Jean-Louis Barrault

Jean-Louis Barrault (French: [baʁo]; 8 September 1910 22 January 1994) was a French actor, director and mime artist, training that served him well when he portrayed the 19th-century mime Jean-Gaspard Deburau (Baptiste Debureau) in Marcel Carné's film Les Enfants du Paradis (Children of Paradise, 1945) and part of an international cast in The Longest Day (1962).

Jean-Louis Barrault
Jean-Louis Barrault, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1952.
Born(1910-09-08)8 September 1910
Le Vésinet, France
Died22 January 1994(1994-01-22) (aged 83)
Paris, France
Spouse(s)Madeleine Renaud
(m. 1940-1994)

Jean-Louis Barrault studied with Charles Dullin in whose troupe he acted from 1933 to 1935. At 25 years of age, he met and studied with the mime Étienne Decroux (who played Baptiste's father in the Carné film). From 1940 to 1946 Barrault was a member of the Comédie-Française, where he directed productions of Paul Claudel's Le Soulier de satin and Jean Racine's Phèdre, two plays that made his reputation.

Over his career, he acted in nearly 50 movies including Les beaux jours, Jenny, L'Or dans la Montagne and Under Western Eyes.[1]

In 1940, he married the actress Madeleine Renaud. They founded a number of theatres together and toured extensively, including in South America.

He was the uncle of actress Marie-Christine Barrault and sometime sponsor of Peter Brook. He died from a heart attack in Paris at the age of 83. Jean-Louis Barrault is buried with his wife Madeleine Renaud in the Passy Cemetery in Paris.

Jean-Louis Barrault, Reflections on the Theatre:

"In fact it is the simplest things that are the most tricky to do well. To read, for example. To be able to read exactly what is written without omitting anything that is written and at the same time without adding anything of one's own. To be able to capture the exact context of the words one is reading. To be able to read!"[2]

Barrault from Melinda Camber Porter's Through Parisian Eyes: Reflections on Contemporary French Arts and Culture: "When I wake up in the morning I want to feel hungry for life. Desire is what drives me. When I go to sleep, I feel I have experienced a small death, so that I can wake up in the morning renewed and reborn."


Year Title Role Director Notes
1935 Les beaux jours René Marc Allégret
1936 Mayerling Student Anatole Litvak Uncredited
Under Western Eyes Haldin Marc Allégret
Jenny Le Dromadaire Marcel Carné
Helene Pierre Régnier Jean Benoît-Lévy
Beethoven's Great Love Karl van Beethoven Abel Gance
1937 À nous deux, madame la vie Paul Briançon René Guissart and Yves Mirande
Police mondaine Scoppa Michel Bernheim and Christian Chamborant
Street of Shadows Le client fou G. W. Pabst
Pearls of the Crown young Napoleon Sacha Guitry and Christian-Jaque
Bizarre, Bizarre William Kramps Marcel Carné
1938 Orage the African Marc Allégret
Le puritain Francis Ferriter Jeff Musso
J'accuse! Abel Gance
Mirages Pierre Bonvais Alexandre Ryder
Altitude 3.200 Armand Jean Benoît-Lévy and Marie Epstein
La Piste du sud Olcott Pierre Billon
1939 Farinet ou l'or dans la montagne Maurice Farinet Max Haufler
1941 Parade en sept nuits Lucien Ardouin Marc Allégret
Montmartre-sur-Seine Michel Courtin Georges Lacombe
1942 La Symphonie fantastique Hector Berlioz Christian-Jaque
Le Destin fabuleux de Désirée Clary Napoléon Bonaparte Sacha Guitry
1944 L'Ange de la nuit Jacques Martin André Berthomieu
1945 Children of Paradise Baptiste Deburau Marcel Carné
Blind Desire Michel Kremer Jean Delannoy
1947 Le Cocu magnifique Bruno E.G. de Meyst
1948 Man to Men Henri Dunant Christian-Jaque
1950 Vagabonds imaginaires Le récitant Alfred Chaumel and Jacques Dufilho Voice, (segment 'Le bateau ivre')
La Ronde Robert Kuhlenkampf, the poet Max Ophüls
1951 Traité de bave et d'éternité Himself Isidore Isou
1954 Royal Affairs in Versailles Fénelon Sacha Guitry
1959 The Doctor's Horrible Experiment Doctor Cordelier / Opale Jean Renoir TV movie
1960 Le dialogue des Carmélites Le mime Philippe Agostini and Raymond Leopold Bruckberger
1961 Le Miracle des loups Louis XI of France André Hunebelle
1962 The Longest Day Father Roulland Ken Annakin
1964 La grande frousse Douve Jean-Pierre Mocky
1966 Chappaqua Doctor Benoit Conrad Rooks
1977 Jacques Prévert Himself Jean Desvilles
1980 The Lovers' Exile Introducer Marty Gross
1982 That Night in Varennes Nicolas-Edme Rétif Ettore Scola
1988 La Lumière du lac Le vieux Francesca Comencini


  1. IMDb list of film appearances
  2. Jean-Louis Barrault, Reflections on the Theatre. London: Rockcliff, 1951
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