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Jean Reno Biography

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Birth Name: Jean Reno
Born: 07/30/1948
Birth Place: Morocco

Born Juan Moreno y Herrera Jiménez on July 30, 1948 in Casablanca, Morocco, Reno was raised by his Spanish Andalusian parents who fled to North Africa to escape the dictatorship of Francisco Franco. When he was 17, Reno and family relocated to France, where he began acting after high school, attending a French-government sponsored drama school. He made his professional stage debut in a Parisian production of "Ecce Homo" (1974), then spent the next couple of years honing his craft onstage. Reno made his screen debut playing a small role in "L'Hypothese du tableau vole" (1978), and the following year, had another small role in Costa-Gavras' "Clair de femme" (1979). After appearing in several minor parts, Reno landed his first substantial feature role in his first collaboration with Luc Besson in "Le Dernier combat" (1983), the director's dialogue-less sci-fi film about a bleak and desolate world where people are physically unable to speak. Following a second outing with Besson on "Subway" (1985), Reno teamed up with the director a third time in what proved to be his breakout film, "The Big Blue" (1988), for which he earned critical praise for his portrayal of a champion diver who fights off competition from an old friend and rival (Jean-Marc Barr).

With his career on the rise in France, it was only a matter of time until Reno was introduced to American audiences. Reno collaborated with Besson once again, playing the partner of a drug addict-turned-government assassin (Anne Parillaud) in the action thriller classic, "La Femme Nikita" (1991). Reno's character helped establish his later onscreen persona - cool, calculating and amoral, while retaining the impression that he was human underneath it all. Released in France in 1990, the film earned a cult following after its release in the United States the next year, introducing Reno to a wider audience. Over the years, "Le Femme Nikita" became the model for which many crime thrillers were based, including an American remake starring Bridget Fonda and a long-running television series on USA Network. Reno next played a sympathetic priest who moonlights as a wrestler in order to raise money for his church's projects in "L'Homme au masque d'or" (1990). He then had a much-applauded turn as Godefroy de Montmirail, a valiant nobleman from the Musketeer-days transported to the 20th century in "Les Visiteurs/The Visitors" (1996). The film set box office records in France for its 1993 release and spawned a sequel a few years later, as well as a typically shoddy American remake in 2001.

Working with Besson once again, Reno made his English-language debut with "The Professional" (1994), a stylish, violent and oddly endearing thriller about a professional hit man who takes on a new apprentice in the form of a 12-year-old girl (Natalie Portman). With the attention he received for "The Professional," the actor was firmly established as a notable presence on American shores. He followed up by playing a con-man thorn-in-the-side to Kevin Kline in Lawrence Kasdan's "French Kiss" (1995) then portrayed Krieger, one of the operatives chosen by Tom Cruise for a top secret operation in "Mission: Impossible" (1996). Reno suddenly became a known quantity with both Hollywood insiders and appreciative audiences, who took to the actor when he appeared in such features such as "Godzilla" (1998) and "Ronin" (1998) - the latter of which allowed him to use his ambiguous onscreen persona to great effect in John Frankenheimer's excellent spy thriller. After reprising his role in "The Visitors" for the remake "Just Visiting" (2001), he played the scheming creator of a violent futuristic sport in the disastrous "Rollerball" (2002).

He had a brief, but potent turn in director Terry George's "Hotel Rwanda" (2004), playing a sympathetic Belgian hotel executive doing all he can to save the lives of his brave Rwandan manager (Don Cheadle) and the refugees he is sheltering during the 1994 genocide. After appearing in foreign-made features like "La Tigre e La Neve" (2005) and "L'empire des Loups" (2005), Reno played Ponton, a detective assigned to keep an eye on the ever-bumbling Inspector Jacques Clouseau in "The Pink Panther" (2006), the much-derided - but sadly profitable - remake of Peter Seller's classic series of comic films. Reno was then set to be seen in one of the most controversial and anticipated movies to have come along in decades, "The Da Vinci Code" (2006), directed by Ron Howard from Dan Brown's mega-blockbuster about a secret religious society guarding a 2000 year-old secret. After voicing Le Fog in the animated adventure "Flushed Away" (2006) and playing the war-weary commander of a World War I fighter squadron in "Flyboys" (2006), Reno starred in the gangster thriller "Cash" (2008), then reprised Ponton for the unsuccessful sequel "The Pink Panther 2" (2009).