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Jean Marais

French actor and theatre director
The basics
Occupation Film actor Actor Sculptor Painter Theatre director Film director Autobiographer
Country France
AKA Jean-Alfred Villain-Marais
Date of birth Cherbourg
Date of death Nov 08, 1998 Cannes
Spouse: Mila Parély
Education Lycée Condorcet
Authority NNDB id Library of congress id ISNI id IMDB id VIAF id
The details

Jean-Alfred Villain-Marais, also known as Jean Marais (French: [ʒɑ̃ maʁɛ]; 11 December 1913 – 8 November 1998), 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.

Early life

A native of Cherbourg, France, Marais was a son of Alfred Emmanuel Victor Paul Villain-Marais and his wife, the former Aline Marie Louise Vassord.


In 1933, he was discovered by filmmaker Marcel L'Herbier who purchased one of his paintings, then cast him in two films L'Épervier and L'Aventurier.

Marais starred in several movies directed by Jean Cocteau, for a time his lover and a lifelong friend, most famously Beauty and the Beast (1946) and Orphée (1949).

In the 1950s, Marais became a star of swashbuckling pictures, enjoying great box office popularity in France. He performed his own stunts. In the 1960s, he played both the famed villain and the hero of the Fantômas trilogy. In 1963, he was a member of the jury at the 3rd Moscow International Film Festival.

"Le passe muraille" (The Walker Through Walls), a sculpture by Jean Marais

After 1970, Marais's on-screen performances became few and far between, as he preferred concentrating on his stage work. He performed on stage until his eighties, also working as a sculptor. His sculpture "Le passe muraille" (The Walker Through Walls) can be seen in the Montmartre Quarter of Paris.

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.

Personal life

He was married for two years to the actress Mila Parély, with whom he later performed in Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast.

Marais, who was homosexual, 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 learned that he had a biological son, Serge Ayala, whom he recognized in 1962 and who eventually took the name Serge Villain-Marais. This son, who became a singer and an actor, committed suicide in 2012 at age 69.


Marais died from cardiovascular disease in Cannes, Alpes-Maritimes, in 1998. He is interred there at Vallauris cemetery.

In popular culture

His life story became the inspiration for the 1980 François Truffaut film The Last Metro.


Year Title Role Director
1933 Dans les rues uncredited Victor Trivas
L'Épervier uncredited Marcel L'Herbier
Étienne uncredited Jean Tarride
1934 Le Scandale the liftboy Marcel L'Herbier
L'Aventurier the young worker
Le Bonheur uncredited
1936 Les Hommes nouveaux the office clerk
Nuits de feu uncredited
1937 Abus de confiance Marais Henri Decoin
Bizarre, Bizarre uncredited Marcel Carné
1941 Le Pavillon brûle Daniel Jacques de Baroncelli
1942 Le Lit à colonnes Rémi Bonvent Roland Tual
1942 Carmen Christian-Jaque
1943 L'Éternel retour Patrice Jean Delannoy
Voyage sans espoir Alain Ginestier Christian-Jaque
1945 Carmen Don José
1946 Beauty and the Beast The Beast / The Prince / Avenant Jean Cocteau
1947 The Royalists the Marquis de Montauran Henri Calef
Ruy Blas (fr) 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
1949 Orphée Orphée
1950 Le Château de verre Rémy Marsay René Clément
Les Miracles n'ont lieu qu'une fois Jérôme Yves Allégret
1951 Nez de cuir 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
Les Amants de minuit 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
Napoléon Montholon Sacha Guitry
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
Fantômas Fantômas/Fandor André Hunebelle
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 (fr) (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
1985 Parking Hades Jacques Demy
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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