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Isabelle Adjani

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Title: Isabelle Adjani  
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Subject: César Award for Best Actress, Isabelle Huppert, Juliette Binoche, Simone Signoret, Emmanuelle Riva
Collection: 1955 Births, 20Th-Century French Actresses, 21St-Century French Actresses, Actresses from Paris, Alumni of the Cours Florent, Best Actress César Award Winners, Best Actress Lumières Award Winners, César Award Winners, Chevaliers of the Légion D'Honneur, Commandeurs of the Ordre Des Arts Et Des Lettres, English-Language Singers of France, French Female Singers, French Film Actresses, French People of Algerian Descent, French People of German Descent, French Stage Actresses, German-Language Singers, Living People, Lounge Musicians, People from Hauts-De-Seine, Silver Bear for Best Actress Winners, Troupe of the Comédie-Française
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Isabelle Adjani

Isabelle Adjani
Born Isabelle Yasmina Adjani
(1955-06-27) 27 June 1955
Paris, France[1]
Years active 1970–present
Children 2

Isabelle Adjani (born Isabelle Yasmina Adjani on 27 June 1955) is a French film actress and singer. She is a five-time César Award winner and two-time Academy Award nominee.

After success in the Comédie-Française, Adjani gained further fame in 1975 for her lauded performance as Adele Hugo in The Story of Adele H., which earned the then 20 year-old her first Academy Award nomination for Best Actress, making her the youngest nominee ever at the time. She won the first of a record five César Awards for Best Actress for the 1981 film Possession. Her subsequent wins were for One Deadly Summer (1983), Camille Claudel (1988), La Reine Margot (1994) and Skirt Day (2009). Her 1988 Best Actress Academy Award nomination for Camille Claudel made her the first French actress to receive two nominations.

Adjani won the 1981 Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award for both Possession and Quartet, and received the 1989 Berlin Film Festival Best Actress Award for Camille Claudel. In 2010, she was made a Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Career 2
  • Views 3
  • Personal life 4
  • Honors 5
  • Filmography 6
  • Discography 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10

Early life and education

She was born in the 17th arrondissement of Paris to a German Catholic mother from Bavaria and an Algerian Muslim father from Iferhounène, Kabylie.[2][3][4][5][6] Emma Augusta Schweinberger (died February 2007), called "Gusti", met her father Mohammed Adjani near the end of World War II, when he was in the French Army. They married and she returned with him to Paris, not speaking a word of French.[7][8]

She asked him to take Cherif as his first name as it sounded more "American".[9] Mohammed Cherif Adjani had been a soldier in the French Army from the age of 16 in World War II. Isabelle grew up bilingual, speaking French and German fluently,[10][11][12] in Gennevilliers, a northwestern suburb of Paris, where her father worked in a garage.[13] She said her parents used their ethnic and cultural differences against each other in arguments. After winning a school recitation contest, Adjani began acting by age of twelve in amateur theater. She successfully passed her baccalauréat and was auditing classes at the University of Vincennes in 1976.[2]


At the age of 14, Adjani starred in her first motion picture, Le Petit bougnat (1970).[14] She first gained fame as a classical actress at the Comédie française, which she joined in 1972. She was praised for her interpretation of Agnès, the main female role in Molière's L'École des femmes. She soon left the theatre to pursue a film career.

After minor roles in several films, she enjoyed modest success in the 1974 film La Gifle (The Slap), which François Truffaut saw. He immediately cast her in her first major role in his The Story of Adèle H. (1975) which he had finished writing five years prior. Critics praised her performance,[2] with the American critic Pauline Kael describing her acting talents as "prodigious".[15][16] Only 19 when she made the film, Adjani was nominated for the Best Actress Oscar and quickly received offers for roles in Hollywood films, such as Walter Hill's 1978 crime thriller The Driver. She had previously turned down the chance to star in films like The Other Side of Midnight. She had described Hollywood as a "city of fiction" and said, "I'm not an American. I didn't grow up with that will to win an award." Truffaut on the other hand said, "France is too small for her. I think Isabelle is made for American cinema."[2] She agreed to make The Driver because she was an admirer of Hill's first film Hard Times. Adjani said:

