Jean-Paul Belmondo was born on 9 April 1933 in Neuilly-sur-Seine. His father, Paul Belmondo, was a sculptor, and his mother, Madeleine Raynaud-Richard, a painter.
Jean-Paul Belmondo spent his adolescence in Paris. With little interest in the school curriculum, he quickly turned to sports, particularly boxing, which he even practised at a high level.
An artist's soul
At the age of 15, after leaving school, he started theatre lessons and discovered his passion, which would become his profession: that of an actor. In 1951, Jean-Paul Belmondo entered the Conservatoire National de Paris. In 1952, he was spotted as an auditor and continued his training for 4 years.
At that time, he became friends with Jean Rochefort, Jean-Pierre Marielle and Bruno Cremer. In the 1950s, he began his acting career with Médée, Le malade imaginaire, Fantasio and Oscar. In 1958, he got his first film role in Sois belle et tais-toi by Marc Allégret. The actor was then called up for his military service in Algeria.
A strong comeback
On his return, Jean-Paul Belmondo landed a role in Claude Chabrol's A Double Tour. Later, the famous director Jean-Luc Godard gave him the leading role in À bout de souffle in 1960.
He quickly became one of the favourite actors of the French New Wave of the 1960s. He soon reunited with Godard to make Une femme est une femme in 1961 and Pierrot le fou in 1965.
In the 70s and 80s, the actor starred in action films and founded his own production company: Cerito Films in 1971.
A frantic pace
He starred in La Scoumoune (1972), Le magnifique (1973), Peur sur la ville (1975), Le professionnel (1981), L'as des as (1982)... Le solitaire was the last crime film in which he played, and he returned to the stage with the play Kean.
In 1989, he won the César for Best Actor for Claude Lelouch's Itinerary of a Spoilt Child. In 2001, the French actor suffered a stroke, from which he recovered despite the after-effects. In 2009, he played in the film Un homme et son chien, directed by Francis Huster.
In 2011, Jean-Paul Belmondo received a Palme d'honneur at the Cannes Film Festival. In 2015, his son Paul unveiled a documentary about his father's life. Jean-Paul Belmondo had 3 children from his union with the dancer Élodie Constant—Patricia in 1954 (died in 1994), Florence in 1960, and Paul in 1963. He also had a daughter, Stella, born in 2003, from his union with Natty Tardivel.