Jean Reno: biography of a French film legend

Born Juan Moreno y Herrera-Jiménez on 30 July 1948 in Casablanca, Morocco, Jean Reno came from a family of Andalusian origin who migrated to France as a child. This transition between two cultures offered Jean a unique perspective, blending the warmth of Morocco with the refinement of France. The adaptation to French culture was not only geographical but also linguistic, with Juan becoming ‘Jean’, a symbol of his assimilation while retaining his deep roots. These cosmopolitan origins undoubtedly enriched his understanding of the characters he played, enabling him to bring depth and nuance to his roles. His youth between Morocco and France immersed him in a world of diverse histories, traditions and values, which served as a solid foundation for his later career in film. Thus, through his origins, Jean Reno reflects a cultural fusion, making him one of the most versatile and appreciated actors of his generation.

His film debut

Jean Reno’s career in show business is a true illustration of passion, determination and raw talent. When he moved to Paris, the young man was immediately drawn to the fascinating world of acting. Boldly embarking on this adventure, he enrolled at the Cours Simon, a prestigious Parisian institution dedicated to the theatrical arts. It was here that Jean Reno honed his skills, learned the tricks of the trade and began to forge his identity as an actor. His beginnings were admittedly modest, marked by small roles in local theatres, but each performance was imbued with an ardent passion. His unique stage presence soon attracted attention. Her ability to blend into her characters, combined with her natural charisma, opened doors for her in the French film world. Her first real opportunity came through collaborations with promising directors, notably Luc Besson. This early career is a testament to his perseverance. Jean Reno was determined to become one of the most influential figures in French cinema.

Jean Reno’s rise to success

Jean Reno’s rise to stardom is the result of a unique combination of talent, opportunity and fruitful collaborations. Although his early career was marked by small roles, it was his collaboration with director Luc Besson in the 1980s that really propelled his career. Together they created memorable characters that captivated audiences. “Le Dernier Combat” and “Subway” were the beginnings of this dynamic, but it was with “Léon” that Jean Reno solidified himself as an unstoppable force in cinema. Playing a soft-hearted hitman, he captured the imagination of audiences around the world. This performance was followed by other landmark roles, expanding his aura far beyond France’s borders. With each new film, Reno confirms his status as a must-see actor, combining charisma with emotional depth. His rise is testament to an actor dedicated to his art, constantly striving to surpass himself and captivate audiences with authenticity.

Notable roles and collaborations

Over the years, Jean Reno has distinguished himself in a wide range of roles, demonstrating a rare versatility. His talent has shone as much in comedy, with characters such as Count Godefroy in “Les Visiteurs”, as in poignant drama, like Léon, the melancholy hitman in the film of the same name. This ability to navigate between genres and emotions is a testament to his artistic depth. His collaboration with Luc Besson was undoubtedly the most emblematic, giving birth to cult characters. But his filmography extends far beyond that. Films such as “Ronin”, in which he reveals a talent for the action thriller, or “The Big Blue”, in which he plunges into the emotional depths of the abyss, illustrate his diversity. Each collaboration, whether with French or international directors, has given Reno a palette for depicting varied facets of the human experience, consolidating his status as a giant of world cinema.

Jean Reno on the international stage

Jean Reno is an iconic figure in French cinema, but his influence extends far beyond France’s borders. The world quickly discovered and embraced this actor of undeniable charisma. In Hollywood, his performance in “Ronin” alongside Robert De Niro established Reno as an undisputed force in action cinema. His role in “Mission: Impossible” with Tom Cruise introduced him to an even wider audience, consolidating his status as an international actor. Acclaimed for his role in “Godzilla”, he presented a nuanced performance to an American public hungry for new stars. His collaboration in “The Da Vinci Code”, based on the worldwide bestseller, propelled him to the forefront of the global stage, offering him unprecedented visibility. This ability to integrate and shine on international stages demonstrates not only his talent, but also his versatility and willingness to embrace a variety of cultures. In a globalised world, Jean Reno embodies the cosmopolitan artist, uniting audiences through his exceptional artistry.

