Top 100 French Actorsby minalex | created - 25 May 2013 | updated - 3 days ago | Public
The list also includes Belgian actors
Actor | La passion de Jeanne d'Arc
Maurice Schutz was born on August 4, 1866 in Paris, France as Paul Maurice Schutzenberger. He was an actor and assistant director, known for The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), Vampyr (1932) and Cyrano de Bergerac (1923). He died on March 22, 1955 in Clichy-la-Garenne, Hauts-de-Seine, France.
3. Gaston Modot
Actor | La grande illusion
Gaston Modot was born on December 31, 1887 in Paris, France as Gaston Victor Modot. He was an actor and writer, known for La Grande Illusion (1937), The Rules of the Game (1939) and Children of Paradise (1945). He died on February 19, 1970 in Le Raincy, Seine-Saint-Denis, France.
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...
6. Michel Simon
Actor | Le quai des brumes
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...
7. Jean Dasté
Actor | La grande illusion
Jean Dasté was born on August 18, 1904 in Paris, France as Jean Georges Gustave Dasté. He was an actor, known for La Grande Illusion (1937), La vie est à nous (1936) and The Man Who Loved Women (1977). He was married to Marie-Hélène Dasté. He died on October 15, 1994 in Saint-Priest-en-Jarez...
8. 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. ...
Actor | La règle du jeu
Julien Carette was born on December 23, 1897 in Paris, France as Julien Victor. He was an actor, known for The Rules of the Game (1939), La Grande Illusion (1937) and Sylvie et le fantôme (1946). He died on July 20, 1966 in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Yvelines, France.
10. 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 ...
11. Jules Berry
Actor | Aventure à Paris
Jules Berry was born on February 9, 1883 in Poitiers, Vienne, France as Jules Peaufichet. He was an actor, known for Adventure in Paris (1936), Les Visiteurs du Soir (1942) and Le Jour Se Leve (1939). He was married to Josseline Gaël. He died on April 23, 1951 in Paris, France.
13. Jean Renoir
Writer | La règle du jeu
Son of the famous Impressionist painter Pierre Auguste, he had a happy childhood. Pierre Renoir was his brother, and Claude Renoir was his nephew. After the end of World War I, where he won the Croix de Guerre, he moved from scriptwriting to filmmaking. He married Catherine Hessling, for whom he ...
14. Pierre Fresnay
Actor | La grande illusion
Pierre Fresnay was born on April 4, 1897 in Paris, France as Pierre Jules Louis Laudenbach. He was an actor and writer, known for La Grande Illusion (1937), The Murderer Lives at Number 21 (1942) and Amazing Monsieur Fabre (1951). He was married to Berthe Bovy and Rachel Bérendt. He died on January...
15. Pierre Brasseur
Actor | Les enfants du paradis
Pierre Brasseur was born on December 22, 1905 in Paris, France as Pierre Espinasse. He was an actor and writer, known for Children of Paradise (1945), Eyes Without a Face (1960) and Gates of the Night (1946). He was married to Lina Magrini and Odette Joyeux. He died on August 14, 1972 in Bruneck, ...
Actor | Les enfants du paradis
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 ...
17. Marcel Herrand
Actor | Les enfants du paradis
Treading the boards since 1920, Marcel Herrand lent his natural elegance and his exceptional presence to plays by major playwrights such as Jules Romains, Oscar Wilde, Arthur Schnitzler, John Ford or Albert Camus, under the direction of such geniuses as Jacques Copeau, Charles Dullin, or Georges ...
18. Paul Bernard
Actor | Le bossu
Paul Bernard was born on September 21, 1898 in Villeneuve-sur-Lot, Lot-et-Garonne, France as Paul Renaud Bernard. He was an actor, known for Le bossu (1944), The Revenge of Roger (1946) and Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne (1945). He died on May 4, 1958 in Paris, France.
19. 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, ...
20. Michel Auclair
Actor | The Day of the Jackal
Michel Auclair was born on September 14, 1922 in Koblenz, Germany as Vladimir Vujovic Caspar. He was an actor, known for The Day of the Jackal (1973), Beauty and the Beast (1946) and Funny Face (1957). He was married to Frédérique Homo. He died on January 7, 1988 in Saint-Paul-en-Forêt, Var, France.
21. 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 ...
22. Claude Dauphin
Actor | Barbarella
In 1930, Claude, who was a stage-struck set designer at the Oden Theater, a repertory house in Paris, learned an ailing actor's part in two hours and took it over without a rehearsal. Tristan Bernard, the famous French playwright and producer took notice of this feat. He engaged Dauphin for the ...
