Born in 1931, in a small village in the south, Jean -Claude Carriere, son of peasants, received a scholarship and trained as a historian. In 1957, he published his first novel, Lizard. He meet Jacques Tati and Pierre Etaix, with whom he worked on three short films and four feature films including The Sighing and Yoyo. In 1963, he met Luis Buñuel, whom he worked with for almost 2O years (Diary of a Chambermaid , Belle de Jour, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie). He also worked as a screenwriter with Daniel Vigne (The Return of Martin Guerre), Volker Schlöndorff (The Tin Drum , The Forger), Andrej Wajda (Danton), Jacques Deray (The Swimming Pool, Borsalino & Co.), Jean -Luc Godard (Sauve Qui Peut (La Vie)), Louis Malle (Viva Maria , May Fools), Jonathan Glazer (Birth), Miloš Forman (Taking Off, Valmont), Jean- Paul Rappeneau (Cyrano de Bergerac, The Horseman on the Roof), Mikael Hanneke (The White Ribbon) and Atiq Rahimi (Synghé Sabour , Pierre de patience).
He wrote his first play, The Notes, in 1968, directed by André Barsacq. Thereafter, he never stop writing for theater (La Terrasse, Audition). He was also a playwright and adapter, including working with Jean- Louis Barrault and with Peter Brook (The Conference of the Birds, The Mahabharata) for 34 years.
As a novelist (Simon Magus and The Controversy of Valladolid) he wrote the book The Force of Buddhism with the Dalai Lama in 1994, Conversations on the Invisible (1988) with astrophysicists Jean Audouze and Michel Cassé, Interviews on the End of Time (1998) and Do Not Expect to Get Rid of Books with Umberto Eco.
After recounting his childhood in the Languedoc, Jean-Claude Carrière wrote The Wine Gruff (2000) published by Robert Laffont, the Dictionary of Stupidity with Guy Bechtel, followed by The Odd Book, which experienced several editions (the last in 2014). He also composed the Love Encyclopedia of India with Chez Plon (2001), wrote Goya's Ghosts with Miloš Forman (2007), Circle of Liars (2008), Words and Things, and the encore Love Encyclopedia of Mexico (2009). He wrote Interviews on the Multitude of the World published by Odile Jacob. With Thibault Damour, The Rise of Buñuel (2011) and an essay, Fragility. Chez Plon again with Spanish Memory, 2012. His latest book, Money, his life, his death, was published by Odile Jacob in 2014.
His last theatrical experience was a show written with Isabella Rossellini, Bestiary of Love, which she interprets herself.
In 1986, he founded FEMIS with Jack Gajos, the National School of Film and Television, where he remained president until 1996. For the past 25 years, he has been the co-chair of the theater festival in Montpellier Spring Comedians. He was on the board of directors for SACD (theater department), the Cinematheque, the ENS and the Guimet Museum. He is an Officer of the Legion of Honor and the National Order of Merit. In 2014, he received an Honorary Oscar for his body of work as a screenwriter.