Joyeux Anniversaire Isabelle Adjani

On June 27, City Connect celebrates the birthday of French actress Isabelle Adjani who has recently been chosen as the new face for jewellery house Poiray for their forthcoming international campaigns. Poiray explained their choice of the leading actress as their ambassador saying she is “an icon to embody femininity, sensuality and the sensuality of these collections”.

Isabelle Adjani for Poiray

Isabelle Adjani is the only actress in the history of French cinema to get five César Awards for Best Actress, for the films Possession (1981), One Deadly Summer (1983), Camille Claudel (1988), La Reine Margot (1994) and La Journée de la Jupe (2009). She was also given a double Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award in 1981 and a Berlin Film Festival Best Actress Award in 1989. She also received two Academy Award nominations for Best Actress. Adjani has appeared in 30 films since 1970. She performs in French, English and German.

Joyeux Anniversaire Isabelle Adjani!


Adjani was born in an immigrant neighborhood Gennevilliers, Hauts-de-Seine, a suburb of Paris to an Algerian father of Turkish origin from Constantine, Algeria, Mohammed Cherif Adjani. Her father was a soldier in the French Army in World War II. Her mother Augusta, called “Gusti”, was German. She grew up bilingual, speaking German and French fluently. After winning a school recitation contest, she began acting in amateur theater by the age of twelve. At the age of 14, she starred in her first motion picture Le Petit bougnat (1970).

She first gained fame as a classical actress for her interpretation of Agnès, the main female role in Molière’s L’École des femmes, but soon left the Comédie Française she had joined in 1972, to pursue a film career. After minor roles in several films, she enjoyed modest success in the 1974 film La Gifle (or The Slap). The following year, she landed her first major role in François Truffaut’s The Story of Adèle H. Critics enthused over her performance, with Pauline Kael calling her acting talents “prodigious”. She was nominated for the Best Actress Oscar and offers for roles in Hollywood films, such as Walter Hill’s 1978 crime thriller The Driver. She then played Lucy in Werner Herzog’s 1979 remake of Nosferatu (1979).

In 1981, Adjani received the Cannes Film Festival’s best actress award for the Merchant Ivory film Quartet based on the novel by Jean Rhys, and for the horror film Possession. The following year, she received her first César Award for Possession, in which she portrays a woman having a nervous breakdown. In 1983, she won her second César, for her depiction of a vengeful woman in the blockbuster One Deadly Summer. That same year, she 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, which was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Following this publicity, she was chosen by People magazine as one of the ’50 Most Beautiful People’ in the world in 1990. Her fourth César win was for the 1994 film La Reine Margot, an ensemble epic directed by Patrice Chéreau. Below is the wedding scene from Adjani’s acclaimed film La Reine Margot.

In 2009, she won her fifth César in La Journée de la Jupe playing a teacher in a tough school who holds her class hostage. In 2010, Isabelle Adjani starred once more opposite Gérard Depardieu playing the role of the ghost of his old flame, killed in a far-off motorcycle accident, in the French road movie Mammuth.

When talking about her work, Isabelle Adjani has been reported as saying: “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”.

In 1980 she had a son, Barnabé Nuytten with cinematographer Bruno Nuytten. Adjani was romantically linked to actor Warren Beatty from 1986 to 1987, and Daniel Day Lewis from 1989 to 1995. He left her during her pregnancy with their son, Gabriel-Kane Day-Lewis, who was born in 1995. Adjani was also engaged to composer Jean Michel Jarre; they broke up in 2004.

In 2011 she was named ‘The Most Beautiful Woman in Film’ by the Los Angeles Times magazine. However the actress has faced constant claims about her use of plastic surgery. In an interview with Gala magazine in 2011, she admitted using anything she could to make her look younger, from Botox injections to hyaluronic acid. She said, “I am a follower of hyaluronic acid – always in small doses of course – to fill wrinkles and fine lines”.

Parisians are now used to seeing her wandering around the city in oversized dark glasses and large headscarves, maintaining a low-key public profile. Her ash-white face is said to often look completely frozen, while her pronouncements can be equally eccentric. It has led to a perception among many in France that, like a lot of sensitive artists, she lives in her own world.

The popular stand-up comedian Florence Foresti often potrays Adjani as a Greta Garbo-type recluse who constantly says: “Je ne suis pas folle, vous savez” (translated as “You know, I’m not mad”). Here is an example of Florence Foresti portraying Isabelle Adjani on the French TV programme On N’est Pas Couché with Laurent Ruquier:

Image reproduced from
Video reproduced from YouTube / maxime236 and YouTube / Vinsugoy
Biography text reproduced from Wikipedia under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

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