At once earthy and modern, yet effortlessly capable of projecting the aura of a glamorous, silent-era film starlet, French actress Marion Cotillard has achieved fame in her home country with substantial roles in such high-profile blockbusters as the Taxi series, and such critically acclaimed arthouse hits as Jean-Pierre Jeunet's A Very Long Engagement and Olivier Dahan's La Vie en Rose. The Paris native got in tune with her desire to become a performer early in life, and soon began honing her talents as both an actress and a singer. As fate would have it, Cotillard's parents were both active members of the Paris theater community who lovingly nurtured their daughter's creative talents and encouraged her to pursue a career on the stage and screen.
Cotillard debuted onscreen at just 16 years old, in the 1994 Philippe Harel romance The Story of a Boy Who Wanted to Be Kissed. While Cotillard's sensitive performance in the film indeed marked the arrival of a skilled young actress, it wasn't until the release of Taxi in 1998 that audiences truly perked up to the promise of this emerging talent. Cotillard was nominated for a Most Promising Actress award at the 1999 César ceremonies thanks to her performance in that movie. She went on to appear in the second and third installments of the series while simultaneously drawing notice for performances in Haute Tension director Alexandre Aja's 1999 debut, Furia, and Gilles Paquet-Brenner's dark family drama Pretty Things -- which earned Cotillard her second César nomination. While the elusive César award had been well within her grasp twice before, Cotillard finally won the coveted trophy as the result of her role in Amélie director Jeunet's A Very Long Engagement. Cast as a vengeful prostitute who sets out to punish the person responsible for the death of her love, Cotillard was awarded the Best Supporting Actress César in 2005, cementing her arrival as a formidable onscreen talent.
At this point in her career, Cotillard was an increasingly familiar face to stateside film fans thanks to supporting roles in such films as Tim Burton's Big Fish and Jeunet's international arthouse hit, yet as with any great actress, she was still willing to take the kind of risks needed to take her career to the next level. Subsequent roles in Guillaume Nicloux's A Private Affair and Abel Ferrara's Mary proved that she was most certainly up to the task, serving nicely to offset the mainstream sweetness of efforts like the airy 2003 romance Love Me If You Dare. In 2006, Cotillard was back on stateside screens, this time opposite international superstar Russell Crowe in director Ridley Scott's A Good Year.
If anyone at this point had doubted Cotillard's abilities as an actress, those reservations would be put to the ultimate test when she assumed the role of a lifetime in the 2007 Edith Piaf biopic La Vie en Rose. Cast as the enigmatic French songstress who went from being a common street busker to a national icon, Cotillard found the perfect cinematic vehicle to combine her duel interests in acting and music (though audio recordings of Piaf were used in the film), and drew near unanimous praise from critics both foreign and domestic. In addition to netting another César, she captured a host of year-end accolades in the States including Best Actress awards from the Golden Globes and the L.A. Film Critics, as well as a nomination from the Screen Actors Guild. Most impressive of all, Cotillard won the much-coveted Best Actress Oscar, launching her into another level of international success and marketability. Her next roles were of the prestigious Hollywood variety, in the Michael Mann period crime drama Public Enemies, opposite Johnny Depp and Christian Bale, and the Rob Marshall musical drama Nine, alongside Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz.
In 2010 she showed up as the woman of Leonardo DiCaprio's nightmares in Inception for director Christopher Nolan - and earned a spot in 2012's The Dark Knight Rises in the process. 2011 saw the Oscar winner tackling both Steven Soderbergh's killer virus thriller Contagion as well as Woody Allen's Oscar winning comedy [#Midnight in Paris}. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi