100 French actors

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1.
Louis de Funès
Louis Germain David de Funès de Galarza was born on July 31, 1914, in Courbevoie, France. His father, named Carlos Luis de Funes de Galarza, was a former lawyer of Seville, Spain, who became a diamond cutter. His mother, named Leonor Soto Reguera, was of Spanish and Portugese extraction. Young Louis de Funès was fond of drawing and piano playing...
 
2.
Alain Delon
Alain Fabien Maurice Marcel Delon was born in Sceaux, Hauts-de-Seine, France, to Édith (Arnold) and Fabien Delon. His father was of French and Corsican Italian descent, and his mother was of French and German ancestry. His parents divorced early on, and Delon had a stormy childhood, being frequently expelled from school...
 
3.
Jean-Paul Belmondo
Actor, Breathless
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 but the episodes with his participation were cut before release. However, the breakthrough role in Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless made him one of the key figures in the French New Wave...
 
4.
Christopher Lambert
Although born in the USA, Lambert is French. His father was a French diplomat stationed in the US at the United Nations at the time of Lambert's birth. Lambert's formative years were spent in Geneva, Switzerland, to where his family moved when he was two, before returning to Paris when he was 16. Lambert has served in the French military, allegedly at his father's insistence.
 
5.
Jean Reno
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. His first two marriages both ended in divorce...
 
6.
Gérard Depardieu
Actor, Life of Pi
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 with Patrick Dewaere and Miou-Miou...
 
7.
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, the young actor, actually coming from upper classes...
 
8.
Jean Gabin
Gabin was born Jean-Alexis Moncorgé in Paris, the son of Madeleine Petit and Ferdinand Moncorgé, a cafe entertainer whose stage name was Gabin. He grew up in the village of Mériel in the Seine-et-Oise département, about 35 km north of Paris. The son of cabaret entertainers, he attended the Lycée Janson de Sailly...
 
9.
Jean Rochefort
Actor, Ridicule
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 Grenier-Hussenot company at this time and acted in TV drama...
 
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14.
Lambert Wilson
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 prestigious auteur directors...
 
15.
Thierry Lhermitte
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 in Paris on November 24...
 
16.
Philippe Noiret
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 attended the College Janson-of-Sally in the 16th arrondissement in Paris...
 
21.
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. This part permitted him to show his talent to a larger public. Since the end of "Un gars, une fille" in 2003, he has appeared in many films.
 
22.
Gérard Philipe
In 1940 Gerard left school and his parents wanted him be a lawyer. But soon his mother noticed that he was only interested in acting, although his father was against the idea. After timely intervention from Mark Allégret, who decided he showed some promise, Gerard's debut was in Claude Dauphin's play "One plain girl"...
 
23.
Jean-Pierre Cassel
He made his movie debut at the invitation of Gene Kelly, who cast Cassel in the 1956 Paris-filmed seriocomedy The Happy Road. At least, that's what the press releases claimed; actually, the tall, elastic-faced Cassel had been plugging away in films on a minor basis since 1950. Shortly after, Cassel was perfectly cast in the naif title role in the 1958 film version of Voltaire's Candide...
 
24.
Jean-Louis Trintignant
Actor, Amour
Born 1930 in Piolenc in south France as son of a wealthy industrialist. Studied law in Aix-en-Provence. Started theatrical acting in 1950, but was regarded untalented at first, until Roger Vadim discovered him for the movies. When the press stalked him 1956 because of rumors of an affair with Brigitte Bardot his partner in ...And God Created Woman...
 
25.
Michel Piccoli
Born in a musician's family, he spent the first fifteen years of his career appearing both on stage and on screen, mostly in supporting roles. His breakthrough came after Jean-Luc Godard's Contempt and about 100 films, ranging from art-house movies to commercial mainstream, followed. He won the...
 
26.
Romain Duris
Appealing actor Romain Duris is the exact example of those who arrived in the movie industry by chance, and to stardom without really desiring it. Discovered by a casting director while he was waiting in front of a high school in Paris, he was offered a role. Between popular successes such as "Good old daze"...
 
27.
Pierre Richard
Certainly one of France's supreme farceurs in the classic tradition, comedian Pierre Richard was born to an uppercrust 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 the early years...
 
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33.
Jean-Hugues Anglade
Actor, Betty Blue
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 homosexual role in "The wounded man"...
 
36.
Fernandel
The apocryphal biography of Fernand Contadin 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 Allégret was the director of his first successful film La meilleure bobonne...
 
