Second only to Hollywood, French cinema has long been a forerunner of comedy, “film noirs” and drama in the world of cinema. It owes its vast influence in part to the well-known French actors who have helped spread the particularities and values of French cinema throughout the world. As a tribute to French cinema, we present to you today 30 of the best French actors who have made history.

Important information, most of these French actresses have received the César. This award is in fact the French Oscar. Like the Oscar, it is quite difficult to obtain. 

1 – Jean Gabin

Notable films:

  • Napoléon (1955)
  • La Traversée de Paris / The Trip Accross Paris (1956)
  • Les Misérables (1958)
  • Archimède le clochard (1959)
  • Le Clan des Siciliens / The Sicilian Clan (1969)

Awards:

  • Volpi Cup for Men’s Performance (1951, 1954)
  • Victory of the French Cinema (1952, 1955, 1956)
  • Silver Bear for Best Actor (1959, 1971)
  • Officer of the Legion of Honor (1976)
  • César Award of Honor (1987)

Born on May 17, 1904, Jean Gabin first had a career as a singer and operetta. After serving as a marine in World War II, he began to appear in the cinema in roles of mobsters or policemen where he had resounding success. After more than 95 films, the actor is considered the first star that French cinema has known.

2 – Louis de Funès

Notable films:

  • Le Gendarme de Saint-Tropez / The Troops of St. Tropez (1964)
  • Le Corniaud / The Sucker (1965)
  • La Grande Vadrouille (1966)
  • Les Aventures de Rabbi Jacob / The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob (1973)
  • La Soupe aux choux / The Cabbage Soup (1981)

Awards:

  • Grand prix du Rire (1957)
  • Victory of the French Cinema (1965)
  • Courteline Award (1967)
  • Knight of the Legion of Honor (1973)
  • César Award of Honor (1980)

Born on July 31, 1914, Louis de Funès is undoubtedly one of the greatest comedians in the history of French cinema. With more than 150 films to his credit, he portrayed the image of the average Frenchman to the eyes of the world in roles each more eccentric than the next. His films with his long-time sidekick, the actor and singer Bourvil (in the list of the best French songs), have been particularly well exported in Europe and internationally.  

3 – Yves Montand

Notable films:

  • Le Salaire de la peur / The Wage of Fear (1953)
  • Le Cercle rouge (1970)
  • La Folie des grandeurs / Delusions of Grandeur (1971)
  • César et Rosalie / Cesar and Rosalie  (1972)
  • Jean de Florette (1986)

Awards:

  • Emmy Awards (1962)
  • Bambi Award for Best Actor (1976)
  • Best Actor Award at the Taormina Festival (1976)

Born on October 13, 1921, Yves Montand made his debut in Marseille cabarets and later became a star of the French music hall thanks to the support of Edith Piaf. He was approached for a film role in The Wages of Fear (=Le Salaire de la peur), which would make him explode in the eyes of international audiences, playing a few years later on Broadway alongside a certain Marilyn Monroe. Successful actor, he played for nearly 30 years in the greatest films of French cinema, from 1960 to 1990.

4 – Jean Rochefort

Notable films:

  • Le Grand Blond avec une chaussure noire / The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe (1972)
  • L’horloger de Saint-Paul / The Clockmaker of St. Paul (1974)
  • Un éléphant, ça trompe énormément / Pardon Mon Affaire (1976)
  • Ridicule (1996)
  • Nous irons tous au paradis / Pardon Mon Affaire, Too! (1977)

Awards:

  • Critics’ Union Award (1970)
  • César Award for Best Supporting Actor (1976)
  • César Award for Best Actor (1978)
  • César Award of Honor (1999)
  • Lumière Award for Best Actor (2003)

Born on April 29, 1930, Jean Rochefort quickly established himself as one of the most popular French actors of the 1960s. After numerous supporting roles (for which he even won a César), it was in 1970 that the actor established himself at the top with leading roles in the biggest productions of the time. Fully assuming his style of good franchouillard, Jean Rochefort considers himself as “a rural man-misanthrope” above all.

