Jeanne Moreau

Jeanne Moreau

Jeanne Moreau, 1957
Born (1928-01-23) 23 January 1928
Paris, France
Occupation Actress, screenwriter, film director
Years active 1947–present
Spouse(s) Jean-Louis Richard (1949–separated 1951; divorced 1964) 1 son Jérôme[1]
Teodoro Rubanis (m.1966)
William Friedkin (1977–1979)

Jeanne Moreau (French pronunciation: [ʒan mɔʁo]; born 23 January 1928) is a French actress, singer, screenwriter and director. She is the recipient of a César Award for Best Actress, a BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actress and a Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award for individual performances, and several lifetime awards.

Moreau made her theatrical debut in 1947, and established herself as one of the leading actresses of the Comédie-Française. She began playing small roles in films in 1949, impressing in a Fernandel vehicle Meutres? in 1950 and alongside Jean Gabin as a showgirl/gangster's moll in Touchez Pas au Grisbi, eventually achieving prominence as the star of Lift to the Scaffold (UK)/Elevator to the Gallows (USA) (1958), directed by Louis Malle and Jules et Jim (1962), directed by François Truffaut. Most prolific during the 1960s, Moreau continued to appear in films into her eighties.

Early life and education

Moreau was born in Paris the daughter of Katherine (née Buckley), a dancer who performed at the Folies Bergère (d.1990), and Anatole-Désiré Moreau, a restaurateur (d.1975).[2][3] Moreau's father was French; her mother was English, a native of Lancashire in England, and of part-Irish descent.[3][4][5] Moreau's father was Catholic and her mother, originally a Protestant, converted to Catholicism upon marriage.[3] When a young girl, "the family moved south to Vichy, spending vacations at the ancestral village of Mazirat, a town of 30 houses in a valley in the Allier. 'It was wonderful there,' Moreau said. 'Every tombstone in the cemetery was for a Moreau.'" During the war, the family was split and Moreau lived with her mother in Paris. Moreau ultimately lost interest in school at age 16 and, after attending Jean Anouilh's Antigone, found her calling as an actor. She later studied at the Conservatoire de Paris. Her parents separated permanently while Moreau was at the conservatory and her mother, "after 24 difficult years in France, returned to England with Jeanne's[1] younger sister, Michelle."[1]


Jeanne Moreau as depicted on the poster for Jules et Jim, 1962

In 1947, Moreau made her theatrical debut at the Avignon Festival. She debuted at the Comédie-Française in Ivan Turgenev's A Month in the Country[1] and, by her twenties, was already one of leading actresses in the theatre's troupe.[3] After 1949, she began appearing in films with small parts but continued primarily active in the theatre for several years—a year at the Théâtre National Populaire opposite among others Gérard Philipe and Robert Hirsch, then a breakout two years in dual roles in The Dazzling Hour by Anna Bonacci, then Jean Cocteau's La Machine Infernale and others before another two-year run, this time in Shaw's Pygmalion.[1] From the late 1950s, after appearing in several successful films, she began to work with the emerging generation of French film-makers. Elevator to the Gallows (1958) with first-time director Louis Malle was followed by Malle's The Lovers (Les Amants, 1959). The latter film, controversial in its day, led the media to tag her 'The New Bardot'.

Moreau with Juliette Binoche at the Elysee Biarritz theatre in Paris, 22 October 2009

Largely thanks to those films, Moreau went on to work with many of the best known New Wave and avant-garde directors.[3] François Truffaut's New Wave film Jules et Jim (1962), her biggest success internationally, is centred on her magnetic starring role.[3] She has also worked with a number of other notable directors such as Michelangelo Antonioni (La notte and Beyond the Clouds), Orson Welles (The Trial, Chimes at Midnight and The Immortal Story), Luis Buñuel (Diary of a Chambermaid), Elia Kazan (The Last Tycoon), Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Querelle), Wim Wenders (Until the End of the World), Carl Foreman (Champion and The Victors), and Manoel de Oliveira (Gebo et l'Ombre).

In 1983 she was head of the jury at the 33rd Berlin International Film Festival.[6] In 2005, she was awarded with the Stanislavsky Award at the 27th Moscow International Film Festival.[7]

Moreau has had success as a vocalist. She has released several albums and once performed with Frank Sinatra at Carnegie Hall.[3] In addition to acting, Moreau has also worked behind the camera, as a writer, director and producer.[3] Her blended accomplishments were the subject of a 1988 film profile, Calling The Shots, by Janis Cole and Holly Dale.

