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Jean Marais

Jean Marais

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Also Known As: Jean-Alfred Villain-Marais Died: November 8, 1998
Born: December 11, 1913 Cause of Death: pulmonary disease
Birth Place: France Profession: actor, stage designer, director, photographer's apprentice, newspaper vendor, golf caddy

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Although he harbored a desire to act, Jean Marais was rejected by the top drama schools in France. The son of a doctor from whom his mother separated in 1917, he came to the attention of film director Maurice L'Herbier who cast him in small roles in "L'Epervier" and "L'Aventurier" (both 1933). Marais worked at the theater run by Charles Dullin in return for acting classes and a chance to play minor stage roles. In 1937, the actor met the man who would change his life--poet, playwright and designer Jean Cocteau. They became lovers and Cocteau began to utilize the handsome Marais in various stage productions like "Oedipe Roi" and as Sir Galahad in "Les Chevaliers de la table rond". The writer created the role of the smothered son in "Les Parents terribles" especially for the actor, which proved an artistic high point for both. With his striking looks, ethereal charm and vulnerability, Marais proved a perfect choice to embody Cocteau's tragic heroes. He first made his mark in the author's retelling of the Tristan and Isolde myth in "L'Eternal retourne/The Eternal Return" (1943), directed by Jean Delannoy. But perhaps their best-known collaboration remains the poetic masterpiece "La Belle et la...

Although he harbored a desire to act, Jean Marais was rejected by the top drama schools in France. The son of a doctor from whom his mother separated in 1917, he came to the attention of film director Maurice L'Herbier who cast him in small roles in "L'Epervier" and "L'Aventurier" (both 1933). Marais worked at the theater run by Charles Dullin in return for acting classes and a chance to play minor stage roles. In 1937, the actor met the man who would change his life--poet, playwright and designer Jean Cocteau. They became lovers and Cocteau began to utilize the handsome Marais in various stage productions like "Oedipe Roi" and as Sir Galahad in "Les Chevaliers de la table rond". The writer created the role of the smothered son in "Les Parents terribles" especially for the actor, which proved an artistic high point for both. With his striking looks, ethereal charm and vulnerability, Marais proved a perfect choice to embody Cocteau's tragic heroes. He first made his mark in the author's retelling of the Tristan and Isolde myth in "L'Eternal retourne/The Eternal Return" (1943), directed by Jean Delannoy. But perhaps their best-known collaboration remains the poetic masterpiece "La Belle et la bete/Beauty and the Beast" (1945). Of their remaining films together, the 1948 version of "Les parents terribles" ranks as the best. By the time of "Orphee" (1949), their personal relationship was ending, although they remained close friends.

The 1950s saw Marais undertake swashbuckling roles and become France's version of Errol Flynn in a number of popular but critically-derided vehicles like "The Count of Monte Cristo" (1954) and "Le Bossu" (1959). On the advice of Cocteau, he accepted the role of "Fantomas" in the 1964 remake and went on to essay the athletic master criminal in several sequels. In 1970, Jacques Demy tapped him to appear as the widowed king seeking a new queen in the fairy tale "Peau d'ane/Donkey Skin", which was an homage to Cocteau. By then, though, his film career was all but over and Marais returned to the stage, reviving Cocteau plays and appearing as "King Lear". He reteamed with Demy to play the Devil in "Parking" (1985), an ill-advised musical version of "Orphee". His last screen appearances were in Claude Lelouch's "Les Miserables" (1994) and Bernardo Bertolucci's "Stealing Beauty" (1995).

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Stealing Beauty (1996) Monsieur Guillaume
2.
 Les Miserables (1995) Bishop Myriel
3.
 Les Enfants du Naufrageur (1992) Old Man With A Limp
4.
 Next of Kin (1986) Victor Blaise
5.
 Parking (1985)
7.
 Ombre et secrets (1982)
8.
 Donkey Skin (1970) King
9.
 Fantômas (1966) Fantômas/Fandor
10.
 Man From Cocody (1966) Jean-Luc Hervé de la Tommeraye
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
After WWI, moved to just outside Paris with his mother
1930:
Left school and worked as a photographer's apprentice
:
Began studying acting; came to the attention of Marcel L'Herbier who cast him in first film role in "L'Epervier" (1933)
1936:
Studied acting with Charles Dullin; acted in minor roles with Dullin's company
1937:
Met Jean Cocteau; acted on stage in Cocteau's productions of "Oedipe roi/Oedipus Rex" and "Les chevaliers de la table rond/Knights of the Round Table"
1938:
Created role of the son smothered by his moter in play "Les Parents terribles"; part written especially for him by Cocteau
1939:
Served in the French Air Force
1941:
Acted in, directed and designed the stage production "Britannicus"
:
Briefly spent time as a company member of the Comedie-Francaise; did not act on stage
1943:
Starred in "L'eternal retour/Eternal Return", a modern-day version of the Tristan and Isolde, directed by Jean Delannoy and scripted by Cocteau
1945:
Had one of his greatest screen triumphs as the Beast in Cocteau's "La Belle et la bete/Beauty and the Beast"
1946:
Originated the role of Stanislas, a poet chosen to assassinate a Queen with whom he instead falls in love in Cocteau's play "L'aigle a deux tetes/The Eagle With Two Heads"; recreated role on screen in 1948
1948:
Recreated stage role in Cocteau's filming of "Les parents terribles"
1949:
Reteamed with Cocteau for "Orphee"; last collaboration for a decade
:
Returned to the Comedie-Francais
:
Began playing swashbuckling roles in the 1950s
1954:
Had title role in "The Count of Monte Cristo"
1957:
Appeared with Maria Schell and Marcello Mastroianni in Luchino Visconti's "Les nuits blanches/White Nights"
1959:
Reunited with Cocteau for "Le testament d'Orphee"; also marked Cocteau's final film
1960:
Appeared in Abel Gance's "Austerlitz"
1964:
Undertook the leading role in the remake of "Fantomas"; reprised role in several sequels
1969:
Acted in and directed a stage revival of Cocteau's "Oedipe Roi"
1970:
Cast as the king in Jacques Demy's fairy tale "Peau d'ane/Donkey Skin"
:
Toured as "King Lear"
1978:
Made London stage debut playing the father in a revival of "Les parents terribles", opposite Lila Kedrova
1985:
Appeared as the Devil in "Parking", in a musical remake of "Orphee" directed by Demy
:
Played Prospero in a staging of Shakepeare's "The Tempest"
1995:
Acted in Claude Lelouch's "Les miserables"
1996:
Final film role as an elderly art dealer in "Stealing Beauty", directed by Bernardo Bertolucci
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

College de St Germain: -
St Nicholas School: -

Notes

Marais had a lifelong interest in painting and an exhibition of his work was held in 1995.

He was awarded the Croix de Guerre in 1944.

Marais was promoted to the rank of Commander of the French Legion of Honor in 1995.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Jean Cocteau. Director, screenwriter. Directed Marais in several features including "La Belle et la bete" (1946) and "Orphee" (1950).

Family close complete family listing

brother:
Henri Marais.
son:
Serge Marais. Adopted; survived him.

Bibliography close complete biography

"Mes Quartre Verities"
"L'Inconcevable Jean Cocteau"
"Histoire de ma vie"
"Contes"
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

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