23. Serge Reggiani
Actor | Il gattopardo
The notably gifted, multi-talented actor, chanteur, poet and painter Serge Reggiani was born in Reggio Emilia, a town in northern Italy, in 1922. His father, a highly visible anti-fascist, fled his Mussolini-dictated homeland due to his fervent political activities and emigrated to France in order ...
25. Yves Montand
Actor | Le salaire de la peur
Yves Montand was born on October 13, 1921 in Monsummano Terme, Tuscany, Italy as Ivo Livi. He was an actor, known for The Wages of Fear (1953), Jean de Florette (1986) and Let's Make Love (1960). He was married to Simone Signoret. He died on November 9, 1991 in Senlis, Oise, France.
26. Charles Boyer
Actor | Conquest
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 (1920) by Marcel L'Herbier) he used his chance in Hollywood after several filming stations ...
27. Charles Vanel
Actor | Le salaire de la peur
Charles Vanel was born on August 21, 1892 in Rennes, Ille-et-Vilaine, France as Charles-Marie Vanel. He was an actor and director, known for The Wages of Fear (1953), Diabolique (1955) and To Catch a Thief (1955). He was married to Arlette Mauricette Bailly. He died on April 15, 1989 in Cannes, ...
28. Paul Meurisse
Actor | Les diaboliques
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...
Actor | Les quatre cents coups
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 ...
30. Gérard Philipe
Actor | Le rouge et le noir
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 Marc Allégret, who decided he showed some promise, Gerard's debut was in Claude Dauphin's ...
31. Alain Delon
Actor | Le samouraï
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 ...
32. Marc Michel
Actor | Les parapluies de Cherbourg
Marc Michel was born on February 10, 1929 in Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe, France as Max Ernest Marie Michaux. He was an actor, known for The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), Lola (1961) and The Free Frenchman (1989). He was married to Liv Knutsen. He died on November 3, 2016 in Dreux, Eure-et-Loir, ...
33. Maurice Ronet
Actor | Le feu follet
Maurice Ronet was born on April 13, 1927 in Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, France as Maurice Julien Marie Robinet. He was an actor and director, known for The Fire Within (1963), Purple Noon (1960) and Elevator to the Gallows (1958). He was married to Maria Pacôme. He died on March 14, 1983 in Paris, ...
34. Michel Piccoli
Actor | Le mépris
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 (1963) and about 100 films, ranging from art-house movies to commercial mainstream, followed. He won ...
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 ...
36. Louis de Funès
Actor | Les aventures de Rabbi Jacob
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.
38. Jean Yanne
Jean Yanne was born on July 18, 1933 in Les Lilas, Seine [now Seine-Saint-Denis], France as Jean Roger Gouyé. He was an actor and writer, known for Everybody He Is Nice, Everybody He Is Beautiful (1972), Weekend (1967) and Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001). He was married to Jacqueline Renée Guellerin...
39. Jacques Tati
Writer | Playtime
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 ...
40. Roman Polanski
Actor | Chinatown
Roman Polanski is a Polish film director, producer, writer and actor. Having made films in Poland, Britain, France and the USA, he is considered one of the few truly international filmmakers. Roman Polanski was born in Paris in 1933.
His parents returned to Poland from France in 1936, three years ...
A French-Polish director, writer and actor
41. Michel Bouquet
Actor | Renoir
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 ...
Actor | L'instinct de mort
Michel Duchaussoy was born on November 29, 1938 in Valenciennes, Nord, France as Michel René Jacques Duchaussoy. He was an actor, known for Mesrine Part 1: Killer Instinct (2008), Mesrine Part 2: Public Enemy #1 (2008) and Intimate Strangers (2004). He was married to Isabelle De Funès. He died on ...
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 ...
Director | Églantine
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, ...
Actor | Murder on the Orient Express
He made his movie debut at the invitation of Gene Kelly, who cast Cassel in the 1956 Paris-filmed seriocomedy The Happy Road (1957). 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, ...
47. Paul Frankeur
Paul Frankeur was born on June 29, 1905 in Paris, France. He was an actor, known for The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972), The Phantom of Liberty (1974) and Jeunes mariés (1953). He died on October 27, 1974 in Nevers, Nièvre, France.
Writer | La nuit américaine
French director François Truffaut began to assiduously go to the movies at age seven. He was also a great reader but not a good pupil. He left school at 14 and started working. In 1947, aged 15, he founded a film club and met André Bazin, a French critic, who became his protector. Bazin helped the ...
51. 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 ...
