Why does the mention “de la Comédie Française” always appear next to the names of certain actors?

Just like readers, who know that the book they are reading was written by a writer belonging to the Académie-Française, film buffs sometimes learn, from the credits of a film, that a particular actor is “from the Comédie- French.

The mention is sometimes more precise; following the actor’s name, we can sometimes read “member” or “resident of the Comédie-Française”.

This mention, in the credits of a film, or, more generally, of any show, is obligatory. It has in fact been included, since 1995, in the internal regulations of the illustrious company. But its use became established much earlier. In the films of the 1930s, the names of the actors in Molière’s house were already followed by the words “de la Comédie-Française”.

This use, which has become obligatory, is partly explained by the exclusive nature of the contract which binds residents and members to the Comédie-Française. Indeed, they owe it to their troop first. To act in a film, for example, they must therefore request authorization from the administrator of the Théâtre-Français, as the Comédie-Française is sometimes called. If he deems it appropriate, he then grants them leave, which allows them to participate in the film. This mention “from the Comédie-Française” therefore indicates that the actor belongs first of all to the illustrious company and that it is only by virtue of a specific exemption that he was able to play in a film or a show .

Filmmakers and directors frequently use these actors. And movie buffs know that, in the 1940s or 1950s, certain actors from the Comédie-Française became familiar faces to spectators. For directors and producers, this mention “of the Comédie-Française” was therefore a guarantee of quality. And it remains so today.

Conversely, it allowed the house of Molière to be better known to the French. The participation of its actors in films by young directors contributes to dusting off the image of an institution which also seeks to innovate in the staging of its shows.

This episode is from the Things to Know podcast, a daily podcast to effortlessly strengthen your general knowledge, available on the Apple podcasts, Spotify, Castbox, Google podcast and Deezer platforms.

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