My Father the Hero
Belgian actress Marie Gillain rose to fame at age 16 thanks to her portrayal of the teenaged daughter in the French hit “Mon père ce héros/My Father the Hero” (1991), opposite Gerard Depardieu. The role brought the young actress a César nomination. She continued to establish her career with performances in the movies “Marie” (1994), from which she picked up a Giffoni Film Festival Award and a Paris Film Festival Award, “L'Appât/The Bait” (1995), where she earned a Gramado Film Festival Award and her next César nomination, and “Affinità elettive, Le/The Elective Affinities” (1996), in which she won a Cabourg Romantic Film Festival Award. However, it was her role of Aurore, the adopted daughter of Daniel Autiel, in 1997’s “Le Bossu/On Guard” that gained her popularity in America. The recipient of the1996 Prix Romy Schneider also nabbed a César nomination for her work in the movie. Gillain's more recent and upcoming credits include “Le Dîner/The Dinner” (1998), “Absolument Fabuleux” (2001), “Laissez-Passer/Safe Conduct” (2002), “Tout le plaisir est pour moi/The Pleasure Is All Mine” (2004), “Enfer, L'/Hell” (2005), “Pars vite et reviens tard/Have Mercy on Us All” (2007), “Clef, La/The Key” (2007), “Femmes de l'ombre, Les/Female Agents” (2008), “Très très grande entreprise, La” (2008), “Magique” (2008) and “Coco Before Chanel” (2009). She has also acted in such successful plays as “Le Journal d'Anne Frank/The Diary of Anne Frank” (1995) and “Hysteria” (2002).
Childhood and Family:
Marie Gillain was born on June 18, 1975, in Liège, Belgium. She was educated at Saint-Louis College in Liège and later spent four months studying singing, dancing, drama and acrobatics at the École du Cirque (Circus School) in Brussels. Marie has a younger sister named Céline, with whom she performed with in the attic of her home when she was a child.
Marie has a daughter named Dune who was born on April 12, 2004.
Marie Gillain developed a love for performing at an early age. She honed in on her acting skills by joining a local theater company. At age 14, Gillain saw an advertisement in a Belgian weekly newspaper for the film “L'Amant/The Lover,” which was directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud. She sent in a tape of her reading a selection from a Marguerite Duras novel and received a call to audition. The role eventually went to British actress Jane March.
The next year, Gillain hit the big time when she landed a major role in “Mon père, ce héros/My Father the Hero” (1991), where she costarred with Gérard Depardieu. As Depardieu's daughter, Véronique, she was nominated for a César for Most Promising Actress and the film was a hit. A Hollywood version of the film was made in 1994, but she decided not to reprise her role although Gérard Depardieu was seen in the remake as the father. In the remake, she was replaced by American actress Katherine Heigl.
Gillain made her TV movie debut with a small role in “Un Homme à la Mer/A Man at Sea” (1993), directed by Jacques Doillon. She scored her next success starring in the movie “Marie” (1994). Under the direction of Marian Handwerker, she was handed a Bronze Gryphon for Best Actress at the Giffoni Film Festival and a Paris Film Festival Award in the same category. She went on to offer a compelling performance as Nathalie in “L'Appât/The Bait,” a critically acclaimed drama by director Bertrand Tavernier. She netted a Golden Kikito for Best Actress at the Gramado Film Festival and her second César nomination for her work in the movie.
Also in 1995, Gillain professionally launched her stage career with a role in “Le Journal d'Anne Frank/The Diary Of Anne Frank.” Gillain revisited the big screen in 1996 in “Affinità elettive, Le/The Elective Affinities,” in which her portrayal of Ottilia, opposite Isabelle Huppert as Carlotta, earned a Cabourg Romantic Film Festival award for Best Actress. Directed by the Taviani brothers, the film was shown at the Cannes Film Festival.
Returning from Poland after shooting “Un Air Si Pur/An Air So Pure” (1997), Gillain participated in L'Orchestre à la Portée des Enfants with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Liège, which was a series of concerts organized by the Musical Youth of Liège and Brussels. For the concerts, she narrated “La Boîte à Joujoux/The Toy Box” by Claude Debussy, “L'Histoire de Babar/The Story Of Babar” by Francis Poulenc and “Pierre et Le Loup/Peter and The Wolf” by Serge Prokofiev. She did the same duty for the next year's projects “Casse-Noisette/The Nutcracker” by Peter Ilitch Tchaikovsky, “L'Apprenti Sorcier/The Sorcerer's Apprentice” by Paul Dukas and “Ma Mère L'Oye/Mother Goose” by Maurice Ravel.
Gillain again received notice for her performance in the film “Le Bossu/On Guard,” directed by Phillipe de Broca. While the movie enjoyed commercial success in the international market, the actress was nominated for a 1998 César for Best Actress. In “Le Dîner/The Dinner” (1998), an Italian drama written and directed by Ettore Scola, she was cast in the small role of Allieva. She closed out the decade with a starring role in Ferzan Ozpetek's “Le Dernier Harem/Harem Square,” which was presented in the section “Un Certain Regard” at the Cannes Film Festival in 1999.
Entering the new millennium, Gillain worked with director Emmanuel Mouret in “Laissons Lucie Faire!/Leave It To Lucie” (2000) and Bruno Chiche on “Barnie et Ses Petites Contrarietes/Barnie and His Minor Annoyances” (2001) before emerging as a comic actress with Gabriel Aghion's “Absolument Fabuleux” (2001), a French adaptation of the British television series “Absolutely Fabulous.” She was then reunited with director Bertrand Tavernier for “Laissez-Passer/Safe Conduct” (2002) and teaming up with Cédric Klapisch on the director's drama “Ni pour, ni contre (bien au contraire)/Not For or Against, Quite the Contrary” (2002). Also in 2002, she performed on stage in “Hysteria,” a play directed by American actor John Malkovich. The production was a huge success in Paris.
The following years saw Gillain act in “Tout le plaisir est pour moi/The Pleasure Is All Mine” (2004), helmed by Isabelle Broué, “Enfer, L'/Hell” (2005), “Voie de Laura, La” (2005, TV), “Pars vite et reviens tard/Have Mercy on Us All” (2007), “Ma vie nest pas une comédie romantique” (2007), “Fragile(s)” (2007) and “Clef, La/The Key” (2007). Recently costarring with Sophie Marceau and Julie Depardieu in “Femmes de l'ombre, Les/Female Agents” (2008), which was directed by Jean-Paul Salomé, Gillain also starred in the comedy “Très très grande entreprise, La” (2008), by director/writer Pierre Jolivet, and as Betty in “Magique” (2008), a comedy directed by Philippe Muyl. She also costarred in director Anne Fontaine’s “Coco Before Chanel,” which was released in 2009.
Prix Romy Schneider: 1996
Cabourg Romantic Film Festival: Best Actress, “Affinità elettive, Le,” 1996
Gramado Film Festival: Golden Kikito, Best Actress (Melhor Atriz), “Appât, L',” 1995
Paris Film Festival: Best Actress, “Marie,” 1994
Giffoni Film Festival: Bronze Gryphon, Best Actress, “Marie,” 1993