The Woman Next Door
Iconic French actress Fanny Ardant first gained international attention in her starring role opposite Gérard Depardieu in François Truffaut's “La Femme d'à côté” (1981; aka “The Woman Next Door”). Since then, she has become recognized as one of France's most popular and well-respected actresses by starring in such films as “Vivement dimanche” (1983; aka “Confidentially Yours”), “La Famiglia” (1987; “The Family”), “Ridicule” (1996), “Pédale douce” (1996; won her Best Actress César Award, the French film award equal to an Oscar), “Elizabeth” (1998), “8 femmes” (2002; aka “8 Women”) and “Paris, je t'aime” (2006; aka “Paris, I Love You”). She will star in the upcoming film “Musée haut, musée bas,” a comedy by writer/director Jean-Michel Ribes.
The statuesque leading lady in European films of the 1980s also showed off her acting skills on stage. She was widely remembered while portraying opera diva Maria Callas in Paris’ 1997 highly-praised production of Terrence McNally's "Master Class," helmed by Roman Polanski. In 2002, she brought the character to the big screen in the Franco Zeffirelli directed “Callas Forever.”
The 5' 8½" elegant brunette with strong striking features was in the French singer Vincent Delerm's song "Fanny Ardant Et Moi" (Fanny Ardant and Me) and was picked as the name of a painting of a tulip by Dutch artist Jan Cremer.
On a more personal note, the mother of three daughters was romantically linked with French actor Dominique Leverd, late French screenwriter/director/producer François Truffaut (February 6, 1932 – October 21, 1984; together from 1981 to 1984) and French cinematographer/writer/director/producer Fabio Conversi.
Childhood and Family:
Born in Saumur, Maine-et-Loire, France, on March 22, 1949, Fanny Marguerite Judith Ardant was raised in Monaco. Daughter of a cavalry officer in the French army, Fanny knew former actress Princess Grace, as Fanny's father was a friend of the Royal household.
At the age of 17, Fanny relocated to the Aix-en-Provence to study political science. She later studied drama under Jean Périmony.
On April 4, 1975, Fanny gave birth to her first daughter, Lumir, from her relationship with French actor Dominique Leverd. From 1981 to 1984, Fanny was involved with late French screenwriter/director/producer François Truffaut (February 6, 1932 – October 21, 1984), and has one daughter with him, Joséphine (born on September 28, 1983). She also has another daughter, Baladine (born in 1990), with French cinematographer/writer/director/producer Fabio Conversi.
Fanny is fluent in French, Italian and Spanish and learned to speak English while filming Callas Forever (2002). Like her former companion François Truffaut, Fanny is a passionate reader. They both loved Honoré de Balzac, Marcel Proust, Arthur Miller, Julien Gracq, Jane Austen, Elsa Morante, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Fanny also loves classical music.
Initially interested in politics, Fanny Ardant gradually turned to acting and took drama lessons from Jean Périmony. In 1974, she made her first appearance on stage in a production of Pierre Corneille's five-act play “Polyeucte,” which was based on the life of the martyr Saint Polyeuctus.
Working in French theater for five years in her late 20s, Ardant entered films when she was in her 30s. She made her film acting debut opposite Gérard Depardieu in Alain Jessua's “Les Chiens” (1979; aka “The Dogs”), which turned out to be her big break. She followed it up with her French TV debut in the popular miniseries “Les dames de la cote” (1979; aka “Women of the Coast”), which brought her to the attention of future companion, writer/director François Truffaut.
Truffaut subsequently cast Ardant opposite Gerard Depardieu in his romantic drama film “La Femme d'à côté” (1981; aka “The Woman Next Door”), playing ex-lovers accidentally reunited seven years later as neighbors. The film helped her gain international prominence and she has since become recognized as one of France's most popular and well-respected actresses. She starred in writer/director Claude Lelouch's masterpiece, the musical epic “Les Uns et les autres” (1981; aka “Bolero”), which follows four families' (French, German, Russian and American) histories over a 45-year period. She also starred for Truffaut again in his final film, a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock, “Confidentially Yours” (1983; aka “Vivement dimanche!”). In the crime/comedy movie, based on the novel "The Long Saturday Night" by the American author Charles Williams, Ardant starred opposite Jean-Louis Trintignant.
Meanwhile, Ardant also starred in Anna Maria Tatò's “Desiderio,” Alain Resnais' musical drama/comedy “La Vie est un roman” (aka “Life Is a Bed of Roses”) and André Delvaux's adaptation of Suzanne Lilar's romantic novel, “Benvenuta,” in which she took the titular role. She also worked with Alain Resnais again in “L' Amour a mort” (1984; aka “Love Unto Death”) and played significant roles in Volker Schlöndorff's “Un amour de Swann” (1984; aka “A Love of Swann”; alongside Jeremy Irons), Pierre-William Glenn's “Les Enrages” (1984; teamed up with François Cluzet as a couple who has just committed a robbery) and writer/director Nadine Trintignant's drama “L' Ete Prochain” (1986; aka "Next Summer").
In 1986, Ardant made a third film for Alain Resnais, “Melo,” adapted from the play by Henri Bernstein. That same year, she also starred as La mère/The Mother in Costa-Gavras’ big screen version of Francis Ryck's comedic novel, “Conseil de famille” (aka “Family Business”) and portrayed the lead role of Lotte in Michel Deville's take on Franz-Rudolf Falk's novel, “Le Paltoquet.”