5 – Jean-Paul Belmondo

Notable films:

  • À bout de souffle / Breathless (1960)
  • Un singe en hiver / A Monkey in Winter (1962)
  • Le Magnifique (1973)
  • Peur sur la ville / Fear Over the City (1975)
  • Le Professionnel / The Professional (1981)

Awards:

  • Brigadier Award (1987)
  • César Award for Best Actor (1989)
  • Commander of the Legion of Honor (2007)
  • Knight of the Order of Leopold (2012)
  • Golden Lion Award (2016)

Born on April 9, 1933, Jean-Paul Belmondo is best known for his good looks, his unlined stunts, and his film noirs. He is one of the most popular French actors of all generations. A box-office and longevity champion, the actor has managed to attract more than 130 million viewers over his 50-year career. Towards the end of his career, Jean-Paul Belmondo returned to his former loves by performing only in the theater.

6 – Pierre Richard 

Notable films:

  • Le Grand Blond avec une chaussure noire / The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe (1972)
  • Le Retour du Grand Blond / The Return of the Tall Blond Man (1974)
  • La Chèvre (1981)
  • Les Compères / The ComDads (1983)
  • Les Fugitifs / The Fugitives (1986)

Awards:

  • Best Actor Award at the Karlovy Vary Festival (1996)
  • César Award of Honor (2006)
  • Officer of the Legion of Honor (2016)
  • Molière seul en scène (alone on stage) (2020)

Born on August 16, 1934, Pierre Richard is one of the most recognizable French actors in French cinema. Known for his roles as burlesque and goofy characters, he reached his peak in 1972 for his role in The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe (Le Grand Blond avec une chaussure noire), which earned him the nickname of Grand Blond (= Tall Blond) that followed him throughout his career. Still present in the cinema in recent years in French comedies, the actor has undoubtedly a longevity out of the ordinary.

7 – Jean Reno

Notable films:

  • Le Grand Bleu / The Big Blue (1988)
  • Nikita (1990)
  • Les Visiteurs (1993)
  • Léon / Léon: The Professional (1994)
  • Les Rivières pourpres / The Crimson Rivers (2000)

Awards:

  • Winner of the World Cinema Achievement Award (2000)
  • Winner of the François Truffaut Prize (2012)
  • Gold Medal of Merit of Beaux-Arts (2015)
  • Best Distribution at the International Online Cinema Awards (2020)

Born on July 30, 1948, Jean Reno was revealed to the public through Luc Besson‘s blockbusters (The Big Blue, Nikita, Leon). The actor really exploded in a few years, becoming one of the most recognizable French actors of the 1990s in France. This rapid success opened the doors of Hollywood where he lived a second career, playing in big American productions alongside the greatest actors of the cinema.

8 – Gérard Depardieu

Notable films:

  • Les Valseuses / Going Places (1974)
  • Buffet froid / World-wide (1979)
  • Les Fugitifs / The Fugitives (1986)
  • Cyrano de Bergerac (1990)
  • Astérix & Obélix : Mission Cléopâtre / Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra (2002)

Awards:

  • Knight of the Legion of Honor (1996)
  • Award for Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival (1990)
  • César Award for Best Actor (1981, 1991)
  • Golden Globe for Best Actor (1991)
  • Lumières Award for Best Actor (2007, 2011)

Born on December 27, 1948, Gérard Depardieu wears many hats: businessman, producer, singer… But it is for his acting career that he has become one of the most famous French figures in the world. Indeed, he is one of the few actors to have performed as well in French cinema (Going Places, Cyrano de Bergerac, The Fugitives) as in Hollywood (Green Card, The Man in the Iron Mask).In addition to the cinema, the actor loves good food in large quantities, it is a good representative of the French term “bon vivant”. 

