Childhood & Early Life
Laurent was born on February 21, 1983, in Paris, France, in a Jewish family. (Her family is of Ashkenazi-Polish and Sephardic-Tunisian ancestry). Her mother, Annick, is a ballerina and a ballet teacher, while her father, Pierre Laurent, is a voice-over actor, known as the voice of ‘Ned Flander’s’ character in the French version of ‘The Simpsons.’ (Her maternal grandparents were film poster editors.)
In 1998, when she accompanied her friend to the set of ‘Asterix & Obelix,’ actor Gérard Depardieu asked her if she would be interested in working in films. At the age of 16, she got a small part of ‘Lisbeth Daboval,’ the daughter of the protagonist, in Depardieu co-directed film, ‘The Bridge.’
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In the beginning of her career, she played minor roles in such films as ‘Summer Things,’ ‘Rice Rhapsody,’ ‘Days of Glory,’ and ‘The Beat That My Heart Skipped.’
She got the real breakthrough in the French mainstream cinema with Philippe Lioret’s 2006 movie, ‘Don’t Worry, I’m Fine,’ in which she essayed the role of a 19-year-old who yearned for her lost twin brother. This performance earned her accolades and awards. She appeared in another 2006 movie, ‘Dikkenek,’ which also fetched her admiration and award.
After featuring in ‘Le tueur’ and ‘Hidden Love’ in 2007, she received nomination for her work in ‘La Chambre des Morts.’ She received critical praise for her 2008 comedy drama ‘Paris.’
In 2009, she got a break in Hollywood in Quentin Tarantino’s mega hit ‘Inglorious Basterds,’ in which she appeared in the role of a Parisian ‘Shosanna Dreyfus.’ She co-starred with Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, and Christopher Waltz. The film was a huge commercial success and earned over $321 million worldwide. She did not understand or speak English, but learnt it for working in the film. Because of her Jewish ancestry, she felt a connection with this role of ‘Shosanna’ who seeks revenge on Nazis. Laurent received awards and praise for this portrayal. This role opened the doors of Hollywood mainstream cinema for her.
Her role of a gentile nurse ‘Annette Monod,’ in 2010 French film ‘The Round-Up’ fetched her appreciation.
She co-wrote and planned to direct a feature film, ‘Putain de pluie!’ but it got postponed due to her engagement in ‘Inglorious Basterds.’
In 2009, Laurent essayed the role of a violinist in comedy drama ‘Le Concert.’ She played the host at the opening and closing ceremonies of the ‘64th Cannes Film Festival.’
Her next Hollywood movie was ‘Beginners’ (2011), where she starred alongside Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer. Her portrayal of a French actress ‘Anna’ was well-appreciated. Then she appeared opposite Jeremy Irons in, a Bille Augustus’ drama film, ‘Night Train to Lisbon’ (2013).
Laurent essayed the role of a French Interpol agent in 2013’s hugely successful ($351 million) film ‘Now You See Me,’ which was directed by Louis Leterrier. Her Canadian-Spanish psychological thriller movie, ‘Enemy,’ was screened at the ‘2013 Toronto International Film Festival.’ In 2014, she appeared in ‘Aloft.’ She worked as a voice-over actor for the French versions of animated films, ‘Epic’ and ‘Inside Out.’
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In the French drama film of 2015, ‘Booemerang,’ she was paired opposite Laurent Lafitte. This was followed by Angelina Jolie’s romantic drama ‘By the Sea’ (2015), in which Laurent essayed the role of ‘Léa’ alongside Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
Laurent made her directorial debut in 2008 with a seven minute short film ‘De moins en moins.’ Her next short film, ‘A ses pieds,’ was a part of the series of short films, ‘X Femmes,’ shown on the French TV channel ‘Canal +’ in October 2008.
Laurent’s first directorial feature film was ‘The Adopted’ (2011); it was also co-written by her. Her second film, again a French drama, ‘Respire’ (2014), was screened at the ‘2014 Cannes Film Festival,’ and was well-appreciated.
In 2015, she co-directed a documentary, ‘Tomorrow,’ which fetched her praise and award. Her debut English-language directorial film, ‘Galveston’ was based on a novel by Nic Pizzolatto. It starred Ben Foster and Elle Fanning and released in 2018. Laurent has also worked on stage. She made her theater debut in Nicolas Bedo’s ‘Promenade de santé’ (2010).
While portraying the role of a violinist in ‘Le Concert,’ Laurent began working on her debut music album, but later discarded it. In May 2011, she released her first studio album, ‘En T’Attendant,’ with Irish musician Damien Rice, who co-wrote and co-produced five of the twelve songs of this album. The album reached number 35 on the ‘French Album Charts.’
Awards & Achievements
Her work in the 2006 film ‘Don’t Worry, I’m Fine,’ won her ‘César Award for Most Promising Actress,’ and ‘Romy Schneider’ and ‘Jean Gabin Prizes for Most Promising Actress.’ Laurent was awarded ‘E’toiles d’Or for Best Female Newcomer,’ for her performance in ‘Dikkenek,’ (2006).
She was nominated for ‘Lumiéres Award’ for ‘Best Actress’ for her performance in ‘La Chambre des Morts.’ Laurent’s portrayal of ‘Shosanna’ in ‘Inglorious Basterds’ won her ‘Austin Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress,’ ‘Online Film Critics’ Awards for Best Actress,’ and nominations for ‘Detroit Film Critics Society Awards,’ ‘Empire Awards for Best Actress,’ and ‘Saturn Award for Best Actress.’
Laurent’s directorial debut short film, ‘De moins en moins,’ fetched her ‘Best Short Film’ nomination at the ‘61st Annual Cannes Film Festival. The 2015 documentary, ‘Tomorrow,’ co-directed by her, won ‘César Award for Best Documentary Film.’
Family & Personal Life
Laurent was in a relationship with French actor Julien Boisselier from 2005, but they separated in 2009.
In early 2013, she disclosed that she had married, but did not reveal the name of her husband and only mentioned that he was a crew member of one of her films. She gave birth to their son, Léo Laurent, on September 30, 2013.
She has been an active supporter of the campaign against overfishing. Laurent is one of the Climate Ambassadors for ‘Kofi Annan’s Global Humanitarian Forum.’