
 
39.
Françoise Dorléac
Actress, The Soft Skin
The radiant Francoise Dorleac is better remembered today as the elder, ill-fated sister of French film star Catherine Deneuve. The Paris-born actress, however, was actually the first to become a star and had quite a formidable career of her own in the 1960s until it was cut short. Born into a theatrical family in 1942 (her father was actor Maurice Dorléac)...
 
42.
Adèle Exarchopoulos
Adèle Exarchopoulos is a French actress with partially Greek roots (her grandfather was Greek). She was born in Paris, France. Her mother, Marina (Niquet), is a nurse, and her father, Didier Exarchopoulos, is a guitarist. At the age of 9 she started acting and watching movies. As she said on the French newspaper L'Express...
 
46.
Suzanne Flon
Actress, The Train
Opulent French actress Suzanne Flon, who came from humble beginnings, evolved into a luminous stage and film star whose career lasted five decades. She was born near Paris, the daughter of a railway worker and a seamstress and at school developed an interest in writing poetry. Following high school she worked as an English interpreter at Au Printemps...
 
47.
Sara Forestier
As of her youth, Sara Forestier revealed an artistic temperament, loving to write, to paint, and especially to act. When she was thirteen and half years old, she decided to accompany one of her friends to an audition. She took the audition with brilliance, and her career in the acting started here. She met an artistic agent and obtained minor parts in movies and TV movies until L'Esquive...
 
48.
Brigitte Fossey
This lovely, docile, sensitive-appearing blonde French leading lady started impressively in films at age 6, making a most notable debut in René Clément's Forbidden Games. She abandoned acting a few years later for schooling and a normal upbringing. After a brief career as an interpreter and translator...
 
50.
Charlotte Gainsbourg
Actress, Melancholia
Charlotte Gainsbourg was born in London, England in 1971. She is an Anglo-French actress and singer. The daughter of English actress Jane Birkin and French singer and songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, she was raised in Paris. Gainsbourg made her motion picture debut in 1984. In 1986, Gainsbourg won a César Award for "Most Promising Actress"...
 
52.
Annie Girardot
Over the course of a five-decade career, she starred in nearly 150 films. She is a three-time César Award winner (1977, 1996, 2002), a two-time Molière Award winner, a BAFTA nominee, and a recipient of several international prizes including the Volpi Cup (Best actress) at the 1965 Venice Film Festival for Three Rooms in Manhattan...
 
54.
Marina Hands
Daughter of French actress Ludmila Mikaël and British stage director and actor Terry Hands, granddaughter of famous French painter Pierre Dmitrienko, the discrete and beautiful Marina Hands first wanted to be a professional horse-rider but, eventually, had to give up these dreams. In 1995, she followed a French acting school...
 
56.
Isabelle Huppert
Actress, Elle
Isabelle Huppert was born March 16, 1953, in Paris, France, but spent her childhood in Ville d'Avray. Encouraged by her mother Annick Huppert (who was a teacher of English), she followed the Conservatory of Versailles and won an acting prize for her work in Alfred de Musset's "Un caprice". She then studied at the Conservatoire d'Art Dramatique and followed an illustrious theatrical career...
 
58.
Irène Jacob
This beautiful, dark-haired Swiss actress made a hit with a supporting role in her first film, as the piano teacher in Louis Malle's "Au revoir, les enfants" (1987). Educated in London and Geneva, and a Paris resident since the age of 18, Jacob became a promising starlet with her Malle success and followed...
 
59.
Marlène Jobert
Jobert was born in 1940 in Algeria. She studied drama and fine art in Paris, made her acting debut on the stage in 1963 and secured her first film role in Louis Malle's The Thief of Paris in 1966. Her big break came with her casting as "Elisabeth" in Jean-Luc Godard's Masculin Féminin, in which she performed alongside Brigitte Bardot and Jean-Pierre Léaud...
 
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61.
Anna Karina
Born in Denmark, she came to Paris at 18. She met Coco Chanel and Pierre Cardin and started as a top model. She met Jean-Luc Godard about a cameo in Breathless, but she had to be naked and she refused to play in the movie. One year later, they got married and she became famous with the "Nouvelle vague" movies directed by him, Jacques Rivette or Agnès Varda...
 
