Watch It

On DVD: Now | On Blu-ray: TBD

Jefferson in Paris Details


Best known for their historical epics that examine class and social issues in British life through a thick lens of tasteful production design and good manners, director James Ivory and producer Ismail Merchant set their sights on an American protagonist for a change with Jefferson in Paris. As the title suggests, Jefferson in Paris deals with the five years that Thomas Jefferson (Nick Nolte) spent as U.S. ambassador to France prior to the French Revolution; while Jefferson is sympathetic to the revolutionary forces in France, he's become well enough acquainted with the ruling aristocracy that he finds himself torn between the two sides of the issue. Jefferson, a recent widower, also becomes friends with Maria Cosway (Greta Scacchi), who is married to a foppish British artist; while it's obvious the two are in love, neither is in a position to do anything about their infatuation. And while Jefferson's daughter Patsy (Gwyneth Paltrow) loves her father, she's very upset with him when he sends her to a convent school. In this midst of this personal turmoil, Jefferson's younger daughter Polly (Estelle Eonnet) arrives in Paris, with her slave Sally Hemmings (Thandie Newton) in tow. Attractive and bright (if uneducated), Sally catches Jefferson's eye, and a friendship develops that grows into something deeper; in time, Sally becomes pregnant, and her family claims that Jefferson is the father. At the time Jefferson In Paris was released, the question of Sally Hemmings' relationship with Thomas Jefferson was a matter of lively historical debate; since then, genetic evidence has shown that, while Jefferson's paternity can't be proved beyond a doubt, it is likely that he did father children with Hemmings. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi


Nick Nolte
as Thomas Jefferson
Greta Scacchi
as Maria Cosway
Jean-Pierre Aumont
as D'Hancarville
Simon Callow
as Richard Cosway
Seth Gilliam
as James Hemings
James Earl Jones
as Madison Hemings
Michel Lonsdale
as Louis XVI
Charlotte de Turckheim
as Marie Antoinette
Anthony Valentine
as British Ambassador
Nancy Marchand
as Abbesse
Daniel Mesguich
as Mesmer
Laure Killing
as Lady in Court
Catherine Chevalier
as Lady in Court
Philippe Mareuil
as Liberal Aristocrat
Christopher Thompson
as Interpreter
Catherine Samie
as Cook
Yvette Petit
as Dressmaker
Elizabeth Kaza
as Card Player
Humbert Balsan
as Mutilated Officer
Philippe Girard
as Post Office Spy
Vincent Cassel
as Camille Desmoulins
Elsa Zylberstein
as Adrienne de Lafayette
Bruno Putzulu
as Liberal Aristocrat
Marisa Berenson
Thandie Newton
as Sally Hemings
Lambert Wilson
as Comte de Lafayette
Beatrice Winde
as Mary Hemings
Nicolas Silberg
as Monsieur Petit
Jacques Herlin
as Savant
Thibault de Montalembert
as Assistant
Stanislas Carre de Malberg
as Surgeon
Todd Boyce
as William Short
Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu
as Head and Heart Game
Cicely Tyson
Gwyneth Paltrow
as Patsy Jefferson
Steve Kalfa
as Dr. Guillotin
Jean-François Perrier
as Liberal Aristocrat
Bob Sessions
as James Byrd
Vernon Dobtcheff
as King's Translator
Ismail Merchant
as Tipoo Sultan's Ambassador
Martine Sarcey
as Head and Heart Game
Herve Hiolle
as King's Messenger


James Ivory
Ismail Merchant
Donald Rosenfeld
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Pierre Lhomme
Hugues DeLaugardiere
Larry Pizer
Andrew Marcus
Isabelle Lorente
Guy-Claude Francois
Production Designer
Thierry Francois
Art Director
Humbert Balsan
Paul Bradley
Executive Producer
John Bright
Costume Designer
Jenny Beavan
Costume Designer
Simon Moseley
First Assistant Director
Joanna Merlin
Celestia Fox
Carol Hemming