Sophie Marceau

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Sophie Marceau
Sophie Marceau Cabourg 2012.jpg
Marceau at the 2012 Cabourg Film Festival
Sophie Danièle Sylvie Maupu

(1966-11-17) 17 November 1966 (age 56)
Paris, France
Years active1980–present
Known for
AwardsSee below

Sophie Marceau (French: [sɔfi maʁso]; born Sophie Danièle Sylvie Maupu, 17 November 1966) is a French actress. As a teenager, she achieved popularity with her debut films La Boum (1980) and La Boum 2 (1982), receiving a César Award for Most Promising Actress (known as the French Oscar).[1][2][3][4] She became a film star in Europe with a string of successful films, including L'Étudiante (1988), Pacific Palisades (1990), Fanfan (1993) and Revenge of the Musketeers (1994). She became an international film star with her performances in Braveheart (1995), Firelight (1997), Anna Karenina (1997)[5] and as Elektra King in the 19th James Bond film The World Is Not Enough (1999).[6] Some of her later films tackle critical social issues such as Arrêtez-moi (2013), Jailbirds (2015) and Everything Went Fine (2021).[7]

Marceau has appeared on more than 300 magazine covers worldwide and been the face of numerous luxury brands. She was made Officer (Officier) in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Minister of Culture of France in 2003[8] and in 2015, it was revealed that she had refused the Legion of Honour (Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur).[9]

Early life[edit]

She was born 17 November 1966 in Paris, the second child of Simone (née Morisset), a shop assistant (d. 2016[10]), and Benoît Maupu, a truck driver.[11][12] Her parents divorced when she was nine years old.[13]

Film career[edit]

In February 1980, Marceau and her mother came across a model agency looking for teenagers. Marceau had photos taken at the agency, but did not think anything would come of it. At the same time, Françoise Menidrey, the casting director for Claude Pinoteau's La Boum (1980), asked modeling agencies to recommend a new teenager for the project. After viewing the rushes, Alain Poiré, the director of the Gaumont Film Company, signed Marceau to a long-term contract. La Boum was a hit film, with 4,378,500 tickets sold in France.[14][better source needed] In 1981, Marceau made her singing debut with French singer François Valéry on record "Dream in Blue", written by Pierre Delanoë.[15] She rejected the main role in a soon-to-be controversial film, Beau-père, in which she would have played as a teenage girl who seduces her step-father for a sexual relationship.[16] The role was eventually played by Ariel Besse. In 1982, at age 16, Marceau bought back her contract with Gaumont for one million French francs.[17] She borrowed most of the money.

After starring in the sequel film La Boum 2 (1982), Marceau focused on more dramatic roles, including the historical drama Fort Saganne in 1984 with Gérard Depardieu and Catherine Deneuve, Joyeuses Pâques (Happy Easter) in 1984, L'amour braque and Police in 1985, and Descente aux enfers (Descent into Hell) in 1986. In 1988, she starred in L'Étudiante (The Student) and the historical adventure film Chouans!. That year, Marceau was named Best Romantic Actress at the International Festival of Romantic Movies for her role in Chouans![18]

Marceau, at the
Molière Awards, 1993

In 1989, Marceau starred in My Nights Are More Beautiful Than Your Days, which was directed by her long-time boyfriend Andrzej Zulawski. In 1990, she starred in Pacific Palisades and La note bleue, her third film directed by her companion. In 1991, she ventured into the theater in Eurydice, which earned Marceau the Moliere Award for Best Female Newcomer.[18] Throughout the 1990s, Marceau began making less-dramatic films, such as the comedy Fanfan in 1993 and Revenge of the Musketeers (La fille de d'Artagnan) in 1994—both popular in Europe and abroad. That year, she returned to the theatre as Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion.[18]

