Christophe Guy Denis Lambert was born in New York, USA, on 29 March 1957. His father was a French diplomat, working at the United Nations. Lambert spent most of his early life growing up in Geneva, Switzerland, before moving to Paris as a teenager.
His film career started with supporting roles in a number of French films, before being cast in Hugh Hudson’s Greystroke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes. Hudson was looking for a relatively unknown actor to play the lead role, and cast Lambert because, due to his myopia, when he removed his glasses he always looked like he was gazing off into the middle distance. This gave him a strange, almost distracted ‘quality’ that Hudson preferred over his other shortlisted candidate, Viggo Mortensen.
Lambert has been married twice, to Diane Lane in 1988, with whom he has a daughter, and then again to Jaiymse Haft in 1999. He was in a relationship with Sophie Marceau from 2007 to 2014.
Lambert’s severe myopia and inability to wear contact lenses means he often acts nearly blind, and has resulted in a number of injuries whilst carrying out stunts.
Lambert is also a keen winemaker, producing Cotes-du-Rhone wines in Sainte-Cécile-les-Vignes in France.
Lambert initially trained as a stockbroker, moving to London to study English and get an apprenticeship at the London Stock Exchange. However his early passion for acting remained, and this career was short lived.
After gaining the support of his parents for an attempt at an acting career (his father reputedly gave him two years to make a success of it), Lambert enrolled at the Cours Florent. With the help of friends from Geneva, he applied to and was accepted into the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied for two years before being expelled in his third year.
Lambert’s breakthrough role in Hugh Hudson’s Greystroke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes shot Lambert to international fame, and remains one of his most memorable roles. However he has always been defined by his role alongside Sean Connery in Russell Mulcahy’s Highlander.
His career has been a mix of muscle-bound action roles, science fiction and fantasy, and a number of French language films.
He has worked with director Russell Mulcahy throughout his career, reprising his role from Highlander in three subsequent installments, as well as the TV series. He also worked with Mulcahy on Resurrection.
He played the lead in Agnieszka Holland’s To Kill a Priest, playing a character murdered under the Communist regime in Poland.
He starred in the Warner Brothers’ sci-fi hit Fortress, where a couple are jailed for breaking society’s strict one-child policy. He also starred in the sequel, Fortress 2: Re-Entry.
More recently, he co-starred in the Cohen Brothers’ film Hail Caesar! alongside Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton.
Awards and achievements
Greystroke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes was critically acclaimed, and won a BAFTA, as well as receiving nominations for Academy Awards and a Cesar.
Lambert himself was awarded a Cesar award for Best Actor for his role in Luc Besson’s Subway.
Lambert played the lead in Marco Ferreri’s I Love You, which was nominated for the Palme D’Or at Cannes, and the Silver Ribbon at the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists.
Lambert has also been recognised as a producer. He produced Patrick Baoude’s Neuf Mois, which was nominated for two Cesars. He also produced Xavier Beauvois’s N’oublie Pas Que Tu Vas Mourir, which won the Special Jury Award at the Gijón International Film Festival, won the Prix Jean Vigo, won the Jury Prize and was nominated for the Palme d'Or at Cannes.
In 1997 Lambert starred in Gabriel Salvatore’s Nirvana, which won one, and was nominated for eight David Di Donatello awards, nominated for Best Film at Fantasporto, won three and was nominated for two Golden Ciak awards, nominated for an Italian Golden Globe, and nominated for five awards at the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists.