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photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1947
11 December 1913
|Died||8 November 1998 (aged 84)|
(m. 1942; div. 1944)
(1937–1963; his death)
Jean-Alfred Villain-Marais (French: [ʒɑ̃ maʁɛ]; 11 December 1913 – 8 November 1998), known professionally as Jean Marais, was a French actor, writer, director and sculptor. He performed in over 100 films and was the muse of acclaimed director Jean Cocteau. In 1996, he was awarded the French Legion of Honor for his contributions to French Cinema.
Marais' first role was an uncredited bit in Song of the Streets (1933) and he was in Etienne (1933). Filmmaker Marcel L'Herbier put him in The Sparrowhawk (1933) with Charles Boyer; The Scandal (1934), with Gaby Morlay; Happiness (1934) again with Boyer, The Venturer (1934) with Victor Francen; The New Men (1934) with Harry Baur; and Nights of Fire (1937) with Morlay and Francen.
Marcel Carne gave Marais a small role in Bizarre, Bizarre (1937) and the actor was in Abused Confidence (1937) by Henri Decoin; The Patriot (1938), a biopic of Paul I of Russia with Baur, directed by Maurice Tourneur; and Remontons les Champs-Élysées (1938) directed by Sacha Guitry.
These were small roles. Marais also appeared on stage. He was in a 1937 stage production of Oedipe directed by Charles Dullin, where he was seen by Jean Cocteau. Marais impressed Cocteau, who cast the actor in his play Les Chevaliers de la table ronde.
On stage he appeared in La Machine a ecrire (1941) by Cocteau and he directed and designed Racine's Britannicus (1941). He performed briefly with the Comedie Franaise, then left acting for a time for fight in Alsace with the Free French Forces, winning the Croix de Guerre.
Marais' first film as leading man was Love Eternal (1943), a re-telling of Tristan and Isolde set in 1940s France, written by Jean Cocteau. It was directed by Jean Delannoy and co-starred Madeleine Sologne. It was popular and made him a star.
He peformed in a popular revival of Cocteau's 1938 play Les Parents terribles on stage.
Marais' next films were The Royalists (1947), a historical adventure film directed by Henri Calef from a novel by Balzac; and Ruy Blas (1948) with Danielle Darrieux, from a play by Victor Hugo and script by Cocetau, directed by Pierre Billon.
Marais' second film with Cocteau as director was The Eagle with Two Heads (1948) with Edwige Feuillère. He did To the Eyes of Memory (1948) with Michele Morgan for director Jean Delannoy, a big commercial success, then Les Parents Terribles (1949) for Cocteau again.
Marais was in L'appel du destin (1953) for Georges Lacombe; The Lovers of Midnight (1953) for Roger Richebé; Voice of Silence (1953), an Italian film from G. W. Pabst; Inside a Girls' Dormitory (1953); Julietta (1953) for Marc Allegret with Dany Robin and Jeanne Moreau; the all-star Boum sur Paris (1953); and The Faith Healer (1954).
He did Princess of Cleves (1961) for Delannoy with Marina Vlady based on a script by Cocteau. It was back to swashbuckling with Captain Fracasse (1961) for director Pierre Gaspard-Huit, and Blood on His Sword (1961) for Hunebelle.
Marais has a support role in Napoléon II, l'aiglon (1962) then did some films in Italy: Romulus and the Sabines (1962) with Roger Moore, and Pontius Pilate (1962), where Marais played the title role alongside Jeanne Crain and Basil Rathbone.
The success of the James Bond films saw Marais cast in an espionage movie, The Reluctant Spy (1963) for director Jean-Charles Dudrumet. He did a comedy, Friend of the Family (1964), then had a huge box office success with Fantomas (1964), playing the villain and hero, under the direction of Hubelle.
