Tchéky Karyo

Tchéky Karyo

Karyo in 2013
Born (1953-10-04) 4 October 1953
Istanbul, Turkey
Occupation Actor, musician
Years active 1982 – present
Spouse(s) Isabelle Pasco (divorced)

Tchéky Karyo (French pronunciation: [tʃeki kɑʁˈjo]; born Baruh Djaki Karyo; 4 October 1953) is a Turkish-born French actor and musician. Beginning his career as an actor on stage in classical and contemporary works, he began to work as a character actor in films in the 1980s. He has acted in numerous films by Hollywood and French directors, including Luc Besson.

Early life

He was named Baruh Djaki Karyo at birth in 1953 in Istanbul, Turkey; his mother was Greek and his father was Turkish Jewish. When he was young, his family moved to Paris, France, where he grew up. The spelling of his name, Djaki, was changed to Tchéky in a form of French transliteration.[1] As a young man, Karyo studied drama at the Cyrano Theatre and later became a member of the Daniel Sorano Company, playing many classical roles.


Karyo at the 17th César Awards, 1992

Karyo joined the National Theatre of Strasbourg, where he starred in both contemporary and classical plays. He found success in French films beginning in the 1980s, first as a character actor. He later appeared in leading roles in several notable films, such as The Bear, in which he played one of the hunters, and director Luc Besson's Nikita, in which he played the heroine's spy mentor.

He has participated in many Hollywood movies, often portraying a French character, in the same fashion as Jean Reno. He has acted in prominent roles in major films set during wartime. Laudable performances include his acting as a vengeful French officer alongside Mel Gibson in The Patriot (2000), set during The American Revolutionary War, and his role as Jean de Dunois in The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc. In the DVD edition of The Patriot, Karyo overdubbed his own lines on the French-language track.

Karyo is also a musician and songwriter, known for his poetic lyrics. He released the highly acclaimed 2006 album Ce lien qui nous unit (translated in English as "the link that binds us"), and released Credo in 2013 on his 60th birthday.


He was nominated for a César Award for Most Promising Actor for his role in La Balance. In 1986, he was awarded the Jean Gabin Prize in recognition of his acting performances.

Personal life

Karyo married Isabelle Pasco but they divorced.[2]

Selected filmography

Year Title Role Director
1982 The Return of Martin Guerre Augustin Daniel Vigne
La Balance Petrovic Bob Swaim
1983 Le Marginal Francis Pierron Jacques Deray
1984 Full Moon in Paris Remi Éric Rohmer
L'amour braque Micky Andrzej Zulawski
1986 Bleu comme l'enfer Frank Yves Boisset
1988 Australia Julien Pierson Jean-Jacques Andrien
The Bear Tom Jean-Jacques Annaud
1990 Isabelle Eberhardt Slimene Ian Pringle
Nikita Bob Luc Besson
Vincent and Me Vincent van Gogh Michael Rubbo
1991 A Grande Arte (American title: Exposure Hermes Walter Salles
Husband and Lovers Paolo Mauro Bolognini
1992 1492: Conquest of Paradise Martín Alonso Pinzón Ridley Scott
L'Atlantide Lieutenant Morhange Bob Swaim
Sketch Artist Paul Korbel Phedon Papamichael
1993 And the Band Played On Willy Rozenbaum Roger Spottiswoode
Nostradamus Nostradamus Roger Christian
1994 La Cité de la peur Monsieur Jacques, the first projectionist Alain Berbérian
Operation Dumbo Drop Goddard Simon Wincer
1995 Colpo di luna Lorenzo Alberto Simone
Crying Freeman Detective Netah Christophe Gans
Habitat Hank Symes René Daalder
Bad Boys Fouchet Michael Bay
GoldenEye Russian Minister of Defence Dmitri Mishkin Martin Campbell
Foreign Land Kraft Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas
1997 Dobermann Inspecteur Sauveur Cristini Jan Kounen
Addicted to Love Anton Griffin Dunne
1998 From the Earth to the Moon (miniseries) Georges Méliès (various)
Que la lumière soit Harper Arthur Joffé
1999 My Life So Far Gabriel Chenoux Hugh Hudson
Jeanne d'Arc Jean de Dunois Luc Besson
Wing Commander Commodore James "Paladin" Taggart Chris Roberts
2000 Arabian Nights Black Coda Steve Barron
Le Roi danse Molière Gérard Corbiau
Saving Grace Jacques Chevalier Nigel Cole
The Patriot Major Jean Villeneuve Roland Emmerich
2001 Kiss of the Dragon Inspecteur Jean-Pierre Richard Chris Nahon
The Good Thief Roger Neil Jordan
2002 Blueberry the uncle Jan Kounen
2003 The Core Serge Jon Amiel
2004 A Very Long Engagement Captain Etienne Favourier Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Taking Lives Hugo Leclair D. J. Caruso
2005 Les Rois maudits (miniseries) Philip IV of France Josée Dayan
2006 The Gravedancers Vincent Cochet Mike Mendez
2007 Jacquou le Croquant the Chevalier Laurent Boutonnat
Boxes Jean Jane Birkin
La Masseria Delle Allodole Aram Paolo and Vittorio Taviani
2009 A Man and His Dog the guitar player in the park Francis Huster
Kaamelott (TV series) Manius Macrinus Firmus (episode 7) Alexandre Astier
2010 The Way Captain Henri Emilio Estevez
2011 A Gang Story Serge Suttel Olivier Marchal
Forces spéciales Guezennec Stéphane Rybojad
2012 No Limit (TV Series) Koskas (various)
2013 Jappeloup Marcel Rozier Christian Duguay
Belle and Sebastian César Nicolas Vanier
2014 The Missing, Series 1 (TV Series) Julien Baptiste Tom Shankland
2015 Through the Air Armand Cavelle Fred Grivois
Belle et Sébastien, l'aventure continue César Christian Duguay
2016 The Missing, Series 2 (TV Series) Julien Baptiste Ben Chanan

Music videos


  1. "Tcheky Karyo Biography (1953-)". 1953-10-04. Retrieved 2010-09-23.
  2. "Biographie de Tchéky Karyo". Gala. Retrieved 2011-11-27.
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