Lambert at the 2013 Monte Carlo Television Festival
Christophe Guy Denis Lambert
29 March 1957
Great Neck, New York, U.S.
|Occupation||Actor, novelist, film producer|
(m. 1988; div. 1994)
|Partner(s)||Sophie Marceau (2007–2014)|
Christophe Guy Denis Lambert (//; French: [lɑ̃bɛʁ]; born 29 March 1957), known professionally as Christopher Lambert, is a French actor and producer. He started his career playing supporting parts in several French films, and became internationally famous with the role of Tarzan in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes in 1984. For his performance in the 1985 film Subway, Lambert received the César Award for Best Actor. His best-known role is Connor MacLeod in the 1986 cult adventure-fantasy film Highlander and the subsequent movie franchise series of the same name. He also played the thunder god Raiden in the first film adaptation of the video game Mortal Kombat (1995). Other films he is known for are White Material, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Kickboxer: Retaliation, Fortress, The Sicilian, I Love You and for producing N'oublie pas que tu vas mourir, the french comedy film Neuf Mois and its American remake Nine Months.
Lambert was born in Great Neck, New York, the son of Yolande (de Caritat de Peruzzis) and Georges Lambert-Lamond, a French diplomat then at the United Nations. His father was a French Jew. Lambert was raised in Geneva from infancy and moved to Paris in his teens.
Late 1970s to 1984: Early roles and breakthrough
Christopher Lambert started his career playing supporting parts in several French films: Ciao, les mecs (1979), Le bar du téléphone (1980), Asphalte (1981), Une sale affaire (1981), Putain d'histoire d'amour (1981), Douchka (1981), Légitime violence (1982) and one episode of Cinéma 16 (1982).
Around that time director Hugh Hudson had just finished his Academy Award-winning film Chariots of Fire (1981), and Warner Brothers was desperate to hire him to direct another film. After looking at all their available scripts he chose to do a film adaptation of novelist Edgar Rice Burroughs' iconic character Tarzan, a man who was raised by an unknown species of great apes in the jungle. Hudson wanted an unknown to play the part and tested many young actors. Lambert got the role partly due to his myopia, because when he took off his glasses it seemed he was always looking into the distance.
Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes was released in 1984 and met with great critical acclaim for both Lambert and its director. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards and won a BAFTA Award, as well as a César Award amongst other nominations.
1985 to 2000: International fame
In 1985, Lambert played the lead in Luc Besson's stylistic film Subway, about a man being hunted in the underground subways of Paris. The film was a success at the French box office as well as critically acclaimed. Lambert was awarded a César Award for Best Actor the next year.
In 1986, he took the leading role in Marco Ferreri's I Love You. The film was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and was nominated for the Silver Ribbon at the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists.
That same year he did Russell Mulcahy's Highlander, in which he starred as Connor MacLeod from the Scottish Highlands, known as the Highlander, one of a number of immortal warriors who can be killed only by decapitation. After initial training by another highly skilled immortal swordsman, Ramirez played by Sean Connery, MacLeod lives on for several centuries, eventually settling in New York City, running an antiques shop. In 1985, he falls in love with a police forensic scientist named Brenda. He also finds out that he must face his greatest enemy, the Kurgan, played by Clancy Brown, who wishes to kill MacLeod and to obtain "the Prize" – which gives special abilities to the last living immortal warrior, vast knowledge and power which could enslave the human race. The film became a cult hit and was an international box-office success, as well as his most famous role. The rock group Queen composed and performed the soundtrack, and Lambert also appeared as MacLeod in the music video for Queen's "Princes of the Universe".
In 1987, he starred in the troubled production of The Sicilian, directed by Michael Cimino, and based on the Mario Puzo book by the same name. He stars as Salvatore Giuliano an egocentric bandit who fights the Church, the Mafia, and the landed gentry while leading a populist movement for Sicilian independence. The studios trimmed down the director's cut of the film. It was released in 1987, and was less successful than his previous pictures, receiving a lukewarm reception by critics and being only marginally profitable. However the director's cut received better reviews upon its release in France.
