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Charlotte Gainsbourgh Bio
Charlotte Gainsbourg (born July 21, 1971) is an British-French actress and singer. She is the daughter of English actress Jane Birkin and French singer and songwriter Serge Gainsbourg. After making her musical debut with her father on the song “Lemon Incest” at the age of twelve, she released an album with her father at the age of fifteen. More than twenty years passed before she released three albums as an adult (5:55, IRM and Stage Whisper) to commercial and critical success. Gainsbourg has also appeared in many films, including several directed by Lars von Trier, and has received both a César Award and the Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award.
Gainsbourg grew up on film sets as both of her parents were involved in the film industry. She stated that her mother was the one who pushed her into acting, believing that she wanted to be an actress and encouraging her to make her motion picture debut playing Catherine Deneuve‘s daughter in the film Paroles et musique (1984).
In 1986, Gainsbourg won a César Award for “Most Promising Actress” for L’effrontée. That same year Gainsbourg appeared in the film Charlotte for Ever about a man who develops incestuous desires for his teenage daughter after his wife dies. The film was the subject of great controversy as it was written and directed by Gainsbourg’s father Serge Gainsbourg who also took on the role of Gainsbourg’s father on screen. Additionally the film was released two years after Gainsbourg had released her debut single Lemon Incest which had similar themes and also was created and sung with her father Serge causing the press to speculate that the material was autobiographical.
In 1993, Gainsbourg made her English speaking debut in The Cement Garden, written and directed by her uncle, Andrew Birkin. She made her stage debut in 1994 in David Mamet‘s Oleanna at the Théâtre de la Gaîté-Montparnasse. In 1996, Gainsbourg starred as the title character in Jane Eyre, a film adaption of Charlotte Brontë‘s 1847 novel.
In 2000, she won the César Award for”Best Supporting Actress” for the film La Bûche.
In 2003, Gainsbourg starred in 21 Grams, with Naomi Watts, Sean Penn and Benicio del Toro. In 2006, Gainsbourg appeared alongside Gael García Bernal in Michel Gondry‘s The Science of Sleep. In 2007, she appeared as Claire in the Todd Haynes-directed Bob Dylan biopic I’m Not There, also contributing a cover of the Dylan song “Just Like a Woman” to the film soundtrack. In 2009, she won the award for Best Actress at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival for the film Antichrist. Gainsbourg starred in the French/Australian production, The Tree, released in 2010, and in Lars von Trier‘s science fiction disaster film, Melancholia. She was on the jury for the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival in February 2012. In May 2012 Confession of a Child of the Century premiered, where she starred alongside the British musician Pete Doherty.
Gainsbourg collaborated with von Trier once again on his 2013 film Nymphomaniac, in which she plays the lead character. The five and a half-hour film depicts the life of a sex addict from youth to middle age. When asked about the nature of the role, Gainsbourg responded, “The sex scenes weren’t so hard. For me it was all the masochistic scenes. Those were embarrassing and, yes, a little humiliating.”
Gainsbourg made her musical debut with her father on the song “Lemon Incest” in 1984. The song was incredibly controversial due to lyrics that seemed to imply an incestuous pedophiliac relationship between a father and daughter that was sung by Gainsbourg and her real life father Serge causing people to believe the material was autobiographical. Gainsbourg, who was 13 at the time of the song’s release, later stated that she had just begun boarding school and was therefore unaware of the controversy regarding the song until she was much older.
In 1986 she released her debut album Charlotte for Ever, which was produced by her father.
In 2000, Gainsbourg was featured on the Madonna album Music on the track “What It Feels Like For A Girl“. There is a lengthy spoken intro by Gainsbourg, taken from the film The Cement Garden, which inspired the title of the song. The track was further remixed for the single version of this song in 2001, with Gainsbourg’s The Cement Garden speech repeated during the song.
In 2004, she sang a duet with French pop star Étienne Daho on his single “If”.
In 2006, Gainsbourg released her second album 5:55 to critical acclaim and commercial success, reaching the top spot on the French charts and achieving platinum status in the country. In the UK, the album was moderately successful, reaching #78 (The single “The Songs That We Sing” only made #129). Gainsbourg attributed the twenty year break between her debut album and 5:55 as a result of her father’s death and her reluctance to explore a musical career without his presence.
In late 2009, Gainsbourg released her third studio album, IRM, which was produced by Beck. One of the influential factors in the album’s creative process was her time spent filming Antichrist. Gainsbourg’s head injury in 2007 influenced the title of the album “IRM”, an abbreviation for the French translation of “magnetic resonance imaging”. While receiving a brain scan, she began to think about music. “When I was inside that machine,” she said, “it was an escape to think about music. It’s rhythm. It was very chaotic.”
Her song “Heaven Can Wait” was chosen as the Starbucks iTunes Pick of the Week on 2 March 2010. Her song “Trick Pony” appeared at the beginning of the Grey’s Anatomy episode “Perfect Little Accident” (Season 6, Episode 16/airdate: 25 February 2010), is featured on the FIFA 11 soundtrack and was used in the 2012 Teleflora Super Bowl advertisement featuring supermodel Adriana Lima.
In 2011, Gainsbourg released the double album Stage Whisper, a collection of unreleased songs from IRM and live tracks. In 2013, Gainsbourg released a cover version of the song “Hey Joe“, recorded with Beck, for the soundtrack of the film Nymphomaniac, in which she is the lead actress.
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