Svelte French beauty Anne Parillaud made her film debut in "L'Hotel de la Plage" (1978) while still in her teens and appeared in several more European movies before aligning herself both on and off the screen with French auteur Alain Delon, acting in his crime dramas ("Pour la Peau d'un flic" 1981 and "Le Battant" 1983). She broke through to international stardom as the punk junkie transformed into a murderous, stylish secret agent in "La Femme Nikita" (1990), the role written for her by Luc Besson, the film's director and Parillaud's companion for several years. When "Nikita" became an art-house hit in the USA, a move to American features was inevitable.
Parillaud's first Hollywood film was John Landis' "Innocent Blood" (1992), a violent horror comedy co-starring Anthony LaPaglia, in which she approached her role as a lonely vampire with admirable empathy and conviction. This clever and savvy genre film, however, failed with critics and at the box office. Her next credit was an ambitious international co-production, Vincent Ward's "Map of the Human Heart" (1993), wherein Parillaud portrayed a young Metis (half-Quebec French, half-Indian) whose love of a half-breed Inuit (Jason Scott Lee) conflicts with her desire to fully join the white world.
Parillaud returned to Europe, where she continued to be very picky about roles, refusing to do anything for commerce alone, waiting for projects that touched her heart as well. She starred opposite Beatrice Dalle in the French sibling rivalry drama "A la Folie/Six Days, Six Nights" (1994) and portrayed a WWII refugee from France loved by Matt Dillon and Gabriel Byrne in "Frankie Starlight" (1995). After acting in "Passage a l'acte/Death in Therapy" (1996), a cautionary tale of the perils of the psychiatrist's couch for the analyst and the analysand, she appeared in her most mainstream movie yet, playing Queen Anne in Randall Wallace's directorial debut, "The Man in the Iron Mask" (1998), starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Gabriel Byrne.