Mélanie Laurent Biography
Laurent was born in Paris, the daughter of Annick, a ballerina, and Pierre Laurent, a voiceover actor (who dubs the character Ned Flanders in the French version of The Simpsons). Mélanie is Jewish, and has both Ashkenazi and Tunisian Sephardic ancestry. Her grandfather survived deportation by the Nazis. Her maternal grandparents were film poster editors. She grew up in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, and was immersed in the arts from birth.
Her career began when actor Gérard Depardieu, seeing her while she watched her best friend's father working on the set of Asterix and Obelix, asked her if she wanted to be in movies. Laurent replied 'Why not?' and next week his assistant called her. He strongly advised her not to take drama classes because according to him, she already had the necessary skills. Depardieu gave Laurent a part when she was 16 in The Bridge, a drama he starred in and co-directed with Fréderic Auburtin.
Laurent has appeared in 20 films between 1999 and 2009. 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. In 2006, Laurent and Belgian actor Jérémie Renier were awarded France's Romy Schneider and Jean Gabin Prizes for "most promising actor and actress."
In 2008, 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.
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 Shosanna Dreyfus in the Quentin Tarantino film Inglourious Basterds, a French-language role for which she had to learn to speak English for a few scenes. 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.
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."
Mélanie Laurent was the hostess of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 64th Cannes Film Festival. In 2011 she appeared opposite Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer in Beginners, and in 2013 appeared in the caper film Now You See Me.
Laurent was in a long-term relationship with fellow French actor Julien Boisselier. She describes recording artist Damien Rice and filmographer Quentin Tarantino as two "masters" in terms of their art. With Rice, she recorded her first album, living between Woodstock, New York and his home in Ireland. Spending time in his home in Ireland inspired her to maintain a compost heap and eat organic food.
As of 2013, Laurent is married. She is expecting her first child in September 2013.
Laurent has visited a Climate Defenders Camp in the peatlands of the Indonesian Rainforest with Greenpeace activists. She is also one of the Climate Ambassadors for Kofi Annan's Global Humanitarian Forum "Tck Tck Tck" Campaign. Laurent has laso joined the campaign against overfishing on the invitation of the Blue Marine Foundation, and was cast for the voice-over of documentary The End of the Line. She was also one of the leading celebrities of the campaign Fish Fight France, which aimed (and succeeded) at citizens asking for a new european law lowering the level of fish discards in European seas.