Outstanding French actors

by Mankindfails | created - 01 Mar 2012 | updated - 16 Mar 2012 | Public

I tried to make a list of great French actors for those who are not familiar with French cinema so they can know where to start to find the best movies with the best actors.I'm from Québec so I dont know all of them and I havent seen all the old movies and B&W stuff so I may have missed a couple of good ones.Also I dont see this as a contest and didnt gave too much importance to the order.

1. Philippe Noiret

Actor | Nuovo Cinema Paradiso

Philippe Noiret was one of French cinema's most familiar faces who appeared in more than 140 films in a career that spanned more than half a century.

He was born on October 1, 1930, in Lille, Nord, France, into a middle class family of shopkeepers. His father was fond of literature. Young Noiret ...

2. Jean Gabin

Actor | La grande illusion

Jean-Alexis Moncorge started his career with 15 years at the theatre and debuted at the "Moulin Rouge" in Paris in 1929. Despite of his rude aspect he knew to be the gentleman of the French cinema in the time between the two World Wars. One of his most popular personalities was inspector Maigret. ...

3. Jean Rochefort

Actor | L'homme du train

French character star Jean Rochefort expressed an interest in acting early in life. Born in 1930, he trained at the Paris Conservatoire but had to halt his studies due to military service. Relocating to Paris, he developed a minor name for himself in cabaret and stage plays. He also worked with the...

4. Gérard Depardieu

Actor | Cyrano de Bergerac

Gérard Depardieu was born in Châteauroux, Indre, France, to Anne Jeanne Josèphe (Marillier) and René Maxime Lionel Depardieu, who was a metal worker and fireman. Young delinquent and wanderer in the past, Depardieu started his acting career at the small traveling theatre "Cafe de la Gare", along ...

5. Lino Ventura

Actor | L'armée des ombres

One of France's most beloved character stars from the 1950s through and including the 1980s was the Italian-born Lino Ventura. Born Angiolino Joseph Pascal Ventura to Giovanni Ventura and Luisa Borrini, on July 14, 1919, in Parma (northern) Italy, young Lino moved with his family at a young age to ...

6. Philippe Torreton

Actor | Banlieue 13: Ultimatum

Philippe Torreton was born on October 13, 1965 in Rouen, Seine-Maritime, France. He is an actor, known for District 13: Ultimatum (2009), Captain Conan (1996) and Ça commence aujourd'hui (1999). He has been married to Elsa Boublil since June 2008. They have one child. He was previously ...

7. Pierre Richard

Actor | Shekvarebuli kulinaris ataserti retsepti

Certainly one of France's supreme farceurs in the classic tradition, comedian Pierre Richard was born to an upper crust family with an embarrassing riches of middle names as he was christened Pierre Richard Maurice Charles Leopold Defays. Working and building up his trade at the Paris Music Hall in...

8. Jean Dujardin

Actor | The Artist

In 1995 he began his first one man show, the same year he met Bruno Salomone, Eric Collado, Emmanuel Joucla and Eric Massot with whom he created the "Nous C nous". In 1999, he became "Loulou" in Un gars, une fille (1999). This part permitted him to show his talent to a larger public. Since the end ...

9. Jean Reno

Actor | Léon

Jean Reno was born Juan Moreno y Herrera-Jiménez in Casablanca, Morocco, to Spanish parents (from Andalucía) who moved to North Africa to seek work. His father was a linotypist. Reno settled in France at 17. He began studying drama and has credits in French television and theater as well as films. ...

10. Jean-Paul Belmondo

Actor | Pierrot le fou

The son of the renowned French sculptor Paul Belmondo, he studied at Conservatoire National Superieur d'Art Dramatique (CNSAD); after the minor stage performances he made his screen debut in À pied, à cheval et en voiture (1957) but the episodes with his participation were cut before ...

11. Tchéky Karyo

Actor | Nikita

Born in Istanbul, Turkey, Tcheky Karyo grew up in Paris. He studied drama at the Cyrano Theatre and became a member of the Daniel Sorano Company, where he played numerous classical roles. He next joined the National Theatre of Strasbourg, where he starred in contemporary theatre as well as in such ...

12. Vincent Cassel

Actor | Black Swan

Blue-eyed Vincent Cassel was born in Paris to a leading actor father, Jean-Pierre Cassel, and a journalist mother, Sabine Litique. Often labeled as a tough guy because of his roles, eclectic choices and talent have made of him a star of European cinema. First in La Haine (1995), the young actor, ...