52. Charles Denner
Actor | Z
Mr. Denner began studying in Paris with Charles Dullin in 1945. Four years later, he joined the National Popular Theater. In 1962, he was offered his first big film role, in Bluebeard (1963). He made thirty films after that, notably with Claude Lelouch and François Truffaut. Over the years, he ...
53. François Périer
Actor | Le samouraï
Francois Perier was one of France's most prolific character leads. Born in Paris, his father managed a wine shop. At age 14, he wrote to legendary actor Louis Jouvet who subsequently helped him enter the Cours Simon and Le Conservatoire dramatic institutions. A stage star by 1938, he then ...
54. Jacques Dutronc
Actor | Van Gogh
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 ...
55. 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 ...
59. 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 ...
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 ...
63. 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 ...
64. 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...
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...
66. 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...
71. 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. ...
72. Michel Serrault
Actor | Nelly & Monsieur Arnaud
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 ...
74. Olivier Gourmet
Actor | L'exercice de l'État
Grandson of a carpenter, Olivier Gourmet grew up in Mirwart, a Belgian village where his father was a cattle dealer and mother the manager of a family hotel-restaurant. At 13, he was sent to boarding school, which was an unhappy experience that led him to "be closed in on myself". It was at this ...
78. Benoît Magimel
Actor | La pianiste
Son of a nurse and a bank employee, Benoît Magimel was born in Paris and grew up there. At age 12, he played Momo in Life Is a Long Quiet River (1988) by Étienne Chatiliez. He stopped his studies at age 16 to become an actor.
But he had a dual personality: on one hand the man of low budget films ...
79. Aurélien Recoing
Actor | La vie d'Adèle
Flashback to Paris, 5 May, 1958. Aurélien Recoing, son of the puppeteer Alain Recoing, is born. He begins training to be an actor in 1974 at the Cours Florent, as well as studying at the Quartier d'Ivry. In 1977, the actor-in-training, who speaks fluent English as well as a little Russian, joins ...
80. 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, ...
83. Louis Garrel
Actor | The Dreamers
Louis Garrel was born on June 14, 1983 in Paris, France. He is an actor and director, known for The Dreamers (2003), Little Women (2019) and Love Songs (2007). He has been married to Laetitia Casta since June 10, 2017. He was previously married to Golshifteh Farahani.
85. Daniel Auteuil
Actor | Caché
Daniel Auteuil was born on January 24, 1950 in Algiers, Alger, France. He is an actor and director, known for Caché (2005), Jean de Florette (1986) and The Closet (2001). He has been married to Aude Ambroggi since July 22, 2006. They have one child. He was previously married to Emmanuelle ...
88. Romain Duris
Actor | De battre mon coeur s'est arrêté
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 Le p&...
Actor | Ne touchez pas la hache
Guillaume Depardieu was born on April 7, 1971 in Paris, France as Guillaume Jean Maxime Antoine Depardieu. He was an actor, known for The Duchess of Langeais (2007), Pola X (1999) and Tous les matins du monde (1991). He was married to Elise Ventre. He died on October 13, 2008 in Garches, ...
92. Guillaume Canet
Actor | Jeux d'enfants
Son of horse breeders, the young man spent his childhood in the countryside near Paris. In his youth, Guillaume wanted to be a horse-rider, and briefly followed a professional career in the sport. A bad fall broke his dreams, but is at the origin of his acting career, and success. After briefly ...
94. 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 ...
96. Gad Elmaleh
Actor | Hors de prix
Gad was born in Morocco in April 1971. His father was a mime. He was a student at Georges Bizet school and Lycée Lyautey in Casablanca but didn't like school much. In 1988, Gad left Casablanca to go to Montreal. He stayed there for 4 years, during which he was a political science student for one ...
A Moroccan French actor
98. Niels Arestrup
Actor | Un prophète
Niels Arestrup was born on February 8, 1949 in Montreuil, Seine [now Seine-Saint-Denis], France. He is an actor and writer, known for A Prophet (2009), War Horse (2011) and Diplomacy (2014). He has been married to Isabelle Le Nouvel since September 15, 2012. They have two children.
99. Simon Abkarian
Actor | Casino Royale
Simon Abkarian was born Simone Abkarian on March 5, 1962, in Gonesse, a northeastern suburb of Paris, France, into a French - Armenian family. Young Simon Abkarian grew up in a trilingual environment, he learned French at school in addition to his native Armenian, and also learned English by ...
100. Pierre Niney
Actor | Yves Saint Laurent
Pierre Niney was born in Boulogne-Billancourt (France), on March 13, 1989. He began his acting career at the age of eleven and joined the Comédie-Française troupe on October 16, 2010, when he was only twenty-one, which made him the youngest resident of the troupe. After several appearances in TV ...