Marais did Ivory Coast Adventure (1965) directed by Christian-Jacque; Killer Spy (1965), directed by Georges Lampin; a sequel to The Reluctant Spy; and Operation Double Cross (1965), a spy film; then a Fantomas sequel, Fantomas Unleashed (1965).
He played Simon Templar in The Saint Lies in Wait (1966), for Christian-Jacquqes, and a French general in Seven Guys and a Gal (1967). Fantomas vs. Scotland Yard (1967) was the third and final Fantomas, with Hunebelle.
After 1970, Marais's on-screen performances became few and far between, as he preferred concentrating on his stage work.
He directed stage productions of Le bel indifférent (1975) and Les parents terribles. He took the latter to London in 1978.
His later work included Emmenez-moi au théâtre; Parking (1985) directed by Demy; Lien de parenté (1986); Les enfants du naufrageur (1992); Dis Papa, raconte-moi là-bas (1993); Les Misérables (1995 film), directed by Claude Lelouch; and Stealing Beauty (1996), directed by Bernardo Bertolucci.
In 1985, he was the head of the jury at the 35th Berlin International Film Festival. He was featured in the 1995 documentary Screening at the Majestic, which is included on the 2003 DVD release of the restored print of Beauty and the Beast. Marais appears on the cover sleeve of The Smiths single "This Charming Man".
Marais, who was bisexual, was the muse and lover of Jean Cocteau until Cocteau's death. After Cocteau's death, Marais wrote a memoir of Cocteau, L'Inconcevable Jean Cocteau, attributing authorship to "Cocteau-Marais". He also wrote an autobiography, L'Histoire de ma vie, published in 1975. From 1953 until 1959, his companion was the American dancer George Reich.
In the early 1960s, Marais adopted a young man, Serge Ayala, who eventually took the name Serge Villain-Marais. This adopted son, who became a singer and an actor, committed suicide in 2012 at age 69.
|1933||On the Streets||uncredited||Victor Trivas|
|1934||The Scandal||the liftboy||Marcel L'Herbier|
|L'Aventurier||the young worker|
|1936||Les Hommes nouveaux||the office clerk|
|Nuits de feu||uncredited|
|1937||Abus de confiance||Marais||Henri Decoin|
|Bizarre, Bizarre||uncredited||Marcel Carné|
|1941||The Pavilion Burns||Daniel||Jacques de Baroncelli|
|1942||Le Lit à colonnes||Rémi Bonvent||Roland Tual|
|1943||L'Éternel retour||Patrice||Jean Delannoy|
|Voyage sans espoir||Alain Ginestier||Christian-Jaque|
|1946||Beauty and the Beast||The Beast / The Prince / Avenant||Jean Cocteau|
|1947||The Royalists||the Marquis de Montauran||Henri Calef|
|Ruy Blas||Ruy Blas||Pierre Billon|
|L'Aigle à deux têtes||Stanislas||Jean Cocteau|
|1948||Aux yeux du souvenir||Jacques Forester||Jean Delannoy|
|Le Secret de Mayerling||Archduke Rodolphe|
|Les Parents terribles||Michel||Jean Cocteau|
|1950||The Glass Castle||Rémy Marsay||René Clément|
|Les Miracles n'ont lieu qu'une fois||Jérôme||Yves Allégret|
|1951||Leathernose||Roger de Tainchebraye|
|1952||L'Amour, Madame||cameo appearance||Gilles Grangier|
|La Maison du silence||the former maquis||Georg Wilhelm Pabst|
|1953||L'Appel du destin||Lorenzo Lombardi||Georges Lacombe|
|The Lovers of Midnight||Marcel Dulac||Roger Richebé|
