Isabelle Yasmina Adjani
27 June 1955
|Alma mater||University of Vincennes|
|Partner(s)||Bruno Nuytten (1976–1981)|
Daniel Day-Lewis (1989–1995)
Isabelle Yasmina Adjani LdH; born 27 June 1955) is a French actress and singer of Algerian and German descent. She is the only performer in history to win five César Awards for acting; she won the Best Actress award for Possession (1981), One Deadly Summer (1983), Camille Claudel (1988), La Reine Margot (1994) and Skirt Day (2009). She was made a Knight of France's Legion of Honour in 2010 and a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters in 2014.
Her performance as Adèle Hugo in the 1975 film The Story of Adèle H. earned then 20-year-old Adjani her first Academy Award nomination for Best Actress, making her the youngest nominee in the Best Actress category at the time. Her second nomination—for Camille Claudel–made her the first French actress to receive two nominations for foreign-language films. She won the Best Actress award at the 1981 Cannes Film Festival for her performances in Possession and Quartet, and, later, she won the Best Actress award at the 39th Berlin International Film Festival for Camille Claudel. Her other notable film performances include The Tenant (1976), Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), Subway (1985), Diabolique (1996) and French Women (2014).
Isabelle Yasmina Adjani was born on 27 June 1955 in the 17th arrondissement of Paris, to Mohammed Cherif Adjani, an Algerian Kabyle from Constantine, and Emma Augusta "Gusti" Schweinberger, a German Catholic from Bavaria.
Adjani's parents met near the end of World War II, when her father was in the French Army. They married and her mother returned with him to Paris, despite not speaking a word of French. She asked him to take Cherif as his first name as she thought it sounded more "American".
Isabelle grew up bilingual, speaking French and German fluently, in Gennevilliers, a northwestern suburb of Paris, where her father worked in a garage. After winning a school recitation contest, Adjani began acting by the age of 12 in amateur theater. She successfully passed her baccalauréat and was auditing classes at the University of Vincennes in 1976.
Adjani had a younger brother, Éric, who was a photographer. He died on 25 December 2010, aged 53.
At the age of 14, Adjani starred in her first motion picture, Le Petit Bougnat (1970). 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, with the American critic Pauline Kael describing her acting talents as "prodigious".
Only 19 when she made the film, Adjani was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, becoming the youngest Best Actress nominee at the time (a record she held for almost 30 years). She 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." 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.
The film was seen more than 1.1 million times in Adjani's native France but did not do as well in the US.
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. 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." The cast and the crew filmed both English- and German-language versions simultaneously upon request of 20th Century Fox, the American distributor, 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, becoming the first French actress to receive two Oscar nominations. The film was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
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. The film was her return to the cinema after eight years of absence. In 2010, she made an appearance in the social comedy Mammuth, from directors Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern, and in which she played the phantom of Gérard Depardieu's first love. The same year, she lent her voice to the character of Mother Gothel in the animated film Rapunzel. In 2011, she co-starred in De Force, the first film directed by Frank Henry. She embodied the commander Clara Damico, head of the brigade for the repression of banditry.
In 1979, Adjani had a son, Barnabé Saïd-Nuytten, with the cinematographer Bruno Nuytten, whom she later hired to direct her project Camille Claudel, a biopic of the sculptor who was the lover of Rodin.
From 1989 to 1995, she had a relationship with Daniel Day-Lewis, which ended before the birth of their son, Gabriel-Kane Day-Lewis, in 1995.
Adjani was later engaged to the composer Jean-Michel Jarre; they broke up in 2004.
Adjani has been vocal against anti-immigrant and anti-Algerian sentiment in France. In 2009, she criticized statements by Pope Benedict XVI, who claimed that condoms are not an effective method of AIDS prevention.
In September 2009, she signed a petition in support of Roman Polanski, calling for his release after he was arrested in Switzerland in relation to his 1977 charge for drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl.
In 2017, Adjani was interviewed by Vincent Josse on the French public radio station France Inter. During the interview, she expressed her vaccine hesitancy and opposition to mandatory vaccination.
In addition to specific awards for particular films, Adjani was made a Knight of France's Legion of Honour on 14 July 2010 for her contributions to the arts.
|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 series|
|La Gifle||Isabelle Doulean||Claude Pinoteau||Special David di Donatello|
|Ariane||Ariane||Pierre-Jean de San Bartolomé|
|1975||The 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
|Ondine||Ondine||Raymond Rouleau||TV movie|
|1976||The Tenant||Stella||Roman Polanski|
|Barocco||Laure||André Téchiné||Nominated—César Award for Best Actress|
|1977||Violette et François||Violette Clot||Jacques Rouffio|
|1978||The Driver||The Player||Walter Hill|
|1979||Nosferatu the Vampyre||Lucy Harker||Werner Herzog||Bambi Award for Best Actress|
|The 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
|Quartet||Marya Zelli||James Ivory||Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award|
|L'Année prochaine... si tout va bien||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||The Heroin||Luc Besson||Music Video|
|1985||Subway||Héléna||Luc Besson||Nominated—César Award for Best Actress|
|1986||T'as de beaux escaliers tu sais||Herself||Agnès Varda||Short|
|Princesse au petit pois||Herself||Jean-Paul Seaulieu||Music Video|
|1987||Ishtar||Shirra Assel||Elaine May|
|1988||Camille Claudel||Camille Claudel||Bruno Nuytten||César Award for Best Actress|
Silver Bear for Best Actress at Berlin
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Actress
|1990||Lung Ta: Les cavaliers du vent||Narrator||Marie-Jaoul de Poncheville
|1993||Toxic Affair||Pénélope||Philomène Esposito|
|1994||Queen Margot||Margot||Patrice Chéreau||César Award for Best Actress|
|1996||Diabolique||Mia Baran||Jeremiah S. Chechik|
|2002||La 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|
|Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du Coran||The Star||François Dupeyron|
|2004||Y'a pas un homme qui soit né pour ça||Herself||Pascal Obispo||Music Video Florent Pagny, Calogero, Pascal Obispo|
|2008||Figaro||Countess Almaviva||Jacques Weber||TV movie|
|2009||La journée de la jupe||Sonia Bergerac||Jean-Paul Lilienfeld||César Award for Best Actress|
Lumières Award for Best Actress
Globes de Cristal Award for Best Actress
|2010||Mammuth||The Lost Love of Serge||Gustave de Kervern
|Entered into the 60th Berlin International Film Festival|
|2011||Aïcha||Doctor Assoussa||Yamina Benguigui||TV series (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||Bollywood movie|
|2014||Sous les jupes des filles||Lili||Audrey Dana|
|2016||Carole Matthieu||Carole Matthieu||Louis-Julien Petit|
|2017||Call My Agent!||Herself||Jeanne Herry||TV series (Season 2, Episode: "Isabelle")|
|2018||The World Is Yours||Dany||Romain Gavras||Entered into the 50th Cannes Director's Fortnight|
Nominated—César Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
|Capitaine Marleau||Isabelle Laumont||Josée Dayan||TV series (Episode: "Ne plus mourir jamais")|
|2019||Meet Me by the Gates||Herself||Nicolas Bary||Music Video with The Penelopes|
|2022||Peter von Kant||Sidonie von Grassenabb||François Ozon||Entered into the 72nd Berlin International Film Festival|
|Quelques mots||Herself||Antoine Carlier||Music Video with Malik Djoudi|
|Mascarade||Martha||Nicolas Bedos||Entered into the 75th Cannes International Film Festival|
|Diane de Poitiers, la plus que reine||Diane de Poitiers||Josée Dayan||TV movie|