I think he is wonderful, very much in the tradition of Howard Hawks, lean and spare. The story is contemporary but also very stylized, and the roles that Ryan and I play are like Bogart and Bacall. We are both gamblers in our souls and we do not show our emotions or say a lot. For us, talk is cheap. I am really quite a mysterious girl in this film, with no name and no background. And I must say that it is restful not to have a life behind me; this way, I don't have to dig deep to play the part. All I know is that life for me is gambling and I am a loser. I have what people call a poker face.[17]

The film was seen more than 1.1 million times in Adjani's native France but did not do as well in the US.[18]

She played Lucy in the German director Werner Herzog's 1979 remake of Nosferatu which was well-received critically and performed well at box offices in Europe.[19] Roger Ebert loved the film, calling Herzog's casting of Adjani one of his "masterstrokes" in the film. He wrote that she "is used here not only for her facial perfection but for her curious quality of seeming to exist on an ethereal plane."[20] The cast and the crew filmed both English- and German-language versions simultaneously upon request of 20th Century Fox, the American distributor.[21] as Kinski and Ganz could act more confidently in their native language.

In 1981, she received a double Cannes Film Festival's Best Actress award for her roles in the Merchant Ivory film Quartet, based on the novel by Jean Rhys, and in the horror film Possession (1981). The following year, she received her first César Award for Possession, in which she had portrayed a woman having a nervous breakdown. In 1983, she won her second César for her depiction of a vengeful woman in the French blockbuster One Deadly Summer.

That same year, Adjani released the French pop album Pull marine, written and produced by Serge Gainsbourg. She starred in a music video for the hit title song, "Pull Marine", which was directed by Luc Besson.

In 1988, she co-produced and starred in a biopic of the sculptor Camille Claudel. She received her third César and second Oscar nomination for her role in the film, which was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Following this recognition, she was chosen by People magazine as one of the "50 Most Beautiful People" in the world.

She received her fourth César for the 1994 film Queen Margot, an ensemble epic directed by Patrice Chéreau. She received her fifth César for Skirt Day (2009), the most that any actress has received. The film features her as a middle school teacher in a troubled French suburb who takes her class hostage when she accidentally fires off a gun she found on one of her students. It was premiered on the French Arte channel on 20 March 2009, attaining a record 2.2 million viewers) and then in movie theaters on 25 March 2009.[22]

In 2011, Adjani was named "The Most Beautiful Woman in Film" by the Los Angeles Times magazine.[23]


She has been vocal against anti-immigrant and anti-Algerian feeling in France.[13]

In 2009, Adjani criticized statements by Pope Benedict XVI claiming that condoms are not an effective method of AIDS prevention.[24]

Personal life

Isabelle Adjani at the hôtel Amour, 21 October 2012.

In 1979, she had a son, Barnabe Nuytten, with the cinematographer Bruno Nuytten,[10] whom she later persuaded to direct her in Camille Claudel.[13] Adjani was romantically linked to the actor Warren Beatty from 1986 to 1987. From 1989 to 1995, she had a relationship with Daniel Day Lewis,[10] who left before the birth of their son, Gabriel-Kane Day-Lewis, in 1995.[25] Day-Lewis, who goes by Gabe Day as of 2013, is an aspiring hip-hop artist.[26]

Adjani was later engaged to the composer Jean Michel Jarre; they broke up in 2004.[25]


In addition to specific awards for particular films, Adjani was made a Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur on 14 July 2010 for her artistic contributions.[27]