63.
Bernadette Lafont
Bernadette Lafont was born at the Protestant Health Home of Nîmes in Gard, the only child of a pharmacist and a housewife from the Cévennes. Her mother always wanted a boy to name Bernard and, once she gave birth to a girl, she enjoyed to hold this against all the catholics she knew as the proof that their God either was blind or didn't exist...
 
64.
Mélanie Laurent
Mélanie Laurent was born in Paris, France. She is the daughter of Annick, a ballet teacher, and Pierre, a voice actor, who is most recognized for the French version of The Simpsons. She has a younger brother, Mathieu, and has both Sephardi Jewish (from Tunisia) and Ashkenazi Jewish (from Poland) ancestry...
 
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67.
Jacqueline Maillan
Actress, Pouic-Pouic
Exuberant, excessive, bursting with energy, a regular comic whirlwind, Jacqueline Maillan made two generations of French people laugh. Which is paradoxical because when she arrived in Paris at the age of twenty-one and joined René Simon's dramatic school she saw herself as a tragedian. But her rendition...
 
68.
Sophie Marceau
Actress, Braveheart
Sophie Marceau was born Sophie Danièle Sylvie Maupu in Paris, France, to Simone (Morisset), a shop assistant, and Benoît Maupu, a truck driver. She grew up far from the studio spotlights. When she was 14 she was living in the Paris suburb of Gentilly with her father. She learned from friends that director Claude Pinoteau was looking for new faces for a movie about teenagers called The Party...
 
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70.
Miou-Miou
Miou-Miou was born Sylvette Herry on February 22, 1950, in Paris, France. Her father was a gendarme, her mother was a sales-woman. Young Miou-Miou was selling strawberries helping out at her mother's fruit and vegetable stand at a street market. There she was spotted by actor-director Romain Bouteille...
 
71.
Jeanne Moreau
Actress, Jules and Jim
When people gave Louis Malle credit for making a star of Jeanne Moreau in Elevator to the Gallows immediately followed by The Lovers, he would point out that Moreau by that time had already been "recognized as the prime stage actress of her generation." She had made it to the Comédie Française in her 20s...
 
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73.
Michèle Morgan
A classic beauty, blonde French actress Michèle Morgan has been one of her country's most popular leading ladies for over five decades. Born in 1920, she studied acting under René Simon and began her career at 15 working as a film extra to pay for drama classes. The young actress soon caught the eye of director Marc Allégret...
 
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77.
Anne Parillaud
Anne Parillaud was born in Paris, France on May 6, 1960 and even though all her travels took her to many lands, is still a Paris resident. Anne studied ballet in school, and her first appearance was in the film Un amour de sable where she played "La jeune fille avec un petit chat" ("The girl with a kitten")...
 
78.
Marie-France Pisier
Marie-France first came to the fore as an actress of the Nouvelle Vague movement in the 1960's. She had spent her early childhood in French Indochina, where her father was employed as colonial governor, but the family moved to Paris when she was twelve. Just five years later, she was spotted by a casting director...
 
79.
Micheline Presle
Dark-haired, Paris-born Micheline Presle (better known in the States as Micheline Prelle) was the daughter of a businessman and took acting classes as a teen. She was discovered by Georg Wilhelm Pabst and cast in Girls in Distress (Young Girls in Distress) and Four Flights to Love in which she played a dual role...
 
80.
Charlotte Rampling
Actress, Swimming Pool
Tessa Charlotte Rampling was born 5 February 1946 in Sturmer, England, to Isabel Anne (Gurteen), a painter, and Godfrey Lionel Rampling, an Olympic gold medalist, army officer, and colonel, who became a NATO commander. She was educated at Jeanne d'Arc Académie pour Jeunes Filles in Versailles, France and at the exclusive St...
 
81.
 
82.
Emmanuelle Riva
Actress, Amour
An only child, Emmanuelle was born Paulette Germaine Riva in Cheniménil, but eventually grew up in Remiremont. Her mother, Jeanne Fernande Nourdin, was a seamstress. Her father, René Alfred [Alfredo] Riva, was a sign writer. Her paternal grandfather was Italian. She dreamed of becoming an actress since she was six...
 
83.
Viviane Romance
Actress, Panic
Strikingly beautiful French leading lady (Miss Paris of 1930) who first appeared on stage at the age of 13 at the Theatre Sarah-Bernhardt, then did some modelling work and a year later joined the chorus line of the Moulin Rouge. She also performed the 'can-can' at the legendary Parisian nightclub Bal Tabarin...
 