Marceau achieved international recognition in 1995 playing the role of Princess Isabelle in Mel Gibson's Braveheart. That year, she was part of an ensemble of international actors in the French film Beyond the Clouds, directed by Michelangelo Antonioni and Wim Wenders. In 1997, she continued her string of successful films with William Nicholson's Firelight, filmed in England, Véra Belmont's Marquise, filmed in France, and Bernard Rose's Anna Karenina, filmed in Russia. In 1999, she played Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and the villainess Bond girl Elektra King in The World Is Not Enough. In 2000, Marceau teamed up again with her then-boyfriend Andrzej Zulawski to film Fidelity, 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.[18]

Marceau at the premiere of Arrêtez-moi, 2013

Since the early 2000s, Marceau has continued to appear in a wide variety of roles, mainly in French films, playing a widowed nurse in Nelly (À ce soir) in 2004, an undercover police agent in Anthony Zimmer in 2005, and the troubled daughter of a murdered film star in Trivial in 2007. In 2008, Marceau played a member of the French Resistance movement in Female Agents, and a struggling single mother in LOL (Laughing Out Loud). In 2009, she teamed up with Monica Bellucci in Don't Look Back about the mysterious connection between two women who have never met. In 2010, Marceau played a successful business executive forced to confront her unhappy childhood in With Love... from the Age of Reason (L'âge de raison).[citation needed]

In 2012, Marceau played a 40-something career woman who falls in love with a young jazz musician in Happiness Never Comes Alone. In 2013, she appeared in Arrêtez-moi (Arrest Me) as a woman who shows up at a police station and confesses to the murder of her abusive husband several years earlier.[citation needed]

She was selected to be on the jury for the main competition section of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.[19][20]

Author and director[edit]

In 1996, Marceau published the semi-autobiographical novel, Menteuse (the English translation, Telling Lies, was published in 2001).[21] Marceau's work was described as "an exploration of female identity".[13]

In 2002, Marceau 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 in 1995, which also starred Godrèche.[22][better source needed] In 2007, she directed Trivial, her second feature film and in 2018 Mrs Mills.[citation needed]


Place Vendôme, Chaumet showing Marceau in 2013

In the early stages of her career, she shot around a dozen television commercials and numerous national magazine covers in Japan and South Korea where she is famous since La Boum.[23] Since 2008, Marceau is an international ambassador for high-end jeweller Chaumet based in Paris.[24][25] Since 2014, she has been the ambassador of the DS 4, DS 5 and DS 6 cars (2010–2016) of the PSA Group with billboards and television commercials throughout Asia and especially in China.[26]

Personal life[edit]

With her then-partner Christopher Lambert at the Skyfall Paris premiere in 2012

From 1985 to 2001, Marceau had a relationship with Polish director Andrzej Żuławski.[11][27] Their son Vincent was born in July 1995. In 2001, Marceau separated from Żuławski and began a six-year relationship with American producer Jim Lemley. They have a daughter, Juliette (born June 2002 in London).[11]

Marceau also had a relationship with actor Christopher Lambert beginning in 2007, with whom she appeared in the films Trivial and Cartagena.[28] They announced their separation on 11 July 2014.[29] In 2016, Marceau was for about 10 months in a relationship with the chef and restaurant owner Cyril Lignac.[30][31]

Marceau is a classically trained cellist, as seen in the 1999 film Lost and Found. She is bilingual (French and English).[32]

Honours and awards[edit]


"Female conqueror and ambitious actress. For millions of spectators, you embody freedom and revolt. Your career is part of the tradition of the greatest French actors, in the wake of Catherine Deneuve, Gérard Depardieu, Philippe Noiret or Jean-Paul Belmondo. You are a role model in our country and, abroad, you embody the image of the perfect French woman and for that you deserve the gratitude of the Republic".[34]

Public image[edit]

