The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary French Actors of all time. This list of famous French Actors is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of French Actors.
With an HPI of 83.25, Alain Delon is the most famous French Actor. His biography has been translated into 107 different languages on wikipedia.
Alain Fabien Maurice Marcel Delon (French: [alɛ̃ dəlɔ̃]; born 8 November 1935) is a French actor and filmmaker. He was one of Europe's most prominent actors and screen sex symbols in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. In 1985, he won the César Award for Best Actor for his performance in Notre histoire (1984). In 1991, he received France's Legion of Honour. At the 45th Berlin International Film Festival, he won the Honorary Golden Bear. At the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, he received the Honorary Palme d'Or. Delon achieved critical acclaim for roles in films Purple Noon (1960), Rocco and His Brothers (1960), L'Eclisse (1962), The Leopard (1963), Le Samouraï (1967), La Piscine (1969), Le Cercle Rouge (1970), Un flic (1972), and Monsieur Klein (1976). Over the course of his career Delon worked with many directors, including Luchino Visconti, Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Melville, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Louis Malle. As a singer, Delon recorded the popular duet "Paroles, paroles" (1973) with Dalida. He acquired Swiss citizenship in 1999.
With an HPI of 81.31, Jean-Paul Belmondo is the 2nd most famous French Actor. His biography has been translated into 79 different languages.
Jean-Paul Charles Belmondo (French pronunciation: [ʒɑ̃pɔl ʃaʁl bɛlmɔ̃do]; 9 April 1933 – 6 September 2021) was a French actor. Initially associated with the New Wave of the 1960s, he was a major French film star for several decades from the 1960s onward. His best known credits include Breathless (1960), That Man from Rio (1964), Pierrot le Fou (1965), Borsalino (1970), and The Professional (1981). He was most notable for portraying police officers in action thriller films and became known for his unwillingness to appear in English-language films, despite being heavily courted by Hollywood. An undisputed box-office champion like Louis de Funès and Alain Delon of the same period, Belmondo attracted nearly 160 million spectators in his 50-year career. Between 1969 and 1982, he played four times in the most popular films of the year in France: The Brain (1969), Fear Over the City (1975), Animal (1977), Ace of Aces (1982), being surpassed on this point only by Louis de Funès.During his career, he was called the French counterpart of actors such as James Dean, Marlon Brando, and Humphrey Bogart. Described as an icon and national treasure of France, Belmondo was seen as an influential actor of French cinema and an important figure in shaping European cinema. In 1989, Belmondo won the César Award for Best Actor for his performance in Itinéraire d'un enfant gâté. He was nominated for two BAFTA Awards throughout his career. In 2011 and then in 2017, he received a lifetime achievement honor: the Palme d'honneur during the Cannes Film Festival and a César d'honneur 42nd César Awards.
With an HPI of 79.81, Brigitte Bardot is the 3rd most famous French Actor. Her biography has been translated into 111 different languages.
Brigitte Anne-Marie Bardot ( (listen) brizh-EET bar-DOH; French: [bʁiʒit baʁdo] (listen); born 28 September 1934), often referred to by her initials B.B., is a former French actress, singer and model. Famous for portraying sexually emancipated characters with hedonistic lifestyles, she was one of the best known sex symbols of the 1950s and 1960s. Although she withdrew from the entertainment industry in 1973, she remains a major popular culture icon.Born and raised in Paris, Bardot was an aspiring ballerina in her early life. She started her acting career in 1952. She achieved international recognition in 1957 for her role in And God Created Woman (1956), and also caught the attention of French intellectuals. She was the subject of Simone de Beauvoir's 1959 essay The Lolita Syndrome, which described her as a "locomotive of women's history" and built upon existentialist themes to declare her the first and most liberated woman of post-war France. She won a 1961 David di Donatello Best Foreign Actress Award for her work in The Truth. Bardot later starred in Jean-Luc Godard's film Le Mépris (1963). For her role in Louis Malle's film Viva Maria! (1965) she was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actress. Bardot retired from the entertainment industry in 1973. She had acted in 47 films, performed in several musicals, and recorded more than 60 songs. She was awarded the Legion of Honour in 1985. After retiring, she became an animal rights activist and created the Fondation Brigitte Bardot. Bardot is known for her strong personality, outspokenness, and speeches on animal defence; she has been fined twice for public insults. She has also been a controversial political figure, having been fined five times for inciting racial hatred when she criticised immigration and Islam in France. She is married to Bernard d'Ormale, a former adviser to Jean-Marie Le Pen, a French far-right politician. Bardot is a member of the Global 500 Roll of Honour of the United Nations Environment Programme and has received awards from UNESCO and PETA. Los Angeles Times Magazine ranked her second on the "50 Most Beautiful Women In Film".