Personal life

Jeanne Moreau and Amos Gitai during filming of Plus tard, 2008

Throughout her life, Moreau has maintained friendships with prominent writers such as Jean Cocteau, Jean Genet, Henry Miller and Marguerite Duras (an interview with Moreau is included in Duras's book Outside: Selected Writings). She has been married to Jean-Louis Richard (1949–1964) and then to American film director William Friedkin (1977–1979). Director Tony Richardson left his wife, Vanessa Redgrave, for her in 1967 but they never married. She has also had affairs with directors Louis Malle and François Truffaut, fashion designer Pierre Cardin,[8] jazz trumpeter Miles Davis and Theodoros Roubanis, the Greek actor/playboy.[9]

Moreau is a close friend of Sharon Stone, who presented a 1998 American Academy of Motion Pictures life tribute to Moreau. Orson Welles called her "the greatest actress in the world",[10] and she remains one of France's most accomplished actresses.

Selected filmography


Year Title Role Director
1950 Meurtres ? Martine Annequin Richard Pottier
1952 The Man in My Life Suzanne Dubreuil Guy Lefranc
1953 Dortoir des grandes Julie Henri Decoin
Julietta Rosie Facibey Marc Allégret
1954 Touchez pas au grisbi Josy Jacques Becker
Les Intrigantes Mona Rémi Henri Decoin
La Reine Margot Margaret of Valois Jean Dréville
1958 Ascenseur pour l'échafaud Florence Carala Louis Malle
The Lovers (Les amants) Jeanne Tournier
1959 Les liaisons dangereuses Juliette de Merteuil Roger Vadim
The Four Hundred Blows (cameo appearance) François Truffaut
1960 Dialogue with the Carmelites Mère Marie de l'Incarnation Philippe Agostini
Moderato Cantabile Anne Desbarèdes Peter Brook
1961 A Woman Is a Woman (uncredited cameo, discussing Jules et Jim) Jean-Luc Godard
La Notte Lidia Michelangelo Antonioni
1962 The Trial Miss Burstner Orson Welles
Jules et Jim Catherine François Truffaut
Eva Eva Olivier Joseph Losey
1963 Banana Peel (Peau de banane) Cathy Marcel Ophüls
The Victors the French lady Carl Foreman
The Fire Within (Le feu follet) Eva Louis Malle
Bay of Angels Jacqueline "Jackie" Demaistre Jacques Demy
1964 Diary of a Chambermaid Célestine Luis Buñuel
The Train Christine John Frankenheimer
The Yellow Rolls-Royce Eloise, Marchioness of Frinton Anthony Asquith
Mata Hari, Agent H21 Mata Hari Jean-Louis Richard
1965 Viva Maria! Maria I Louis Malle
Chimes at Midnight Doll Tearsheet Orson Welles
1966 Mademoiselle "Mademoiselle" Tony Richardson
1967 The Oldest Profession (episode "Mademoiselle Mimi") Mimi Guillotine Philippe de Broca
The Sailor from Gibraltar Anna Tony Richardson
1968 The Immortal Story Virginie Ducrot Orson Welles
Great Catharine Catharine Gordon Flemyng
The Bride Wore Black Julie Kohler François Truffaut
1970 The Little Theatre of Jean Renoir the singer Jean Renoir
Monte Walsh Martine Bernard William A. Fraker
1972 Chère Louise Louise Philippe de Broca
Nathalie Granger "the other woman" Marguerite Duras
1974 Les Valseuses Jeanne Pirolle Bertrand Blier
1975 Joanna Francesa Joanna Cacá Diegues
Hu-man Sylvana Jérôme Laperrousaz
1976 The Last Tycoon Didi Elia Kazan
Monsieur Klein Florence Joseph Losey
1982 Querelle Lysiane Rainer Werner Fassbinder
La Truite Lou Joseph Losey
1986 Le Tiroir secret (TV miniseries) Vivi (different directors)
1987 The Miracle Sabine Jean-Pierre Mocky
1990 Nikita Amande Luc Besson
Alberto Express the Baroness Arthur Joffé
1991 Anna Karamazoff the Lady Rustam Khamdamov
To meteoro vima tou pelargou the Lady Theo Angelopoulos
The Old Lady Who Walked in the Sea Lady M Laurent Heynemann
Until the End of the World Edith Farber Wim Wenders
1993 A Foreign Field Angelique Charles Sturridge
Catherine the Great Empress Elizabeth Petrovna Marvin J. Chomsky
Map of the Human Heart Sister Banville Vincent Ward
The Summer House Lili Waris Hussein
1995 Beyond the Clouds a Lady Michelangelo Antonioni and Wim Wenders
1996 The Proprietor Adrienne Mark Ismail Merchant
I Love You, I Love You Not Nana Billy Hopkins
1997 Witch Way Love Eglantine René Manzor
1998 Ever After Marie Thérèse of France Andy Tennant
2001 Cet amour-là Marguerite Duras Josée Dayan
2003 Love Actually Lady at Marseilles Airport (cameo) Richard Curtis
Les parents terribles Tante Leo Josée Dayan
2005 Time to Leave Laura François Ozon
Les Rois maudits (TV miniseries) Mahaut, Countess of Artois Josée Dayan
2006 Roméo et Juliette Laurence Yves Desgagnés
2007 Désengagement Françoise Amos Gitai
2009 Face Jeanne Ming-liang Tsai
2012 Gebo et l'Ombre Candidinha Manoel de Oliveira
2012 Une estonienne à Paris Frida Ilmar Raag


