Jeanne Moreau (French ; born 23 January, 1928) is a BAFTA Awards-winning French actress, screenwriter and director.
Moreau was born in Paris
, the daughter of Katherine (née
Buckley), a dancer
who performed at the Folies Bergère
, and Anatole-Désiré Moreau, a restaurateur. Moreau's father was French and her mother was English
, a native of Lancashire, England
and of part Irish descent. Moreau's father was Catholic
and her mother, originally a Protestant
, converted to Catholicism upon marriage. Moreau studied at the Conservatoire de Paris
In 1947, she made her theatre debut at the Avignon Festival
. By her twenties, Moreau was already one of leading stage actresses at the Comédie-Française
. After 1951, she began appearing in films with small parts. By the late 1950s, after making many mainstream films, including several successes, she starred in Elevator to the Gallows
(1958) with first-time director Louis Malle
. Largely thanks to that film, she went on to work with many of the best known New Wave
and avant garde directors. After her sexy role in The Lovers
, 1959), the media tagged her as "The New Bardot
François Truffaut's explosive New Wave film Jules et Jim (1962), her biggest international success to date, is centred on her magnetic starring role, and is perhaps her most famous film. She has also appeared with a number of other notable directors such as Michelangelo Antonioni (La notte and Beyond the Clouds), Jean-Luc Godard (A Woman Is a Woman), Orson Welles (The Immortal Story), Luis Buñuel (Diary of a Chambermaid), Elia Kazan (The Last Tycoon), Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Querelle), and Wim Wenders (Until the End of the World).
Moreau has enjoyed success as a vocalist. She has released several albums and once performed with Frank Sinatra at Carnegie Hall. In addition to acting, Moreau has also worked behind the camera, as a writer, director and producer.
Throughout her life, she has maintained friendships with prominent writers such as Jean Cocteau
, Jean Genet
, Henry Miller
, and Marguerite Duras
(an interview with Moreau is included in Duras's book Outside: Selected Writings
She is a close friend of Sharon Stone, who presented a 1998 American Academy of Motion Pictures life tribute to Moreau. Orson Welles called her "the greatest actress in the world", and to this day she remains one of France's most accomplished actresses.