With an HPI of 78.46, Louis de Funès is the 4th most famous French Actor. His biography has been translated into 76 different languages.
Louis Germain David de Funès de Galarza (French: [lwi ʒɛʁmɛ̃ david də fynɛs də ɡalaʁza]; 31 July 1914 – 27 January 1983) was a French actor and comedian. He is France's favourite actor, according to a series of polls conducted since the late 1960s, having played over 150 roles in film and over 100 on stage. His acting style is remembered for its high-energy performance and his wide range of facial expressions and tics. A considerable part of his best-known acting was directed by Jean Girault. One of the most famous French actors of all time, Louis de Funès also enjoys widespread international recognition. In addition to his immense fame in the French-speaking world, he is also still a household name in many other parts of the world, including German-speaking countries, the former Soviet Union, former Eastern Bloc, Italy, Spain, Greece, Albania, ex-Yugoslavia, as well as Turkey, Iran, Israel, and Mauritius. Despite his international fame, Louis de Funès remains almost unknown in the English-speaking world. He was exposed to a wider audience only once in the United States, in 1974, with the release of The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob, which is best remembered for its Rabbi Jacob dance scene and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. Louis de Funès has two museums dedicated to his life and acting: one in the Château de Clermont, near Nantes, where he resided, as well as another in the town of Saint-Raphaël, Southern France.
With an HPI of 76.51, Sarah Bernhardt is the 5th most famous French Actor. Her biography has been translated into 150 different languages.
Sarah Bernhardt (French: [saʁa bɛʁnɑʁt]; born Henriette-Rosine Bernard; 22 or 23 October 1844 – 26 March 1923) was a French stage actress who starred in some of the most popular French plays of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including La Dame Aux Camelias by Alexandre Dumas fils; Ruy Blas by Victor Hugo, Fédora and La Tosca by Victorien Sardou, and L'Aiglon by Edmond Rostand. She also played male roles, including Shakespeare's Hamlet. Rostand called her "the queen of the pose and the princess of the gesture", while Hugo praised her "golden voice". She made several theatrical tours around the world, and was one of the first prominent actresses to make sound recordings and to act in motion pictures. She is also linked with the success of artist Alphonse Mucha, whose work she helped to publicize. Mucha would become one of the most sought-after artists of this period for his Art Nouveau style.
With an HPI of 74.77, Catherine Deneuve is the 6th most famous French Actor. Her biography has been translated into 71 different languages.
Catherine Fabienne Dorléac (born 22 October 1943), known professionally as Catherine Deneuve (UK: , US: , French: [katʁin dənœv] (listen)), is a French actress as well as an occasional singer, model, and producer, considered one of the greatest European actresses. She gained recognition for her portrayal of icy, aloof, and mysterious beauties for various directors, including Jacques Demy, Luis Buñuel, François Truffaut, and Roman Polanski. In 1985, she succeeded Mireille Mathieu as the official face of Marianne, France's national symbol of liberty. A 14-time César Award nominee, she won for her performances in Truffaut's The Last Metro (1980), for which she also won the David di Donatello for Best Foreign Actress, and Régis Wargnier's Indochine (1992). Deneuve made her film debut in 1957 at the age of 13, in a film shot the year earlier when she was only 12. She first came to prominence in Jacques Demy's 1964 musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. She went on to star for Polanski in Repulsion (1965), and for Buñuel in Belle de Jour (1967) and Tristana (1970). She was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress for Belle de Jour, and the Academy Award for Best Actress for Indochine. She also won the 1998 Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival for Place Vendôme. Her English-language films include The April Fools (1969), Hustle (1975), The Hunger (1983), Dancer in the Dark (2000), and The Musketeer (2001). Other notable films include Mississippi Mermaid (1969), Scene of the Crime (1986), My Favourite Season (1993), 8 Women (2002), Persepolis (2007), Potiche (2010), The Brand New Testament (2015), and Bonne Pomme (2017).
With an HPI of 74.16, Gérard Depardieu is the 7th most famous French Actor. His biography has been translated into 78 different languages.