9 – Daniel Auteuil

Notable films:

  • Les sous-doués / The Under-Gifted (1980)
  • Jean de Florette (1986)
  • Manon des sources / Manon Of The Spring (1986)
  • Le Huitième Jour / The Eight Day (1996)
  • 36 quai des Orfèvres / 36th Precinct (2004)

Awards:

  • César Award for Best Actor  (1987, 2000)
  • BAFTA Award for Best Actor (1987)
  • Award for Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival (1996)
  • Étoile d’or of French Cinema (2004)

Born on January 24, 1950, in Algiers, Daniel Auteuil grew up in Avignon in the south of France. Coming from a family of opera singers, he is very early passionate about theater and performances. After a timid start, he saw the consecration in the 1980s with the release of The Under-Gifted (Les Sous-doués), as well as Jean de Florette and Manon Of The Spring (Manon des sources), which brought him the César for best actor.

10 – Gérard Jugnot

Notable films:

  • Les Bronzés / French Fried Vacation (1978)
  • Les Bronzés font du ski / French Fried Vacation 2 (1979)
  • Le père Noël est une ordure / Santa Claus Is a Stinker (1982)
  • Papy fait de la résistance / Gramps Is in the Resistance (1983)
  • Les Choristes / The Chorus (2004)

Awards:

  • Officer of the Legion of Honor (2015)
  • Officer of the National Order of Merit (2009)
  • Birthday César Award (2021)

Born on May 4, 1951, Gérard Jugnot began his career alongside the actors of the Splendid troupe with which he will know success thanks to the film’s French Fried Vacation (Les Bronzés) and Santa Claus Is a Stinker (Le père Noël est une ordure). It is only during the years 2000 that the actor will succeed in emancipating himself from his image as a member of the Splendid, especially with the popular success of the film Les Choristes where he occupies a role of choice. He also expresses his more serious side as a director, shooting historical and dramatic films recognized by all.

11 – Fabrice Luchini

Notable films:

  • Le Genou de Claire / Claire’s Knee (1970)
  • Violette Nozière / Violette (1978)
  • Les Nuits de la pleine lune / Full Moon in Paris (1984)
  • La Discrète (1990)
  • Tout ça… pour ça! / All That… for This?! (1993)
  • Les Femmes du 6ème étage (2011)
  • Dans la maison (2012)

Awards:

  • César Nominations for Best Actor  (1991, 1997, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017)
  • César Nominations for Best Supporting Actor (1985, 1993, 1995, 2008)
  • Molière Nominations for Best Actor (1989, 1995)
  • César Award for Best Supporting Actor (1994)
  • Crystal Globe Nominations for Best Actor (2014, 2017)

Born on November 1, 1951, Fabrice Luchini studied drama before taking on a series of small roles in confidential films. After getting his first real role in Full Moon in Paris (Les nuits de la pleine lune), he reached his peak in 1990 with his role in La Discrète, which earned him his first César nomination as best actor in 1991. Even today, Fabrice Luchini is very active in the cinema in both comic and dramatic roles.

12 – Thierry Lhermitte 

Notable films:

  • Les Bronzés / French Fried Vacation (1978)
  • Les Bronzés font du ski / French Fried Vacation 2 (1979)
  • Le père Noël est une ordure / Santa Claus Is a Stinker (1982)
  • Un Indien dans la ville / Little Indian, Big City (1994)
  • Le Dîner de cons / The Dinner Game (1998)

Awards:

  • Jean-Gabin Prize (1981)
  • Knight of the Legion of Honor (2001)
  • Officer of the National Order of Merit (2005)
  • Crystal Comedy Award (2019)

Born on November 24, 1952, in the Paris region, Thierry Lhermitte studied in Neuilly-sur-Seine where he met a large part of what would later become the comedy troupe Splendid. Passionate about theater, he became famous in 1978 for his role in French Fried Vacation (Les Bronzés) and played a series of roles in monuments of French comedy cinema: Santa Claus Is a Stinker (Le père Noël est une ordure), Little Indian, Big City (Un Indien dans la ville), Le Dîner de cons, My New Partner (Les Ripoux).

