Oscar Actors: Adjani, Isabelle–French Actress with Two Best Actress Nominations

Born June 27, 1955 in Paris.

At 12, Isabelle Adjani won a prize for recitation at school and began appearing in amateur stage productions and at 14 made her film debut during a summer vacation. She appeared in a second film two years later under similar circumstances, while continuing her high school education. By the time she graduated, she was appearing on French TV and in provincial stage productions. In 1972, with no previous formal training and just her limited acting experience, she became a member of the Comedie Francaise and began drawing ecstatic rave notices from critics for her performances in plays by Moliere, Lorca, and Giraudoux. She was called a phenomenon of her generation and the greatest young actress to grace the French stage in years.

The Comedie offered her a 20year contract, but she rejected it because it would have limited her outside opportunities, and instead accepted an invitation from Francois Truffaut to play the title role in his film “L’Histoire d’ Adele H.” (“The Story of Adele H.”) (1975). She gave a mature, intricate, and altogether magnificent performance in the complex role as the tormented daughter of Victor Hugo who is consumed by her passion for a young British lieutenant, driving herself to madness in pursuing him to Nova Scotia and Barbados.

Hailed by many critics as the most extraordinary screen personality to come along since Jeanne Moreau, Adjani was nominated for an Oscar and won several international awards for her work in that film and went on to become France’s top female movie star.

Adjani was named best actress at Cannes in 1981 for “Possession” and won Cesar Awards for “Possession” and “Camille Claudel.”

For “Camille Claudel” (1988), she also received the Berlin Festival actress prize and a second Oscar nomination for her brilliant portrayal as the sculptress who was the muse and the mistress of sculptor Auguste Rodin.

Oscar Alert

In 1975, Adjani competed for the Best Actress Oscar with Ann-Margret in the musical “Tommy,” Louise Fletcher (who won) in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” Glenda Jackson in “Hedda,” and Carol Kane in “Hester Street.”

In 1989, Adjani competed for the Best Actress Oscar with Pauline Collins in “Shirley Valentine,” Jessica Lange in “The Music Box,”
Michelle Pfeiffer in “The Fabulous Baker Boys,” and Jessica Tandy (who won) in “Driving Miss Daisy.”