Ardant then portrayed the worldly sister and love interest of Vittorio Gassman's Carlo in Ettore Scola's Oscar nominated multi-generational drama, “The Family” (1987; aka “La Famiglia”) and Velia in Margarethe von Trotta's adaptation of Anton Chekhov's play, “Paura e amore” (1988; aka “Three Sisters”). The next year, she played the lead in Tony Gatlif's romantic drama “Pleure pas my love” and reunited with Jeremy Irons in Jean-Jacques Andrien's mysterious epic, “Australia,” playing a beautiful single parent who develops a romantic relationship with Irons' character.
Ardant portrayed an unhappy movie actress who becomes infatuated with a mathematician (played by Robin Renucci) in Pierre Beuchot's “Aventure de Catherine C.” and narrated Alain Le Breton's 11-minute film “Jeux d'hiver.” She then portrayed Ben Keyworth's blind mother in Mark Peploe's drama/thriller “Afraid of the Dark” before playing the wife of an adulterous husband in Paule Muret's “Rien que des mensonges” (aka “Nothing But Lies”). She was also a member of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 1990.
Next, Ardant played a French pianist who married an Israeli man in Michal Bat-Adam's “La Femme du déserteur” (aka “Wife of the Deserter”) and starred in Joël Farges' adaptation of Stefan Zweig's most famous novel, “Amok.” She also teamed up again with Gérard Depardieu playing his "widow," in Yves Angelo's war-drama “Le Colonel Chabert,” which was based on the Honore the Balzac 1832 classic novel.
The mid 1990s saw Ardant in Márta Mészáros' “Siódmy pokój” (aka “The Seventh Room”), writer-director Agnès Varda's comedy “Les Cent et une nuits de Simon Cinéma” (aka “A Hundred and One Nights”), Michelangelo Antonioni and Wim Wenders' “Al di là delle nuvole” (aka “Beyond the Clouds”) and Sydney Pollack's adaptation of Samuel A. Taylor's romantic comedy play, “Sabrina,” starring Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond and Greg Kinnear. She then garnered acclaim and won a Best Actress Cesar for her performance as the glamorous, complex, sensitive Eva, the gay club owner in Gabriel Aghion's romantic comedy “Pedale douce” (1996; aka “What a Drag”).
That same year, Ardant portrayed the rich and powerful lover of an engineer (played by Bernard Giraudeau) in 18th Century France in Patrice Leconte's “Ridicule” and played Odette, an actress and mistress of a prominent politician, in Bernard Murat's film version of Sacha Guitry's play, “Désiré.” She also returned to stage in 1997 as opera diva Maria Callas in the highly-praised production of Terrence McNally's "Master Class," helmed by Roman Polanski. She later reprised the role in its big screen version, the Franco Zeffirelli-directed “Callas Forever” (2002; filmed in 2001; also starring Jeremy Irons).
Ardant spent the rest of the 1990s in Ettore Scola's comedy movie “La Cena” (aka “The Dinner”), playing a tolerant and relaxed host of an Italian restaurant, and co-starred as Mary of Guise in Shekhar Kapur's Oscar-winning biopic, “Elizabeth,” starring Cate Blanchett. She also appeared in Claude Berri's romantic comedy “La Débandade” (aka “Hard Off”) and writer-director Gérard Lauzier's adventure comedy “Le Fils du Français” (aka “The Son of Français”).
In the new millennium, Ardant co-starred with Vincent Perez in Gabriel Aghion's comedy “Le Libertin” (aka “The Libertine”) and starred in Liria Bégéja's “Change moi ma vie” (aka “Change My Life”). She then acted opposite Victoria Abril, Penélope Cruz and Gael García Bernal in writer/director Agustín Díaz Yanes' comedy “Sin noticias de Dios” (aka “Don't Tempt Me”) and alongside Catherine Deneuve in François Ozon's adaptation of Robert Thomas' play, “8 femmes,” portraying the industrialist's floozy sister Pierrette.
In 2003, Ardant reunited with Gérard Depardieu, playing his gynecologist wife who hires a beautiful prostitute (played by Emmanuelle Béart) to seduce and investigate the sex life of her middle-aged husband, in Anne Fontaine's “Nathalie...” The next year, she became Michele Placido's wife in Mario Martone's adaptation of Goffredo Parise's book, “L' Odore del sangue” (aka “The Scent of Blood”) and played the lead in Jaime Chávarri's take on Eduardo Mendoza's novel, “El Año del diluvio.”
Ardant recently joined an ensemble cast of American, British and French movie actors in the Cannes-screened romantic film “Paris, je t'aime” (2006; opened in the United States in May 2007), which was helmed by 21 directors. Her last two films, Claude Lelouch's “Roman de gare” (aka “Crossed Tracks”) and Avi Nesher's “Ha- Sodot” (aka “Emeth”) were released in June 2007. She is currently working on her upcoming film, “Musée haut, musée bas,” a comedy by writer/director Jean-Michel Ribes.
Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists: European Silver Ribbon, 2004
Berlin International Film Festival: Outstanding Artistic Achievement, “8 femmes,” 2002
European Film: Best Actress, “8 femmes,” 2002
César: Best Actress (Meilleure actrice), “Pédale douce,” 1997
Lumiere: Best Actress (Meilleure actrice), “Ridicule,” 1997
Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists: Best Actress - Foreign Film (Migliore Attrice Straniera), “Famiglia, La,” 1987