Honours and awards

Throughout his prolific career, Jean Reno has been honoured with numerous distinctions, testifying to his exceptional contribution to the world of cinema. In 2000, he won the European Film Prize, and in 2012, the François Truffaut Prize at the Giffoni Film Festival. Internationally, his work has also been recognised at various festivals, where he has often been praised for his outstanding performances. In addition to strictly film awards, Jean Reno has also been honoured by the French government for his contribution to culture, being awarded the Ordre de Mérite in 2003, Officier des Arts et des Lettres in 2007 and Officier de la Légion d’honneur in 2008. These awards and distinctions, while prestigious, are only the tip of the iceberg in his career. They symbolise decades of dedication, passion and true artistry.

The actor’s private life

Although he is a public figure, the actor’s private life is marked by a discretion and humility that are characteristic of the man. Behind the cameras, Reno is a devoted father and loving husband. Married several times, he has been lucky enough to fall in love at different stages of his life and to welcome several children. Passionate about the sea and diving, he has often sought refuge in these moments of escape to recharge his batteries far from the hustle and bustle of Hollywood or film sets. Very attached to his origins, he has never forgotten his roots and has often evoked the influence of his native culture in his life and work. Despite his international stardom, Jean Reno has always sought to maintain a balance between his dazzling professional career and a serene, well-established family life.

