The Most Famous

ACTORS from France

Icon of occuation in country

This page contains a list of the greatest French Actors. The pantheon dataset contains 13,578 Actors, 431 of which were born in France. This makes France the birth place of the 5th most number of Actors behind India, and Canada.

Top 10

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.

Photo of Alain Delon

1. Alain Delon (b. 1935)

With an HPI of 83.15, Alain Delon is the most famous French Actor.  His biography has been translated into 119 different languages on wikipedia.

Alain Fabien Maurice Marcel Delon (French: [alɛ̃ dəlɔ̃]; born 8 November 1935) is a French actor, singer, filmmaker, and businessman. He was one of Europe's most prominent actors and screen sex symbols in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Delon has received awards at prestigious festivals and has often been honored for his entire career. He has received tributes from great actors such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Keanu Reeves and Jackie Chan, and has inspired many franchises of world cinema. In 1985, he won the César Award for Best Actor for his performance in Notre histoire (1984). In 1991, he became a member of 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 the 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.

Photo of Brigitte Bardot

2. Brigitte Bardot (b. 1934)

With an HPI of 82.65, Brigitte Bardot is the 2nd most famous French Actor.  Her biography has been translated into 117 different languages.

Brigitte Anne-Marie Bardot ( brizh-EET bar-DOH; French: [bʁiʒit baʁdo] ; born 28 September 1934), often referred to by her initials B.B., is a French animal rights activist and former actress, singer, and model. Famous for portraying sexually emancipated characters, often with hedonistic lifestyles, she was one of the best known activists in the sexual revolution of the 1950s–1970s. Although she withdrew from the entertainment industry in 1973, she remains a major popular culture icon and a noted figure in ushering in the sexual revolution. She has acted in 47 films, performed in several musicals, and recorded more than 60 songs. She was awarded the Legion of Honour in 1985. Born and raised in Paris, Bardot was an aspiring ballerina in her early life. She started her acting career in 1952 and achieved international recognition in 1957 for her role in And God Created Woman (1956), catching the attention of many French intellectuals and earning her the nickname "sex kitten". She was the subject of philosopher 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 (1960). 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. French President Charles de Gaulle called Bardot "the French export as important as Renault cars".After retiring from acting in 1974, she became an animal rights activist and created the Brigitte Bardot Foundation. She 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, as of November 2021 having been fined six times for inciting racial hatred when she criticised immigration and Islam in France and called residents of Réunion "savages". She is married to Bernard d'Ormale, a former adviser to Jean-Marie Le Pen, a far-right French politician. Bardot is a member of the Global 500 Roll of Honour of the United Nations Environment Programme and has received several awards and accolades from UNESCO and PETA. In 2011, Los Angeles Times Magazine ranked her second on the "50 Most Beautiful Women In Film".

Photo of Sarah Bernhardt

3. Sarah Bernhardt (1844 - 1923)

With an HPI of 78.73, Sarah Bernhardt is the 3rd most famous French Actor.  Her biography has been translated into 158 different languages.

Sarah Bernhardt (French: [saʁa bɛʁnɑʁt]; born Henriette-Rosine Bernard; 22 October 1844 – 26 March 1923) was a French stage actress who starred in some of the more popular French plays of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including La Dame aux Camélias 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", and Hugo praised her "golden voice". She made several theatrical tours around the world, and she was one of the early 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 became one of the more sought-after artists of this period for his Art Nouveau style.

Photo of Louis de Funès

4. Louis de Funès (1914 - 1983)

With an HPI of 78.46, Louis de Funès is the 4th most famous French Actor.  His biography has been translated into 86 different languages.

Louis Germain David de Funès de Galarza (French: [lwi ʒɛʁ'mɛ̃ da'vid də fy'nɛs də ɡalaʁ'za]; 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, Italy, former Eastern Bloc, Albania, Greece, Hungary, Portugal, Spain, ex-Yugoslavia, as well as Iran, Israel, Mauritius and Turkey. 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 1973, 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.

Photo of Jean-Paul Belmondo

5. Jean-Paul Belmondo (1933 - 2021)

With an HPI of 78.36, Jean-Paul Belmondo is the 5th most famous French Actor.  His biography has been translated into 92 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. The popularity of Jean-Paul Belmondo as actor is mainly due to the characters he interpreted in his movies, loving to highlight the virile man, fighter, but also brave and heroic, which appealed to a wide audience in France and also abroad. 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 in 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 again 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.

Photo of Catherine Deneuve

6. Catherine Deneuve (b. 1943)

With an HPI of 75.72, Catherine Deneuve is the 6th most famous French Actor.  Her biography has been translated into 73 different languages.

