Isabelle Adjani (born 27 June 1955) is a French film actress and singer. Adjani has appeared in 30 films since 1970. She holds the record for most César Awards for Best Actress with five, for Possession (1981), One Deadly Summer (1983), Camille Claudel (1988), Queen Margot (1994) and Skirt Day (2009).
Adjani was also given a double Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award in 1981 and a Berlin Film Festival Best Actress Award in 1989. She also received two Academy Award nominations for Best Actress.
She performs in French, English and German
Isabelle Yasmine Adjani was born in an immigrant neighborhood Gennevilliers, Hauts-de-Seine, a suburb of Paris to an Algerian father from Constantine, Algeria.
In an interview in 1985, Adjani explained that her mother Augusta used to say her husband, Mohammed Cherif Adjani, was of Turkish origin because she was ashamed of his Algerian origin. She also asked him to change his first name to Cherif as it sounded more "American". Mohammed Cherif Adjani, was a soldier in the French Army in World War II. Her mother Augusta, called "Gusti", was German.
Adjani grew up bi-lingual, speaking German and French fluently.
After winning a school recitation contest, Adjani began acting in amateur theater by the age of twelve.
At the age of 14, Adjani starred in her first motion picture Le Petit bougnat (1970).
Adjani first gained fame as a classical actress for her interpretation of Agnès, the main female role in Molière's L'École des femmes, but soon left the Comédie française she had joined in 1972, to pursue a film career. After minor roles in several films, she enjoyed modest success in the 1974 film La Gifle (or The Slap). The following year, she landed her first major role in François Truffaut's The Story of Adèle H. Critics enthused over her performance, with Pauline Kael calling her acting talents "Prodigious". Only nineteen when she made the film, she was nominated for the Best Actress Oscar and offers for roles in Hollywood films, such as Walter Hill's 1978 crime thriller The Driver. She then played Lucy in Werner Herzog's 1979 remake of Nosferatu (1979).
In 1981, Adjani received the Cannes Film Festival's best actress award for the Merchant Ivory film Quartet based on the novel by Jean Rhys, and for the horror film Possession. The following year, she received her first César Award for Possession, in which she portrays a woman having a nervous breakdown. In 1983, she won the César, for her depiction of a vengeful woman in the blockbuster One Deadly Summer. That same year, she released the French pop album Pull marine written and produced by Serge Gainsbourg. She starred in a music video for the hit title song Pull Marine, which was directed by Luc Besson.
In 1988, she co-produced and starred in a biopic of the sculptor Camille Claudel. She received her third César and second Oscar nomination for her role in the film, which was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Following this publicity, she was chosen by People magazine as one of the '50 Most Beautiful People' in the world. In 2011 she was named 'The Most Beautiful Woman in Film' by the Los Angeles Times magazine. Her fourth César win was for the 1994 film Queen Margot, an ensemble epic directed by Patrice Chéreau.
In 1979 she had a son, Barnabe Nuytten with cinematographer Bruno Nuytten. Adjani was romantically linked to actor Warren Beatty from 1986 to 1987, and Daniel Day Lewis from 1989 to 1995. He left her during her pregnancy with their son, Gabriel-Kane Day-Lewis, who was born in 1995.
Adjani was also engaged to composer Jean Michel Jarre; they broke up in 2004.
In 2009, she denounced statements by Pope Benedict XVI claiming that condoms are not an effective method of AIDS prevention.
Adjani was made a Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur on 14 July 2010.