Isabelle Yasmina Adjani (born 27 June 1955) is a French film actress and singer. She is the only actress or actor in history to win five César Awards; she won Best Actress for Possession (1981), One Deadly Summer (1983), Camille Claudel (1988), La Reine Margot (1994), and Skirt Day (2009). She was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 2010, and a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters in 2014.
Adjani at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival
Isabelle Yasmina Adjani
27 June 1955
|Alma mater||University of Vincennes|
Adjani's performance as Adèle Hugo in the 1975 film The Story of Adele H. earned her the first of two nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actress. Her second nomination—for Camille Claudel—made her the first French actress to receive two nominations for foreign-language films. She won Best Actress at the 1981 Cannes Film Festival for her performances in Possession and Quartet, and, later, she won the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the 1989 Berlin 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).
Early life and education
Isabelle Yasmina Adjani was born on 27 June 1955 in the 17th arrondissement of Paris, to Mohammed Cherif Adjani, an Algerian Kabyle father from Constantine, and Emma "Gusti" Augusta Schweinberger, a German Catholic mother from Bavaria.
"Gusti" met Adjani's father, Mohammed Adjani, near the end of World War II, when he was in the French Army. They married and she returned with him to Paris, not speaking a word of French. She asked him to take Cherif as his first name as 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 Best Actress Oscar, making her the youngest best actress nominee at the time (a record she held for over 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.
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.
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 best known as the lover of Rodin.
From 1989 to 1995, she had a relationship with Daniel Day-Lewis, who left 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.
- Also in 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 Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur on 14 July 2010 for her artistic contributions.
- Brennan, Sandra. "Isabelle Adjani". Allmovie. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
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- People Magazine. "Isabelle Adjani Has the Face That's Launching a Thousand Scripts". Retrieved 23 March 2012.
- Love Film. "French Heartbreakers". Archived from the original on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 23 March 2012.
- Chantal, Thompson; Phillips, Elaine (2012), "Trois grandes stars françaises: Isabelle Adjani", Mais Oui!, Volume 1, Cengage Learning, p. 13, ISBN 1-111-83582-9
- Auzias, Dominique; Labourdette, Jean-Paul (2006), "Les comediens: Isabelle Adjani", Hauts de Seine, Petit Futé, p. 35, ISBN 2-7469-1351-8
- The Middle East Quarterly. "Islam in France: The French Way of Life Is in Danger". Retrieved 13 August 2014.
- Isabelle Adjani : " Mon père, kabyle, s'était engagé dans l'armée française à 16 ans, et c'est en remontant d'Italie jusqu'en Bavière à la fin de la seconde guerre mondiale qu'il rencontre et séduit ma mère " Interview with Isabelle Adjani, Télérama, 31 March 2009
- "A German woman met in Bavaria who was married at the end of the Second World War by Mohammed Adjani, a Kabyle soldier in the French army", Jean de La Guérivière, Amère Méditerranée: Le Maghreb et nous, Seuil, 2004, p.391
- "My mother was Bavarian. She felt very uncomfortable in France, where she had arrived without speaking a word of French. She couldn't stand the fact that her husband was Algerian. She said he was of Turkish origin and I believed her. Between my parents, there was conjugal racism. My mother used to call my father a jerk and my father would say, "You dirty Kraut. His name was Mohammed but my mother had forced him to change his first name. On our mailbox, there was: Cherif Adjani. My mother thought it looked American."Adjani la vérité, Interview Isabelle Adjani, Le Nouvel Observateur, 1985
- "Isabelle Adjani". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
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- Collins, Glenn (6 January 1990). "The 'Hounding' of Isabelle Adjani". New York Times.
- Isabelle Adjani on IMDb
- Kael, Pauline (1980). When The Lights Go Down. Henry Holt & Co. ISBN 0-03-042511-5.
- Flatley, Guy (12 August 1977). "At the Movies: Isabelle Adjani Finds Poker Easy; Cheating Takes Practice". New York Times. p. C7.
- JP. "The Driver (1978)- JPBox-Office".
- "Nosferatu the Vampyre". 17 January 1979 – via IMDb.
- Ebert, Roger (24 October 2011). "Nosferatu the Vampyre Movie Review (1979)". Chicago Sun-Times. Sun-Times Media Group. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
- "Nosferatu". horrordvds.com. Retrieved 29 May 2008.
- "La journée de la jupe". Archived from the original on 9 May 2013.
- Watson, Shane (15 August 2004). "The dumping game". The Times. UK. Retrieved 19 June 2007.
- "Adjani traite le pape de "peste blanche"". 20 Minuten. 25 March 2009.
- "Signez la pétition pour Roman Polanski !" (in French). La Règle du jeu. 10 November 2009.
- Hirini, Rangi (6 July 2017). "France to make 11 vaccines compulsory in 2018". SBS News. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
- Bonier, Sylvie (19 September 2018). "Isabelle Adjani: "Je ne suis qu'une humble «mélophile"". Le Temps. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
- Inter producers (29 September 2017). "Isabelle Adjani : vaccination et contre-vérités". France Inter. Retrieved 27 March 2019.
- Dryef, Zineb (9 October 2017). "Isabelle Adjani, nouvelle icône des " antivax "". Le Monde. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
- "Légion d'honneur : Aubrac, Bouygues, Pérol, Adjani, Bolling parmi les promus", Le Monde, 14 juillet 2010
- "Berlinale: 1989 Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 10 March 2011.
- Adjani, Isabelle (1980). Isabelle Adjani in : Jean-Luc Douin (Hrsg.): Comédiennes aujourd'hui : au micro et sous le regard. Paris: Lherminier. ISBN 2-86244-020-5
- Austin, Guy (2003). Foreign bodies: Jean Seberg and Isabelle Adjani, S. 91–106 in: ders., Stars in Modern French Film. London: Arnold. ISBN 0-340-76019-2
- Austin, Guy (2006). Telling the truth can be a dangerous business : Isabelle Adjani, race and stardom, in : Remapping World Cinema : Identity, Culture and Politics in Film, herausgegeben von Stephanie Dennison und Song Hwee Lim, London: Wallflower Press. ISBN 1-904764-62-2
- Halberstadt, Michèle (2002). Adjani aux pieds nus – Journal de la repentie. Paris: Editions Calmann-Lévy. ISBN 2-7021-3293-6
- Roques-Briscard, Christian (1987). La passion d'Adjani, Lausanne et al.: Favre. ISBN 2-8289-0279-X
- Zurhorst, Meinolf (1992). Isabelle Adjani : ihre Filme, ihr Leben. Heyne Film – und Fernsehbibliothek, Band 163. München: Heyne. ISBN 9783453052383
- Rissa, Alvaro (pseudonimo di Walter Lapini) (2015), Ode an Isabelle, in Antologia della letteratura greca e Latina, Genova: Il Melangolo. ISBN 978-88-6983-004-4
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