With comparisons to other French stars like Bridgette Bardot and Marion Cotillard, actress Bérénice Béjo was poised to make her mark in American cinema following her revelatory performance in "The Art...
Onscreen acting debut in the short film "Pain perdu"
U.S. feature debut, "A Knight's Tale" opposite Heath Ledger
Television debut in the French production "Histoires d'hommes"
Co-starred with Jean Dujardin in "OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies"; film directed by Michel Hazanavicius
Reteamed with co-star Dujardin and director Hazanavicius in the critically acclaimed black-and-white, nearly silent film "The Artist"
Filmed first feature, co-starring in "Les soeurs Hamlet"
With comparisons to other French stars like Bridgette Bardot and Marion Cotillard, actress Bérénice Béjo was poised to make her mark in American cinema following her revelatory performance in "The Artist" (2011), a throwback to the silent era in which she delivered a brilliant, wordless performance that earned her a great deal of international attention. Prior to her breakout film, Béjo was content to act in France, though she did take her first steps in Hollywood with a supporting role in "A Knights Tale" (2001). She began her professional onscreen career in the 1990s with turns in "Les soeurs Hamlet" ("The Hamlet Sister") (1996) and "Passionnement" (2000), before making her American debut in "A Knights Tale." Back in France, she starred in the tragic drama "Le Grand Role" ("The Grand Role") (2004), the spy farce "OSS 117: Cairo - Nest of Spies" (2008) and the musical comedy "Modern Love" (2008). After appearing in the notable horror thriller, "Prey" (2010), Béjo garnered international attention as an aspiring silent era actress who rises to stardom in "The Artist," a role that earned her several major award nominations - including an Oscar nod - and opened the door to a brighter career.
Born on July 7, 1976 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Béjo was raised in an entertainment family thanks to her father, Miguel Béjo, writer-director of such Argentinean satirical comedies as "La Familia Unida Esperando la Llegada de Hallewyn" (1972) and "Beto Nervio Centre Le Pouvoir des Tenebres" (1981). At three years old, her family moved to France, where she came of age and began her acting career, making her onscreen debut in the short "Pain perdu" (1993). Béjo soon made her television debut in "Histoire d'hommes" (1996) and followed with her first feature, "Les soeurs Hamlet" ("The Hamlet Sister") (1996), a road movie about two teenage sisters who find themselves stranded in Paris for one eventful night. Following roles in the lighthearted comedy "Meilleur espoir feminine" ("Most Promising Young Actress") (2000), which screened at that year's Cannes Film Festival, and the moody drama "Passionnement" (2000), Béjo made her American debut with "A Knight's Tale" (2001), playing the loyal lady-in-waiting to a noble woman (Shannyn Sossamon) fond of having a good time.
Though she had landed a Hollywood movie and enjoyed the experience, Béjo felt that she needed to have her breakout film in France in order to really establish herself. So she continued making movies overseas like "24 Hours of a Woman's Life" (2003), a romantic drama about an English woman who falls for a younger gambler while on holiday in the French Riviera, and "Le Grand Role" ("The Grand Role") (2004), in which she was the much-loved wife of a struggling actor (Stéphane Freiss) who wants nothing more than to provide a better life for her, only to land a big part at the same time she is diagnosed with cancer. She next starred in the introspective drama, "La Maison" ("The House") (2007), playing a woman desperate to hold onto her childhood home who finds herself the object of the affections of a recently divorced man (Sergi López). Béjo followed with a fun turn in the spy farce, "OSS 117: Cairo - Nest of Spies" (2008), which starred Jean Dujardin - her future co-star in "The Artist" - as a clueless French special agent who bumbles his way through a mission in Egypt.
Béjo continued making a wide array of movies in her adopted country, playing a lovelorn woman looking for the right man and seemingly finds him (Stephane Debac) in the musical comedy "Modern Love" (2008). She next played the new girlfriend of a young man (Marc-Andre Grondin) who works in the funeral business, but cannot bear to tell her what he does for a living, in the comedy "Final Arrangements" (2008). She next starred in the horror thriller, "Prey" (2010), as a city woman who travels to her family's country home with her husband (Grégorie Colin) where they encounter an elusive predator stalking the landscape. Béjo finally attracted international attention with her leading performance in "The Artist" (2011), a black-and-white silent feature in which she played Peppy Miller, a rising young movie star during the rise of talkie films, who falls in love with George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), a fading silent movie idol unable to make the transition to sound. Directed by Béjo's husband, Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist" was hailed the world over as one of the best films of the year and introduced its stars to American audiences. For her part, Béjo was recognized with both SAG award and Oscar nods for Best Actress.
By Shawn Dwyer
Born on June 25, 2008; father, Michel Hazanavicius