Well-known French actor, director and writer Robert Hossein, is of Azerbaijani descent. His father, Amanulla Huseynov, was from Samarkand, Uzbekistan and became an immigrant after the Soviet Union was formed. Later in Berlin he married Anna Minevskaya, daughter of a Russian immigrant. They moved to Paris, where the future actor was born on December 30, 1927. Amanulla Huseynov worked as a composer and musician in Paris under the name Andre Hossein.
While Robert’s father was a composer, his mother worked in the Russian immigrant theater. The family had very little income. Young Robert began to work at the age of 12 to help his family.
Robert was forced to change schools because of the family’s financial situation, so he was unable to earn high grades. But he learned acting and directing in the drama courses of Rene Simon, and he performed in the Grand Guignol.
Robert Hossein has directed or acted in nearly 100 films. His first film debut was in the film Quai des blondes at the age of 21. Although it was not a memorable role, Robert was undeterred and he resolved to work even harder. Among his best-known films are Angélique, Marquise des Anges (1964), The Vampire of Düsseldorf (1965), Angelica and the King (1966), Angelica and the Sultan (1968), The Lion’s Share (1971), Les Uns et les Autres (1981), L’affaire (1994) and others.
One of the most memorable roles Hossein has played is Jeoffrey de Peyrac from the Angelique series in the 1960s. This character left a deep impression both on the viewers and on the actor himself. In one interview, he said that he would like the image of Jeoffrey de Peyrac on his tombstone.
Aside from acting, Robert Hossein has worked as a director and screenwriter. He also played roles in many of the films he directed. These include The Wicked Go to Hell (1955), Night Is Not for Sleep (1958), The Wretches (1960), Death of a Killer (1964), Cemetery Without Crosses (1969), Rasputin (1967), and others.
In the 1970s, Robert Hossein dedicated himself more to the theater than film. He worked as the director of the Théâtre Populaire de Reims in 1970-79. In the 1980s he staged Julius Caesar, Les Misérables, Jesus Christ Superstar, and other popular plays.
In 1982, Hossein filmed Hugo’s Les Misérables. He was nominated for the César Award for best scriptwriter together with co-author Alain Decaux. The film also earned him a special award in the 13th Moscow Film Festival in 1983 for his contributions to cinema.
In 1994, Robert Hossein was awarded Best Actor for his performance in L’affaire at the Cognac Film Festival.
On August 13, 2011, 30,000 people came to watch Robert Hossein’s performance in “A Woman Named Mary.” Hossein was the narrator of the production. Hossein said about the play, “The unexpected revelation of the Notre-Dame Basilica and the Massabielle grotto struck me, like a bolt of inner thunder, with the immediate necessity of staging an epic pageant in this truly exceptional site, a human fresco evoking the apparitions seen by Bernadette Soubirous I imagined the Virgin Mary telling this young girl of fourteen, simple and gentle, about the life of Jesus as she had painfully experienced it.”
Robert Hossein not only entertains his audiences; he also makes them think.