In 1988, he starred in Agnieszka Holland's To Kill a Priest, in which he played a character based on Jerzy Popiełuszko and his murder under the Polish communist regime. It was well received by critics.
That year, he also played the lead in the romantic film Love Dream with actress Diane Lane. They got married that year, their union lasted until 1994.
In 1991, Lambert reunited with director Russell Mulcahy and Sean Connery and to make the Highlander sequel, Highlander II: The Quickening. Mulcahy didn't like the screenplay right from the start, and the production team was lured to shoot it in Argentina to reduce production costs; the country however was going through a financial crisis. Much of the script wasn't filmed and the final result is a patchwork. Its poor performance was possibly a result of the bonding company's interference with the director; Mulcahy reportedly hated the final product so much he walked out of the film's world premiere after viewing its first 15 minutes. For similar reasons, Christopher Lambert threatened to walk out of the project when it was nearing fruition. However, due to contract obligations, he did not.
In 1992, he appeared in four projects. The first was the suspense thriller Knight Moves, in which he was also an executive producer, where he plays a chess grandmaster suspected of murder. He appeared in the first episode of the television show Highlander: The Series, passing on the lead role to actor Adrian Paul. He also appeared in the French crime thriller Max et Jérémie, co-starring Philippe Noiret and Jean-Pierre Marielle.
He also did the science fiction film Fortress for Warner Brothers. The story takes place in a dystopian future where a man and his wife are sent to a maximum-security prison because they are expecting a second child, which is against the strict one-child policy. The film was a success at the box-office.
In 1994, saw the release of two collaborations with actor Mario Van Peebles. They played the side by side leads in the action film Gunmen, and Van Peebles was the main villain in Highlander III: The Sorcerer. In this third installment of franchise, Connor MacLeod is forced to face a new, dangerous enemy, a powerful sorcerer known as Kane who wants to gain world domination. Lambert also starred in the action film Roadflower. In France, he produced his second Patrick Braoudé film called Neuf mois, which was nominated for two Césars. In the US, he produced the film Dead Beat starring Bruce Ramsay.
In 1995, he played the role of the thunder god Raiden in the Paul W. S. Anderson's movie adaptation of the popular video game series Mortal Kombat. The plot of the film follows the warrior monk Liu Kang, the actor Johnny Cage, and the soldier Sonya Blade, all three guided by the god Raiden, on their journey to combat the evil sorcerer Shang Tsung and his forces in a tournament to save Earth. Mortal Kombat spent three weeks as the number-one film at the U.S. box office, earning over $122 million worldwide. That year also saw the release of the martial-arts thriller film The Hunted, in which he was the lead.
Also in 1995, he produced Xavier Beauvois's N'oublie pas que tu vas mourir, which won the Special Jury Award at the Gijón International Film Festival, won the Prix Jean Vigo, won the Jury Prize and was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. He was also an executive producer on Chris Colombus' Nine Months an American remake of Neuf mois, it went on to gross $138 millions.
In 1996, he was an executive producer and the lead in Nils Gaup's western film North Star, co-starring James Caan. He played the lead in the action film Adrenalin: Fear the Rush. Finally he was one of the leads in the French film Hercule et Sherlock. That year he also produced When Saturday Comes, a football sport drama starring Sean Bean.
In 1997, he starred in Gabriele Salvatores' cyberpunk science fiction film Nirvana. The film tells the story of a virtual reality game designer, played by Lambert, who discovers that the main character of his game has achieved sentience due to an attack by a computer virus. The film was screened out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival. It went on to win one and was nominated for eight David di Donatello Awards, nominated for best film at Fantasporto, won best director at Flaiano International Prizes, won three and was nominated for two Golden Ciak Awards, nominated for one Italian Golden Globe, and nominated for five awards of the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists.
That year, he also co-lead with Ice-T in the action film Mean Guns. He starred in the French film Arlette by Claude Zidi. He produced the French film J'irai au paradis car l'enfer est ici.
In 1998, he produced and starred in two films. Operation Splitsville was a remake of Génial, mes parents divorcent, which he produced several years earlier. The second was called Gideon, where he plays a man with a mental disability who moves into a nursing home known as Lakeview, with many elderly inhabitants.
