Jean Marais


Actor
Jean Marais

About

Also Known As
Jean-Alfred Villain-Marais
Birth Place
France
Born
December 11, 1913
Died
November 08, 1998
Cause of Death
Pulmonary Disease

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...

Family & Companions

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

Bibliography

"Contes"
Jean Marais (1978)
"Histoire de ma vie"
Jean Marais (1975)
"Mes Quartre Verities"
Jean Marais (1957)
"L'Inconcevable Jean Cocteau"
Jean Marais

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.

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 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).

Life Events

1930

Left school and worked as a photographer's apprentice

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"

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

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"

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

1995

Acted in Claude Lelouch's "Les miserables"

1996

Final film role as an elderly art dealer in "Stealing Beauty", directed by Bernardo Bertolucci

Videos

Movie Clip

Orpheus (1950) - Cafe Des Poetes Quickly establishing the post-war Left-bank milieu, popular poet (and title character) Jean Marais expresses disdain for the goings-on at the cafe, in Jean Cocteau's contemporary rendering of the Greek myth, Orpheus, 1950.
Orpheus (1950) - You Will Serve Me "The Princess" (Maria Casares) resurrects poet Cegeste (Edouard Dermit) and takes him through a mirror through which the hero (Jean Marais) cannot follow, as things get wild in Jean Cocteau's Orpheus, 1950.
Orpheus (1950) - Make Yourself Useful The poet Cegeste (Edouard Dermit) gets grabbed by the cops, hit by a motorcycle, then collected by "The Princess" (Maria Casares), who commandeers the title character (Jean Marais), a bystander, in Jean Cocteau's Orpheus, 1950.
Beauty And The Beast (1946) - You Will Never See Me Belle (Josette Day) in her continuing adventure at the castle, meets "The Beast" (Jean Marais) and passes out, followed by further freakiness, in Jean Cocteau's Beauty And The Beast, 1946.
Beauty And The Beast (1946) - Is Anyone There Disconsolate father (Marcel Andre) of the heroine, lost in the woods, comes upon a mysterious house, nobody apparently home, in Jean Cocteau's Beauty And The Beast, 1946.
Beauty And The Beast (1946) - You Steal My Roses Father (Marcel Andre) awakens in the mysterious castle and meets and offends "The Beast" (Jean Marais), in Jean Cocteau's Beauty And The Beast, 1946.
Beauty And The Beast (1946) - I Am Your Mirror Hoping to save her father from ruin, Belle (Josette Day) sneaks into the home of the beast, guided by the "voice of magic" (voice of director and scenarist Jean Cocteau) in Beauty And The Beast, 1946.
Beauty And The Beast (1946) - Once Upon A Time Imaginative opening sequence from director and writer Jean Cocteau, from Beauty And The Beast, 1946, starring Josette Day and Jean Marais.
Le Notti Bianche (a.k.a. White Nights) - He Was A Foreigner Natalia (Maria Schell) is at last warming to Mario (Marcello Mastroianni), so she begins to open up about her life, allowing director Luchino Visconi's first departure from reality, introducing "The Lodger," Jean Marais, in Le Notti Bianche (a.k.a. White Nights), 1961.
That Man From Rio (1964) - This Is The Police! Museum curator Agnes (Francoise Dorleac) commiserates and flirts with her late father’s colleague (Jean Servais) over a stolen statue, who is kidnapped, and her on-leave pilot beau Adrien (Jean-Paul Belmondo) catches up in time for the police interview, in That Man From Rio, 1964.
Elena And Her Men - The Princess And The General Having rushed out to the bustling streets of Paris to see the parade honoring General Rollan (Jean Marais), Polish princess Elena (Ingrid Bergman) meets first Count Henri (Mel Ferrer), then the man himself, early in Jean Renoir's Elena And Her Men, 1956.

Family

Henri Marais
Brother
Serge Marais
Son
Adopted; survived him.

Companions

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

Bibliography

"Contes"
Jean Marais (1978)
"Histoire de ma vie"
Jean Marais (1975)
"Mes Quartre Verities"
Jean Marais (1957)
"L'Inconcevable Jean Cocteau"
Jean Marais

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.