Family & Companions
François Cluzet possessed a gift of versatility that made him equally skilled at both physical comedy and straight drama. The actor first made waves on several French television serials and memorable roles in dramas such as "Cocktail Molotov" (1980), "One Deadly Summer" (1983), and "Vive la sociale!" (1983). Cluzet showcased his dramatic prowess many times over throughout his career, playing emotionally tormented characters in acclaimed films like "Les aprentis" (1995), in "Late August, Early September" (1998), or "Je suis un assassin" (2004). A prolific actor who appeared in countless films and television series, Cluzet received critical praise for his role in "Tell No One" (2006), as a doctor trying to prove his innocence while he searches for his wife's killer. He continued to impress in his native France, before gaining international acclaim for his role in the award-winning dramedy "The Intouchables" (2011). Based on a true story, the film centered on an unlikely friendship between a quadriplegic millionaire and his rambunctious caregiver (Omar Sy), an ex-con from the projects. Audiences worldwide not only embraced the film's inspiring message and the actors' genuine connection both on and off the screen, but it also proved to be the perfect vehicle to showcase Cluzet's enviable talent, versatility and passion for his craft.
François Cluzet was born on Sept. 21, 1955 in Paris, France. Growing up, his father took him and his brother on weekly outings to the local theater, which ultimately inspired him to become an actor. After high school, Cluzet attended Cours Simon and Cours de Périmony et Cochet to study drama, before launching a career on the stage. In the late-1970s, Cluzet began landing featured roles on television and in film, including "Cocktail Molotov" (1980), a drama set in a politically tumultuous Paris in 1968. Around this time, he also started making inroads on television, appearing in countless made-for-TV movies as well as on programs like "Julien Fontanes, magistrate" (Société Française de Production, 1980-89), the crime series "Série noire" (TF1, 1984-1991), and "Cinéma 16" (FR3, 1976-1990). The year 1983 was a breakthrough one for Cluzet, who earned two César nominations (the French equivalent of an Academy Award) for his role in "One Deadly Summer," as the brother of a man in love with a woman who is out for revenge, and in "Vive la sociale!," as a young man reflecting on his anarchic upbringing in Paris.
As his popularity began to soar, Cluzet, who was often compared to Hollywood icon Dustin Hoffman both in physical appearance and onscreen charm, continued to land more substantial roles in French cinema. In 1986, he delivered a strong performance in Bertrand Tavernier's "'Round Midnight," about a self-destructive American jazz musician (Dexter Gordon) who befriends a young Frenchman who attempts to help him overcome alcohol abuse. He continued to take on dramatic roles, including playing an inadequate husband in "Chocolat" (1988) and in "Une affaire de femmes" (1988). Aside from being cast in a number of films as a troubled husband, Cluzet also found himself playing emotionally distraught characters, like he did in "Les aprentis," "Late August, Early September," where he played a terminally ill writer, and "Dolce far niente" (1998), as a young author who wanders around in an Italian countryside. While his career in French cinema flourished, Cluzet also appeared in a number of international movies such as the ensemble comedy "Prêt-à-Porter" (2004), a satire about a Parisian fashion show, and the romantic comedy "French Kiss" (1995), about an American woman (Meg Ryan) who encounters a charming crook (Kevin Kline) while en route to Paris.
Cluzet gained even greater acclaim with memorable lead roles in films like "Janis and John" (2003), a comedy in which he pretends to be the music icon John Lennon for a money scam, "Je suis un assassin" (2004), as a tormented writer, and in "Le domaine perdu" (2005), a fantasy-drama set in 1973 during a coup d'etat in Chile, in which he portrayed a French aviator who forges a bond with his young apprentice. The following year, Cluzet earned rave reviews and a César Award for Best Actor for his compelling performance in Guillaume Canet's action thriller "Tell No One," where he played a doctor who is a suspect in a double homicide while he goes in search of the serial killer who killed his wife. The talented actor continued to appear in a string of noted French dramas, including "Rivals" (2008) and "In the Beginning" (2009), among many others, before scoring a lead role in one of France's highest-grossing films "The Intouchables." In the heartwarming comedy, Cluzet played Philippe, a quadriplegic French aristocrat who forms an unlikely friendship with Driss (Omar Sy), a Senagalese man from the projects whom he hires to become his caretaker. A blockbuster success in Europe, the film not only further exposed Cluzet's talents to an international audience, but it also garnered critical acclaim for his co-star Sy, who won a César Award for Best Actor in 2012. With the exception of some American critics who labeled the film racist, the majority raved about the genuine connection that developed between Cluzet's character and Sy, and the easy, often hilarious banter between the two men who, against all odds, managed to make each others' lives more meaningful.
By Candy Cuenco
Cast (Feature Film)
First acted onstage
Feature film debut, "Cocktail Molotov"
First film with director Claude Chabrol, "Le cheval d'orgueil/The Horse of Pride"
Again directed by Chabrol in "Les fantômes du chapelier/The Hatter's Ghost"
Earned César Award nomination for supporting role in "L'été meurtrier/One Deadly Summer"
International film debut, Robert Altman's ensemble movie "Prêt-à-porter"
Appeared in Lawrence Kasdan's romantic comedy "French Kiss," starring Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline
Earned raves for appearance in French comedy "Quatre étoiles"
Received Best Actor César Award for role of double homicide suspect in "Ne le dis à personne/Tell No One"
Acted in romantic drama "Paris," co-starring Juliette Binoche
Co-starred in hit French comedy "The Intouchables"; played a wealthy quadriplegic who forms friendship with his caretaker (Omar Sy)