In 1999, he produced and starred in Russell Mulcahy's Resurrection, where he plays a detective who is assigned to investigate the savage murder of a man who has bled to death from a severed arm. He also starred in Beowulf, a science fantasy-action film loosely based on the Old English epic poem Beowulf.
In 2000, he played in the fourth installment of the Highlander franchise, Highlander: Endgame. The film reunited Adrian Paul, the actor of the series, with him. This would be last sequel Lambert appeared in. The final movie of the series came seven years later, when Paul made Highlander: The Source in 2007.
That year he also starred in Fortress 2: Re-Entry, where his character from the first film is still on the run from authorities.
2001 to 2010: Subsequent films
In 2001, he played the lead role of Gallic chieftain Vercingetorix in the France-Canada production Druids. He also starred in John Glen's The Point Men, about a team of Israeli agents being killed off one-by-one after a botched anti-terrorist operation. He also provided his voice for the English dub of the animated series Mazinkaiser.
In 2002, he was an executive producer and a co-lead in the thriller The Piano Player, with Dennis Hopper. He also provided his voice for the English dub of the animated series Jing: King of Bandits.
In 2003, he played in Absolon, a post-apocalyptic science fiction thriller film. He also played a supporting role in the French film Janis and John. He also acted in the short film Qui veut la peau de Roberto Santini?.
In 2004, he acted opposite Nastassja Kinski in the French film À ton image. He also played in one episode of Cirque du Soleil: Solstrom. He was an executive producer on the film The Confessor starring Christian Slater, Molly Parker, and Stephen Rea. The film follows a straying Catholic priest's, played by Slater, investigation of a troubled teen's mysterious death. It was nominated for two awards at the Directors Guild of Canada.
In 2006, he was an executive producer and star on the film Day of Wrath. He starred in the French film Le Lièvre de Vatanen. He also played a supporting role in Richard Kelly's Southland Tales.
In 2007, he starred in the vampire film Metamorphosis. He starred in the French film Trivial, directed by Sophie Marceau. It's about a police inspector, struggling with depression following his wife's death, who investigates a suspicious missing person's case at the request of a mysterious woman. During that time, he started a relationship with Marceau.
In 2008, he played in the French crime thriller Limousine. In 2009, Lambert was a lead in Claire Denis' White Material; both the film and Lambert's performance received critical acclaim. The film stars Isabelle Huppert as a struggling French coffee producer in an unnamed French speaking African country, who decides to stay at her coffee plantation in spite of an erupting civil war. The film has appeared on a number of critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2010. It was nominated at the Denver Film Critics Society Award for Best Foreign Language Film, for a Golden Lion, a Satellite Award for Best Foreign Language Film, at the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association, etc.
That year he also acted in Cartagena with Sophie Marceau. The film is about a beautiful, free-spirited woman who becomes bedridden following a terrible accident. Against her better judgement, she hires a drunk middle-aged former boxer to cook and care for her. Although unqualified for the position, he is desperate to work, and slowly he wins the trust of the woman, who teaches him how to read. The film also won several awards in France.
Finally he acted in the French television film Les Associés.
In 2010, he played in Philipp Kadelbach's Das Geheimnis der Wale. The film is about the widow of a whale researcher who joins force with an environmentalist played by Lambert to fight an oil company. That year he also played the lead in The Gardener of God, a biopic about Gregor Mendel.
2011 to present day
In 2011, Lambert had the villainous role of the head monk Methodius in the Marvel Studios sequel Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, starring Nicolas Cage, in 2011. He underwent sword training for three months and shaved his head. Other co-stars included Ciarán Hinds, Violante Placido, Johnny Whitworth and Idris Elba. The film made $132.6 million worldwide.
In 2012, he played a role in the Bulgarian film The Foreigner, and the Italian film L'una e l'altra. In France, he also played a lead role in the film called Ma bonne étoile opposite Claude Brasseur, and Fleur Lise Heuet, and one episode of the TV show Very Bad Blagues.
