Learning a new language like French can be challenging and decades ago learning was restricted to a dictionary, paper and pen. Nowadays, there are many resources available both online and offline that make language learning much more fun and enjoyable. One such resource is watching French films. Thanks to online platforms like Netflix, you can access French films from home and start improving your language skills. Before you get started, have a read of our list of ten famous French actors and actresses. The list is in no particular order.
- Jean Dujardin
- Marion Cotillard
- Louis de Funès
- Audrey Tatou
- Gérard Depardieu
- Catherine Deneuve
- Omar Sy
- Juliette Binoche
- Vincent Cassel
- Brigitte Bardot
Ready to start learning with Lingoda?
1. Jean Dujardin
Jean Dujardin began his career as a stand-up comedian in Paris. He slowly transitioned into acting, first becoming famous for the hit TV series Un gars, une fille, a show about a young couple who do nothing but bicker with each other. His big break as a famous French actor came with his role in the movie The Artist in 2011. Thanks to this film, he became the first ever French actor to receive an Academy Award for Best Actor. His other films include Up for Love (2016) and An Officer and a Spy (2019).
2. Marion Cotillard
Marion Cotillard is another award-winning French actress. Although this Parisian-born actress achieved success in France, her performance in the 2007 film La Vie en rose about French singer Edith Piaf skyrocketed her to international acclaim and earned her countless awards. She has since had roles in Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010) and starred in Allied (2016) with Brad Pitt.
3. Louis de Funès
If you like comedy films, then look no further than Louis de Funès. He is not only one of the funniest actors in the country, but he is also one of the most famous French actors of all time. He starred in over 150 movies, the most famous being the Gendarme series about a policeman. The first was Le Gendarme de Saint-Tropez (1964) and many people still visit the police station in the seaside town where it was filmed.
4. Audrey Tatou
The film Amélie (2001) is probably one of the most famous French films in the world and Audrey Tatou played the role of the young, quirky waitress Amélie. Prior to that, she had already achieved great success in France but since Amélie and other international hits like The Da Vinci Code (2006) and Coco avant Chanel (2009), she is now recognized as one of the most famous French actresses.
5. Gérard Depardieu
Gérard Depardieu’s career is entwined with both French and international films. He began acting at a young age and has racked up an impressive number of films. He has played roles in films like Jean de Florette (1986) and Les Misérables (2000), and has starred alongside many other famous French actors and actresses, as well as international stars.
6. Catherine Deneuve
Starring in her first film at the young age of 13, Catherine Deneuve has over 60 years’ experience in the film industry. Her top films include The Last Metro (1980), Indochine (1992) and Dancer in the Dark (2000). Beyond being a famous French actress, Deneuve has also been the face of Marianne (a French symbol of liberty) since 1985, has worked as a model and collaborates with various charity organizations.
7. Omar Sy
The Intouchables (2011) is a beautiful and moving film about the relationship between Philippe, a quadriplegic, and Driss, an unemployed man who becomes his carer. Omar Sy’s astounding portrayal of Driss firmly put him on the map of famous French actors around the world. Since then, he has continued to develop his international career with movies like Jurassic World (2015) and the Netflix TV series Lupin (2021).
8. Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche comes from a family of famous French actors as her father, Jean-Marie Binoche, is an actor and director. She starred in many French-language films before moving to English-language movies. Her debut was the 1988 film The Unbearable Lightness of Being. She is most famous for her role in the delightful movie Chocolat (2000) alongside Hollywood star Johnny Depp.
9. Vincent Cassel
The Cassel family is a creative bunch and Vincent Cassel is no exception. His father, Jean-Pierre Cassel, is an actor, as is his half-sister, while his brother is a musician. He made his creative debut in the film La Haine in 1995. After a decade or so of working in France, he began working in English-language films, becoming the resident bad guy in movies like Ocean’s Twelve (2004), Ocean’s Thirteen (2007) and Black Swan (2010).
10. Brigitte Bardot
To round off our list of famous French actors and actresses, we have Brigitte Bardot, famed for her movie roles and her status as a sex symbol in the 1950s and 60s. She is a French icon and not only starred in films like And God Created Woman (1956) and Le Mépris (1963), she was also a source of inspiration for French philosopher and feminist activist Simone de Beauvoir.
Get the show on the road
This list of famous actors and actresses of France should give you an idea of where to start on your French-language film journey. Now it’s time to grab some popcorn, a notepad and watch some wonderful French movies starring the most famous French actors and actresses.
Ready to start learning with Lingoda?
Clara Avrillier is a writer, linguist and content manager living in the South of France. She loves getting out in nature, doing sport, reading and playing music. She also works with expats looking to move to France. Connect with her on LinkedIn.