Catherine Fabienne Dorléac (born 22 October 1943), known professionally as Catherine Deneuve (UK: , US: , French: [katʁin dənœv] ), is a French actress, producer, and model. She is considered one of the greatest European actresses on film. Early in her career, she gained acclaim for her portrayals of aloof and mysterious beauties for well-known directors, including Luis Buñuel, François Truffaut, Jacques Demy, Roman Polanski, and Agnès Varda. In 1985, she succeeded Mireille Mathieu as the official face of Marianne, France's national symbol of liberty.Deneuve made her screen debut in 1957 at age 13, in a film shot the previous year when she was only 12. She gained acclaim for her collaborations with Jacques Demy's starring in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967), and Donkey Skin (1970). She starred in Roman Polanski's Repulsion (1965), and Luis Buñuel's Belle de Jour (1967) and Tristana (1970). Her other notable films include The Hunger (1983), Indochine (1992), My Favourite Season (1993), Place Vendôme (1998), Dancer in the Dark (2000), 8 Women (2002), and The Truth (2019). She has received numerous accolades over her career including two César Awards, and the Venice Film Festival's Volpi Cup for Best Actress as well as nominations for an Academy Award, and BAFTA Award. She has received honorary awards, including the Berlin International Film Festival's Golden Bear in 1998, the Cannes Film Festival's Honorary Palme d'Or in 2005, and the Venice Film Festival's Golden Lion in 2022.

Photo of Gérard Depardieu

7. Gérard Depardieu (b. 1948)

With an HPI of 75.46, Gérard Depardieu is the 7th most famous French Actor.  His biography has been translated into 79 different languages.

Gérard Xavier Marcel Depardieu (UK: , US: , French: [ʒeʁaʁ ɡzavje maʁsɛl dəpaʁdjø] ; born 27 December 1948) is a French actor, known to be one of the most prolific 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 includes countless television productions, 18 stage 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.Depardieu 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 Ксавие Депардьё, romanized: Zherar Ksavie Depardyo), and became a cultural ambassador of Montenegro during the same month. Depardieu 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 (1990), 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). Depardieu has been repeatedly accused of sexual assault. The French authorities have charged him with rape and, since 2021, have had him under formal investigation. Depardieu has denied any wrongdoing and has not been convicted in connection with any of the accusations against him, but he was stripped of the National Order of Quebec in 2023.

Photo of Jean Marais

8. Jean Marais (1913 - 1998)

With an HPI of 73.45, Jean Marais is the 8th most famous French Actor.  His biography has been translated into 67 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 lover, muse and friend of acclaimed director Jean Cocteau. In 1996, he was awarded the French Legion of Honor for his contributions to French cinema.

Photo of Jean Gabin

9. Jean Gabin (1904 - 1976)

With an HPI of 70.67, Jean Gabin is the 9th most famous French Actor.  His biography has been translated into 72 different languages.

Jean-Alexis Moncorgé, known as 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 twice won 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.

Photo of Jean-Louis Trintignant

10. Jean-Louis Trintignant (1930 - 2022)

With an HPI of 70.07, Jean-Louis Trintignant is the 10th most famous French Actor.  His biography has been translated into 50 different languages.

Jean-Louis Xavier Trintignant (French pronunciation: [ʒɑ̃ lwi tʁɛ̃tiɲɑ̃]; 11 December 1930 – 17 June 2022) was a French actor. He made his theatrical debut in 1951, and went on to be regarded as one of the best French dramatic actors of the post-war era. He starred in many classic films of European cinema, and worked with many prominent auteur directors, including Roger Vadim, Costa-Gavras, Claude Lelouch, Claude Chabrol, Bernardo Bertolucci, Éric Rohmer, François Truffaut, Krzysztof Kieślowski, and Michael Haneke. He made a critical and commercial breakthrough in And God Created Woman (1956), followed by a starmaking romantic turn in A Man and a Woman (1966). He won the Silver Bear for Best Actor at the 1968 Berlin International Film Festival for his performance in The Man Who Lies and the Best Actor Award at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival for Costa-Gavras's Z. Trintignant's other notable films include The Great Silence (1968), My Night at Maud's (1969), The Conformist (1970), Three Colours: Red (1994), and The City of Lost Children (1995). He won the 2013 César Award for Best Actor for his role in Michael Haneke's Amour.

People

Pantheon has 474 people classified as French actors born between 1615 and 1999. Of these 474, 283 (59.70%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living French actors include Alain Delon, Brigitte Bardot, and Catherine Deneuve. The most famous deceased French actors include Sarah Bernhardt, Louis de Funès, and Jean-Paul Belmondo. As of April 2024, 43 new French actors have been added to Pantheon including Christian Marquand, Claire Lacombe, and Vernon Dobtcheff.

Living French Actors

Go to all Rankings

Deceased French Actors

Go to all Rankings

Newly Added French Actors (2024)

Go to all Rankings

Overlapping Lives

Which Actors were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Actors since 1700.