|Dortoir des grandes||Désiré Marco||Henri Decoin|
|Julietta||André Landrecourt||Marc Allégret|
|1954||The Count of Monte Cristo||Edmond Dantès / Comte de Monte-Cristo||Robert Vernay|
|Le Guérisseur||Dr. Jean Scheffer||Yves Ciampi|
|Royal Affairs in Versailles||Louis XV of France||Sacha Guitry|
|1955||Futures vedettes||Éric Walter||Marc Allégret|
|1956||Goubbiah, mon amour||Goubbiah||Robert Darène|
|Toute la ville accuse||François Nérac||Claude Boissol|
|Elena et les hommes||Général François Rollan||Jean Renoir|
|Si Paris nous était conté||Francis I of France||Sacha Guitry|
|1957||Typhon sur Nagasaki||Pierre Marsac||Yves Ciampi|
|S.O.S. Noronha||Frédéric Coulibaud||Georges Rouquier|
|Amour de poche||Jérôme Nordman||Pierre Kast|
|La Vie à deux||Teddy Brooks||Clément Duhour|
|Le Notti bianche||the tenant||Luchino Visconti|
|La Tour, prends garde !||Henri La Tour||Georges Lampin|
|1958||Chaque jour a son secret||Xavier Lezcano||Claude Boissol|
|1959||Le Bossu||Henri de Lagardère||André Hunebelle|
|Le Testament d'Orphée||Oedipe (uncredited)||Jean Cocteau|
|1960||Austerlitz||Lazare Carnot||Abel Gance|
|Le Capitan||François de Capestan||André Hunebelle|
|1961||La Princesse de Clèves||Le Prince de Clèves||Jean Delannoy|
|Captain Fracasse||Capitaine Fracasse||Pierre Gaspard-Huit|
|Le Miracle des loups||Robert de Neuville||André Hunebelle|
|Napoléon II l'Aiglon||Montholon||Claude Boissol|
|L'Enlèvement des Sabines||Mars||Richard Pottier|
|1962||Ponce Pilate||Pontius Pilate||Gian Paolo Callegari|
|Le Masque de fer||d'Artagnan||Henri Decoin|
|The Mysteries of Paris||Rodolphe de Sambreuil||André Hunebelle|
|1963||L'honorable Stanislas, agent secret||Stanislas Evariste Dubois||Jean-Charles Dudrumet|
|1964||Patate||Noël Carradine||Robert Thomas|
|Thomas l'imposteur||Narrator (voice)||Georges Franju|
|1965||Le gentleman de Cocody||Jean-Luc Hervé de la Tommeraye||Christian-Jaque|
|Pleins feux sur Stanislas||Stanislas Evariste Dubois||Jean-Charles Dudrumet|
|Train d'enfer||Antoine Donadieu||Gilles Grangier|
|Fantômas se déchaîne||Fantômas/Fandor||André Hunebelle|
|Le Saint prend l'affût||Simon Templar||Christian-Jaque|
|1966||Sept hommes et une garce||Dorgeval||Bernard Borderie|
|Fantômas contre Scotland Yard||Fantômas/Fandor||André Hunebelle|
|1969||Le Paria||Manu||Claude Carliez|
|1970||La Provocation||Christian||André Charpak|
|Le Jouet criminel||the nameless protagonist||Adolfo Arrieta|
|Peau d'âne||"The first King"||Jacques Demy|
|1973||Joseph Balsamo(TV miniseries)||Alessandro Cagliostro||André Hunebelle|
|1976||Vaincre à Olympie (TV)||Menesthée||Michel Subiela|
|Chantons sous l'Occupation||as himself||André Halimi|
|1980||Les Parents terribles||Georges||Yves-André Hubert|
|1982||Cher menteur (TV)||George Bernard Shaw||Alexandre Tarta|
|1986||Lien de parenté||Victor Blaise||Willy Rameau|
|1992||Les Enfants du naufrageur||Marc-Antoine||Jérôme Foulon|
|1995||Les Misérables||Monseigneur Myriel||Claude Lelouch|
|1996||Stealing Beauty||Monsieur Guillaume||Bernardo Bertolucci|
|1997||Milice, film noir||as himself||Alain Ferrari|
|1999||Luchino Visconti||as himself||Carlo Lizzani|
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