Year Film Role Director Notes Rotten Tomatoes
1970 Le Petit bougnat Rose Bernard Toublanc-Michel
1972 Faustine et le bel été Camille Nina Companeez
1973 L'école des femmes Agnès Raymond Rouleau TV Movie Produced by the Comédie-Française
1974 L'avare Mariane René Lucot TV Movie Produced by the Comédie-Française
Le secret des Flamands Maria Robert Valey TV Movie
La Gifle (fr) Isabelle Doulean Claude Pinoteau Special David di Donatello
Ariane Ariane Pierre-Jean de San Bartolomé
1975 Story of Adèle H., TheThe Story of Adèle H. Adèle Hugo François Truffaut Cartagena Film Festival Golden India Catalina for Best Actress
David di Donatello for Best Foreign Actress
National Board of Review Award for Best Actress
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated—César Award for Best Actress
93% [28]
Ondine Ondine Raymond Rouleau TV Movie
1976 Tenant, TheThe Tenant Stella Roman Polanski 90% [29]
Barocco Laure André Téchiné Nominated—César Award for Best Actress
1977 Violette & François Violette Clot Jacques Rouffio
1978 Driver, TheThe Driver The Player Walter Hill 86% [30]
1979 Nosferatu the Vampyre Lucy Harker Werner Herzog Bambi Award for Best Actress 95% [31]
Brontë Sisters, TheThe Brontë Sisters Emily Brontë André Téchiné
1981 Clara et les Chics Types Clara Jacques Monnet
Possession Anna/Helen Andrzej Żuławski Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award
César Award for Best Actress
81% [32]
Quartet Marya Zelli James Ivory Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award
L'Année prochaine... si tout va bien (fr) Isabelle Maréchal Jean-Loup Hubert
1982 Tout feu, tout flamme Pauline Valance Jean-Paul Rappeneau
The Last Horror Film Herself David Winters
Antonieta Antonieta Rivas Mercado Carlos Saura
1983 Mortelle randonnée Catherine Leiris/Lucie, 'Marie' Claude Miller
One Deadly Summer Eliane known as 'Elle' Jean Becker César Award for Best Actress
1984 Pull marine Luc Besson
1985 Subway Héléna Luc Besson Nominated—César Award for Best Actress 86% [33]
1986 T'as de beaux escaliers tu sais Isabelle Agnès Varda Short
1987 Ishtar Shirra Assel Elaine May 26% [34]
1988 Camille Claudel Camille Claudel Bruno Nuytten César Award for Best Actress
Silver Bear for Best Actress at Berlin[35]
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Actress
100% [36]
1990 Lung Ta: Les cavaliers du vent Narrator Marie-Jaoul de Poncheville
Franz-Christoph Giercke
1993 Toxic Affair Pénélope Philomène Esposito
1994 Queen Margot Margot Patrice Chéreau César Award for Best Actress 75% [37]
1996 Diabolique Mia Baran Jeremiah S. Chechik 12% [38]
1998 Paparazzi Herself Alain Berbérian
1999 Bonne Nuit Yvette
2002 Repentie, LaLa Repentie Charlotte/Leïla Laetitia Masson
Adolphe Ellénore Benoît Jacquot Cabourg Romantic Film Festival Award for Best Actress
2003 Bon voyage Viviane Denvers Jean-Paul Rappeneau 76% [39]
Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du Coran The Star François Dupeyron 85% [40]
2008 Figaro Countess Almaviva Jacques Weber
journée de la jupe, LaLa journée de la jupe Sonia Bergerac Jean-Paul Lilienfeld César Award for Best Actress
Television Festival Award for Best Actress
2010 Mammuth The Lost Love of Serge Gustave de Kervern
Benoît Delépine
Entered into the 60th Berlin International Film Festival 63% [41]
2011 Aïcha Doctor Assoussa Yamina Benguigui TV Series (1 Episode : "Job à tout prix")
De Force Clara Damico Frank Henry
2012 David et Madame Hansen Madame Hansen-Bergmann Alexandre Astier
2013 Ishkq in Paris Marie Elise Prem Raj
2014 Sous les jupes des filles Lili Audrey Dana