Shortly afterwards, he got the role of Marcel Janvier (alias "The Chameleon"), a recurring villain in award-winning hit police crime TV drama NCIS: Los Angeles. His character was in 6 episodes from 2012 to 2013 – the two highest-rated seasons of the show.
In 2014, he played in the film Electric Slide, starring Jim Sturgess, an American biographical crime drama about the Los Angeles-based bank robber Eddie Dodson. His co-stars included Isabel Lucas, Patricia Arquette and Chloe Sevigny.
In 2015 he co-starred in Claude Lelouch's Un plus une, a French romantic comedy film starring Jean Dujardin, Elsa Zylberstein and Alice Pol. He also co-starred in the film 10 Days in a Madhouse, a 2015 American biographical film about the experiences of undercover journalist Nellie Bly.
In 2016 he co-starred in Hail, Caesar!, a comedy film written, produced, edited, and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. The film had an ensemble cast consisting of Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Channing Tatum. It is a fictional story that follows the real-life "fixer" Eddie Mannix (Brolin) working in the Hollywood film industry in the 1950s, trying to discover what happened to a cast member who vanished during the filming of a biblical epic.
That year he had a cameo as a French Army Captain in La folle histoire de Max et Léon, a French World War II comedy film. He also had a recurring role in the Russian-Portuguese biographical television show Mata Hari.
In 2017 he re-collaborated with Claude Lelouch in the star studded comedy Chacun sa vie et son intime conviction. He also acted in the thriller The Broken Key with Rutger Hauer, Michael Madsen, Geraldine Chaplin, Franco Nero and William Baldwin. He also played himself in one episode of the French TV show Call My Agent!.
That year, he also played the lead villain in the martial arts film Kickboxer: Retaliation. A sequel to Kickboxer: Vengeance, the film stars Alain Moussi and Jean-Claude Van Damme and co-stars Ronaldinho, Mike Tyson and Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson.
Lambert plays the role of SS officer Karl Frenzel in the Russian film Sobibor by director Konstantin Khabensky, which was released in 2018. The film is a World War II drama about the only successful uprising in a Nazi death camp. It was selected as the Russian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards. Lambert received high praise for "an outstanding and nuanced performance; he is unrecognisable as Frenzel, a demonic, fractured character.
Lambert was part of the ensemble cast of Bel Canto from director Paul Weitz, an adaptation of the 2002 novel of the same name, by Ann Patchett. Lambert played the role of a French ambassador who was part of the Japanese embassy hostage crisis (also called the Lima Crisis) of 1996–1997 in Lima, Peru. Lambert received praise, along with the rest of the cast, for "performances [that] are uniformly excellent" "
Lambert married Jaiymse Haft on 6 February 1999. From 2007 he was in a relationship with Sophie Marceau, with whom he appeared in La disparue de Deauville. They announced their separation on 11 July 2014.
Along with owning a mineral water business and food processing plant, Lambert produces Côtes du Rhône wines with partner Eric Beaumard at a vineyard located in Sainte-Cécile-les-Vignes, France. The label, Les Garrigues de Beaumard-Lambert, tops out at 4,000 cases and is sold mostly in Europe. Beaumard has primary creative control of the winery, but Lambert conducts barrel tests and monitors the various stages of evolution.
In popular culture
A character based on Christopher Lambert, named "Christopher Lambert", but who does not speak, appears in episode 7 of season 6 of the Adult Swim animated TV series The Venture Bros., "A Party for Tarzan", in which Dr. Venture throws a lunar eclipse party in order to cultivate Lambert and, through him, make connections with the idle rich. Lambert appears late to attend the party, but the doors are locked and he can't get in.