Marceau is one of the most well-known Western actors in Asian countries[41][42] such as Japan, South Korea[43][44] and most importantly China,[45][46] owing to her films,[47] her countless local advertising campaigns[48] and her role as a cultural ambassador of France[49][50] in these countries since the 1980s.[51] Marceau was invited to sing "La Vie en rose" in China in a duet with Liu Huan for the 2014 CCTV's New Year gala which was watched by over 700 million people[52] ushering in the nation's week-long holiday.[53][54][55][56] As of 2020[57] and since the 1990s,[58] the circumlocution "the French people's favourite actress" (French: actrice préférée des Français)[59] became a synonym for Marceau in media and the press as she has regularly topped most annual surveys and opinion polls determining it during that period.[60][61][62]



Year Title Role Notes
1980 La Boum Vic Beretton The Party
1982 La Boum 2 Vic Beretton The Party 2
1984 Fort Saganne Madeleine de Saint-Ilette
1984 Joyeuses Pâques Julie Happy Easter
1985 L'amour braque Mary Mad Love
1985 Police Noria
1986 Descente aux enfers Lola Kolber Descent into Hell
1988 L'Étudiante Valentine Ezquerra The Student
1988 Chouans! Céline
1989 My Nights Are More Beautiful Than Your Days Blanche Mes nuits sont plus belles que vos jours
1990 Pacific Palisades Bernardette
1991 Pour Sacha Laura For Sacha
1991 La note bleue Solange Sand The Blue Note
1993 Fanfan Fanfan Fanfan & Alexandre
1994 Revenge of the Musketeers Eloïse d'Artagnan La fille de d'Artagnan
D'Artagnan's Daughter
1995 Braveheart Isabella of France
1995 Beyond the Clouds The Girl in Portofino Al di là delle nuvole
1997 Anna Karenina Anna Karenina
1997 Marquise Marquise du Parc
1997 Firelight Élisabeth Laurier
1999 Lost & Found Lila Dubois
1999 A Midsummer Night's Dream Hippolyta
1999 The World Is Not Enough Elektra King
2000 Fidelity Clélia La fidélité
2001 Belphegor, Phantom of the Louvre Lisa Belphégor – Le fantôme du Louvre
2003 Alex & Emma Polina Delacroix
2003 I'm Staying! Marie-Dominique Delpire
2003 Les clefs de bagnole La clapman The Car Keys
2004 Nelly Nelly À ce soir
2005 Anthony Zimmer Chiara Manzoni
2007 Trivial Lucie / Victoria La disparue de Deauville
2008 Female Agents Louise Desfontaines Les femmes de l'ombre
2008 LOL (Laughing Out Loud) Anne
2008 De l'autre côté du lit Ariane Marciac Changing Sides
2009 Don't Look Back Jeanne No. 1 Ne te retourne pas
2009 Cartagena Muriel L'homme de chevet
2010 With Love... from the Age of Reason Marguerite alias Margaret Flore L'âge de raison
2012 Happiness Never Comes Alone Charlotte Un bonheur n'arrive jamais seul
2013 Arrêtez-moi La coupable Stop Me
2014 Quantum Love Elsa Une rencontre
2014 The Missionaries Judith Chabrier Tu veux ou tu veux pas
Sex, Love & Therapy
2015 Jailbirds Mathilde Leroy La Taularde
2015 A Spiritual Matter Viktoria Une histoire d'âme
2018 Mrs. Mills Helene Madame Mills, une voisine si parfaite
2021 Everything Went Fine Emmanuèle Tout s'est bien passé
2022 I Love America Lisa
2022 Une femme de notre temps Juliane Verbeeck

Director and writer[edit]

Year Title Notes
1995 L'aube à l'envers
2002 Speak to Me of Love Parlez-moi d'amour
2007 Trivial La disparue de Deauville
2018 Mrs. Mills Madame Mills, une voisine si parfaite


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Further reading[edit]

  • Frédéric Quinonero: Sophie Marceau – La belle échappée. Éditions Didier Carpentier, 2010
  • Sophie Marceau – Le cinéma au féminin. JFN Kiosque (special edition), 2009

External links[edit]