  1. ^ Brennan, Sandra. "Isabelle Adjani".  
  2. ^ a b c d People Magazine. "Isabelle Adjani Has the Face That's Launching a Thousand Scripts". Retrieved 23 March 2012. 
  3. ^ Love Film. "French Heartbreakers". Retrieved 23 March 2012. 
  4. ^ Chantal, Thompson; Phillips, Elaine (2012), "Trois grandes stars françaises: Isabelle Adjani", Mais Oui!, Volume 1, Cengage Learning, p. 13,  
  5. ^ Auzias, Dominique; Labourdette, Jean-Paul (2006), "Les comediens: Isabelle Adjani", Hauts de Seine, Petit Futé, p. 35,  
  6. ^ The Middle East Quarterly. "Islam in France: The French Way of Life Is in Danger". Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  7. ^ Isabelle Adjani : « Mon père, kabyle, s'était engagé dans l'armée française à 16 ans, et c'est en remontant d'Italie jusqu'en Bavière à la fin de la seconde guerre mondiale qu'il rencontre et séduit ma mère » Interview with Isabelle Adjani, Télérama, 31 March 2009
  8. ^ « Allemande rencontrée en Bavière qu'épousa à la fin de la Seconde Guerre mondiale Mohammed Adjani, soldat kabyle de l'armée française », Jean de La Guérivière, Amère Méditerranée: Le Maghreb et nous, Seuil, 2004, p.391
  9. ^ "Ma mère était bavaroise. Elle se sentait très mal en France, où elle était arrivée sans parler un mot de français. Elle ne supportait pas que son mari soit algérien. Elle disait qu'il était d'origine turque et je le croyais. Entre mes parents, il y avait un racisme conjugal. Ma mère traitait mon père de crouille et mon père lui répondait : Sale boche. Il s'appelait Mohammed mais ma mère l'avait obligé à changer de prénom. Sur notre boîte aux lettres, il y avait: Cherif Adjani. Mamère trouvait que ça faisait américain.", Adjani la vérité, Interview Isabelle Adjani, Le Nouvel Observateur, 1985
  10. ^ a b c "Isabelle Adjani".  
  11. ^ Kemp, Philip. "Isabelle Adjani". Film Reference. Retrieved 8 September 2008. 
  12. ^ Applefield, David (November 2001). "Isabelle Adjani". Paris Voice. 
  13. ^ a b c
  14. ^ Isabelle Adjani at the Internet Movie Database
  15. ^ Pauline Kael Reviews, Retrieved on 8 September 2008.
  16. ^ Kael, Pauline (1980).  
  17. ^ At the Movies: "Isabelle Adjani Finds Poker Easy; Cheating Takes Practice" Flatley, Guy. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 12 Aug 1977: C7.
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ Ebert, Roger (24 October 2011). "Nosferatu the Vampyre Movie Review (1979)".  
  21. ^ "Nosferatu". Retrieved 2008-05-29. 
  22. ^ "La journée de la jupe". 
  23. ^ "The 50 Most Beautiful Woman in Film". Retrieved 16 January 2014. 
  24. ^ """Adjani traite le pape de "peste blanche.  
  25. ^ a b Watson, Shane (15 August 2004). "The dumping game". The Times (UK). Retrieved 19 June 2007. 
  26. ^,,20758366,00.html
  27. ^ "Légion d'honneur : Aubrac, Bouygues, Pérol, Adjani, Bolling parmi les promus", Le Monde, 14 juillet 2010
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^ "Berlinale: 1989 Prize Winners". Retrieved 10 March 2011. 
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^

Further reading

  • Adjani, Isabelle (1980). Isabelle Adjani in : Jean-Luc Douin (Hrsg.): Comédiennes aujourd'hui : au micro et sous le regard. Paris: Lherminier. ISBN 2-86244-020-5
  • Austin, Guy (2003). Foreign bodies: Jean Seberg and Isabelle Adjani, S. 91–106 in: ders., Stars in Modern French Film. London: Arnold. ISBN 0-340-76019-2
  • Austin, Guy (2006). Telling the truth can be a dangerous business : Isabelle Adjani, race and stardom, in : Remapping World Cinema : Identity, Culture and Politics in Film, herausgegeben von Stephanie Dennison und Song Hwee Lim, London: Wallflower Press. ISBN 1-904764-62-2
  • Halberstadt, Michèle (2002). Adjani aux pieds nus – Journal de la repentie. Paris: Editions Calmann-Lévy. ISBN 2-7021-3293-6
  • Roques-Briscard, Christian (1987). La passion d'Adjani, Lausanne et al.: Favre. ISBN 2-8289-0279-X
  • Zurhorst, Meinolf (1992). Isabelle Adjani. Ihre Filme – Ihr Leben. Heyne Film – und Fernsehbibliothek, Band 163. München: Heyne. ISBN 3-453-05238-2

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