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Jacqueline Bisset

Jacqueline Bisset

A truly international film star, Jacqueline Bisset has undertaken a diverse range of dramatic and comedic challenges in the more than 50 films in which she has appeared, winning raves from critics and fans alike. She moves easily from theatrical to television films, here in the United States as well as in Europe, where she is equally at home performing in both English and French language projects.

Her latest project with director John Irvin, entitled The Physical Education of Girls, is based on the book Mine Ha- Ha, Or Physical Education of Young Girls, by German author Frank Wedekind in which she plays a strict headmistress at an unusual and mysterious girls' school.

Her most recent film projects have been with interesting young directors, in provocative and demanding roles, including Sleepy Time Gal, which premiered at Sundance, going on to the Edinburgh Film Festival, the Berlin Film Festival and festivals in New York and Chicago, to great acclaim. Written and directed by Christopher Munch, Bisset's role is a tour de force as a woman facing a serious illness crisis while trying to settle some unfinished relationships in her life. She also starred in Fascination on location in Puerto Rico for writer/director Klaus Menze, portraying a woman suspected of her husband's murder when she quickly remarries after his death, as well as Later Days for writer/director A.J. Cox (Sweet Home Alabama).

Other film projects have included Britanic, for the producers of Gods & Monsters, and New Year's Day, with Michael Kitchen and Jean Marie Baptiste, for the producers of Secrets and Lies, which premiered at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. She also made a departure from her usual dramatic roles to do the French film, Les Gens S'il Qui Aiment, a frothy comedy romp. This film, which translates to People who Like Each Other, premiered at the Chicago Film Festival, and had a special screening at the Palm Springs Film Festival.

Bisset also starred in Warner Bros' Dangerous Beauty (released overseas as A Destiny of Her Own). Set in 1560's Venice, she portrayed a woman who teaches her daughter to be a successful courtesan, other than being a wife, nun or scullery maid. Bisset co-starred with Catherine McCormack and Rufus Sewell.

Bisset previously starred in Claude Charbrol's La Cermonie, named best foreign film by the Los Angeles Critics Association. In this psychological drama, Bisset's character, the wife in an affluent French suburban family, hires a housekeeper with terrifying results. Other projects have included Don't Talk to Strangers with Teresa Russell, for CBS, as well as starring in two original films for Showtime. Bisset is one of the few stars whose production schedule is as international as her publicity. She frequently mixes French or Italian productions with her major Hollywood projects. Bisset has worked with such international stars as Phillipe Noiret, Jean Paul Belmondo and Jürgen Prochnow, as well as American and English leading men, including Paul Newman, Mickey Rourke, Nick Nolte, Albert Finney, Anthony Andrews, Paul Scofield and Martin Sheen. The result has been classic box office and critical success.

Bisset's film productions often take her to far off locales. The Italian production, Rossini, Rossini was filmed in Italy; she paired with Rourke for Wild Orchid in Brazil; Les Marmottes, L'Amoureuse and The Maid (opposite Martin Sheen) took her to France; Scenes From a Class Struggle in Beverly Hills was shot in the title city; Greek Tycoon and High Season had her filming in the Greek Isles, and Hoffman's Hunger was shot in Holland, Morocco and Czechoslovakia.

Bisset is best known for her powerful dramatic performances in Under the Volcano, Anna Karenina, Forbidden, and opposite George C. Scott in the powerful ABC drama, Choices. John Huston's adaptation of the modern classic Malcom Lowry novel, Under the Volcano, teamed her with Albert Finney and brought Bisset some of the most laudatory reviews of her career, in addition to a Golden Glove nomination for Best Dramatic Actress. The film was warmly received when it premiered as the official American entry at the Cannes Film Festival, and was a highly critical success throughout the world.

Anna Karenina, Tolstoy's tragic heroine previously interpreted by Greta Garbo and Vivien Leigh, marked Bisset's initial starring venture on television. With Bisset playing opposite Paul Scofield, the three-hour production was filmed by Rastar Productions for CBS-TV. For her work in Forbidden, Bisset received a Best Actress nomination in the ACE balloting, and again earned glowing reviews after American HBO showings and international theatrical distribution. On television, she starred with Martin Landau in NBC's biblical mini-series, In the Beginning, as Sarah to Landau's Abraham, returning her to the same Moroccan locations where she previously filmed the CBS mini-series Jesus, in which she played Mary, mother of Jesus. That mini-series became Italy's highest rated program of the year when it premiered there. For her role in the CBS mini-series Joan of Arc, in which she played Joan's mother, Isabelle D'Arc, she garnered both an Emmy and Golden Globe nomination. Earlier that year, she starred with Linda Hamilton in the Lifetime Original Movie, Sex and Mrs. X, adding a French madam to her roster of roles.

Bisset has established her own unique blend of intelligence beauty and talent, whether she performs in classic tragedy or in the mixes of comedy and dramas, which have characterized her successes. Her rich and varied career ranges from such films as Francois Truffaut's Day for Night, Peter Yate's The Deep, Bullitt with Steve McQueen, George Cukor's Rich and famous, and the three-part mini-series Napoleon and Josephine, in which she and Armand Assante starred in the title roles.

She was born Jacqueline Fraser Bisset in Weybridge, Surrey, England, her father a Scottish doctor and her French mother a lawyer. Modeling assignments led to small parts in features such as Richard Lester's The Knack in 1965, Arrividerchi Baby starring Tony Curtis in 1966, and a small, featured role in Roman Polanski's Cul-de-Sac in 1966.

It was the 1967 James Bond spoof Casino Royal that won Bisset a long-term contract at 20th Century Fox. An impressive list of films followed in short order, including Stanley Donen's Two for the Road (1967), The Sweet Ride, and a role opposite Frank Sinatra in The Detective.

In 1970, she was one of the stars of Airport, Universal Studio's highest-grossing film at the time. That same year, she also starred in The Grasshopper, a tour-de-force role that earned her stellar reviews.

In 1972, Francois Truffaut cast Bisset as an unstable Hollywood actress recovering from an emotional breakdown. Other foreign productions in which she has appeared include France's Le Magnifique with Jean-Paul Belmondo, Sunday Woman, a French-Italian production with Marcello Mastroianni and Jean Louis Trintignant, and the Italian Together? with Maximillian Schell and Terrance Stamp. Then, in 1977, Bisset starred with Nick Nolte and Robert Shaw in one of the all-time box office hits, The Deep.

Other roles which added to her international stardom included The Thief Who Came to Dinner, Huston's The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, The Greek Tycoon, in which she teamed with Anthony Quinn in a pairing reminiscent of Jacqueline Kennedy and Aristotle Onasis, Sydney Lumet's Murder on the Orient Express, and Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? Her emergence as one of the international film world's most lustrous stars once landed her on the covers of both Newsweek and People in the same week. She has subsequently graced the covers of most of the world's most-esteemed magazines.

Based in Los Angeles, Bisset divides her time between America and Europe.


Note: This profile was written in or before 2005.
Read earlier biographies on this page.

Jacqueline Bisset Facts

Birth NameWinnifred Jacqueline Fraser-Bisset
OccupationActress
BirthdaySeptember 13, 1944 (73)
SignVirgo
BirthplaceWeybridge, Surrey, England, United Kingdom
Height5' 6½" (1m69)  How tall is Jacqueline Bisset compared to you?

Selected Filmography

Famous T & A
Bullitt
Welcome to New York
Dangerous Beauty
Mephisto Waltz, The
Latter Days
Sex & Mrs. X
Airport: The Complete Collection
Save the Last Dance 2
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