Lambert Wilson

Lambert Wilson (born 3 August 1958) is a French actor, singer and activist. He is best known internationally for his portrayal of The Merovingian in The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions and The Matrix Resurrections.

Lambert Wilson
Lambert Wilson Cannes 2017.jpg
Wilson in 2017
Born (1958-08-03) 3 August 1958 (age 63)
Years active1977–present


Early lifeEdit

Wilson is the son of Georges Wilson, who was an actor, theatrical manager and director of the Théâtre National Populaire.[1] As a teenager, he had little interest for the French theatre and aimed to become an "American actor" and appear in Hollywood pictures. He studied acting at the Drama Centre London to learn English. He played his first movie role in the 1977 American film Julia, directed by Fred Zinneman.

Five years later, he played his first starring role in another film by Zinneman, Five Days One Summer, opposite Sean Connery. But the film was not a commercial success, and neither was Sahara in which Wilson co-starred with Brooke Shields.[2] Wilson ultimately found success in his home country : during the 1980s, he became popular with French audiences by appearing in successful films such as La Boum 2, The Public Woman and Rendez-vous. At the time, he was often cast either as tormented characters or in romantic parts, although he found himself more convincing in the former kind of roles.[3]

Wilson screen tested for The Living Daylights (1987) for the role of James Bond, appearing in test footage opposite Maryam d'Abo (the Bond girl in The Living Daylights) as Tatiana Romanova, re-enacting scenes from From Russia with Love (1963). Wilson was featured in a series of Calvin Klein ads featuring Christy Turlington for Eternity in 1991, as well as a poster ad, years later in 1998.[4]

First critical accoladesEdit

Wilson released Musicals on the EMI label in 1989 (re-issued in 2004), with John McGlinn conducting Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo. It features him singing songs of the American Musical Theatre catalogue, those well-known ("Maria" from West Side Story, "There But For You Go I" from Lerner & Loewe's Brigadoon, "The Cafe Song" from Les Misérables, "Johanna" from Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd), rare ("Love Song" from Kurt Weill and Alan Jay Lerner's Love Life, "It Must Be So" from Leonard Bernstein's Candide, and "Silly People", which was cut from Sondheim's A Little Night Music), and those in-between ("Finishing the Hat" from Sunday in the Park with George, "You Do Something to Me" from Cole Porter's Fifty Million Frenchmen, "Never Will I Marry" from Frank Loesser's Greenwillow).[citation needed]

He has directed stage presentations of Alfred de Musset's Les Caprices de Marianne starring Laure Marsac at Paris' Bouffes du Nord as well as Jean Racine's Bérénice starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Didier Sandre at Avignon and then Chaillot.[citation needed]

In 1989, his performance as Abbé Pierre in the film Hiver 54, l'abbé Pierre, for which he received the Jean Gabin prize, won him critical accolades. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, however, his screen career suffered from a series of box office failures, such as The Possessed and El Dorado.

He later said that the French producers had come, at the time, to regard him as "box office poison". He eventually won back the favours of French audiences by appearing in the successful comedies Same Old Song (1997) and Jet Set (2000).[5]

Wilson was cast in the role of The Merovingian in The Matrix Reloaded (2002) and The Matrix Revolutions (2003), perhaps his best-known role in the American cinema. Being completely fluent in English, his strong French accent in the film is fabricated for the role.[2] The role also popularised the Ediety tie knot, now commonly referred to as "The Merovingian".[6]

Recent yearsEdit

Wilson in 2017

In November 2012, he was selected as a member of the main competition jury at the 2012 International Film Festival of Marrakech. In April 2013, Wilson was invited by MINUSTAH (United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti) to visit Haiti in the capacity of helping with various UN-backed environment and cultural programmes.[7]

He was the master of ceremonies for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2014 and 2015 Cannes Film Festival.

In February 2016, he released a tribute album called Wilson chante Montand to the singer Yves Montand to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the death of the artist. Among the 17 tracks on the album there is Mais qu’est-ce que j’ai ? which was composed by Henri Betti with the lyrics by Édith Piaf in 1947. The musical arrangements of the 17 songs were made by Bruno Fontaine. Also in 2016, he portrayed Jacques Cousteau in the biopic The Odyssey.[8]

Wilson's commitment to safeguarding the environment is manifest in his support of Greenpeace and Agir pour l'Environnement amongst others.  He works on behalf of the Fondation Abbé-Pierre and the Mouvement Emmaüs in France to eradicate hunger and poverty. Wilson is an ambassador for Les Toiles Enchantées  (an association that brings contemporary cinema to hospitals and hospices for children), and parrain (patron) for a proposed new cinema at the Institut Français in London.

Wilson is Chevalier and Officier des Arts et des Lettres and Chevalier and Officier de l'Ordre National du Mérite. He was raised to Commandeur de l’Ordre du Mérite by President Emmanuel Macron in 2017.

In January 2018 he engaged to assist the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO)[9] in communications regarding work to eradicate world hunger and poverty ("Working for Zero Hunger"). The same year he starred in Volontaire by Hélène Fillières.

