Juan Moreno y Herrera-Jiménez known as Jean Reno (born July 30, 1948) is a French-Spanish actor. Working in French, English, Japanese, Spanish and Italian, he has appeared in films such as Subway, Nikita, Léon: The Professional, Mission: Impossible, Godzilla, Ronin, and The DaVinci Code.
Reno was born in Casablanca, Morocco. His Spanish parents were natives had moved to North Africa to find work and escape the Franco dictatorship. He moved to France at the age of seventeen and studied acting in the Cours Simon School of Drama.
Reno’s career began in French cinema, where he appeared in many of Luc Besson’s films, including Besson’s first film, L’Avant Dernier (1981). The two have continued to work together throughout their careers, in films produced, written or directed by Besson. These include Le Dernier Combat aka The Last Battle (1983), and Subway (1985), the ones that have achieved the most critical and commercial success include: Nikita (1990), the English-language films The Big Blue (1988), and Léon: The Professional (1994). Additionally, Reno did the voice-over for Mufasa in the French-language version of The Lion King, a role originally performed by James Earl Jones.
Reno has starred in such high-profile American films as French Kiss (1995), Mission: Impossible (1996) with Tom Cruise, Ronin (1998) with Robert De Niro, and Godzilla (1998). He has not neglected to work in French productions either—e.g., Les Visiteurs (1993) The Crimson Rivers (2000) and Jet Lag (Décalage horaire) by Danièle Thompson (2002), which was also a box-office success in France and L’Empire des loups (Empire of the Wolves). In 2006, he had a prominent role in the abysmal remake of The Pink Panther and its sequel, he also portrayed Captain Bezu Fache in The DaVinci Code.
Undoubtedly, his best role is that of Léon, the lead role in Léon: The Professional (1994). The English-language French thriller was written and directed by Luc Besson, as well as Reno, it starred Gary Oldman as corrupt DEA agent Stansfield; a young Natalie Portman, in her feature film debut, as Mathilda, a 12-year-old girl who is taken in by the hitman after her family is murdered; and Danny Aiello as Tony, the mobster who gives the hitman his assignments.
Léon: The Professional is to some extent an expansion of an idea in Besson’s earlier 1990 film, La Femme Nikita (Nikita). In La Femme Nikita Reno plays a similar character named Victor. Besson described Léon as “Now maybe Jean is playing the American cousin of Victor. This time he’s more human.” The film received generally favourable reviews, although most of them focussed on the unusual relationship between the seasoned hitman and his 12-year-old apprentice, which was a breakout turn by young Natalie Portman, and of course Luc Besson’s stylish direction.
Also, as you can see from the post, he’s awesome material for caricaturists..!