13 – Michel Blanc

Notable films:

  • Les Bronzés / French Fried Vacation (1978)
  • Les Bronzés font du ski / French Fried Vacation 2 (1979)
  • Marche à l’ombre (1984)
  • Tenue de soirée / Ménage (1986)
  • L’Exercice de l’État / The Minister (2011)

Awards:

  • Award for Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival (1986)
  • Screenplay Award of the Cannes Film Festival (1994)
  • Molière of the adapter (2004)
  • César Award for Best Supporting Actor (2012)

Born on April 16, 1952, Michel Blanc is another of the famous French actors of the Splendid troupe. Known for his role as Jean-Claude Dusse in the trilogy of Les Bronzés, he reconverted as a writer and director in more dramatic productions highly acclaimed by the critics: Marche à l’ombre, Grosse fatigue, Mauvaise passe … He then returned to his acting career and even won the César for best supporting actor for his participation in The Minister (L’Exercice de l’Etat).

14 – Chrisitian Clavier

Notable films:

  • Les Bronzés / / French Fried Vacation (1978)
  • Les Bronzés font du ski / French Fried Vacation 2 (1979)
  • Le père Noël est une ordure / Santa Claus Is a Stinker (1982)
  • Papy fait de la résistance / Gramps Is in the Resistance (1983)
  • Les Visiteurs (1993)

Awards:

  • Knight of the Legion of Honor (2008)
  • Birthday César Award (2021)

Born on May 6, 1952, Christian Clavier is one of the French actors who have most marked French comedy. Also a member of the Splendid, which has been successful with monuments of French cinema (Les Bronzés, Le père Noël est une ordure, Papy fait de la résistance), he remains the one who has best managed to emancipate himself from this group. He played in other successful comic films (Les Visiteurs, Asterix & Obelix) but also in more dramatic roles (Les Misérables, Napoléon).

15 – François Cluzet

Notable films:

  • Association de malfaiteurs / Association of Wrongdoers (1987)
  • Ne le dis à personne / Tell No One (2006)
  • Les Petits Mouchoirs / Little White Lies (2010)
  • Intouchables / The Intouchables (2011)
  • Médecin de campagne / Irreplaceable (2016)

Awards:

  • Jean Gabin Prize for Most Promising French Actor (1984)
  • César Award for Best Actor  (2007)
  • Étoile d’or for Best Leading Actor (2007)
  • Globe de Cristal Award for Best Actor (2007)
  • Étoiles d’or for Male Lead (2010)

Born on September 21, 1955, in Paris, François Cluzet made his film debut in the 1980s after appearing in several plays. Rather known for his participation in independent movies, he became a big name in French cinema in the 2000s, before experiencing the consecration and becoming a real headliner in the 2010s where he plays in many successful films (Les Petits Mouchoirs, Intouchables…). 

16 – Alain Chabat

Notable films:

  • La Cité de la peur / Fear City: A Family-Style Comedy (1994)
  • Didier (1997)
  • Astérix & Obélix : Mission Cléopâtre / Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra (2002)
  • RRRrrrr !!! (2004)
  • Prête-moi ta main (2006)
  • Réalité / Reality (2014)

Awards:

  • César Award for Best First Production (1998)
  • César Nominations for Best Actor (1996, 1998, 2007)
  • NRJ Ciné Awards for Best Dubbing (2005)

Born on November 24, 1958, in Oran, Alain Chabat seems to turn everything he touches into gold, whether as a writer, director, or actor. After a remarkable debut on television with the troupe of Les Nuls, he experienced success in the cinema with the same group in Fear City considered by many to be a classic. A few years later, he directed and starred in another monument of French comedy: Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra. In recent years, he has returned to television as the host of Burger Quiz, a hybrid TV show between games and comedy.

17 – Vincent Lindon

Notable films:

  • Ma petite entreprise / My Little Business (1999)
  • Welcome (2009)
  • La Loi du marché / The Measure of a Man (2015)
  • En guerre / At War (2018)
  • Titane (2021)

Awards:

  • Jean Gabin Award (1989)
  • Award for Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival (2015)
  • César Award for Best Actor (2016)
  • Lumière Award for Best Actor (2016)
  • LAFCA Award for Best Supporting Actor (2021)

Born on July 15, 1959, Vincent Lindon began his acting career late with a few supporting roles and brief appearances in low-budget films. He got his first leading role in The Student (L’Étudiante) for which he won the Jean-Gabin prize. He then established himself as a leading French actor playing in big productions of French cinema. Recognized by all, he presides over many ceremonies such as the Deauville Festival or the Cannes Festival.

