Isabelle Adjani
Birth Date:
June 27, 1955
Birth Place:
Paris, France
5' 4"
Famous for:
Oscar nominee for 'Camille Claudel' (1988)
actress, producer
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Isabelle Adjani_290212
Camille Claudel


“I like films that rest in the memory so I try and choose parts which have some kind of social or emotional force. For me, being an actress is not just a profession but a profession of faith.” Isabelle Adjani    

French actress and singer Isabelle Adjani is celebrated for holding the record for most César Awards for Best Actress with five, thanks to her performances in “Possession” (1981), “One Deadly Summer” (1983), “Camille Claudel” (1988), “Queen Margot” (1994) and “Skirt Day” (2008). She also nabbed a double Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award in 1981 and a Berlin International Film Festival Best Actress Award in 1989. One of France's biggest and most acclaimed stars in the '80s, Adjani was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role twice, in 1976 for “The Story of Adele H” (1975) and then in 1990 for “Camille Claudel” (1988).    

One of People magazine's “50 Most Beautiful People in the World of 1990,” Adjani has been linked to several celebrities. Met in 1976, she and cinematographer Bruno Nuytten had a son, Barnabé Nuytten, in 1980 before they split up. After dating actor Warren Beatty from 1986 to 1987, she lived with actor Daniel Day-Lewis from 1989 to 1994.  The couple shares a son, Gabriel Kane Adjani (born April 1995). Adjani was engaged to musician Jean-Michel Jarre between July 2002 and June 2004.

Ecole Florent

Childhood and Family:

Daughter to an Algerian Turkish father and a German mother, Isabelle Yasmine Adjani was born on June 27, 1955, in Gennevilliers, France. Her father, Mohammed Cherif Adjani (died in 1983), was a Muslim and served in the French army during the World War II. Her mother's name is Augusta. She has a brother named Eric Adjani, a photographer. He appeared in Joseph Losey’s film “Don Giovanni.”  

Isabelle was raised in Paris and grew up speaking German fluently as a first language. She became interested in acting at a young age, and by age 12, she had performed in amateur theater. She was educated at the Ecole Florent in Paris.

Isabelle has two sons, Barnabe Said Nuytten (born in 1980) and Gabriel-Kane (born in April 1995), from previous relationships.   

The Story of Adele H


Isabelle Adjani made her feature film acting debut at age 14 in the Bernard Toublanc-Michel directed comedy/drama “Le Petit Bougnat” (1970), opposite Claude Amazan and Vincenzo Sartini. It was followed by a role in Nina Companéez's “Faustine et le bel été” (1972), starring Muriel Catalá, Claire Vernet and Jacques Spiesser. She made her television movie debut in the based on play “L'avare” (1973), opposite Michel Aumont, Simon Eine and Francis Huster. At age 17, she became a youngest member of the prestigious Comedie Francaise, in which she drew excellent audience and critical response performing the classics. She refused a 20 year membership with the troupe and opted to quit after two years in order to pursue her film career.

In 1974, Adjani starred as Isabelle Douléan in Claude Pinoteau's comedy/drama film “La gifle” (“The Slap”), where she won the Special David di Donatello for her performance, and had the title role in “Ariane,” which was written and directed by Pierre-Jean de San Bartolomé. She also starred in the TV films “Le secret des Flamands” (1974), with Jean-Claude Dauphin and Catherine Anglade, and “Ondine” (1975).

However, Adjani did not gain international acclaim until she was cast as Adèle, the mentally labile daughter of author Victor Hugo on “The Story of Adele H” (“L'histoire d'Adèle H.”), which was co-written and directed by François Truffaut. Delivering a bright performance, she was nominated for a César Award for Best Actress and an Academy Award in the same category. She also won a David di Donatello for Best Foreign Actress, the Cartagena Film Festival Golden India Catalina for Best Actress, a National Society of Film Critics for Best Actress, a National Board of Review  for Best Actress and a New York Film Critics Circle for Best Actress.     
Adjani played Stella in “The Tenant” (1976), a psychological thriller film helmed by and starring Roman Polanski based upon the Roland Topor 1964 novel “Le locataire chimérique,” started a collaboration with cinematographer Bruno Nuytten in André Téchiné's romance/thriller “Barocco” (1976), where she was nominated for a César Award in the category of Best Actress for her portrayal of Gérard Depardieu's girlfriend, Laure, and starred with Jacques Dutronc in Jacques Rouffio's “Violette & François” (1977) before breaking into the Hollywood cinema with the significant role as The Player  in Walter Hill's crime movie, “The Driver” (1978), opposite Ryan O'Neal, Bruce Dern and Ronee Blakley. In the following year, she worked with Klaus Kinski and Bruno Ganz in Werner Herzog's remake of “Nosferatu the Vampyre,” where she played Lucy Harker, and portrayed Emily Brontë in André Téchiné's “The Bronte Sisters,” which was entered into the 1979 Cannes Film Festival.

Adjani acquired further acclaim for her portrayal of Sam Neill's apostate wife on the French cult horror film “Possession” (1981), directed and co-written by Andrzej Żuławski. The role brought her a César for Best Actress, Fantasporto's International Fantasy Film Award for Best Actress and a  Cannes Film Festival for Best Actress, the later of which she also received for her performance as Alan Bates' needy mistress, Marya 'Mado' Zelli, in James Ivory's “Quartet” (1981).

Adjani also starred in such films as “Clara et les Chics Types” (1981), “Next Year If All Goes Well” (1981), Jean-Paul Rappeneau's “All Fired Up” (1982, with Yves Montand), “Antonieta” (1982), “Deadly Circuit” (1983), Jean Becker's big hit, “One Deadly Summer” (1983), where she picked up a César for Best Actress for her role as a vengeful woman, Eliane Wieck dite 'Elle', and Luc Besson's “Subway” (1985), from which she received a César nomination for playing Héléna. Meanwhile, Adjani revisited the stage in a failed production of “Miss Julie” (1983).

