"My father is best known for his light comedies and I'm best known for crazy bad guys with short tempers." Vincent Cassel
Son of French leading actor Jean-Pierre Cassel, Vincent Cassel broke into the big screen in Mathieu Kassovitz's critically acclaimed crime/drama film “Haine, La” (1995; aka “Hate”). A popular and versatile French "tough guy" star, Cassel has starred in such French films as "Appartement, L'" (1996; aka "The Apartment"), "Dobermann" (1997), "Rivières pourpres, Les" (2000; aka "The Crimson Rivers"), "Pacte des loups, Le" (2001; aka "Brotherhood of the Wolf"), "Sur mes lèvres" (2001; aka "Read My Lips") and the highly controversial "Irréversible" (2002; aka "Irreversible").
Since his first English language film, the Oscar winning film "Elizabeth" (1998; starring Cate Blanchett), Cassel has become a rising international star. He played significant roles in the films "The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc" (1999), "Shrek" (2001; voice), "Birthday Girl" (2001), "The Reckoning" (2003), "Ocean's Twelve" (2004), "Derailed" (2005) and "Ocean's Thirteen" (2007). He will soon be seen in the upcoming film "Eastern Promises" (2007) and the French film "Ennemi public n° 1, L'" and its follow-up, "Instinct de mort, L'," in which he will play the lead role of real-life notorious French gangster Jacques Mesrine, the country's No. 1 public enemy during the 1970s.
The 6' 2" actor has been married to Italian model-turned-actress Monica Bellucci since 1999. They have a daughter named Deva who was born in 2004.
Childhood and Family:
In the Paris' Montmartre district in France, Vincent Crochon was born on November 23, 1966. His father is celebrated French actor Jean-Pierre Cassel (born October 27, 1932; died April 19, 2007 of cancer). Vincent's mother, Sabine Litique, is a journalist. They divorced in 1980.
Vincent has a sister named Olivia and one half-sister, actress Cecile Cassel (born June 25, 1982). His brother, Matthias Cassel, is a founding member of the hip hop group "Assassin." Vincent's name is mentioned (as Vinz) in their song "Libre."
Vincent's parents initially didn't want him to go into the movie business. They sent then-17-year-old Vincent to circus school. He spent the following few years generally avoiding the acting scene.
In 1999, Vincent married Italian model-turned-actress Monica Bellucci (born September 30, 1964). The couple welcomed their first child together, a daughter named Deva, on September 12, 2004, in Rome, Italy.
For professional reasons, Vincent lives primarily in Paris while Bellucci lives primarily in London. However, they appeared together in the following films: “Appartement, L'” (1996), “Dobermann” (1997), “Come mi vuoi” (1997), “Plaisir (et ses petits tracas), Le” (1998), “Compromis” (1998), “Méditerranées” (1999), “Pacte des loups, Le” (2001), “Irréversible” (2002), “Agents secrets” (2004) and “Sheitan” (2006). Both Vincent and Bellucci have been the Master of Ceremonies at the Cannes film festival: Vincent in 2006, Bellucci in 2003.
“I think I'm actually more vulnerable than people imagine.” Vincent Cassel
Born into an acting legacy, Vincent Cassel enrolled in circus school at the age of 17 and spent the following few years generally avoiding the acting scene, due in part to the fact that both his parents had warned him to stay away from the movie business. However, after clowning around for a few years, he got serious and started acting.
At age 25, the newcomer landed his first film role, a tiny part in director Philippe de Broca’s romantic comedy “Clés du paradis, Les” (1991; aka “The Keys to Paradise”). Two years later, he made his initial collaboration with actor/writer/director Matthieu Kassovitz in his comedic autobiographical film, "Metisse/Cafe-au-lait" (1993), starring Julie Mauduech and Hubert Koundé.
After playing a supporting role as Camille Desmoulins, a French journalist and politician who played an important role in the French Revolution, in James Ivory's historical drama about Thomas Jefferson in the years before he became president, "Jefferson in Paris" (1995; starring Nick Nolte and Greta Scacchi), Cassel reunited with Matthieu Kassovitz for the crime/drama film “Haine, La” (1995; aka “Hate”), in which he starred as a white Jewish man who befriends an Arab (played by Saïd Taghmaoui) and a black boxer (played by Hubert Koundé). His performance later earned him a Césars Best Actor nomination.