13. Vincent Perez

Actor | Queen of the Damned

Soulful, exotic-looking leading man Vincent Perez is known for his grand and glossy French pictures, exuding a sexy stare and irresistible charm that has swept Gallic women off their feet for over two decades. He was born in Lausanne, Switzerland, to a German mother and a Spanish businessman father...

14. Jacques Weber

Actor | Cyrano de Bergerac

Jacques Weber was born on August 23, 1949 in Paris, France. He is an actor and director, known for Cyrano de Bergerac (1990), Don Juan (1998) and La lance de la destinée (2007). He has been married to Christine since 1970. They have three children.

15. Christian Clavier

Actor | Les visiteurs

Christian Clavier was born on May 6, 1952 in Paris, France. He is an actor and writer, known for Les visiteurs (1993), Just Visiting (2001) and Asterix and Obelix vs. Caesar (1999). He was previously married to Marie-Anne Chazel.

16. Thierry Lhermitte

Actor | Le dîner de cons

One of France's most popular actors, writers, and producers, Thierry Lhermitte has been appearing in films since the 1970s. Perhaps best known for work in farcical comedies, the tall, handsome actor has appeared in some of France's more outrageous films over the course of his prolific career.

Born ...

17. Jean-Pierre Marielle

Actor | The Da Vinci Code

Jean-Pierre Marielle was born on April 12, 1932 in Paris, France. He is an actor, known for The Da Vinci Code (2006), Tous les matins du monde (1991) and Coup de torchon (1981). He has been married to Agathe Natanson since 2003.

18. Jacques Villeret

Actor | Le dîner de cons

Jacques Villeret was born on February 6, 1951 in Tours, Indre-et-Loire, France as Jacky Boufroura. He was an actor, known for The Dinner Game (1998), Robert et Robert (1978) and Les enfants du marais (1999). He was married to Irina Tarassov. He died on January 28, 2005 in Evreux, Eure, France.

19. Fernandel

Actor | Don Camillo

The apocryphal biography of Fernand Contandin tells the invention of his artistic name Fernandel by his sister-in-law ("Voici le Fernand d'elles"). At the beginning of the thirties he became a typical actor of the comedy genre: popular, common, likable and with a concealed grain of drama. Marc ...

20. Jean Marais

Actor | La belle et la bête

Jean Marais was a popular French cinema actor and director who played over 100 roles in film and on television, and was also known for his many talents as a writer, painter and sculptor.

He was born Jean Alfred Villain-Marais on December 11, 1913, in Cherbourg, France. His father practiced ...

21. Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu

Actor | Spoorloos

Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu was born on July 2, 1949 in Paris, France. He is known for his work on The Vanishing (1988), The Tenant (1976) and À droite toute (2008). He died on December 27, 2010 in Versailles, Yvelines, France.

22. Lambert Wilson

Actor | The Matrix Reloaded

Lambert Wilson was born in Paris and studied acting at the Drama Centre in London.

A fluent English speaker, he made his feature film debut at the age of twenty-two in Fred Zinnemann's Five Days One Summer (1981) starring opposite Sean Connery. He went on to work with many of France's most ...

23. Gaspard Ulliel

Actor | Un long dimanche de fiançailles

Gaspard Ulliel's dream has always been to direct a movie, and after completing his studies at the lycée (French high school), he majored in cinema at the University of Saint-Denis. However, fate had other plans, and he is currently pursuing an acting career. It began when Ulliel was 12 years old ...

24. Jean-Hugues Anglade

Actor | 37°2 le matin

Sensual, ambiguous, ultra sensitive French performer Jean-Hugues Anglade always had a reputation of intense and passionate actor. Any role, any language, Anglade seems to be able to do anything. From appearing integrally naked alongside Beatrice Dalle in "37.2 degrees in the morning", to playing an...

25. Christopher Lambert

Actor | Highlander

Though born in Great Neck, Long Island, Christopher Lambert's family left the US when he was only two years old. His father was a United Nations diplomat assigned to Switzerland and, as a result, Chris was educated at private boarding schools in Geneva. Inspired through his having appeared in a ...

26. François Cluzet

Actor | Intouchables

François Cluzet was born on September 21, 1955 in Paris, France. He is an actor, known for The Intouchables (2011), Tell No One (2006) and À l'origine (2009).