Benoît Magimel, a Celebrated but Troubled Actor

Benoît Magimel, a Celebrated but Troubled Actor

While Virginie Efira took the Best Actress César this year, Benoît Magimel took the Best Actor gong for his role as De Roller in Albert Serra’s political thriller, Pacifiction. But life hasn’t always been a success story for our leading man.

Born in Paris in 1974, Magimel made an early foray into the world of acting, dropping out of school at 16 to pursue his career, having already appeared in the comedy La Vie est un Long Fleuve Tranquille (1988) by director Étienne Chatiliez. Top billing in 1989’s Papa est Parti, Maman Aussi by Christine Lipinsk came next, followed by years of bread-and-butter TV and film roles. His breakthrough was 1997’s César nomination for Most Promising Actor for his performance alongside Catherine Deneuve and Daniel Auteuil in André Téchiné’s Thieves. More leading roles – often playing violent and unpleasant characters – followed and in 1999 he appeared in Children of the Century with Juliette Binoche, whom he went on to marry and have a daughter with (the couple split in 2003).

The new century saw Magimel attracting ever better roles in ever more popular films: The Piano Teacher (2001), The Flower of Evil (2003), Sky Fighters (2005)… And by 2006, he had been made a Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, cementing his place in the French film industry. In recent years, one of his most famous films has been Guillaume Canet’s hit comedy Les Petits Mouchoirs. Magimel also appeared in the 2019 sequel, Nous Finirons Ensemble. And Netflix viewers will known him from political drama Marseille, in which he appeared with Gérard Depardieu.

Off-screen, however, Magimel has had his fair share of problems. In Paris in 2016, while driving a rental car without a licence, he hit a 62-year-old woman and was charged with a hit and run and driving under the influence of cocaine The following year he was arrested, again in Paris, for driving the wrong way on a one-way street. He was found to have pouches containing heroin with him, although he had none in his system. He was given a three-month suspended sentence for possession.

But despite his troubles, his star continues to burn bright. This is the second year in a row he has won the César Award for Best Actor, having won in 2022 for Emmanuelle Bercot’s Peaceful.

Benoît Magimel’s 10-second CV

Name: Benoît Magimel
Born: May 11, 1974, in Paris to a nurse mother and banker father.
Early career
Magimel was just 14 when he scored his first film role, dropping out his lycée at 16 to follow his dream of being an actor.
I know the face…
Most recently for British and American audiences, Magimel has been appearing on our screens via Netflix drama series Marseille, in which he plays Gérard Depardieu’s former protegé and arch rival, Lucas Barres.
Where will we see him next?
We strongly recommend you add Pacifiction to your watch list: this political thriller in which Magimel plays Tahiti’s High Commissioner De Roller is an exploration of the nature of evil.
C’est pas vrai!
Magimel provided the voice for the Ken doll in the French dubbed version of the Pixar movie Toy Story 3 in 2010. And gamers may know him as his voice is used in the video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.

From France Today magazine

Lead photo credit : Benoît Magimel in Pacifiction © Les Films du Losange

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