Her sultry good looks and flawless acting style have resulted in Marion Cotillard being dubbed France's answer to Angelina Jolie. She won praise the world over for her Oscar-winning portrayal of Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose, with Cate Blanchett describing her performances as "astonishing and inspiring".
When Marion was born in Paris on September 30, 1975, the performing arts were already in her blood. Her father Jean-Claude was an actor, mime artist and director, while mum Niseema Theillaud was an actress - to whom Marion attributes her own talent for the craft: "I don't think you learn how to act," she says. "You learn how to use your emotions and feelings, and my first teacher was my mother."
As a youngster Marion appeared on stage in one of her father's plays and, discovering a taste for the limelight, set her sights on a career in the industry. After moving to Paris she made her small screen debut at 18 in the TV series Highlander
and quickly made a name for herself in her native France with several other TV roles between 1994 and 1998.
Her big break came when she earned rave reviews playing Lilly in hit comedy Taxi
, a character she reprised in two sequels. The Taxi
films became one of the most successful French franchises ever, turning Marion into a household name in her homeland and bringing international recognition.
Her next outing, Les Jolie Choses
, in which she turned in a critically acclaimed performance as twins Lucie and Marie, was equally successful. The role allowed the multi-talented star to explore another area in which she excels music. She co-wrote and recorded vocals for the film's soundtrack. Her performance brought her a nomination for a Cesar, the French equivalent of an Oscar.
Turning her attention back to the English-speaking market in 2003, she consolidated her international profile when she was cast in adventure flick Big Fish
alongside Ewan McGregor and Helena Bonham Carter. She went on to make more French language films Ma Vie En L'air
, Sauf Le Respect Que Je Vous Dois
and Toi Et Moi
before being nominated for a best supporting actress Cesar for A Very Long Engagement
in which she shared the screen with Amelie
star Audrey Tatou. This time, the actress took home the prize.
Recommencing her flirtation with Hollywood in 2006, Marion won a role opposite Russell Crowe in romantic comedy A Good Year
, which lead to the actress' most rewarding and famous part to date. Out of hundreds, she was picked to play Edith Piaf in a film about the legendary French chanteuse's turbulent life. And she threw herself into the role. "It took over my life," she says. "I even dreamt about Piaf." Her commitment was recognised with critical acclaim and a best actress Oscar in 2008.