France is well-known worldwide as a country of good food, good wine and good style. What is generally overlooked, however, is its incredible cinematic culture and the country’s plentiful supply of promising actors and actresses. Prominent both in terms of talent and of wealth, France’s acting community is all too often skimmed over in favour of the hoards of British and American actors and actresses with which we are bombarded every day in the media.
France has long boasted a fantastic selection of filmography, examples of which include Otto Preminger’s 1958 Bonjour Tristesse, and the 1960 À bout de souffle by Jean-Luc Godard. Actors of this era were also impressive, including in their number actor and director Jean Marais, and Jean Seberg, star of both aforementioned films.
Nowadays, the French contingent of acting is still a tour de force. In recent years, there have been several well-respected films of French extract which reached the mainstream media. The 2001 Jean-Pierre Jeunet movie Amélie is a perfect example of this, given its enormous popularity in primarily English-speaking countries, despite the fact that the film is in French. The 2009 biography film based on the life of famous designer and entrepreneur Coco Chanel, Coco Before Chanel, achieved a similar level of acclaim. The 2012 TV mini-series Les Revenants, or The Returned, also proved exceedingly popular when it was released in the UK in 2013, again despite the fact that it was entirely in French.
Clearly there is a market for the French film, and accordingly it seems logical that a substantial amount of this appeal comes courtesy of the country’s actors and actresses. France is lucky to have a spectacular acting community, varying from classic vintage actresses such as Brigitte Bardot all the way to the likes of modern-day icon Audrey Tautou. This list compiles ten of France’s wealthiest actors and actresses, along with the main sources of their income.
10. Gilles Marini — $1.5 million
At number ten is French actor and model Gilles Marini, worth around one and a half million dollars. Most of his net worth comes courtesy of his role as Luc Laurent on American television show Brothers & Sisters, although he also made a lucrative and extremely naked appearance in Sex and the City: The Movie. Born in 1976 in Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, Marini’s distinctive European good looks come from his Greek mother and Italian father. One of his first jobs, while in his early 20s, was an appearance in an advert for Budweiser, which set the stage for the two directions his professional life would take; acting and modelling.
9. Christopher Lambert — $5 million
With a net worth of five million dollars, actor Christopher Lambert is at number nine. As well as being an actor, Lambert’s jobs have included a producer and an entrepreneur, having in the past worked for the London Stock Exchange. Although Lambert grew up in Geneva, Switzerland, he relocated to Paris as a teenager and deems himself French. His professional acting career began in the 1970s in France, but he was not widely know in the sphere of Anglophone audiences until he was cast in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan. Since then, he has spent a fairly equal amount of time working on both French- and English-speaking films and projects.
8. Eva Green — $10 million
The first female on the list, Eva Green, had a net worth of around ten million dollars. Born in 1980 in Paris, Green remained in the city until after university, having attended the American College of Paris and thereafter the St. Paul Drama School. Upon leaving Paris she furthered her studies at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and the NYU-Tisch School of the Arts in New York. Her breakthrough role came in the form of a Bond character when she appeared as Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale in 2006. Since then Green has had roles in The Golden Compass, Dark Shadows and 300: Rise of an Empire.
7. Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and Marion Cotillard — $15 million
Number seven is a tie between model, actress, songstress and former presidential-wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, and actress Marion Cotillard, both of whom are estimated to be worth around fifteen million dollars each. Bruni concentrated a great deal on her singing career, with her most famous acting role probably being that in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. Cotillard, however, has a wide variety of roles under her belt, including Big Fish, Inception, and La Vie en Rose.
6. Vincent Cassel — $20 million
At number six, with a formidable net worth of twenty million dollars, is actor, producer and singer Vincent Cassel. Cassel, who is also known as Vincent Crochon, was born in Paris, and grew up in an acting- and musically-inclined family. Cassel’s 1995 film Le Heine first won him international acclaim, and since then the actor has appeared in films such as L’Appartement, The Reckoning and Black Swan. He has also voiced numerous characters in animated films such as Ice Age and Shrek.
5. Brigitte Bardot — $45 million
The femme fatale of France, Brigitte Bardot, is at number five. Born in Paris in 1934, Bardot has over the course of her life been an actress, model, singer, and animal rights activist. She was the darling of France for many years, with her blonde hair, sultry eyes and Breton stripes embodying the image of the quintessential French lady. Bardot has appeared in over forty films, including Contempt, A Very Private Affair and Please, Not Now! She has, in latter years, moved away from the entertainment industry to become an animal rights activist but in a less admirable twist, she has become a vocal opposer of immigration into France and has been charged for inciting racial hatred.
4. Gérard Depardieu — $120 million
Actor and producer Gerard Depardieu is worth roughly a hundred and twenty million dollars. Born in Indre in 1948, Depardieu is a prominent French actor who began his career with a travelling theatre, the “Café de la Gare”. He was widely regarded as the French actor of the 80s and 90s, and won the highest French title of “Chevalier du Légion d’Honneur” in 1996. Depardieu has featured in films such as Paris, je t’aime, My American Uncle and Life of Pi.
3. Cleménce Poésy — $141 million
Actress Cleménce Poésy is worth around one hundred and forty one million dollars. Born as Cleménce Guichard in 1982 in Paris, Poésy took her mother’s maiden name as her stage name. Her first roles were for French TV serials during the 1990s, and her first feature film was a German one, Olgas Sommer. She starred in In Bruges, which probably marked the beginning of her worldwide acclaim, and has also had significant roles in some of the Harry Potter films, as well as in American hit TV series Gossip Girl.
2. Audrey Tautou — $145 million
Actress and model Audrey Tautou is worth an estimated one hundred and forty five million dollars. Tautou was born in Puy-de-Dôme in 1976, and had her own agent by the age of 17. Her role in her first feature film, Venus Beauty Institute, won her the prestigious César Award for Most Promising Actress. Tautou has starred in films such as Amélie and The Da Vinci Code, and appeared as Coco Chanel in the 2009 Coco Before Chanel.
1. Guillaume Canet — $275 million
At number one is French actor, entrepreneur, director, producer, and husband to Marion Cotillard, Guillaume Canet. Born in Boulogne-Billancourt in 1973, Canet is today worth around two hundred and seventy-five million dollars. As a child he had wanted to be a professional horse-rider, but was thwarted by a bad fall. However, this directed him towards working with films, which has proved a decidedly lucrative career path. Canet has directed numerous films such as Little White Lies and Blood Ties, which he also produced. He has appeared in such films as The Beach, Narco, and Love Me If You Dare, the last of which co-starred his wife-to-be. Canet is already an unquestionable star in France, and with his professional endeavours consistently gaining more and more attention, he could well become one of the world’s biggest stars in a very short space of time.