Awards and nominations


Year Group Award Film Result
2008 César Awards Honorary César Lifetime achievement Won
2005 Moscow International Film Festival Stanislavsky Prize Lifetime achievement Won
2003 Cannes Film Festival Honorary Golden Palm Lifetime achievement Won
2003 Taormina International Film Festival Taormina Arte Award Lifetime achievement Won
2001 Pusan International Film Festival Hand Printing (tribute) Lifetime achievement Won
2000 Berlin International Film Festival Honorary Golden Berlin Bear Lifetime achievement Won
1999 Hamptons International Film Festival Distinguished Achievement Award Lifetime achievement Won
1999 Créteil International Women's Film Festival Homage Lifetime achievement Won
1998 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Tribute Lifetime achievement Won
1997 European Film Awards Life Achievement Award Lifetime achievement Won
1997 San Sebastián International Film Festival Donostia Lifetime Achievement Award Lifetime achievement Won
1996 BAFTA Awards Academy Fellowship Lifetime achievement Won
1995 César Awards Honorary César Lifetime achievement Won
1994 Women in Film Crystal Award International Award Lifetime achievement Won
1992 Venice Film Festival Career Golden Lion Lifetime achievement Won
1992 César Awards Best Actress The Old Lady Who Walked in the Sea Won
1988 César Awards Best Actress Le Miraculé Nominated
1987 César Awards Best Supporting Actress Le Paltoquet Nominated
1984 Razzie Awards Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Original Song Querelle – song: "Young and Joyful Bandit" Nominated
1979 Berlin International Film Festival Golden Berlin Bear L'adolescente Nominated
1979 Chicago International Film Festival Gold Hugo L'adolescente Nominated
1976 Chicago International Film Festival Gold Hugo Lumière Nominated
1976 Taormina International Film Festival Golden Charybdis Lumière Nominated
1967 BAFTA Awards Best Foreign Actress Viva Maria! Won
1964 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival Best Actress Diary of a Chambermaid Won
1963 BAFTA Awards Best Foreign Actress Jules et Jim Nominated
1962 Jussi Awards Diploma of Merit – Foreign Actress La notte Won
1961 Fotogramas de Plata Best Foreign Performer Le dialogue des Carmélites Won
1960 Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Moderato cantabile Won
1958 Venice Film Festival Best Actress Les amants Won


Year Group Award Play Result
1988 Molière Awards Best Actress Le Récit de la servante Zerline Won


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Farrell, Barry, "Actresses: Making the Most of Love", Time cover story pp. 4–5, 5 March 1965. Retrieved 22 December 2010.
  2. Jeanne Moreau Biography (1928–)
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Stated in interview at Inside the Actors Studio
  4. Famous French people of immigrant origin, Eupedia : France Guide
  5. Jeanne Moreau Biography – Yahoo! Movies
  6. "Berlinale: 1983 Juries". Retrieved 14 November 2010.
  7. "27th Moscow International Film Festival (2005)". MIFF. Retrieved 13 April 2013.
  8. "Jeanne Moreau : bio de Jeanne Moreau". (in French). Archived from the original on 5 February 2009. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  9. Roubanis was previously the companion of Henry Plumer McIlhenny. The relationship with McIlhenny was cited in Welsh and Tibbett's The Cinema of Tony Richardson(SUNY Press, 1999). Roubanis later married Lady Sarah Churchill.Lady Sarah Spencer-Churchill obituary, The Telegraph, 19 October 2000.
  10. People | Jeanne Moreau
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