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Irène Jacob (1966)

Irene Marie Jacob

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  Summary  

Irène Marie Jacob is a French-born Swiss actress considered one of the preeminent French actresses of her generation. Jacob gained international recognition and acclaim through her work with Polish film director Krzysztof Kieślowski, who cast her in the lead role of The Double Life of Véronique and Three Colors: Red. She came to represent an image of European sophistication, through her "classic beauty and thoughtful, almost melancholic style of acting."

  Biography  

 early life
Irène Jacob was born in Suresnes, Hauts-de-Seine, a western suburb of Paris. The youngest child with three older brothers, she was raised in a highly educated and intellectual family and environment: her father Maurice Jacob was a physicist; her mother, a psychologist; one brother Francis Jacob, a musician; and two brothers, scientists.
In 1969, at the age of three, Irène moved with her family to Geneva, Switzerland, where she became interested in the arts.

My family was very shy with feelings and never spoke about them, but we evolved a little bit. I think part of the reason I was attracted to theater was because I wanted to be close to stories because they could help me relate to my family.

Jacob developed an interest in performing after seeing the films of Charlie Chaplin. "They took my heart", she has recalled. "They made me laugh and cry, and that was exactly what I was waiting for in a film: to awaken me to my feelings."

She made her stage debut in 1977 at the age of 11. She attended the Geneva Conservatory of Music and earned a degree in languages . She also studied at the Dramatic Studio in London, England. In 1984, she moved to Paris, where she studied acting at the prestigious Rue Blanche .

 film career
In 1987, Jacob returned to Paris, where the 21-year-old drama student obtained her first movie role in the Louis Malle film Au revoir, les enfants, playing the part of a piano teacher. She followed her film debut with six additional French movies—mostly minor roles—in four years.

In 1991, Polish film director Krzysztof Kieślowski cast her in the lead role of his film The Double Life of Véronique, the allegorical story of two young women, one in Poland and the other in France, both of whom are played by Jacob. For her performance, Jacob won the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival.

From 1992 to 1993, despite numerous offers from Hollywood that came in the wake of her success—including the lead role in Indecent Proposal—Jacob focused on smaller French films.

In 1994, Jacob again earned international acclaim as the protagonist in Kieślowski's Three Colors: Red, which received three Academy Award nominations for Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Screenplay. The film was also named Best Film or Best Foreign Film by the National Board of Review, New York Film Critics Circle Awards, National Society of Film Critics Awards, and Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards. It received César Award nominations for Best Film, Best Actor (Jean-Louis Trintignant), Best Actress (Irène Jacob), Best Director (Krzysztof Kieślowski), Best Writing (Krzysztof Kieślowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz). The New York Times included the film in its list of "The Best 1000 Movies Ever Made."

An introvert by nature, Jacob has the remarkable ability to express the emotional turmoil of her characters with very few words. This was very evident in her performance in Three Colors: Red, the third part of Kieślowski's trilogy. Jacob described her unique experience working with the Polish film director:

The camera was really like a microscope. Krzysztof was always very close and very precise in his directions. It was not something he talked about beforehand; he would only work on the set. He liked to rehearse just before a take, if at all.

Her performance in Three Colors: Red gained huge international recognition, bringing many offers from major American motion-picture studios. But again, Jacob retreated from the growing interest and fame and took nine months off, spending most of her time reading Tolstoy, Balzac, Singer, and several autobiographies.

From 1995 to 1999, Jacob made a series of American and European films that met with varying degrees of commercial and critical success. In 1995, she appeared in six films, including Victory, with Willem Dafoe and Sam Neill; Michelangelo Antonioni's Beyond the Clouds; and Oliver Parker's adaptation of William Shakespeare's Othello, in which Jacob spoke all of her lines in English for the first time on film. In the following years, she made several moderately successful American films, including Incognito ; U.S. Marshals , starring opposite Wesley Snipes and Tommy Lee Jones; The Big Brass Ring , with William Hurt; and the entertaining History Is Made at Night , with Bill Pullman and Bruno Kirby.

Beginning in 2000, Jacob's film career slowed down, and after a series of independent—mostly European—films, she revived her theatre career. In 2000, she played the title character in Madame Melville opposite Macaulay Culkin in London's West End, which was crucial to her further development as an actress. She continues to make films.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Жакоб, Ирен", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.