Jean Alfred Villain-Marais, better known as Jean Marais (11 December 1913 8 November 1998), was a French stage and screen actor, writer, stage director and sculptor.
He was The Muse and longtime lover of acclaimed director and multifaceted artist Jean Cocteau, who directed Beauty and the Beast, his big break at age 33 (he's been acting since the age of 20), and Orpheus, Marais' other famous role at the time.
He became a prominent leading man in the 1950s and 1960s, and performed in over 100 films in his career. In 1996, he was awarded the French Legion of Honor for his contributions to French cinema.
Some of his roles:
- Beauty and the Beast (1946) as The Beast / Avenant
- Les Chouans (1947) as the marquis of Montauran
- Ruy Blas (1948) as Ruy Blas / Don César de Bazan
- Orpheus (1950) as Orpheus
- The Count of Monte Cristo (1954) as Edmond Dantès/Count of Monte Cristo
- The Testament of Orpheus (1959) as dipus
- Le Bossu (1959) as Henri de Lagardère
- Austerlitz (1960) as Carnot
- Le Capitan (1960) as François de Capestang
- Le Capitaine Fracasse (1961) as Baron Philippe de Sigognac
- The Iron Mask (1962) as D'Artagnan
- Fantômas film series (1964-1967) as Fandor / Fantômas
- The Saint Lies in Wait (1966) as Simon Templar
- Les Misérables (1995) as Bishop Bienvenu Myriel / 1942 bishop
Tropes associated with his works:
- Acting for Two: He played two different roles in the same film in Beauty and the Beast, in Ruy Blas and in the Fantômas trilogy.
- Knight in Shining Armor: His Typecasting in 1950s/1960s French swashbucking films in a nutshell. A man of honor who fights for justice and stops at nothing to protect his friends and loved ones. The Iron Mask stands out among these with his humorous and Large Ham take on the character of D'Artagnan.
- MayDecember Romance: In the 1960s, he was often romantically paired on film with actresses who were 20 years younger than him or more.
- Swashbuckler: Starting in the late 1950s, he played quite a few dashing swashbuckling heroes, in films such as La Tour prends garde!, Le Bossu, Le Capitan, Le Capitaine Fracasse and The Iron Mask.