In February 2020, French website Konbini reported that Wilson would reprise his role of The Merovingian from The Matrix franchise in The Matrix Resurrections.[10]


  Denotes works that have not yet been released


Year Title Role Language Director Notes
1977 Julia Walter Franz English Fred Zinnemann
1979 The Gendarme and the Extra-Terrestrials An alien French Jean Girault
New Generation Jean-Charles French Jean-Pierre Lowf Legoff
Lady Oscar Cocky soldier English Jacques Demy
From Hell to Victory Patrice English Umberto Lenzi
1981 Chanel Solitaire English George Kaczender
1982 Five Days One Summer Johann Biari English Fred Zinnemann
La Boum 2 Félix Maréchal French Claude Pinoteau
1983 Sahara Sheikh Ahmed Al Jaffar English Andrew V. McLaglen
1984 The Blood of Others Paul English Claude Chabrol
The Public Woman Milan Mliska French Andrzej Żuławski Nominated: César Award for Best Supporting Actor
1985 Rendez-vous Quentin French André Téchiné Nominated: César Award for Best Actor
L'Homme aux yeux d'argent [fr] Villain French Pierre Granier-Deferre
Red Kiss Stéphane French Véra Belmont
1986 Bleu comme l'enfer [fr] Ned French Yves Boisset
Corps et biens Michel Sauvage French Benoît Jacquot
1987 The Belly of an Architect Caspasian Speckler English Peter Greenaway
1988 The Possessed Nikolaj Stavrogin French Andrzej Wajda
Chouans! Tarquin Larmor French Philippe de Broca
El Dorado Pedro de Ursúa Spanish Carlos Saura
1989 La Vouivre Arsène Muselier French Georges Wilson
Suivez cet avion Rémi Cerneaux French Patrice Ambard
Hiver 54, l'abbé Pierre Abbé Pierre French Denis Amar Nominated: César Award for Best Actor
Won – Prix Jean Gabin
1991 Un homme et deux femmes Doctor Paul Baudoin French Valérie Stroh
Shuttlecock John Prentis English Andrew Piddington
1992 Warsaw – Year 5703 Alek French Janusz Kijowski
1993 L'Instinct de l'ange Henry French Richard Dembo
1995 Jefferson in Paris Marquis de Lafayette English James Ivory
1996 Les Caprices d'un fleuve Monsieur de la Malène French Bernard Giraudeau
The Leading Man Felix Webb English John Duigan
1997 Marquise Jean Racine French Véra Belmont
Same Old Song Marc Duveyrier French Alain Resnais Nominated: César Award for Best Supporting Actor
1998 Too Much (Little) Love Paul French Jacques Doillon
1999 The Last September Hugo Montmorency English Deborah Warner
2000 Jet Set Arthus de Poulignac French Fabien Onteniente Nominated: César Award for Best Supporting Actor
Love Torn in a Dream Sebatol French Raúl Ruiz
2001 HS – hors service Francis French Jean-Paul Lilienfeld
Far from China Jean-Pierre French C. S. Leigh
2002 Les tombales Joseph French Christophe Barratier Short film
2003 It's Easier for a Camel... Aurelio French Valeria Bruni Tedeschi
The Matrix Reloaded The Merovingian English The Wachowskis
Dédales Brennac French René Manzor
The Matrix Revolutions The Merovingian English The Wachowskis
Timeline Lord Arnaut English Richard Donner
Not on the Lips Eric Thomson French Alain Resnais
2004 People Brother Arthus French Fabien Onteniente
Catwoman George Hedare English Pitof
2005 Sahara Yves Massarde English Breck Eisner
Good Girl Philippe French Sophie Fillières
L'Anniversaire Raphaël French Diane Kurys
Palais royal! Prince Arnaud French Valérie Lemercier
2006 Private Fears in Public Places Dan French Alain Resnais Nominated: Lumières Award for Best Actor
2007 Flawless Finch English Michael Radford
Go West! A Lucky Luke Adventure Lucky Luke (voice) French Olivier Jean-Marie
2008 Dante 01 Saint-Georges French Marc Caro
The Great Alibi Pierre Collier French Pascal Bonitzer
Comme les autres Emmanuel François Xavier Bernier French Vincent Garenq
Babylon A.D. Dr. Arthur Darquandier English Mathieu Kassovitz
The Lazarus Project Avery English John Glenn
2009 Victor Jérôme Courcelle French Thomas Gilou
2010 Imogène McCarthery Samuel Tyler French Alexandre Charlot
Franck Magnier
The Princess of Montpensier François de Chabannes French Bertrand Tavernier
Of Gods and Men Christian French Xavier Beauvois Nominated: César Award for Best Actor
2012 Blind Man Narvik French Xavier Palud
HOUBA! On the Trail of the Marsupilami General Pochero French Alain Chabat
You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet Lambert Wilson French Alain Resnais
Ernest & Celestine Ernest (voice) French Stéphane Aubier
Vincent Patar
Benjamin Renner
2013 Bicycling with Molière Gauthier Valence French Philippe Le Guay
ReWined The Professor Italian Ferdinando Vicentini Orgnani
2014 Barbecue Antoine Chevalier French Éric Lavaine
5 to 7 Valéry Pierpont English Victor Levin
The Nostalgist The Man English Giacomo Cimini Short film
Posthumous Daniel S. Volpe English Lulu Wang
2015 Suite Française Viscount de Montmort English Saul Dibb
Sins of a Father English Andrew Piddington
Rabid Dogs The Father French Éric Hannezo
2016 The Odyssey Jacques-Yves Cousteau French Jérôme Salle Nominated: Globes de Cristal Award for Best Actor
One Man and His Cow Philippe French Mohamed Hamidi
The Jungle Book Baloo (voice) Jon Favreau French dub
Tout de suite maintenant Barsac French Pascal Bonitzer
The Confessions Roché's lover Roberto Andò
2017 Baby Bumps Marc French Noémie Saglio
Corporate Stéphane Froncart French Nicolas Silhol
The Royal Exchange Philippe V French Marc Dugain
2018 Au bout des doigts (In Your Hands) Pierre Geithner French Ludovic Bernard
Volontaire Rivière French Hélène Fillières
2019 The Translators Éric Angstrom French Régis Roinsard
2020 De Gaulle Charles de Gaulle French Gabriel Le Bomin
2021 Benedetta The Nuncio French Paul Verhoeven
The Matrix Resurrections The Merovingian[10] English Lana Wachowski
2022 Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris   Marquis de Chassagne English Anthony Fabian Post-production
TBA Hamlet Revenant  Claudius English Pre-production


