My forty favourite French actresses

by tomblaker | created - 12 Mar 2013 | updated - 12 Mar 2013 | Public

In no particular order...

1. Marion Cotillard

Actress | La môme

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 ...

2. 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...

3. Isabelle Adjani

Actress | Possession

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 ...

4. Eva Green

Actress | Casino Royale

French actress and model Eva Gaëlle Green was born on July 6, 1980, in Paris, France. Her father, Walter Green, is a dentist who appeared in the 1966 film Balthazar (1966). Her mother, Marlène Jobert, is an actress turned children's book writer. Eva's mother was born in Algeria, of French, Spanish,...

5. Audrey Tautou

Actress | Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain

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...

6. Juliette Binoche

Actress | The English Patient

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...

7. Catherine Deneuve

Actress | 8 femmes

Catherine Fabienne Deneuve was born October 22, 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 (1963). But her breakthrough ...

8. Brigitte Bardot

Actress | Le mépris

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 ...

9. Sophie Marceau

Actress | La boum

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 ...

10. Bérénice Marlohe

Actress | Skyfall

French actress Bérénice Marlohe first came to international attention when she was cast as the glamorous and enigmatic Severin in the twenty-third Bond film Skyfall (2012), alongside Daniel Craig which grossed over 1.11 billion dollars worldwide. Marlohe will continue to expand her presence in the ...

11. Virginie Ledoyen

Actress | 8 femmes

Virginie Ledoyen was born Virginie Fernandez on 15 November 1976 in Aubervilliers, near Paris. At the age of 2, she was already shooting advertisements for television. At 9, she started going to the École des Enfants du Spectacle, and made her film debut at 10 in What Every Frenchwoman Wants (1986)....

12. Kristin Scott Thomas

Actress | The English Patient

The acclaimed Cornish actress Dame Kristin Scott Thomas was born in Redruth, Cornwall, to Deborah (Hurlbatt) and Lieutenant Commander Simon Scott Thomas. Her father was a pilot for the British Royal Navy and died in a flying accident in 1964. Her stepfather, Lt. Cdr Simon Idiens, was also a pilot, ...

13. Jeanne Moreau

Actress | Jules et Jim

When people gave Louis Malle credit for making a star of Jeanne Moreau in Elevator to the Gallows (1958) immediately followed by The Lovers (1958), 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 ...

14. Mélanie Laurent

Actress | Inglourious Basterds

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 (1989). She has a younger brother, Mathieu, and has both Sephardi Jewish (from Tunisia) and Ashkenazi Jewish (from ...

15. Sandrine Bonnaire

Actress | Sans toit ni loi

Sandrine Bonnaire was born on May 31, 1967 in Gannat, Allier, France. She is an actress and director, known for Vagabond (1985), À Nos Amours (1983) and La Cérémonie (1995). She was previously married to Guillaume Laurant.

16. Élodie Bouchez

Actress | Les roseaux sauvages

Élodie Bouchez was born on April 5, 1973 in Montreuil, Seine-Saint-Denis, France. She is an actress, known for Wild Reeds (1994), The Dreamlife of Angels (1998) and CQ (2001). She is married to Thomas Bangalter. They have two children.

17. Roxane Mesquida

Actress | À ma soeur!

French/US actress, Roxane Mesquida grew up in Le Pradet, a little town in the South of France. At the age of 11, while walking with her mother, writer Francoise Mesquida, she was spotted by director Manuel Pradal who cast her in Mary from the Bay of Angels (Marie Baie de Anges). In 1998, she played...

18. Anouk Aimée

Actress | Un homme et une femme

The daughter of actress Geneviève Sorya, in 1948 she played the part of Juliette in The Lovers of Verona (1949). During the 1950s and 1960s she made various films, including Montparnasse 19 (1958) and La Dolce Vita (1960), but only Lola (1961) , Jacques Demy, and A Man and a Woman (1966) Claude ...

19. Clémence Poésy

Actress | In Bruges

Clémence Poésy was born Clémence Guichard in Paris in 1982. She took her mother's maiden name, Poésy, as her stage name. She attended an alternative school for most of her education, but spent her last year at L'École alsacienne.

She trained at the "Conservatoire National Supérieur d'Art Dramatique",...

20. Emmanuelle Béart

Actress | 8 femmes

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. ...

21. Aïssa Maïga

Actress | Paris, je t'aime

Aïssa Maïga is a French actress. She was born in Dakar, Senegal, in 1975 to a Senegalese-Gambian mother and Malian father, an acclaimed journalist. She moved with her family to France when she was 4. She discovered her vocation as an actress in middle school, and won various professional roles ...

22. Annabella

Actress | 13 Rue Madeleine

At age 16, Annabella was chosen by Abel Gance to appear in Napoleon (1927). In the 30s, she became a star of French movies. She made movies in numerous other countries, before being called to Hollywood in 1938, where she met and married Tyrone Power. She remained in the USA until 1947. Then she ...

23. Julie Delpy

Actress | Trois couleurs: Blanc

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 (1985) at the age of fourteen. She has starred in many American and European productions since then, including Disney's The Three Musketeers (...

24. Sara Forestier

Actress | Le nom des gens

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....

25. Brigitte Fossey

Actress | Quintet

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 (1952). She abandoned acting a few years later for schooling and a normal upbringing. After a brief career as an interpreter and ...

26. Marina Hands

Actress | Lady Chatterley

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 ...

27. Charlotte Gainsbourg

Actress | Antichrist

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 ...

28. Annie Girardot

Actress | La pianiste

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 ...

29. Anna Karina

Actress | Pierrot le fou

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 (1960), 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 "...

30. Miou-Miou

Actress | Nettoyage à sec

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 ...

31. Micheline Presle

Actress | If a Man Answers

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 Young Girls in Trouble (1939) (Young Girls in Distress) and Four Flights to Love (1940)...

32. Charlotte Rampling

Actress | 45 Years

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, ...

33. Simone Signoret

Actress | Les diaboliques

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 (1982), would be her last theatrical release. She played the landlady. Signoret had a long film apprenticeship ...

34. Marina Vlady

Actress | 2 ou 3 choses que je sais d'elle

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...

35. 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 ...

36. Sylvie Testud

Actress | La môme

Sylvie Testud was born on January 17, 1971 in Lyon, Rhône, France. She is an actress and writer, known for La Vie en Rose (2007), Suspiria (2018) and Fear and Trembling (2003).

37. Françoise Dorléac

Actress | L'homme de Rio

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 ...

38. Danielle Darrieux

Actress | 8 femmes

Danielle Darrieux was born in 1917 in Bordeaux, France, to Marie-Louise (Witkowski) and Germain Jean Darrieux, a physician. She was raised in Paris. She was only fourteen when she auditioned for a secondary role in Le bal (1931): she got the part, and the producer offered her a five-year contract. ...

39. Béatrice Dalle

Actress | À l'intérieur

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 (1986), Dalle has become a sex symbol and a respected performer. Known for her problems with justice, her relationships with rapper Joey Starr ...

40. Fanny Ardant

Actress | 8 femmes

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 ...



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