Jean Reno’s filmography

  • 1979 : L’Hypothèse du tableau volé de Raoul Ruiz : un personnage du tableau
  • 1979 : Clair de femme de Costa-Gavras : l’agent de la circulation
  • 1980 : Voulez-vous un bébé Nobel ? de Robert Pouret : Bernier
  • 1981 : Les Bidasses aux grandes manœuvres de Raphaël Delpard : le lieutenant Zag
  • 1981 : On n’est pas des anges… elles non plus de Michel Lang
  • 1982 : La Passante du Sans-Souci de Jacques Rouffio : la petite frappe
  • 1983 : Le Dernier Combat de Luc Besson : la brute
  • 1983 : Signes extérieurs de richesse de Jacques Monnet : Marc Letellier
  • 1984 : Notre histoire de Bertrand Blier : un voisin
  • 1985 : Le téléphone sonne toujours deux fois de Jean-Pierre Vergne : l’homme de confiance de Marraine
  • 1985 : Strictement personnel de Pierre Jolivet : le détective Villechaize
  • 1985 : Subway de Luc Besson : le batteur
  • 1986 : Zone rouge de Robert Enrico : Leccia
  • 1986 : I Love You de Marco Ferreri : le dentiste
  • 1988 : Le Grand Bleu de Luc Besson : Enzo Molinari
  • 1990 : Nikita de Luc Besson : Victor, le « nettoyeur »
  • 1990 : L’Homme au masque d’or, d’Éric Duret : le père Victorio Gaetano
  • 1991 : L’Opération Corned Beef de Jean-Marie Poiré : l’espion Philippe Boulier dit « le Squale »
  • 1992 : Loulou Graffiti de Christian Lejalé : Pique la lune
  • 1993 : Les Visiteurs de Jean-Marie Poiré : Godefroy de Montmirail
  • 1994 : Léon de Luc Besson : Léon
  • 1995 : Les Truffes de Bernard Nauer : Patrick
  • 1995 : Par-delà les nuages de Michelangelo Antonioni : Carlo
  • 1995 : French Kiss de Lawrence Kasdan : Jean-Paul
  • 1996 : Le Jaguar de Francis Veber : Jean Campana
  • 1996 : Mission impossible de Brian De Palma : Franz Krieger
  • 1997 : Un amour de sorcière de René Manzor : Molok
  • 1997 : Les Sœurs Soleil de Jeannot Szwarc : un spectateur
  • 1997 : Pour l’amour de Roseanna de Paul Weiland : Marcello
  • 1998 : Les Couloirs du temps : Les Visiteurs 2 de Jean-Marie Poiré : Godefroy de Montmirail
  • 1998 : Godzilla de Roland Emmerich : Philippe Roache
  • 1998 : Ronin de John Frankenheimer : Vincent
  • 2000 : Les Rivières pourpres de Mathieu Kassovitz : le commissaire Pierre Niemans
  • 2001 : Wasabi de Gérard Krawczyk : Hubert Fiorentini
  • 2001 : Les Visiteurs en Amérique de Jean-Marie Poiré : Thibault de Malfète
  • 2002 : Rollerball de John McTiernan : Alexis Petrovitch
  • 2002 : Décalage horaire de Danièle Thompson : Félix
  • 2003 : Tais-toi ! de Francis Veber : Ruby
  • 2004 : Les Rivières pourpres 2 : Les Anges de l’apocalypse de Olivier Dahan : Pierre Niemans
  • 2004 : L’Enquête corse de Alain Berberian : Ange Leoni
  • 2004 : Hôtel Rwanda de Terry George : le président de Sabena Airlines
  • 2005 : L’Empire des loups de Chris Nahon : Jean-Louis Schiffer
  • 2005 : Le Tigre et la Neige de Roberto Benigni : Fouad
  • 2005 : Da Vinci Code de Ron Howard : le commissaire Bézu Fache
  • 2005 : Flyboys de Tony Bill : le capitaine Thenault
  • 2006 : La Panthère rose de Shawn Levy : Ponton
  • 2008 : Cash de Éric Besnard : Maxime Dubreuil
  • 2009 : La Panthère rose 2 de Harald Zwart : Ponton
  • 2009 : Blindés de Nimród Antal : Quinn
  • 2009 : Le Premier Cercle de Laurent Tuel : Milo Malakian
  • 2009 : Thérapie de couples de Peter Billingsley : Marcel
  • 2010 : L’Immortel de Richard Berry : Charly Mattei
  • 2010 : La Rafle de Roselyne Bosch : Dr. David Sheinbaum
  • 2011 : On ne choisit pas sa famille de Christian Clavier : Luix
  • 2012 : Comme un chef de Daniel Cohen : Alexandre Lagarde
  • 2012 : Margaret de Kenneth Lonergan : Ramon
  • 2012 : Les Seigneurs d’Olivier Dahan : lui-même
  • 2012 : Alex Cross de Rob Cohen : Léon Mercier
  • 2014 : Avis de mistral de Roselyne Bosch : Paul
  • 2014 : Hector et la Recherche du bonheur de Peter Chelsom : Diego
  • 2014 : Benoît Brisefer : Les Taxis rouges de Manuel Pradal : Poilonez
  • 2014 : Days and Nights de Christian Camargo : Louis
  • 2015 : Antigang de Benjamin Rocher : Serge Buren
  • 2016 : L’Aigle et l’enfant (Brothers of the Wind) de Gerardo Olivares : Danzer
  • 2016 : Les Visiteurs : La Révolution de Jean-Marie Poiré : Godefroy de Montmirail
  • 2016 : The Last Face de Sean Penn : Docteur Mehmet Love
  • 2016 : La Promesse (The Promise) de Terry George : Amiral Louis Dartige du Fournet
  • 2017 : Mes trésors de Pascal Bourdiaux : Patrick
  • 2017 : The Adventurers de Stephen Fung : Pierre Bisette
  • 2017 : La Fille dans le brouillard (La ragazza nella nebbia) de Donato Carrisi : Augusto Flores
  • 2019 : Cold Blood Legacy : La Mémoire du sang de Frédéric Petitjean : Henry
  • 2019 : 4L (es) (4 latas) de Gerardo Olivares : Jean-Pierre
  • 2019 : Polina d’Olias Barco : Écran Hologramme
  • 2020 : Anya (Waiting for Anya) de Ben Cookson : Henri
  • 2020 : Da 5 Bloods : Frères de sang (Da 5 Bloods) de Spike Lee : Desroches
  • 2020 : The Doorman de Ryûhei Kitamura : Victor Dubois
  • 2020 : Bronx d’Olivier Marchal : Ange Leonetti
  • 2020 : Le Dernier voyage de Romain Quirot : Henri W. R.
  • 2021 : Les Promesses d’Amanda Sthers : Grand-père
  • 2023 : Antigang, la relève de Benjamin Rocher : Serge Buren
  • 2024 : Lift de F. Gary Gray

Jean Reno, icon of French cinema

Jean Reno is a world-renowned actor who embodies the excellence of French cinema, while at the same time having an international impact. From his outstanding roles to his prestigious awards, his career has been an inspiration to many. Beyond the spotlight, Reno remains a man attached to his values and his family, always seeking a balance between the world of show business and his private life. His rich and varied career and his deep commitment to the arts remind us that talent, passion and perseverance can transcend borders and touch the hearts of millions.


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