Jefferson in Paris

Last Updated on: June 26th, 2024

Jefferson in Paris (Touchstone Movie)

“Jefferson in Paris” is a historical drama film released in 1995, directed by James Ivory and written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. The film explores the life of Thomas Jefferson during his time as the United States Minister to France from 1784 to 1789.

The story begins with Jefferson (played by Nick Nolte) arriving in Paris with his eldest daughter, Patsy (played by Gwyneth Paltrow), after his wife’s death. As the Minister to France, Jefferson is tasked with representing the newly formed United States and negotiating important treaties with European nations.

During his stay in Paris, Jefferson becomes immersed in French society and encounters several influential figures, including the Marquis de Lafayette (played by Lambert Wilson) and Maria Cosway (played by Greta Scacchi), an Anglo-Italian artist with whom he develops a close friendship.

The film also explores Jefferson’s relationship with Sally Hemings (played by Thandie Newton), a young slave who accompanies him from Virginia. Their complex relationship is depicted, and the film raises questions about the nature of their connection.

“Jefferson in Paris” delves into Jefferson’s political beliefs, his passion for Enlightenment ideals, and his struggles with the institution of slavery. The film provides a nuanced portrayal of Jefferson, depicting him as a man grappling with the contradictions between his advocacy for freedom and his ownership of slaves.

The historical drama captures the lavishness of French aristocratic society and the intellectual ferment of the time. The film showcases the beautiful settings of Paris, Versailles, and Monticello, giving the audience a visual treat.

“Jefferson in Paris” received mixed reviews from critics upon its release, with some praising its historical accuracy and performances, while others criticized its pacing and lack of focus. Nevertheless, the film remains a compelling exploration of the life and times of one of America’s most enigmatic Founding Fathers, shedding light on the complexities of Thomas Jefferson’s personal and political life during his stay in the City of Light.

Additional Details


  • Nick Nolte: Thomas Jefferson
  • Gwyneth Paltrow: Patsy Jefferson
  • Estelle Eonnet: Polly Jefferson
  • Thandie Newton: Sally Hemings
  • Seth Gilliam: James Hemings
  • Todd Boyce: William Short
  • Nigel Whitmey: John Trumbull
  • Nicolas Silberg: Monsieur Petit
  • Catherine Samie: Cook
  • Lionel Robert: Cook’s Helper
  • Greta Scacchi: Maria Cosway
  • Simon Callow: Richard Cosway
  • Lambert Wilson: Marquis de Lafayette
  • Elsa Zylberstein: Adrienne de Lafayette
  • William Moseley: George Washington de Lafayette
  • Jean-Pierre Aumont: d’Hancarville
  • Anthony Valentine: British Ambassador
  • Michael Lonsdale: Louis XVI
  • Charlotte de Turckheim: Marie-Antoinette
  • Damien Groëlle: The Dauphin
  • Louise Balsan: Madame Royal
  • Valérie Toledano: Madame Elizabeth
  • Vernon Dobtcheff: King’s Translator
  • At the Panthémont Abbey
  • Nancy Marchand: Madame Abbesse
  • Jessica Lloyd: Julia
  • Daniel Mesguich: Mesmer
  • Thibault de Montalembert: Assistant
  • William Christie: Conductor
  • Jean-Paul Fouchécourt: Dardanus
  • Ismail Merchant: Tipoo Sultin’s Ambassador
  • Vincent Cassel: Camille Desmoulins
  • James Earl Jones: Madison Hemings
  • Beatrice Winde: Mary Hemings
  • Tim Choate: Reporter


  • Director: James Ivory
  • Producers: Isnail Merchant, Humbert Balsan, Paul Bradley and Donald Rosenfeld
  • Writer: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

Movie Trailer:

About the Author

Craig Smith
I am founder and editor of My passion for all things Disney goes pretty far back to my first trip to Walt Disney World in the mid-80's. I have since returned to the magical place more than 20 times. I started this site when I came to the realization that I spent a significant portion of my day reading articles about Disney and watching Disney content with my 8-year old, so it made sense that I would start sharing some of what I read and see and building a little community around it. Other interests include 80's nostalgia, vintage toys, video games, LEGO, Star Wars and tech gadgets. Other sites include DMR and