18 – Dany Boon

Notable films:

  • Joyeux Noël / Merry Christmas (2005)
  • La Doublure / The Valet (2006)
  • Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis / Welcome to the Sticks (2008)
  • Rien à déclarer / Nothing to Declare (2011)
  • Raid dingue / R.A.I.D Special Unit (2016)

Awards:

  • SACD Award for Best One-Man Show (2005)
  • Raimu Award for Best Comedy Actor (2008)
  • Unifrance Trophy (2012)
  • César Award of the Audience (2018)

Born on June 26, 1966, Dany Boon is one of the most famous French comedians of the last decades. After a career of nearly 10 years of one-man shows and a few film roles, the actor played and directed Welcome to the Sticks (Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis), which became the biggest box-office success in France with more than 26 million tickets sold. Propelled to the forefront by the latter, he starred in many popular films such as Nothing to Declare (Rien à déclarer), Supercondriaque and Family is Family (La Ch’tite Famille), which he also co-wrote.

19 – Vincent Cassel

Notable films:

  • La Haine / Hate (1995)
  • Les Rivières Pourpres / The Crimson Rivers (2000)
  • Irréversible / Irreversible (2002)
  • Sheitan / Satan (2006)
  • Mesrine : L’Instinct de mort / Mesrine: Killer Instinct (2008)

Awards:

  • Brutus for Best Actor (2007)
  • César Award for Best Actor  (2008)
  • Globe de Cristal Award for Best Actor (2009)
  • Lumière Award for Best Actor (2009)
  • Étoile d’or for French Male Lead (2009)

Born on November 23, 1966, in Paris, Vincent Cassel came to public attention in the 1990s as Mathieu Kassovitz’ main muse. With roles that are often cold and offbeat, he has established himself as one of the iconic actors of avant-garde French cinema. So much so that Vincent Cassel has exported himself very well to the United States, playing in many blockbusters (such as Ocean’s) alongside the greatest actors on the planet. However, his consecration comes from French cinema, with his role in the two biopics of Mesrine.

20 – Mathieu Kassovitz

Notable films:

  • Regarde les hommes tomber / See How They Fall (1994)
  • La Haine / Hate (1995)
  • Les Rivières pourpres / The Crimson Rivers (2000)
  • Le Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain / Amélie (2001)
  • Le Chant du Loup / The Wolf’s Call (2019)

Awards:

  • Jean Gabin Award (1995)
  • César Award for Most Promising Actor (1995)
  • César Award for Best Film (1996)
  • Lumière Award for Best Film (1996)

Born on August 3, 1967, in Paris, Mathieu Kassovitz comes from a family of Hungarian artists who passed on to him the passion for creating. Alternating between directing and acting at a very early age, the Frenchman experienced a year that changed his life in 1995. He won the César for Most Promising Actor for his role in See How They Fall (Regarde les hommes tomber), while he directed Hate (La Haine), a cult film in French cinema that won all the awards that year. After roles in successful films, he managed to export himself to Hollywood, directing and acting alongside the biggest names in the industry such as Steven Spielberg (in Munich) or Penelope Cruz.

21 – Éric Judor

Notable films:

  • H (TV Show, 1998-2002)
  • La Tour Montparnasse infernale (2000)
  • Les Dalton (2004)
  • Seuls Two / 2 Alone in Paris (2008)
  • Platane (TV Show, 2011-2019)

Born on July 25, 1968, Eric Judor has Guadeloupean (his father) and Austrian (his mother) origins. The actor had a first failed career as a professional tennis player, before becoming known in France as a comedian in the duo he formed with his longtime partner, Ramzy Bedia.

Alongside Jamel Debbouze, he made a remarkable debut on television in the humoristic series H, which propelled his acting career. After an immediate success in the movie La Tour Montparnasse infernale (a parody of Die Hard), he wrote and directed many comedy movies with Ramzy (Double Zero, Les Dalton, Seuls Two) before launching a solo career as a producer.

