Initially cast for her extraordinary beauty, Emmanuelle Béart has emerged over the years as one of France's preeminent actresses. The blonde, sapphire-eyed Béart first gained notice for her starring role in Manon des Sources, for which she won a Best Supporting Actress César, and went on to gain further respect with her roles in such films as La belle noiseuse, Un Coeur en Hiver, and Nelly & Monsieur Arnaud.
The daughter of pop singer and poet Guy Béart, Béart was born on August 14, 1965 in the small southern town of Gassin, near St. Tropez. Following her parents' divorce when she was very young, Béart and her siblings were raised by her mother in a small mountain village in Provence. Béart began acting at a young age and had her first substantial role as one of a group of children struggling to survive after a nuclear holocaust in Demain les Momes (1976). A subsequent stint as an au pair in Montreal led to a chance meeting with director Robert Altman, who wanted the unknown actress to appear in one of his upcoming films and encouraged her to continue acting. The planned collaboration never came to fruition, and, after returning to France, where she began taking drama classes, Béart won her breakthrough role as the vengeful daughter of the late Jean de Florette in Manon des Sources (1986). Following the film's success and her César win, she sought to avoid typecasting, taking on a number of diverse roles in films of varying quality. In 1989, she played a drug addict in Les Enfants du Desordre, while two years later she gained some of her strongest notices as an artist's model in Jacques Rivette's La belle noiseuse.