A superb leading man of French stage and screen with an ugly, humorous, tragic face, Jouvet is considered by some to be the finest French actor of his time. Determined to be an actor, he was rejected three times by the Paris Conservatoire; in 1908 he joined a stage company as an administrator, then debuted onstage two years later. In 1913 he was appointed director of the Theatre du Vieux-Colombier in Paris. During World War One he served in combat at the front. From 1919-21 he was in New York, appearing with his troupe in a repertory of productions that received much acclaim. Back in France, he became the director of the Theatre de Champs Elysees; by the early '30s he was one of the most prominent performers on the Paris stage. Having appeared in one film (1913's Shylock), in 1933 he began taking film roles to support his theatrical work; his subtle, forceful, witty performances redeemed poor movies and intensified high-quality work. During World War Two he toured South America with his company; after the war he returned to Paris, continuing to appear on stage and screen until shortly before his death. His daughter is actress Lisa Jouvet.