Pierre Fresnay was a French stage and film actor. Born Pierre Jules Louis Laudenbach in Paris, France, he was encouraged by his uncle, the actor Claude Garry, to pursue a career in theater and film. During the 1920s, Fresnay appeared in many popular stage productions, most notably in the title role of Marcel Pagnol’s Marius, which ran for over 500 performances. His first great screen role was as Marius in the 1931 film adaptation of the play of the same name. He played the role again in the next two parts of Marcel Pagnol's Marseilles Trilogy, Fanny and César. He appeared in more than sixty films, eight of which were with Yvonne Printemps, with whom he lived since 1934. In that same year, he appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's first version of The Man Who Knew Too Much. In 1937 he portrayed the aristocratic French military officer Captain de Boeldieu in Jean Renoir's masterpiece La Grande Illusion.
In 1947 he played Vincent de Paul in Monsieur Vincent, for which he won the Coupe Volpi for best actor at the Venice Film Festival. He also portrayed Nobel Peace Prize laureate Albert Schweitzer in Il est minuit, Docteur Schweitzer.