22 – Jean Dujardin

Notable films:

Awards:

  • Étoiles d’or of French cinema (2007)
  • Oscar Award for Best Actor (2012)
  • Golden Globe for Best Actor (2012)
  • BAFTA for Best Actor (2012)

Born on June 19, 1972, Jean Dujardin revealed himself to the French public alongside Alexandra Lamy in the series Un gars, une fille, before establishing himself as one of the poster boys of French cinema of the 21st century. Initially known as a comedian, the actor had success with popular comedies (Brice de Nice, OSS 117) before being spotted by Hollywood. He is one of the few French actors to have won the supreme award: the Oscar for best actor for his role in the silent film The Artist.

23 – Gilles Lellouche

Notable films:

  • Mesrine : L’instinct de mort / Mesrine: Killer Instinct (2008)
  • Les petits mouchoirs / Little White Lies (2010)
  • La French / The Connection  (2014)
  • Le sens de la fête / C’est la vie! (2017)
  • BAC Nord / The Stronghold (2020)

Awards:

  • Patrick Dewaere Award (2011)
  • César Nominations for Best Actor (2019, 2022)
  • César Nominations for Best Supporting Actor (2011, 2018)
  • Globe de Cristal du meilleur film de comédie (2019)

Born on July 5, 1972, Gilles Lellouche became known to the general public for his multiple collaborations with famous French actors such as Guillaume Canet and Jean Dujardin. He became a real headliner in 2007 in the film Trader Games (Krach), before taking on a series of leading roles in thrillers (À bout portant, Gibraltar, L’Enquête). The actor is also a director and has directed two films: Narco and Le Grand Bain.

24 – Guillaume Canet

Notable films:

  • La Plage / The Beach (2000)
  • Jeux d’enfants / Love Me If You Dare (2003)
  • Joyeux Noël / Merry Christmas (2005)
  • Ne le dis à personne / Tell No One (2006)
  • Les Petits Mouchoirs / Little White Lies (2010)

Awards:

  • Best New Actor Award at the Cabourg Film Festival (1999)
  • Jean Gabin Award (2000)
  • Crystal Globe for Best Director (2006)
  • César Award for Best Director (2006)
  • Best Actor Award at the Cabourg Film Festival (2007)
  • César Nominations for Best Actor (2015, 2018)

Born on April 10, 1973, in Boulogne-Billancourt, Guillaume Canet is a theater and film enthusiast who has changed hats throughout his career. Sometimes director and screenwriter, sometimes actor and producer, his greatest strength lies in his versatility. Very quickly, the Frenchman was exported to the United States, where he starred with Leonardo Di Caprio in David Boyle’s film The Beach. After numerous roles in successful comedies, he moved behind the camera and became the youngest person to win the César for Best Director for his thriller Tell No One (Ne le dis à personne). 

25 – Romain Duris

Notable films:

  • L’auberge espagnole / The Spanish Apartment (2002)
  • Les Poupées russes / Russian Dolls (2005)
  • De battre mon cœur s’est arrêté / The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005)
  • Molière (2008)
  • L’arnacœur / Heartbreaker (2010)

Awards:

  • Étoiles d’or of French cinema (2006)
  • Lumière Award for Best Actor (2006)
  • Crystal Globe for Best Actor (2006, 2008)

Born on May 28, 1974, Romain Duris was first known as the muse of Cédric Klapisch. The actor indeed revealed himself in the trilogy of the Spanish Apartment (L’auberge espagnole) for his role of Xavier Rousseau. He then distinguished himself in leading romantic comedies such as L’arnacoeur, or in profound auteur films such as L’Écume des jours. About these types of roles, he said: “I like to be fragile. I try to be as close to that energy and sensitivity as possible.

26 – Jamel Debbouze

Notable films:

  • Astérix & Obélix : Mission Cléopâtre / Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra (2002)
  • Le Boulet / Dead Weight (2002)
  • Indigènes (2006)
  • Parlez-moi de la pluie / Let it Rain (2008)
  • Pourquoi j’ai pas mangé mon père (2015)

Awards:

  • Award for Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival (2006)
  • Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters (2013)

Born on June 18, 1975, Jamel Debbouze is equally at home as a comedian, actor, and producer. A big name on the French comedy scene, he did a series of successful one-man shows in the 1990s, before enjoying his first success on television in the comedy series H alongside Éric Judor and Ramzy Bedia.

He revealed himself in the cinema by playing anthology characters in the supporting roles of great cinematographic successes such as Amélie or Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra. In recent years, it is as a producer that Jamel invests most of his time. He also created the Jamel Comedy Club in 2006, a show that has revealed a large number of French humorists.

27 – Omar Sy

Notable films:

  • Intouchables / The Intouchables (2011)
  • Samba (2014)
  • Jurassic World (2015)
  • Chocolat (2016)
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

Awards:

  • César Award for Best Actor  (2012)
  • Lumière Award for Best Actor (2012)
  • Globe de Cristal Award for Best Actor (2012, 2017)
  • Étoiles d’or of French cinema (2012)

Born on January 20, 1978, Omar Sy became known in the short format of Canal +, Le SAV des émissions, alongside his comedic partner of the time, Fred Testot. After a few small roles in movies, he exploded in the eyes of the general public for his role as Driss in the film The Intouchables. This comedy will become a worldwide success and will make him win the following year the César for best actor. This success opens the doors of Hollywood and allows him to play in many blockbusters such as Jurassic World or X-Men: Days of Future Past.

28 – Jonathan Cohen

Notable films:

  • Serge le Mytho (TV Show, 2016-2017)
  • Budapest (2018)
  • Premières vacances / Our Happy Holiday (2018)
  • Family Business (TV Show, 2019-2021)
  • La Flamme (TV Show, 2020)
  • Énorme / Enormous (2020)
  • Le Flambeau (TV Show, 2022)

Awards:

  • César Nomination for Best Actor (2021)

Born on June 16, 1980, Jonathan Cohen is a pure product of the short formats of Canal +. He was revealed to the general public for his character of Serge le Mytho in the series Bloqués. This character was so successful that he was granted his own TV series. Later, he landed a starring role in the Netflix series, Family Business, before taking on a dual role as producer-actor. These two parody series, La Flamme and Le Flambeau, solidified Jonathan Cohen’s place as one of the most popular French actors of the moment.

29 – Pierre Niney

Notable films:

Awards:

  • Swann d’or Award for Best Actor (2013)
  • César Award for Best Actor (2015)
  • Globe de Cristal Award for Best Actor (2015)
  • Award for Best Actor at the Sarlat Festival (2017)

Born on March 13, 1989, Pierre Niney comes from a family of filmmakers. He joined the troupe of the Comédie-Française very early on before making his debut in the theater, in short films, and in TV movies. After a few film appearances, he was noticed by the public for his first role in the film J’aime regarder les filles, then a year later, in the romantic comedy 20 ans d’écart.

But it was not until 2015 that he reached the consecration, receiving the César for Best Actor for his lead performance in the film Yves Saint Laurent. Since then, Pierre selects his roles carefully, appearing in only four films in his last six years in 2022.

30 – François Civil

Notable films:

Awards:

  • Award for the first meeting of the Cabourg Festival (2013)
  • Interpretation Award at the Alpe d’Huez Festival (2019)

Born on January 29, 1990, François Civil had an early start in the theater, before making a name for himself in niche television series such as Le Cactus, Louis la Brocante, and Trop la classe. Afterward, he got a few supporting roles in independent films before he became famous for his role in the successful series Call My Agent. Finally, recognized within the industry, he plays roles in films of the greatest directors (Frédéric Klapisch, Antonin Baudry).

That’s it for this (long) list of famous French actors! I invite you to read more articles about French cinema or music (like current French male singers) on our blog. You can also leave us a comment to give your opinion on this list. Finally, you can discover famous French actresses now 🙂

Photo Credit: @Jean-Claude Lother / Dany Boon

Translated into English by Sacha