After teaming up with Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman and Charles Grodin in the commercially unsuccessful American comedy film “Ishtar” (1987), directed by Elaine May, the actress played the title role in “Camille Claudel”(1988), depicting the life of the 19th century female sculptor Camille Claudel. Under the direction of Bruno Nuytten, she won her third César Award and a Silver Berlin Bear for Best Actress at the Berlin International Film Festival as well as a  second Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role. “Camille Claudel” also marked Adjani's film producing debut.  

After “Camille Claudel,” Adjani disappeared from the screen for several years and did not resume her film career until she was cast as Pénélope in “Toxic Affair,”  a 1993 comedy directed and co-written by Philomène Esposito. She went on to receive kudos thanks to her portrayal of  the titular monarch in “Queen Margot” (“La Reine Margot”, 1994), a film adaptation of the 1845 historical novel of the same name by Alexandre Dumas, père. Directed by Patrice Chéreau, the film was both a critical and commercial success. It won 5 out of 12 César nominations, including Best Costume Design, Best Cinematography, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Actress for Adjani, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Costume Design and a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Next up for Adjani, she starred with Sharon Stone on the American remake of “Diabolique” (1996), helmed by Jeremiah S. Chechik, made a self appearance in Alain Berbérian's comedy film, “Paparazzi” (1998), and made a rare stage appearance in the title role of   a Parisian production of “La Dame aux Camelias” (2000). Back to screen acting after a five year hiatus, she starred as Charlotte/Leïla in Laetitia Masson's “The Repentant” (2002) and then played the female lead of  Ellénore in the film adaptation of Benjamin Constant's book, “Adolphe” (2002), where the actress picked up the Best Actress Award at the Cabourg Romantic Film Festival for her role. 2003 saw her star in Jean-Paul Rappeneau's “Bon voyage” (with Gérard Depardieu and Peter Coyote) and “Monsieur Ibrahim” (with Omar Sharif).

After taking another abatement, Adjani resurfaced when she starred as Sonia Bergerac, a high school literature teacher on Jean-Paul Lilienfeld's drama, “La journée de la jupe” (“Skirt Day”), which premiered at the La Rochelle Film Festival on September 18, 2008, the Berlin International Film Festival on February 6, 2009 and on the French television on March 20, 2009. Her bravura performance in the film brought Adjani her fifth César Award, a Lumiere Award for Best Actress, an Étoile d'Or for Best Actress and Monte-Carlo TV Festival's Golden Nymph for Television Films - Best Performance by an Actress.

Adjani starred as Comtesse Almaviva in the made for television film “Figaro” (2008), directed by Jacques Weber, and reunited with Gérard Depardieu for the French comedy/drama film “Mammuth” (2010), which was nominated for the Golden Bear at the 60th Berlin International Film Festival. She made a guest appearance in the television series “Aïcha” (2011, as Docteur Assoussa), and co-starred with Eric Cantona and Simon Abkarian in the action film “De force,” which premiered in Belgium and France on October 26, 2011.

Adjani will play Madame Hansen-Bergmann in the upcoming film “David et Madame Hansen,” directed and written by Alexandre Astier. The film is set to be released in France on August 22, 2012. She will star with Preity Zinta in the Hindi romance film “Ishkq in Paris,”  which is scheduled to be released in India on June 29, 2012.

Apart from acting, Adjani is a singer. In 1981, she recoded the duet “Je ne peux plus dire je t'aime” with author and singer Jacques Higelin. Two years later, she released a million selling pop album, “Pull Marine,” which was produced and written by Serge Gainsbourg. She went on to record the songs “Princesse au petit pois” and “Léon dit” (both 1986), written by Adjani herself, and the duet “On ne sert à rien” with Pascal Obispo.


César: Best Actress (Meilleure actrice), “La journée de la jupe,” 2010
Lumiere: Best Actress, “La journée de la jupe,” 2010
Étoile d'Or: Best Actress (Premier rôle féminin), “La journée de la jupe,” 2010
Monte-Carlo TV Festival: Golden Nymph, Television Films - Best Performance by an Actress, “La journée de la jupe,” 2009
Montréal World Film Festival: Grand Prix Special des Amériques, 2004
Cabourg Romantic Film Festival: Best Actress, “Adolphe,” 2003
César: Best Actress (Meilleure actrice), “Queen Margot,” 1995
Berlin International Film Festival: Silver Berlin Bear, Best Actress, “Camille Claudel,” 1989
César: Best Actress (Meilleure actrice), “Camille Claudel,” 1989
César: Best Actress (Meilleure actrice), “One Deadly Summer,” 1984
Fantasporto: International Fantasy Film Award, Best Actress, “Possession,” 1983
César: Best Actress (Meilleure actrice), “Possession,” 1982
Cannes Film Festival: Best Actress, “Quartet” and “Possession,” 1981
Bambi: 1978
Cartagena Film Festival: Golden India Catalina, Best Actress (Mejor Actriz), “The Story of Adele H,” 1976
David di Donatello: David, Best Foreign Actress (Migliore Attrice Straniera). “The Story of Adele H,” 1976
National Society of Film Critics (NSFC): Best Actress, “The Story of Adele H,” 1975
New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC): Best Actress, “The Story of Adele H,” 1975
National Board of Review (NBR): Best Actress, “The Story of Adele H,” 1975
David di Donatello: Special David, “La gifle,” 1975
SACD: Suzanne Bianchetti Award, 1974
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