Born Pierre-Louis Dubus to an impoverished family in Paris, he was originally intended for the clergy. While playing with a mediocre troop of actors in provincial France, Préville's budding talents were spotted in the town of Rouen by Jean Monnet, who engaged him to perform with the Opéra-Comique in Paris in 1743. Later Préville returned to the provinces and was the manager of the Grand Théâtre in Lyon.
He joined the Comédie Francaise in Paris in 1753, where he debuted on 20 September in the role of Crispin in Jean-François Regnard's Le Légataire universel (The Sole Legatee). He took on roles previously played by François-Arnoul Poisson[fr] and revealed himself to be the best comedian in the company since Jean-Baptiste Raisin.[fr] He appeared with the actress Mlle Dangeville[fr] with great success in several plays by Pierre de Marivaux and created the roles of Figaro in Pierre Beaumarchais's Le Barbier de Séville in 1775 and Brid'oison in Le Mariage de Figaro in 1784. One of his most notable successes was playing 6 characters in one in Edmé Boursault's Le Mercure galant.
- Forman, Edward (2010). Historical Dictionary of French Theatre. Lanham, Maryland: The Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-4939-6.
- Hartnoll, Phyllis (1983). The Oxford Companion to the Theatre. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-211546-1.
- L'Intermédiaire des chercheurs et curieux, vol. 36 (1897). Paris. View at Google Books.
- Michaud, Louis Gabriel (1863). Biographie universelle ancienne et moderne, vol. 34. Paris: Desplaces. View at Google Books.