Melanie Laurent (age: 33), Mélanie (born 21 February 1983) is a French actress, model and singer known for Don't Worry, I'm Fine, Inglourious Basterds, Now You See Me
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Melanie Laurent Bio
Melanie Laurent (born 21 February 1983) is a French actress, model, director, singer and writer. She initially rose to prominence for her performance in the 2006 French drama film Don’t Worry, I’m Fine for which she later won the César Award for Most Promising Actress and the Prix Romy Schneider as well. Laurent further became known to international audiences for her starring role as Shoshanna Dreyfus in Quentin Tarantino‘s 2009 film Inglourious Basterds, for which she won Best Actress from the Online Film Critics Society and the Austin Film Critics Association and then also starred in one of 2013’s top-grossing Hollywood films, Now You See Me.
Laurent’s other notable works include Dikkenek (2006), a Franco-Belgian comedy film for which she won Étoiles d’Or for Best Female Newcomer, French war film Days of Glory (2006), Cédric Klapisch‘s Paris (2008) with an ensemble cast, The Round Up (2010), a French movie depicting the true story of a Jewish boy amidst the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup, Mike Mills‘ comedy drama Beginners (2010) for which was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress category at the San Diego Film Critics Society Awards, comedy drama Et soudain, tout le monde me manque (2011) for which she won the Best Actress Award at the Newport Beach Film Festival , French-American nature documentary Wings of Life (2011) serving as narrator, Night Train to Lisbon (2013), Canadian-Spanish psycho thriller Enemy (2013) an adaptation of José Saramago‘s 2002 novel The Double, and drama film Aloft (2014). In addition she has acted in a number of French movies receiving numerous accolades including the Étoiles d’or du cinéma français (Gold Star of French Cinema).
In her first theater appearance Laurent teamed up with French theatre director Nicolas Bedos and shared the stage with actor Jérôme Kircher in 2010 for Promenade de santé. Apart from her acting career, she has also directed French movies such X Femmes, a short-film series, and Respire, an adaptation of Anne-Sophie Brasme‘s novel of the same name that screened in the International Critics’ Week section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. She made her singing debut with a studio album En t’attendant in May 2011, the album contains twelve songs, five of which are co-written and co-produced by Irish folk musician Damien Rice. The album peaked at no. 22 and no. 35 at the Belgian Albums Charts and French Albums Charts respectively.
Laurent appeared in 20 films between 1999 and 2009. She played minor roles in a number of movies until 2006 including Michel Blanc‘s drama Summer Things, Jackie Chan‘s co-produced Rice Rhapsody, Jacques Audiard‘s The Beat That My Heart Skipped and war film Days of Glory centering Free French Forces.
Playing a depressed 19-year-old who longed for her lost twin brother, she starred in Philippe Lioret‘s I’m Fine, Don’t Worry (2006), for which she won a César Award for Most Promising Actress as well as the Prix Romy Schneider her first major breakthrough. In 2006, Laurent and Belgian actor Jérémie Renier were awarded France’s Romy Schneider and Jean Gabin Prizes for “most promising actor and actress.” She also starred in Franco-Belgian cult film Dikkenek, a comedy film directed by Olivier Van Hoofstadt for which she received Étoiles d’Or for Best Female Newcomer.
In 2008, Laurent appeared in Paris, a multi-starer French film by Cédric Klapisch concerning a diverse group of people. The movie has an ensemble cast including Laurent, Juliette Binoche, Romain Duris, Fabrice Luchini and François Cluzet.
In the same year Laurent directed and wrote De moins en moins, which was nominated for Best Short Film at the 61st Annual Cannes Film Festival. It is a 7-minute film about a patient who, in front of her psychiatrist, “remembers less and less”. Laurent also directed À ses pieds, an erotic short film aired on the French television channel Canal+ on 25–26 October 2008, as part of a series of such shorts, called X Femmes, shot by female directors with the goal of producing erotica from a female point of view.
2009 Hollywood debut with Inglorious Basterds
Laurent was scheduled to direct her first play, Mi-cuit cœur pistache (the name of a dessert she particularly likes) in January 2009 at the Théâtre Marigny in Paris. She had to abandon the project during the preparations and rehearsals when she was cast as Shoshanna Dreyfus in the Quentin Tarantino film Inglourious Basterds alongside Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger and Christoph Waltz. It was a French-language role for which she learnt to speak English for a few scenes. The film was a huge commercial success, grossing over $321 million in theaters worldwide, and critical success as well.
Laurent’s performance was also praised by several critics. Movieline wrote, “Mélanie Laurent provides Inglourious Basterds its heart and soul. It falls to the 26-year-old French actress to anchor some of the World War II film’s most challenging scenes as Shosanna, the Parisian theater owner who’s seen her entire family slaughtered by Nazi Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) and seizes the opportunity to lure the S.S. into her theater for murderous revenge.”
Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly wrote that Laurent should have received the nomination at the 16th Screen Actors Guild Awards saying, “In drawing attention to one performer, in particular, whom they left out of the Best Supporting Actress category, I solemnly promise you that I won’t exploit the s-word. What I will note is that this particular omission is worth talking about, if only because I flat-out adore this performance and I suspect that many others do too,” and lauding her performance added, “Laurent is radiant and, in a unique Tarantino way, heartbreaking. Sexy and luminous in the heat of her valor. Putting out fire – and setting it. It becomes an anthem of noirish dread and excitement, a sign that Laurent, as Shosanna, has found her destiny.”
In an interview Laurent said that she went into Inglourious Basterds with an adoration for Quentin Tarantino. “[The French] don’t see him like an independent director; we just see him as the best director, ever, [from the United States].” About the process of auditioning, Mélanie said that she knew right from the start that not only was this a movie she had to be in but that she was Shoshanna. “I am strong and I just had that dream to kill Adolf Hitler. I am Jewish so it was like an obsession for me.” But Quentin played hard to get. “I had to wait 4 days. Then he called, and he said. ‘Hey Honey, how are you?’ And I was like, ‘I am not fine. Give me a yes or give me a no. Just tell me something.’ And he said, ‘Would you be my Shoshanna?’ And I was like, ‘What? Oh yeah, yeah.'”
In addition Laurent won a number of accolades for her portrayal of Shoshana including Austin Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress and Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress and nominations at the Detroit Film Critics Society Awards, Empire Award for Best Actress and Saturn Award for Best Actress among others. The highly anticipated movie, which had been in development since 1998, marked Laurent’s first major role in an American film and Laurent found herself pushed into mainstream success in North America.
Her then-partner Julien Boisselier, as well as Marie Denarnaud, Mélanie Doutey and Louise Monot were to act in the production while short movie clips were to be projected on stage, some of them shot at the nightclub Le Baron, which Laurent used to frequent during the writing period.
In 2010 Laurent starred in The Round Up, a French film directed by Roselyne Bosch and produced by Alain Goldman alongside Jean Reno, Sylvie Testud and Gad Elmaleh. Based on the true story of a young Jewish boy, the film depicts the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup, the mass arrest of Jews by French police who were Nazi accomplices in Paris in July 1942.
Laurent also had planned another feature film, Putain de pluie!, whose script she co-wrote with Morgan Perez and which she intended to direct, produced by Alain Attal’s Productions du Trésor. Originally set for filming in the spring of 2009, it was postponed because of her work on Inglourious Basterds. Knowing that she could speak French and had already acted in French in one of the short films in Paris, je t’aime, she offered the first role to Natalie Portman, who declined because of the language of the script. Laurent played the part of the violinist in Radu Mihăileanu‘s Le Concert—she called it “a smart movie and a popular movie, and I’m glad because French people wanted to watch a movie with classical music.”
Laurent was the hostess of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 64th Cannes Film Festival. In 2011 Laurent teamed with Mike Mills, appearing opposite Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer in Beginners, a dramedy that marks the director’s sophomore narrative feature and the actress’ second English-speaking role in an American film. Beginners tells the story of Oliver (McGregor), a sensitive yet romantically challenged graphic designer who meets Anna (Laurent), an irreverent and beautiful French actress, only months after losing his father (Plummer) to cancer. Loosely based on Mills’ own life, most notably the part about a father coming out of the closet at the age of 75 after the passing of his wife of 45 years, this is a personal project.
In 2013 she appeared in the caper film Now You See Me as a French Interpol agent who investigates the bank theft alongside Mark Ruffalo and an ensemble cast. The movie was a major commercial success, receiving mixed reviews but praise for the performances of the entire cast. Laurent then starred in Night Train to Lisbon, a 2013 drama film based on the novel of the same name directed by Bille August opposite Jeremy Irons.
Laurent then co-starred in the 2013 Canadian-Spanish psychological thriller film Enemy, directed by Denis Villeneuve, loosely adapted by Javier Gullón from José Saramago‘s 2002 novel The Double. The film starred Jake Gyllenhaal as two men who are physically identical, but different in terms of personality. Laurent and Sarah Gadon co-star as the romantic partners of the men. It was screened in the Special Presentation section at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.
In 2014 Laurent appeared in Aloft, a 2014 drama film written and directed by Claudia Llosa, alongside Jennifer Connelly and Cillian Murphy. The film premiered in competition at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival.
Laurent was next cast in Angelina Jolie‘s By the Sea, an upcoming American drama film both directed and written by Jolie. The movie also stars Jolie and Brad Pitt.The film is scheduled to be released on November 13, 2015, by Universal Pictures.