Elsa Zylberstein
Birth Date:
October 16, 1969
Birth Place:
Paris, France
Famous for:
Her role in 'Van Gogh' (1991)
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Van Gogh


One of the more outstanding actresses to come out from the new young French cinema, Elsa Zylberstein has acted in a varied array of films since making her debut in 1988’s Bapteme. She gained acclaim and popularity for her role in Maurice Pialat’s respected Van Gogh (1991), in which she was handed an Acteurs à l'Écran Award and a César nomination. She further built good reputation with her performances in such movies as 1992’s Beau fixe/Set Fare (received a César nod), 1994’s Mina Tannenbaum (also earned a César nomination) and 1998’s Homme est une femme comme les autres, L’/Man Is a Woman (won a Cabourg Romantic Film Festival Award).

Zylberstein is also known for playing roles in such vehicles as satire Portraits Chinoise (1996), the British comedy/drama Metroland (1997, starred Christian Bale and Emily Watson), the highly-praised adaptation of Le Temps retrouvé (1999, with Catherine Deneuve and John Malkovich), the crime/thriller 3 Blind Mice (2003, starred Edward Furlong) and the biopic Modigliani (2004, opposite Andy Garcia). Her more recent credits include Petite Jérusalem, La/ Little Jerusalem (2005), J'invente rien (2006) and Concile de Pierre, Le/ The Stone Council (2006). She also costarred in the miniseries “Petits meurtres en famille” (2006).

Off camera, Zylberstein has supported Lionel Jospin’s 2002 presidential campaign. As for her romantic life, she has been involved with actor Antoine de Caunes since 1997. The two has collaborated in several ventures, like Homme est une femme comme les autres, L’ (1997), Là-bas... mon pays (2000) and Monsieur N. (2003).

Classical Dancer

Childhood and Family:

In Paris, France, Elsa Zylberstein was born on October 16, 1968. She became interested in dance at a young age, and she trained as a classical dancer for years. Led by her training, Elsa attended the dramatic arts at a conservatory, and after completing her studies, she launched a career in acting.

Man Is a Woman


Paris, France-born Elsa Zylberstein had her first brush into show business in 1989, when she landed a small part in writer-director René Feret’s Bapteme, which won a Namur International Festival of French-Speaking Film for Best Film. After a couple of film appearances, she received her huge breakthrough when director Maurice Pialat had her play the role of Cathy in his much-admired feature, Van Gogh (1991), a historical drama about the well-known painter. Delivering a breathtaking performance, she won a 1992 Acteurs à l'Écran’s Prix Michel Simon for Best Actress, as well as earned a César nod for Most Promising Actress.

Zylberstein continued to play supporting roles in films, and in 1992, she again achieved recognition with her fine portrayal of Frederique in Christian Vincent’s Beau fixe/Set Fare, a role that brought the actress another César nomination. It was not until 1994, however, that she had her first true starring role. She was cast as Ethel Benegui, one of two Jewish girls growing up as close friends in Paris in Martine Dugowson’s Mina Tannenbaum, opposite Romane Bohringer. Zylberstein’s performance received strong notices and she nabbed her third César nomination. Two years later, she reunited with Bohringer and Dugowson for the ensemble romantic satire Portraits Chinoise (Shadow Play), in which she portrayed a self-doubting, over-sentimental young Parisian named Emma.

1997 saw Zylberstein become more familiar to an English-speaking viewer with her role as the Bohemian lover in Metroland, a British comedy/drama starring Emily Watson and Christian Bale. The same year, she also costarred in the crime/comedy Tenue correcte exigée and acted with Gérard Depardieu and Michel Boujenah in XXL. The following year, the acclaimed actress teamed up with Antoine de Caunes for the multi-faceted French/Jewish/gay comedy drama Homme est une femme comme les autres, L’ (Man Is a Woman). Under the direction of Jean-Jacques Zilbermann, she successfully nabbed a Cabourg Romantic Film Festival for Best Actress. She rounded out the decade with a role in the famous film Le Temps retrouvé (1999), an acclaimed adaptation of Marcel Proust’s well-known novel of the same name. The film starred Catherine Deneuve, Emmanuelle Béart, Vincent Perezand and John Malkovich.

2000-2004 found roles in many films like in Là-bas... mon pays (2000, as Antoine de Caunes’ wife), the British drama Not Afraid, Not Afraid (2001), the Charles Berling starring vehicle Jean Moulin (2002, TV), the Antoine de Caunes-directed Monsieur N. (2003), Edward Furlong’s crime/thriller’s 3 Blind Mice (2003), the comedy Demain on déménage/ Tomorrow We Move (2004), the mystery Qui perd gagne!/ Loser Takes All! (2004, opposite Thierry Lhermitte), the biopic Modigliani (2004, with Andy Garcia) and Pourquoi (pas) le Brésil/ Why (Not) Brazil? (2004, starred as Laetitia Masson/Christine Angot).

Zylberstein continued to play roles in films Journées froides qui menacent les plantes (2005), Karin Albou’s Petite Jérusalem, La/ Little Jerusalem (2005), Cloche a sonné, La (2005), J'invente rien (2006, starred as Mathilde Mahut) and the drama/thriller Concile de Pierre, Le/ The Stone Council (2006, starred Monica Bellucci and Catherine Deneuve). Also in 2006, she made her TV-miniseries bow with “Petits meurtres en famille,” costarring as Édith Le Tescou.


  • Cabourg Romantic Film Festival: Best Actress, Man Is a Woman (Homme est une femme comme les autres, L’), 1998
  • Acteurs à l'Écran: Prix Michel Simon, Best Actress, Van Gogh, 1992
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