Year Title Role Language Director Notes
1978 Gaston Phébus Yvain French Bernard Borderie 6 episodes
1980 Cinéma 16: Les filles d'Adam Gilbert French Éric Le Hung TV film
Au feu le préfet Patrick Callaghan French Alain Boudet TV film
L'Inconnue d'Arras The grandfather French Raymond Rouleau TV film
1981 Quatre femmes, quatre vies: La Maison bleue Jean-Paul Taillandier French Robert Mazoyer TV film
La dernière nuit The assistant executioner French Didier Decoin TV film
Histoire contemporaine Henri de Brèce French Michel Boisrond Miniseries
1982 The Trojan War Will Not Take Place Paris French Raymond Rouleau TV film
1983 La Caravane Éric French Roger Gillioz TV film
1986 La Storia Carlo Vivaldi / Davide Segre Italian Luigi Comencini TV film
1992 Strangers The Guy English Joan Tewkesbury TV film
Frankenstein Dr. Henry Clerval English David Wickes TV film
1994 Une qui promet Ferdinand French Marianne Lamour TV film
Les Caprices de Marianne Octave French Jean-Daniel Verhaeghe TV film
Rage and Outrage: The Dreyfus Affair Raoul Sangla TV film
1995 Pour une vie ou deux Noël Gregorio French Marc Angelo TV film
1996 Le Secret d'Iris Pierrot French Élisabeth Rappeneau TV film
1997 Quand le chat sourit French Sabine Azéma TV film
2000 Don Quixote Duke English Peter Yates TV film
2001 Le divin enfant Father Marc Aubray French Stéphane Clavier TV film
2004 Colette, une femme libre Henry de Jouvenel French Nadine Trintignant Miniseries; 2 episodes
2009 The Philanthropist Yves Moehringer English Duane Clark Episode: "Paris"
2012 The Hollow Crown Charles, King of France English Thea Sharrock Episode: "Henry V"
2013 Manipulations Franck Barrot French Laurent Herbiet TV film
Nominated: Monte-Carlo Television Festival,
Best Performance by an Actor

Video gamesEdit

Year Title Role Language Director Notes
2003 Enter the Matrix The Merovingian English The Wachowskis Voice role
2005 The Matrix Online


  1. ^ Lambert Wilson profile, Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  2. ^ a b Worldly Actor Finds Method in a Monastery, The New York Times, 18 February 2011
  3. ^ Lambert Wilson : “C’est douloureux d’accepter ses limites”, Télérama, 5 November 2010 (in French).
  4. ^ "Supermodel privat: 5 Highlights aus den 90ern von Christy Turlington". 6 March 2017. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  5. ^ Lambert Wilson and Hervé Pons, Entretiens, Éditions du Rocher, 2009, pp. 102–106.
  6. ^ Todd Plummer (21 October 2013). "How to Tie a Tie – The Merovingian". Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  7. ^ "Le blog de Lambert Wilson (MINUSTAH)". Archived from the original on 3 May 2013.
  8. ^ "World Premiere of Wild Bunch-Sold 'The Odyssey' Closes San Sebastian". Variety. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  9. ^ Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
  10. ^ a b "C'est officiel : le Mérovingien sera de retour dans Matrix 4". Konbini. Retrieved 27 February 2020.

External linksEdit