In 1996, Cassel got his breakout screen role in writer/director Gilles Mimouni's critically acclaimed love-triangle mystery drama film "Appartement, L'," co-starring future wife Monica Bellucci. Afterward, he had the title role of the charismatic criminal in Jan Kounen's crime/action/thriller film "Dobermann" (1997), alongside Bellucci as his beautiful, deaf girlfriend, and made his English language debut in Shekhar Kapur's Oscar-winning film loosely based on the early reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England, "Elizabeth" (1998; starring Cate Blanchett).
During the late 1990s, Cassel had a featured role as Gilles de Rais, a French soldier and one time brother-in-arms of Joan of Arc, in Luc Besson's historical drama film about the famous French war heroine of the 15th century and religious martyr, "The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc," starring Milla Jovovich. Frequent collaborator Matthieu Kassovitz also had a supporting role in the film. Cassel also played a comic role as the ill-tempered fiancé of a famous Italian actress (played by Hélène Mahieu) in the comedy slapstick movie "Guest House Paradiso," which was based on Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson's comedy television series "Bottom."
Entering the new millennium, Cassel teamed up again with Matthieu Kassovitz to play Jean Reno's young detective in the mystery/thriller film "Rivières pourpres, Les" (2000; aka “The Crimson Rivers”), adapted from the best-selling novel "Les rivières pourpres" by Jean-Christophe Grangé. His performance later handed him an Audience Award nomination for Best Actor.
Cassel subsequently co-starred with wife Bellucci in Christophe Gans' successful historical/drama/horror movie "Pacte des loups, Le” (2001; aka “The Brotherhood of the Wolf"). In the film, loosely based on a real-life series of killings in 18th century in France, Cassel portrayed Jean-François de Morangias, an avid hunter and world traveler.
That same year, Cassel supported Nicole Kidman in Jez Butterworth's romantic thriller "Birthday Girl,” which was screened at the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals. He also provided the voice of Monsieur Hood in the Oscar-winning animated feature film based upon William Steig's 1990 fairy tale picture book, "Shrek," and received critical praise for his turn as a handsome ex-con on parole who teams up with an almost deaf secretary (played by Emmanuelle Devos) to commit crimes, in Jacques Audiard's drama/thriller "Sur mes lèvres" (aka “Read My Lips”). The latter film earned him César and Audience Award nominations for Best Actor.
The following year, Cassel reunited with wife Belluci in writer/director Gaspar Noe's disturbing and controversial film "Irreversible,” and after voicing Diego in the French version of “Ice Age” (2002), Cassel was cast in Paul McGuigan's adaptation of Barry Unsworth's 1995 novel "Morality Play," "The Reckoning" (2003), a murder-mystery film starring Paul Bettany. He also joined the original cast of "Ocean's Eleven" to star in Steven Soderbergh's "Ocean's Twelve" (2004) and appeared in the music video "Thé à la Menthe" for La Caution.
2005 saw Cassel act opposite Clive Owen and Jennifer Aniston in Mikael Håfström's psychological thriller based on a James Siegel novel, "Derailed," as the bad guy who teamed up with Aniston's character to scam cheating husbands. He also appeared in Amadou & Mariam's "La Réalité" music video and lent his voice to Rodney in the French version of “Robots.”
Next, Cassel starred in Kim Chapiron's horror/thriller film "Sheitan" (2006; Bellucci also appeared), and reprised his “Ocean” role in Steven Soderbergh's "Ocean's Thirteen" (2007). He will soon be seen alongside Naomi Watts and Viggo Mortensen in David Cronenberg's drama and thriller feature film, "Eastern Promises," playing Semyon’s (played by Armin Mueller-Stahl) son Kirill. The film is scheduled for a September 14, 2007, release.
Cassel is currently on set and will soon wrap up an upcoming fantasy/comedy movie directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, "Sa majesté Minor" (aka "His Majesty Minor"), alongside José Garcia. He will also play the lead role of real-life notorious French gangster Jacques Mesrine, the country's No. 1 public enemy during the 1970s, in Jean-François Richet's film, "Ennemi public n° 1, L',” and its follow-up, "Instinct de mort, L'" (aka "Death Instinct"), both opposite Gérard Depardieu.
Valenciennes International Festival of Action and Adventure Films: Patrick Dewaere Honorary Award, 2002