Here is a selection of famous french actresses, many of them you have probably heard of.
Sarah Bernhardt, born in Paris in 1844, is one of the most famous french actresses in the world.
Nicknamed The Divine Sarah, she was one of the pioneer ‘silent movie’ actresses and was a huge star in french cinema. She apparently slept in a coffin from time to time, and kept a lion and chameleons as pets. She is buried at Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.
Queen Elizabeth (originally titled Elisabeth, Reine d’Angleterre), released in 1912, is her most well known film – a huge hit in both Europe and the US.
Other famous french movies include: Victor Hugo’s Ruy Blas (1872); Racine’s Phedre (1874), Dumas’ La Dame aux Camellias (1880), Vitorien Sardou’s Theodora (1884), Jeanne d’Arc (1890), and L’Aiglon (1900).
Brigitte Bardot, born in Paris in 1934, was the first foreign language actress to reach the same level of international stardom as many American actors at the time.
Bardot is known as one of the most beautiful screen icons of the 20th century, and is famous for her role in the flirtatious and erotic And God Created Woman (Et Dieu… créa la femme (1956), which was a huge success internationally, and seen as quite scandalous at the time.
She has been married four times and has had many famous boyfriends, including Marlon Brando, Mick Jagger and Warren Beaty.
The archetypal sex kitten, Bardot is the most celebrated resident of the French Riviera and has spent much of her life in St Tropez.
She was also a model and singer, recording over eighty songs.
In her later years she has become notorious for her political outspokenness and animal rights activism.
One of the grandes dames of French cinema, Catherine Deneuve was born in Paris (1943) and has had a long and prolific career, making her first screen debut at the age of 13.
Deneuve’s most famous french movies are Polanski’s (terrifying!) Repulsion (1965), Belle du Jour (1967) and Tristana (1970), as well as The Hunger (1983, with Susan Sarandon), The Last Metro (1980), Dancer in the Dark (2000, starring Björk) and A Christmas Tale (2008).
She was once the muse of fashion designer Yves St Laurent, represented Chanel in the 1970s and succeeded Brigitte Bardot as the model for Marianne, the symbol of the french republic.
Today, famous french actresses still grace the international movie screens: Juliette Binoche in The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988), The English Patient (1996), and Chocolat (2000); Sophie Marceau, famous for her roles in Braveheart (1995) and The World Is Not Enough (1999); and Emmanuelle Béart, who starred opposite Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible.
And last but not least, Audrey Tautou, is one the most famous french actresses on screen at the moment.
Audrey shot to international stardom when she played Amélie Poulain in the eccentric and quirky Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain. She has starred in a few other films since then, including A Very Long Engagement (2004) and The Da Vinci Code (2006).
She is the currently the face of Chanel No. 5 perfume.