Gérard Xavier Marcel Depardieu, CQ (UK: , US: , French: [ʒeʁaʁ ɡzavje maʁsɛl dəpaʁdjø] (listen); born 27 December 1948) is a French actor, filmmaker, businessman and vineyard owner since 1989 who is one of the most prolific thespians in film history. He has completed over 250 films since 1967, almost exclusively as a lead. Depardieu has worked with over 150 film directors whose most notable collaborations include Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Maurice Pialat, Alain Resnais, Claude Chabrol, Ridley Scott and Bernardo Bertolucci. He is the second highest grossing actor in the history of French Cinema behind Louis de Funès. As of January 2022, his body of work also include countless television productions, 18 theatre plays, 16 records and 9 books. He is mostly known as a character actor and for having portrayed numerous leading historical and fictitious figures of the Western world including Georges Danton, Joseph Stalin, Honoré de Balzac, Alexandre Dumas, Auguste Rodin, Cyrano de Bergerac, Jean Valjean, Edmond Dantès, Christopher Columbus, Obélix, and Dominique Strauss-Kahn.He is a Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur and Chevalier of the Ordre national du Mérite. He was granted citizenship of Russia in January 2013 (officially adopted name in Russian: Жерар Депардьё, romanized: Zherar Depardyo), and became a cultural ambassador of Montenegro during the same month. He has received acclaim for his performances in The Last Metro (1980), for which he won the César Award for Best Actor, in Police (1985), for which he won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor, Jean de Florette (1986), and Cyrano de Bergerac (1990), for which he won the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival and his second César Award for Best Actor as well as garnering a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor. He co-starred in Peter Weir's comedy Green Card (1991), winning a Golden Globe Award, and later acted in many big budget Hollywood films, including Ridley Scott's 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992), Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet (1996), Randall Wallace's The Man in the Iron Mask (1998), and Ang Lee's Life of Pi (2012).
With an HPI of 72.48, Jean Marais is the 8th most famous French Actor. His biography has been translated into 62 different languages.
Jean-Alfred Villain-Marais (11 December 1913 – 8 November 1998), known professionally as Jean Marais (French: [ʒɑ̃ maʁɛ]), was a French actor, film director, theatre director, painter, sculptor, visual artist, writer and photographer. He performed in over 100 films and was the muse and lover of acclaimed director Jean Cocteau. In 1996, he was awarded the French Legion of Honor for his contributions to French Cinema.
With an HPI of 71.34, Jean Gabin is the 9th most famous French Actor. His biography has been translated into 70 different languages.
Jean Gabin (French: [ʒɑ̃ gabɛ̃]; 17 May 1904 – 15 November 1976) was a French actor and singer. Considered a key figure in French cinema, he starred in several classic films including Pépé le Moko (1937), La grande illusion (1937), Le Quai des brumes (1938), La bête humaine (1938), Le jour se lève (1939), and Le plaisir (1952). During his career he had twice won both the Silver Bear for Best Actor from the Berlin International Film Festival and the Volpi Cup for Best Actor from the Venice Film Festival respectively. Gabin was made a member of the Légion d'honneur in recognition of the important role he played in French cinema.
With an HPI of 70.24, Marcel Marceau is the 10th most famous French Actor. His biography has been translated into 49 different languages.
Marcel Marceau (French pronunciation: [maʁsɛl maʁso]; born Marcel Mangel; 22 March 1923 – 22 September 2007) was a French actor and mime artist most famous for his stage persona, "Bip the Clown". He referred to mime as the "art of silence", and he performed professionally worldwide for over 60 years. As a Jewish youth, he lived in hiding and worked with the French Resistance during most of World War II, giving his first major performance to 3,000 troops after the liberation of Paris in August. Following the war, he studied dramatic art and mime in Paris. In 1959, he established his own pantomime school in Paris, and he subsequently set up the Marceau Foundation to promote the art in the U.S. Among his various awards and honors, he was made "Grand Officier de la Légion d'Honneur" (1998) and was awarded the National Order of Merit (1998) in France. He won the Emmy Award for his work on television, was elected member of the Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin, and was declared a "National treasure" in Japan. He had a 20-year friendship with Michael Jackson, who said he used some of Marceau's techniques in his own dance steps.
Pantheon has 432 people classified as actors born between 1615 and 1999. Of these 432, 265 (61.34%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living actors include Alain Delon, Brigitte Bardot, and Catherine Deneuve. The most famous deceased actors include Jean-Paul Belmondo, Louis de Funès, and Sarah Bernhardt. As of April 2022, 74 new actors have been added to Pantheon including Philippe Leroy, Madeleine Béjart, and Geneviève Page.
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Which Actors were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Actors since 1700.