Jean Martin

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Jean Martin
Born(1922-03-06)6 March 1922
Died2 February 2009(2009-02-02) (aged 86)
Years active1944-1998
Height1,90m / 6'3"

Jean Martin (6 March 1922 – 2 February 2009[1]) was a French actor of stage and screen. Martin served in the French Resistance[citation needed] during World War II and later fought with the French paratroopers in Indochina. Theatrically, he is perhaps best known for originating two roles in Samuel Beckett's most famous plays: Lucky in Waiting for Godot, and Clov in Endgame. During the 1950s, he was a performer at the Théâtre National Populaire and also worked for radio plays.

Making over eighty film and television appearances, Martin is probably best remembered by international audiences for his role as the French paratroop commander Col. Mathieu in The Battle of Algiers (1965), as the gunslinger Sullivan in Sergio Leone's My Name is Nobody and as the laconic OAS adjutant Viktor Wolenski in The Day of the Jackal (both 1973). He had one of the lead roles in the 1968 French mini-series Les Compagnons de Baal.

Most of his other screen work was in French or European cinema, though his stage performances gained him much more recognition and acclaim. Martin was also an active political leftist, and was fired from the Théâtre National Populaire for signing the manifesto of the 121 against the Algerian War. He was also blacklisted from radio work and remained unemployed for a time as a result.[2]

Martin was hired for The Battle of Algiers because director Gillo Pontecorvo was looking for a little-known professional actor to play the part of Col. Mathieu. Martin had by then worked extensively on stage, but had done just a few appearances on screen. Enjoying movie work and wishing to develop his film career, Martin tried for the part and was hired. Martin later explained that his working relationship with Pontecorvo on the set of The Battle of Algiers was often difficult, as the director otherwise hired non-professional actors for the film. Martin, as the film's only professional actor, was sometimes uncomfortable working with untrained performers, while Pontecorvo was worried that their acting styles might be too different from each other and work against the picture. Martin was ultimately very happy with the film.[2]

Jean Martin continued working on stage and on screen, playing a variety of supporting roles in French films and television productions. He also provided the voice of L'oiseau in the animation feature film Le Roi et l'oiseau.

Martin died from cancer in Paris on 2 February 2009, aged 86.

Selected filmography[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Jean Martin, The Guardian, 12 February 2009
  2. ^ a b Dans la peau d'un para, video interview of Jean Martin, DVD extras for The Battle of Algiers, French edition, Studiocanal, 2004