One of his country's most popular and prolific funnymen, French actor, comedian, writer, and director Michel Blanc has made a career out of turning the mundane into the sublime. Short, bald, and bearing unremarkable features, Blanc derives his charisma from his presence as a performer who is equally adept at portraying the extremes of comic excess or psychological drama, the latter of which he demonstrated with particular aplomb in [[Feature~V33143~Monsieur Hire~monsieurhire]].
Born in Paris on June 16, 1952, Blanc did his secondary studies at the Pasteur school in Neuilly. It was there that he became acquainted with [[Performer~P3492~Josiane Balasko~josianebalasko]], [[Performer~P99675~Thierry Lhermitte~thierrylhermitte]], [[Performer~P85207~Christian Clavier~christianclavier]], [[Performer~P96463~Gérard Jugnot~gérardjugnot]], and [[Performer~P12584~Marie-Anne Chazel~marieannechazel]], with whom he would form the legendary comedy troupe Le Splendid. In addition to performing a number of shows, the group also collaborated onscreen, their most notable effort being the farce [[Feature~V147478~Les Bronzés~lesbronzés]] (1978). The film and its sequel [[Feature~V148478~Les Bronzés Font du Ski~lesbronzésfontduski]] (1979), proved to be hugely successful in France -- and were two of the country's most domestically profitable films to date.
Blanc broke into film in 1973 and had his first memorable role alongside fellow-Splendid [[Performer~P99675~Thierry Lhermitte~thierrylhermitte]] in [[Performer~P113717~Bertrand Tavernier~bertrandtavernier]]'s 1975 period drama [[Feature~V99406~Que La Fête Commence...~letjoyreignsupreme]]. He had film breakthrough in 1984 with his directorial debut, [[Feature~V136975~Marche a l'ombre~marchealombre]], a light drama in which he starred as a man who is forced to deal with sudden unemployment. The film proved to be surprisingly popular in France, and Blanc's profile was further heightened two years later when director [[Performer~P82126~Bertrand Blier~bertrandblier]] asked him to replace the recently deceased [[Performer~P18880~Patrick Dewaere~patrickdewaere]] to star opposite [[Performer~P87517~Gérard Depardieu~gérarddepardieu]] in [[Feature~V32215~Tenue de Soirée~tenuedesoirée]]. Blanc earned the Best Actor prize at Cannes for his portrayal of a nebbish husband who is seduced by a thuggish burglar (Depardieu).
The actor broke out of the comedy mold in 1989 when he was cast as the eponymous protagonist of [[Performer~P99108~Patrice Leconte~patriceleconte]]'s brilliant psychological drama [[Feature~V33143~Monsieur Hire~monsieurhire]]. Blanc earned considerable praise for his portrayal of a lonely, withdrawn murder suspect, and he duly established himself as one of the relatively few comedic actors to make a successful transition to drama. After further work in a number of comedies, as well as collaborations with [[Performer~P81660~Claude Berri~claudeberri]] ([[Feature~V52006~Uranus~uranus]], 1990), [[Performer~P92456~Peter Greenaway~petergreenaway]] ([[Feature~V39521~Prospero's Books~prosperosbooks]], 1991), and Blier ([[Feature~V133114~Merci, La Vie~mercilavie]], 1991), Blanc returned to the director's chair in 1994 with [[Feature~V134241~Grosse Fatigue~deadtired]]. A biting comedy about the French entertainment industry that also featured Blanc in the lead role of an emotionally exhausted actor, the film was a financial and critical success in France, and the actor-director earned a prize at that year's Cannes Festival for his original screenplay. As a director, he followed up [[Feature~V134241~Grosse Fatigue~deadtired]] with a return to the arena of psychological drama with [[Feature~V184373~Mauvaise Passe~mauvaisepasse]] (1999). The story concerned a down-on-his-luck expatriate Frenchman living in London -- who becomes caught up in the prostitution industry; it featured a strong cast that included [[Performer~P2912~Daniel Auteuil~danielauteuil]], [[Performer~P223652~Stuart Townsend~stuarttownsend]], and [[Performer~P51229~Peter Mullan~petermullan]]. ~ Rebecca Flint Marx, Rovi