Name:
Jean Reno
Birth Date:
July 30, 1948
Birth Place:
Casablanca, Morocco
Height:
6' 1½
Nationality:
Spanish-Moroccan
Famous for:
His role in 'The Professional' (1994)
Profession:
actor
BIOGRAPHY
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The Professional

Background:

“I won’t do anything that offends my moral sense. I prefer making love with gestures, rather than taking my clothes off and getting into bed with a woman. I’d hate to have my children see that.” Jean Reno

A French actor of Spanish-Moroccan descent, Jean Reno, known for his trademark four-day growth of stubble, oblong face and mournful, magnetic eyes, and his frequent partnership with writer/director Luc Besson, has been a familiar face in French TV and film before breaking into the American market in the early 1990s. Coming to prominence with Besson’s films like The Last Combat (1983), The Big Blue (1988) and La Femme Nikita (1990), multi-language Reno is best known for his role as Leon, an illiterate mob executioner, in his Hollywood debut The Professional (1994). He received additional popularity for playing roles in movies like the successful The Visitors (1993), Lawrence Kasdan’s French Kiss (1995, opposite Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline), Mission: Impossible (1998, starring Tom Cruise), the sci-fi film Godzilla (1998, with Matthew Broderick), Ronin (1998, starring with Robert De Niro), Rollerball (2002, alongside Chris Klein and LL Cool) and Hotel Rwanda (2004).

Recently costarring with Steve Martin, Kevin Kline and Beyoncé Knowles in a remake of The Pink Panther (2006), Reno will be seen in The Da Vinci Code (2006), Margaret (2006) and Flyboys (2006). His voice can also be heard as Le Frog in the animated feature Flushed Away (2006).

Off screen, Reno spends his life outside the limelight with his wife Nathalie Dyszkiewicz, whom he married in 1996 after his first marriage with Geneviève ended in separation, and his four children, daughters Sandra (mother Geneviève) and Serena (mother Nathalie) and sons Mickael (mother Geneviève) and Tom (mother Nathalie). He maintains homes in Paris and Los Angeles.


Spanish-Moroccan Roots

Childhood and Family:

Born Juan Moreno, on July 30, 1948, in Casablanca, Morocco, to Spanish parents who relocated to North Africa to run away from the fascism of Francisco “El Caudillo” Franco, Jean Reno moved with his family to France when he was 12 and then settled in Paris at age 17 after serving in the military in Germany. Following high school graduation, he attended a French-government sponsored drama school and began his acting career.

Jean Reno has been married twice. He first tied the knot with a woman named Geneviève, but they later split up. With his first wife, Reno has two children, daughter Sandra (born in 1978) and son Mickael (born in 1980). In 1996, he married his model-girlfriend Nathalie, whom he met on the Champs Elysées (Paris' largest avenue). The couple has a son named Tom (born in 1996) and a daughter named Serena (born in 1998).


The Big Blue

Career:

Morocco-born, France-raised Jean Reno became interested in acting after high school when he enrolled at a drama school in Paris. Next up, he joined a traveling theatre company and performed all over the country. Having his first professional stage appearance in “Ecce Homo” (1974), Reno moved on to film in 1979 with a bit part in The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting and followed with another small role in Costa Gavras’ Woman Light, that same year.

After a series of film and TV appearances in 1983, Reno earned his first notice as swordsman The Brute in director Luc Besson’s The Last Combat. The sci-fi film, which starred Pierre Jolivet, Jean Bouise and Fritz Wepper, also marked Reno’s first collaboration with the director. Two years later, the actor rejoined Besson for the Isabelle Adjani and Christopher Lambert starring vehicle Subway, but it was the Luc Besson-helmed The Big Blue, in 1988, that landed Reno a breakthrough role as the second male lead, Enzo Molinari. Playing a macho, free diver champion fighting off competition from an old friend and foe (Jean-Marc Barr), the actor gained critical acclaim.

Reno’s mounting star was further established in 1990 when Besson once again tapped him to star in La Femme Nikita, where he appeared as the partner-in-crime to Annie Parillaud’s title character. His fine performance in the romance-thriller garnered Reno his first American attention. The same year, the bearded actor teamed up with director-writer Eric Duret in the drama The Man in the Golden Mask and had a compassionate starring turn as a pastor who moonlights as a wrestler to earn money for his church’s missions.

He went on to take roles in such films as Loulou Graffiti (1991), Opération Corned-Beef, L’ (1991), the animated Crimson Pig (1992, voiced Porco Rosso), Flight from Justice (1993, TV) and The Screw (1993), before stepping into the French box office realm with The Visitors (1993, released in the US in 1996). In the Jean-Marie Poiré-helmed feature, Reno starred as Godefroy de Montmirail, a heroic nobleman from the Musketeer-days who is transferred to the 20th Century. Led by the success, the movie spawned its second installment, The Corridors of Time: The Visitors II, in 1998.

Already popular in his native land of France, Reno finally made his English-language debut in 1994 with The Professional, for director Luc Besson. Costarring with Gary Oldman and Natalie Portman, Reno was seen as uneducated mob executioner Leon, a heralded performance that made him famous and became his Hollywood calling card.

The following years, Reno had a supporting role as Inspector Jean-Paul Cardon in the Lawrence Kasdan-directed French Kiss (1995), which starred Meg Ryan, Kevin Kline and Timothy Hutton, was featured as Franz Krieger in Mission: Impossible (1998, starring Tom Cruise) for director Brian De Palma, costarred with Matthew Broderick in the sci-fi film Godzilla (1998) and headlined the crime/thriller Ronin (1998), opposite Robert De Niro. Aside from his American projects, Reno also maintained his presence in France with roles in Beyond the Clouds (1995), Jaguar, Le (1996), Roseanna’s Grave (1997), Witch Way Love (1997) and Soeurs Soleil, Les (1997).

Entering the new millennium, Reno starred with Vincent Cassel in the France-produced The Crimson Rivers, playing a detective on the trail of a serial killer, while in 2001, he dotted his resume with two films, the American remake of The Visitors titled Just Visiting, and Wasabi, an action film written by Luc Besson and helmed by Gérard Krawczyk. Reno then worked with Juliet Binoche for the romantic-comedy Jet Lang (2003), costarred alongside Chris Klein and LL Cool J in Rollerball (2002), had a title role in Ruby & Quentin (2003), reprised his Niemans role for the second sequel Crimson Rivers 2: Angels of the Apocalypse (2004), had a cameo role as a caring Belgian hotel corporation executive in Terry George’s Hotel Rwanda (2004), starred in the comedy Enquête corse, L’ (2004), the thriller Empire des loups, L’ (2005) and in director/writer-actor Roberto Benigni’s The Tiger and the Snow (2005).

Recently, the actor starred with Steve Martin, Kevin Kline and Beyoncé Knowles in a remake of The Pink Panther (2006) and plays Bezu Fache in Ron Howards’ big screen adaptation of Dan Brown’s best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code (2006). He will also be seen as Ramon, a South American millionaire, in Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret (2006) and will appear in Flyboys (2006). Reno is also scheduled to provide his voice for Le Frog in the upcoming animated Flushed Away (2006).


Awards:

  • European Film: Outstanding European Achievement in World Cinema, 2000
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