17 January 2017

Sophie Marceau

French actress Sophie Marceau (1966) became a European film star with a string of successful films, including La boum/The Party (1980), L'Étudiante/The Student (1988), Fanfan (1993), and La fille de d'Artagnan/Revenge of the Musketeers (1994). Internationally she became known with her performances in Braveheart (1995), and the 19th James Bond film The World Is Not Enough (1999). She received a Cesar for La Boum 2 (1983) and she won a Moliere award for a stage production of Eurydice in 1991.

Sophie Marceau
French postcard, no. 956. Photo: Patrick Davy.

La Boum

Sophie Marceau was born Sophie Danièle Sylvie Maupu in 1966 in Paris, France. She has a three-years-older brother, Sylvain. Her parents, Simone (Morisset), a shop assistant, and Benoît Maupu, a truck driver, divorced when she was nine years old.

She grew up far from the studio spotlights in the Paris suburb of Gentilly. When she was 14, she auditioned for a role in a film about teenagers called La Boum/The Party (1980) and director Claude Pinoteau gave her the leading role. After viewing the rushes, Alain Poiré, director of the Gaumont Film Company, signed Marceau to a long-term contract.

The comedy La Boum was a hit, not only in France, where 4,378,500 tickets were sold, but also in several other European countries. She also played in La Boum 2/The Party 2 (Claude Pinoteau, 1982), another hit, for which she received the Cesar for Most Promising Actress in 1983.

Then the 16-years-old actress bought back her contract with Gaumont for one million French francs, for which she had to borrow a lot of money. She went to study at the Ecole Florent in Paris, and focused on more dramatic roles. She played roles in the historical war drama Fort Saganne (Alain Corneau, 1984) with Gérard Depardieu and Catherine Deneuve, the romantic drama L'amour braque/Mad Love (Andrzej Zulawski, 1985) with Francis Huster, the crime drama Police (Maurice Pialat, 1985), and the psychological thriller Descente aux enfers/Descent Into Hell (Francis Girod, 1986).

In 1988, she starred in the romantic comedy L'Étudiante/The Student (Claude Pinoteau, 1988) and the historical adventure film Chouans! (Philippe de Broca, 1988), based on the novel by Honoré de Balzac. That year, Marceau was named Best Romantic Actress at the Festival International du Film Romantique (International Festival of Romantic Film) in Cabourg for her role in Chouans!

Marceau next starred with Jacques Dutronc in Mes nuits sont plus belles que vos jours/My Nights Are More Beautiful Than Your Days (1989), which was directed by her long-time companion Andrzej Zulawski. The following year, she starred in her American debut Pacific Palisades (Bernard Schmitt, 1990) and in La note bleue/The Blue Note (Andrzej Zulawski, 1990), her third film directed by Zulawski.

Sophie Marceau
French collectors card in the series 'Portrait de Stars; L'encyclopédie du Cinéma' by Edito Service, 1991. Photo: Gamma Caption: Sophie Marceau, 1985, France.

The World Is Not Enough

In 1991, Sophie Marcerau made her stage debut in Jean Anouilh's Eurydice. She was awarded the Moliere Award for Best Newcomer.

Marceau began to make less dramatic films. She starred with Vincent Perez in the comedy Fanfan (Alexandre Jardin, 1993) and the Swashbuckler adventure La fille de d'Artagnan/Revenge of the Musketeers (Bertrand Tavernier, 1994). Both were popular in France, but received mixed reviews.

In 1994, she returned to the theatre as Eliza Doolittle in G.B. Shaw’s Pygmalion. Marceau had her international breakthrough in 1995 when she played Isabelle, Princess of Wales in the historical epic Braveheart (Mel Gibson, 1995). The film was nominated for ten Academy awards and won five, including Best Picture and Best Director.

That year, she was also part of an ensemble of international actors in Al di là delle nuvole/Beyond the Clouds (1995), directed by Michelangelo Antonioni and Wim Wenders. In 1997 followed the title role in Anna Karenina (Bernard Rose 1997), filmed in Russia. She played Hippolyta in the Shakespeare adaptation A Midsummer Night's Dream (Michael Hoffman, 1999).

Arguably her best known role is the villainess Bond girl Elektra King in The World Is Not Enough (Michael Apted, 1999), the third film with Pierce Brosnan as MI6 agent 007. Despite mixed critical reception, The World Is Not Enough earned $361,832,400 worldwide.

Marceau teamed up again with Zulawski to film La fidélité/Fidelity (Andrzej Zulawski, 2000), playing the role of a talented photographer who takes a job at a scandal-mongering tabloid and becomes romantically involved with an eccentric children's book publisher.

Sophie Marceau in The World Is Not Enough (1999)
British postcard by EON Productions. Photo: Danjaq / LLC / United Artists Corporation. Publicity still for The World is Not Enough (Michael Apted, 1999) with Sophie Marceau as Elektra King.

Speak to Me of Love

From 2000 on, Sophie Marceau worked mainly in France. In 2002, she made her directorial debut in the feature film Speak to Me of Love, for which she was named Best Director at the Montreal World Film Festival. The film starred Judith Godrèche. It was her second directorial effort, following her nine-minute short film L'aube à l'envers (1995), which had opened the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival that year.

Marceau played a widowed nurse in À ce soir/Nelly (Laure Duthilleul, 2004), an undercover police agent in the romantic thriller Anthony Zimmer (Jérôme Salle, 2005), and the troubled daughter of a murdered film star in La disparue de Deauville/Trivial (2007), her second feature as a director.

Marceau played a member of the French Resistance in Les Femmes de l'ombre/Female Agents (Jean-Paul Salomé, 2008), and she teamed up with Monica Bellucci in the thriller Ne te retourne pas/Don't Look Back (Marina de Van, 2009) about the mysterious connection between two women who have never met.

She played a successful business executive forced to confront her unhappy childhood in the romantic comedy L'âge de raison/With Love... from the Age of Reason (Yann Samuell, 2010). Recent films include the thriller Arrêtez-moi/Arrest Me (Jean-Paul Lilienfeld, 2013) and the French-Belgian drama La Taularde/Jailbirds (Audrey Estrougo, 2015). In 2015, she was a member of the jury of the Cannes Film Festival.

From 1984 to 2001, Sophie Marceau was in a relationship with Polish/French director Andrzej Zulawski. They have a son, Vincent Zulawkski (1985). Later she was in long-time relationships with producer Jim Lemley, and with actor Christophe Lambert. With Lemley she has a daughter, Juliette Lemley (2002).

Sophie Marceau in L'étudiante (1988)
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin. Photo: publicity still for L'étudiante/The Student (Claude Pinoteau, 1988).

Sources: Yuri German (AllMovie), Marceau.co.uk, Wikipedia and IMDb.

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