85.
Ludivine Sagnier
Actress, Swimming Pool
The French actress Ludivine Sagnier was born on July 3, 1979 in La Celle-Saint-Cloud, in France's Yvelines département. Ludivine studied acting as a young girl and had made her movie debut at the age 10 in Les maris, les femmes, les amants. She has established her reputation as one of the brightest young stars in French and international cinema in her collaborations with French filmmaker François Ozon...
 
86.
Renée Saint-Cyr
French actress Renee Saint-Cyr became synonymous with chic comedy and romantic drama, enjoying second-string success for nearly seven decades before her death of bronchitis at age 99. Over the years she equipped herself well opposite the established talents of Raymond Rouleau, Jules Berry, Raimu, Pierre Brasseur and Paul Meurisse...
 
87.
Dominique Sanda
Dominique Sanda was born in 1948, in Paris, France. When she was 16, she left her upper-class family and married, but divorced two years later. She found a temporary job as a Vogue model, when Robert Bresson gave her the starring part in his absorbing drama A Gentle Woman; she was quite impressive...
 
88.
Romy Schneider
Actress, Sissi
Romy Schneider was born on 23 September 1938 in Vienna, Austria into a family of actors. Making her film debut at the age of 15, her breakthrough came two years later in the very popular trilogy Sissi. Her mother, supervising her daughter's career, immediately approved Romy's participation in Christine...
 
89.
Kristin Scott Thomas
Kristin Scott Thomas was born in Redruth, Cornwall, England, to Deborah (Hurlbatt) and Lieutenant Commander Simon Scott Thomas. Her ancestry includes Welsh, English, and Dutch. Her father was a pilot for the British Royal Navy and died in a flying accident in 1964. Her stepfather was also a pilot and died six years later under similar circumstances...
 
90.
Léa Seydoux
French actress Léa Seydoux was born in 1985 in Paris, France, to Valérie Schlumberger, a philanthropist, and Henri Seydoux, a businessman. Her grandfather, Jérôme Seydoux, is chairman of Pathé, and her father is a great-grandson of businessman and inventor Marcel Schlumberger (her mother also descends from the Schlumberger family)...
 
91.
Delphine Seyrig
Delphine was born in Beirut on the 10th April 1932 into an intellectual Protestant family. Her Alsatian father, Henri Seyrig, was the director of the Archaeological Institute and later France's cultural attaché in New York during World War Two. Her Swiss mother, Hermine De Saussure, was an adept of Rousseau's theories...
 
92.
Simone Signoret
Actress, Diabolique
The face of Simone Signoret on the Paris Metro movie posters in March 1982 looked even older than her 61 years. She was still a box office draw, but the film, L'étoile du Nord, would be her last theatrical release. She played the landlady. Signoret had a long film apprenticeship during World War II, mostly as an extra and occasionally getting to speak a single line...
 
93.
Simone Simon
Actress, Cat People
Diminutive, fiery-tempered Simone Simon was born in France, but spent much of her early childhood in Madagascar, where her father managed a graphite mine. Her schooling was somewhat unsettled, her family moving from city to city (Berlin, Budapest, Turin) before finally establishing themselves in Paris in 1930...
 
96.
Audrey Tautou
Actress, Amélie
Audrey Justine Tautou was born on August 9, 1976 in Beaumont, France, to Evelyne Marie Laure (Nuret), a teacher, and Bernard Tautou, a dental surgeon. Audrey showed an interest for comedy at an early age and started her acting lessons at 'Cours Florent'. In 1998 she won the best young actress award in the ninth 'Jeune Comedien de Cinema Festival' in Bezier...
 
98.
Marie Trintignant
Marie Trintignant died tragically on the 1st of August, 2003 from a cerebral edema in Neuilly-sur-Seine near Paris, France, following a violent fight with her boyfriend, Bertrand Cantat, lead singer in the French rock band, Noir Désir. She was just finishing filming a TV movie about Colette, directed by her mother...
 
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100.
Marina Vlady
She had the makings of a blonde bombshell and could have ended up in film history annals as merely a second-rate Brigitte Bardot, but sex symbol Marina Vlady proved she was capable of much more. In her prime she was nominated for a Golden Globe and won a "Best Actress" award at the 1963 Cannes Film...