One of the most enduring and respected actresses in French cinema, Isabelle Huppert is known for her versatile portrayals of characters ranging from the innocent to the sultry to the comic. Born March 16, 1955, in Paris, Huppert graduated from the Paris Conservatoire d'Art Dramatique and made her first film, Faustine et le Bel Été, when she was 16. Her career accelerated rapidly, and she soon found work with such acclaimed directors as Bertrand Blier, with whom she made Les Valseuses (1974), a film also notable for making a star out of Gérard Depardieu; Otto Preminger, for whom she appeared in Rosebud (1975); and Claude Chabrol, with whom she would make a series of films, starting with 1978's Violette Nozière, for which she won a Best Female Performance award at the 1978 Cannes Film Festival. Also in 1978, she won a British Academy Award for Best Newcomer for her role in La Dentellière (The Lacemaker).
Huppert's career in the 1980s commenced fairly inauspiciously, with a part in the legendary flop Heaven's Gate (1981), but it soon picked up with starring roles in Bertrand Tavernier's Coup de Torchon (1981), Jean-Luc Godard's Passion (1982), and Diane Kurys' celebrated Entre Nous (1983). Throughout the 1980s and '90s, Huppert made an impressive number of films in her native country, collaborating with Claude Chabrol on 1988's Une Affaire de Femmes (Story of Women), the widely acclaimed Madame Bovary (1991), and La Cérémonie (1995), for which she won a 1996 Best Actress César. Since the Heaven's Gate fiasco, Huppert's work in American film has been minimal, a worthwhile exception being her role as a nun-turned-nymphomaniac writer of pornographic fiction in Hal Hartley's Amateur (1994). In her native France, Huppert has become something of an institution, continuing to work prolifically on such films as Benoît Jacquot's L'École de la Chair (1998) and serving as the 24th president of the César Awards in March 1999.