Individuals of all economic strata are shedding their jobs, hometowns, and lifestyle to embrace a wider experience and a more meaningful existence.
Mélanie Laurent, born on the 21st of February 1983, is a French actress, director, singer, and writer. She is most familiar to international audiences for her role as Shosanna 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. 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.
Laurent is Jewish, and has both Ashkenazi and Tunisian Sephardic ancestry with a grandfather who survived deportation by the Nazis. Her maternal grandparents were film poster editors and she grew up in the 9th arrondissement of Paris and was immersed in the arts from an early age. Her career started when the French actor Gérard Depardieu noticed her while she watched her best friend's father working on the set of Asterix and Obelix. He asked her if she wanted to be in the movies and Laurent replied 'Why not?' The following week his assistant called her and Depardieu gave Laurent a part when she was 16 in The Bridge, a drama he both starred in and co-directed with Fréderic Auburtin.
Laurent has appeared in 20 films between the years of 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 in 2006. A performance 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 long 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 the 25th and 26th of 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 is quite fond of, 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 partner at the time, French actor 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.
She got married fairly quietly and it seems that a mystery surrounds her marraige as she refuses to name him. The Paris born and raised actress says that she also had a coup de foudre on the set of Requiem pour une Tueuse:
"With my boyfriend/husband, I say that because I do not like the word husband - he was a crew member and I was an actress and we looked at each other seductively for a few days before we ever talked."
Her forthcoming films are all in the English language, including the thriller Now You See Me, in which she plays an Interpol detective alongside Morgan Freeman, Mark Ruffalo and Woody Harrelson. She will also perform in Canadian director Denis Villeneuve's adaptation of the book An Enemy, with Sarah Gadon, Jake Gyllenhaal and Isabella Rossellini.
If she has hit hard times in her career, it has been when she has been sidetracked from acting. Her 2011 album, En T'Attendant, was released to scathing reviews. So much so that Laurent admits:
"I'm taking a break from music. Everyone was so mean about it and it was so hard that I just wanted to die."
She also co-wrote and directed the family drama Les Adoptés (English: The Adopted), which came out in 2011 to a very mixed reception. She is determined to direct again, as she says about the experience of being behind the camera:
"For the first time in my life, I felt like I was in the right place."
Laurent also had planned another feature film, Putain de pluie!, whose script she co-wrote with Morgan Perez and which she intended to direct, and have 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." That year Laurent was the hostess of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 64th Cannes Film Festival.
She describes recording artist Damien Rice and filmographer Quentin Tarantino as two "masters" in terms of the quality of their art. With Rice she is recording her first album, traveling between Woodstock, New York and his home in Ireland. Living in his home in Ireland inspired her to maintain a compost heap and eat organic food. When talking about Quentin Tarantino, who she credits with changing her career after he cast her as Shosanna in the Second World War drama, Inglourious Basterds, she says,
“I'm not going to say we are great friends, I know that's what normally we are supposed to say, that we worked together and it was so amazing and now we're friends forever... but I went to the big premiere of Django Unchained in Paris and thought it was so good. I wrote him a long email telling him how much I liked it.”
She played the part of Estefania in the adaptation of the Pascal Mercier book Night Train to Lisbon without reading the script because she wanted to work with the director, Bille August. It was a spur of the moment decision that could have easily backfired but her only regret is that she didn't get to do any scenes with Jeremy Irons - "It was the same with Brad Pitt on Inglourious Basterds."
On set, she claims she has a laid-back attitude that she blames on Gérard Depardieu, who helped her get her first break in the movies when she starred in The Bridge, a drama co-directed and starring Depardieu:
"He would turn up on set and not know his lines, and just get on with it on the day. It was the less-is-more approach. I can get away with that sometimes in French, but in English I have to work harder."
Night Train to Lisbon sees her acting in English again. How many English-language parts are on the CV has almost become a measure of a French actress's success. Of the young belles that have exploded on to the scene over the past two decades only Audrey Tautou hasn't made a regular habit of performing in English. Laurent is now a lot more confident speaking English than she was three years ago when she starred in Mike Mills film, Beginners. Aside from performing in films, 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.
César Award for Most Promising Actress
Lumière Award for Most Promising Young Actress
NRJ Ciné Award for Best Young Talent in a Debut Film
Étoiles d'Or for Best Female Newcomer
La Chambre des morts
The Business Trip
Shoe at Your Foot
Shosanna Dreyfus/Emmanuelle Mimieux
Austin Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
Central Ohio Film Critics Association for Best Ensemble
Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated – Detroit Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated – Empire Award for Best Actress
Nominated – San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Actress
Nominated – St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
The Round Up
Nominated – San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Yabanci is a book by a Dutch woman who moved from Holland to Turkey to start a new life in a Turkish village overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. A great read for those who are considering a move abroad or have lived in a different culture. Available in English as an ebook or in Dutch in both print and popular ebook formats...
take a look