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38.
Michel Simon
Actor, L'Atalante
The son of a sausage-maker, Michel Simon was conscripted into the Swiss Army at the start of World War I, but was thrown out through a combination of tuberculosis and general insubordination. He was variously a boxer, photographer, general handyman and right-wing anarchist, finally becoming a stage actor in Geneva in 1920...
 
40.
Erich von Stroheim
Erich von Stroheim was born Erich Oswald Stroheim in 1885, in Vienna, Austria, to Johanna (Bondy), from Prague, and Benno Stroheim, a hatmaker from Gliwice, Poland. His family was Jewish. After spending some time working in his father's hat factory, he emigrated to America around 1909. Working in various jobs he arrived in Hollywood in 1914 and got work in D.W...
 
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Jean-Louis Barrault
Celebrated French stage actor/director/producer Jean-Louis Barrault was born on September 8, 1910. A superlative tragedian and mime, his dedication to both avant-garde and classical plays helped revive the French theatre after World War II, while presenting world premières of works by such playwrights as Samuel Beckett...
 
45.
Charles Boyer
Actor, Gaslight
Charles Boyer studied philosophy before he went to the theater where he gave his debut in 1920. Although he had at first no intentions to pursue a career at the movies (his first movie was L'homme du large by Marcel L'Herbier) he used his chance in Hollywood after several filming stations all over Europe...
 
46.
Maurice Chevalier
Actor, Gigi
Maurice Chevalier's first working job was as an acrobat, until a serious accident ended that career. He turned his talents to singing and acting, and made several short films in France. During World War I he enlisted in the French army. He was wounded in battle, captured and placed in a POW camp by the Germans...
 
47.
Louis Jourdan
Actor, Octopussy
Louis Jourdan was born Louis Robert Gendre in Marseille, France, to Yvonne (née Jourdan) and Henry Gendre, a hotel owner. He was educated in France, Britain, and Turkey. He trained as an actor with René Simon at the École Dramatique. He debuted on screen in 1939, going on to play cultivated, polished...
 
48.
Daniel Gélin
Gallic lead and character actor Daniel Gelin did not have an easy life but was warmly embraced as a talented star who appeared to fine advantage for such legendary directors as Max Ophüls, Louis Malle, Jean Cocteau, Alfred Hitchcock, and Claude Lelouch. He left home at age 16 to take dramatic arts classes under the guidance of Louis Jouvet...
 
49.
Jacques Tati
The comic genius Jacques Tati was born Taticheff, descended from a noble Russian family. His grandfather, Count Dimitri, had been a general in the Imperial Army and had served as military attaché to the Russian Embassy in Paris. His father, Emmanuel Taticheff, was a well-to-do picture framer who conducted his business in the fashionable Rue de Castellane and had taken a Dutch-Italian woman...
 
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51.
Jean-Claude Brialy
One of the most popular and respected actors to come from the French "New Wave" film movement, Jean-Claude Brialy was born to a military family, which included one brother, in French colonial Algeria on March 30, 1933. Residing in various places while his father, a colonel with the French Army, went through the paces of his career...
 
52.
Jean-Pierre Léaud
Jean-Pierre Léaud is not everybody's cup of tea for sure, but will remain an important name in film history. As an actor he can be adored or hated for exactly the same reasons: he is one of those rare players that directors let improvise his dialogue, which gets on certain viewers' nerves while it fascinates others...
 
53.
Louis de Funès
Louis Germain David de Funès de Galarza was born on July 31, 1914, in Courbevoie, France. His father, named Carlos Luis de Funes de Galarza, was a former lawyer of Seville, Spain, who became a diamond cutter. His mother, named Leonor Soto Reguera, was of Spanish and Portugese extraction. Young Louis de Funès was fond of drawing and piano playing...
 
55.
Michel Serrault
Actor, Diabolique
As accomplished and versatile the well-loved French actor Michel Serrault proved to be over the course of five decades, American audiences still remember this actor for one role only - that of the neurotic, outrageously flamboyant drag performer Albin (aka Zaza) in the side-splitting French gay farce La Cage aux Folles...
 
56.
Robert Le Vigan
Robert Le Vigan appeared in many classic French films of the late 1930s and early 1940s like Port of Shadows and It Happened at the Inn but his career was curtailed at the Liberation because of his overt fascism. Up to the mid-1930s his career was quite undistinguished until Behold the Man were he portrayed Jesus Christ...
 