|1963||Who's Minding the Store?||Uncredited|
|1979||Ciao, les mecs||Un loubard à la soirée dansante||Credited as Christophe Lambert|
|1980||The Telephone Bar||Paul "Bébé" Franchi||as Christophe Lambert|
|1981||Asphalte||Un médecin à l'hôpital / The doctor||as Christophe Lambert|
|1981||Une sale affaire||Mullard||as Christophe Lambert|
|1981||Putain d'histoire d'amour||Inspecteur de police||as Christophe Lambert|
|1982||Légitime violence||Jockey||as Christophe Lambert|
|1982||Cinéma 16||Marcel||TV (one episode)|
|1984||Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes||John Clayton / Tarzan|
|1985||Paroles et Musique||Jeremy||as Christophe Lambert|
|1985||Subway||Fred||César Award for Best Actor as Christophe Lambert|
|1986||Highlander||Connor MacLeod / Russell Nash|
|1986||I Love You||Michel||as Christophe Lambert|
|1987||The Sicilian||Salvatore Giuliano|
|1988||To Kill a Priest||Father Alek|
|1990||Why Me?||Gus Cardinale|
|1991||Highlander II: The Quickening||Connor MacLeod|
|1992||Knight Moves||Peter Sanderson|
|1992||Highlander: The Series||Connor MacLeod||TV (one episode)|
|1992||Max et Jérémie||Jeremie Kolachowsky||as Christophe Lambert|
|1993||Loaded Weapon 1||Man with Car Phone||Deleted scene, uncredited|
|1993||Fortress||John Henry Brennick|
|1994||Highlander III: The Sorcerer||Connor MacLeod / Russell Nash|
|1995||The Hunted||Paul Racine|
|1995||Nine Months||Executive producer|
|1995||Mortal Kombat||Lord Raiden|
|1996||North Star||Hudson Saanteek||as Christophe Lambert|
|1996||Adrenalin: Fear the Rush||Lemieux|
|1996||Hercule et Sherlock||Vincent||as Christophe Lambert|
|1997||Arlette||Frank Martin||as Christophe Lambert|
|1999||Operation Splitsville||Max, P.E. Teacher|
|1999||Resurrection||John Prudhomme||also writer|
|1999||Gideon||Gideon Oliver Dobbs|
|2000||Fortress 2: Re-Entry||John Henry Brennick|
|2000||Highlander: Endgame||Connor MacLeod|
|2001||Druids||Vercingetorix||as Christophe Lambert|
|2001||Mazinkaiser||Additional Voices||Video game|
|2001||The Point Men||Tony Eckhardt|
|2002||King of Bandit Jing||Additional Voices||Television miniseries, credited as Chris Lambert|
|2002||The Piano Player||Alex Laney|
|2003||Absolon||Detective Norman Scot|
|2003||Janis and John||Léon|
|2004||À ton image||Thomas|
|2005||Dalida||Richard Chanfray, dit le comte de Saint-Germain||Television miniseries|
|2006||Day of Wrath||Ruy de Mendoza|
|2006||Southland Tales||Walter Mung|
|2006||Le Lièvre de Vatanen||Tom Vatanen||as Christophe Lambert|
|2007||Trivial||Jacques||as Christophe Lambert|
|2008||Cartagena||Cine Nomine||Thelma Films, Arte France Cinéma|
|2009||White Material||Andre Vial||as Christophe Lambert|
|2009||Les Associés||Philippe Kaminski||Television film, credited as Christophe Lambert|
|2009||L'homme De Chevet||Leo||as Christophe Lambert|
|2010||The Secret of the Whales||Chris Cassell||Television film|
|2011||Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance||Methodius|
|2012||Blood Shot||The President|
|2012–2013||NCIS: Los Angeles||Marcel Janvier / The Chameleon||TV series (6 episodes)|
|2013||The Gardener of God||Gregor Mendel|
|2015||Shades of Truth||Cardinal Ennio Salvemini|
|2015||10 Days in a Madhouse||Dr. Dent|
|2015||Un plus une||Samuel Hamon|
|2016||Hail, Caesar!||Arne Slessum|
|2016||La folle histoire de Max et Léon||Captain Lassard||Also co-produced|
|2017||Mata Hari||Gustav Kramer|
|2017||Chacun sa vie et son intime conviction|
|2017||Kickboxer: Retaliation||Thomas Moore|
|2017||Call My Agent!||Himself||TV Series (1 Episode)|
|2018||Sobibor||Karl Frenzel||Russian Holocaust movie|
|2018||Bel Canto||Simon Thibault|
|2019||The Blacklist||Bastien Moreau / The Corsican|
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