57.
Patrick Dewaere
Actor, Beau Pere
Popular but troubled renegade French actor Patrick Dewaere was christened Jean-Marie Patrick Bourdeaux on January 26, 1947, at Saint-Brieuc in Britanny in the north-west region of France. The third of six children born to actress Mado Maurin (1915-2011), his mothere made acting a family affair. All of his siblings -- Jean-Pierre Maurin (1941-1996)...
 
60.
Louis Jouvet
Louis Jouvet was a living glory of the French theatre where he debuted in 1910. In his life he has worked as pharmacist, manager of a theatre, actor and theatre teacher. He debuted at the movies in 1932 and his best films were of the Golden Age of French cinema called the "poetical realism", e.g. "Hotel du Nord (1938)" or "La fin du jour"...
 
62.
Noël-Noël
Writer, The Chorus
Warmly popular French character player and screenwriter in his heyday, Noel-Noel was born Lucien Noel and developed his celebrity in music halls and the cabaret venue, where he created his Ademai comic character, a blundering French soldier. He eventually took this character successfully to film in...
 
63.
Paul Meurisse
Actor, Diabolique
Paul Meurisse was the son of a bank manager and it first looked as if he would follow in his father's footsteps when he became a solicitor's clerk in Aix-en-Provence. But his passion was elsewhere and he soon did the splits appearing as a chorus boy in music-hall revues. Leaving Aix for Paris, with a letter of recommendation signed by Huguette Duflos...
 
66.
Lino Ventura
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 Paris...
 
67.
Bourvil
At the age of three, André Zacharie Raimbourg and his family moved to a town in the region of Normandy called Bourville. He finished school at the age of 15 and began to work as a baker. He was already playing harmonica, mandoline and cornet when he engaged himself in a village band. In the beginning of 1940 while in the army making music-hall show for the troops...
 
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Michel Bouquet
Michel Bouquet is an actor born in the 14th arrondissement of Paris on the 6 November 1925. His father, Georges Bouquet, was a World War One veteran and a wine-maker. His mother Marie was a milliner. He had three older brothers: Georges, Bernard and Serge. Michel's father was always a shadowy figure in his life: having been deeply affected by the war...
 
73.
Jacques Dutronc
Soundtrack, Moonrise Kingdom
Regardless of being called 'a dilettante of music', Jacques Dutronc became a very popular French singer and composer since the mid-60s. In the early 70s he began his screen career collaborating with such directors as Jean-Luc Godard, Andrzej Zulawski, Claude Lelouch and Maurice Pialat. For his unusual portrayal of Vincent van Gogh in Maurice Pialat's Van Gogh he was awarded Cesar in 1992...
 
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82.
Marcel Dalio
Actor, Sabrina
Sunday, November the 20th is the anniversary of Marcel Dalio's death in 1983. It was the end of a serendipitous life. You know him. He was a citizen of the world. Born Israel Moshe Blauschild, in Paris, in 1900, he became a much sought-after character actor. His lovely animated face with its great expressive eyes became familiar across Europe...
 
87.
Sacha Guitry
French actor, dramatist and director, Sacha Guitry was born in 1885 in Saint-Petersburg where his father, actor Lucien Guitry, was under contract with the city's French theater. Early on, Sacha knew he was going to be an artist. Therefore, his studies were mediocre. His acting debuts were not too encouraging either...
 
89.
Noël Roquevert
Actor, Diabolique
Noël Roquevert, later to develop into the archetypal bossy retired military officer, was born into a family of actors in Brittany. Before embodying all those old grumpy characters which made him famous he first appeared on stage as a ... baby ! Incredible but true. He performed in 150 plays and was among Sacha Guitry's regulars...
 
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95.
Max Linder
Although all too frequently neglected by fans of silent comedy, Max Linder is in many ways as important a figure as Charles Chaplin, Buster Keaton or Harold Lloyd, not least because he predated (and influenced) them all by several years and was largely responsible for the creation of the classic style of silent slapstick comedy...
 
98.
Raimu
Orson Welles once called beloved, down-to-earth French character star Raimu (born Jules Auguste Cesar Muraire) "the greatest actor who ever lived." It is hard to argue the compliment of one genius to another. Raimu was born in Toulon, France on December 17, 1883 of very humble means. He began his career at age 16 as a music hall extra by imitating famous French comic idols...
 
100.
Jean-Pierre Aumont
Another in the long line of dramatically handsome foreign imports who made an immediate impact on WWII Hollywood was debonair French actor Jean-Pierre Aumont. The epitome of grace and sophistication, the stylish leading man went on to have a long and respectful career on stage, film and TV, both here and abroad...