Although quite Gallic in her speech, manner and the roles she has chosen, French actress, writer and director Denise Chalem actually hails from Cairo, Egypt. Her family vacated the country not long after the Suez Crisis of 1956 and settled back in France. She decided to enter the performing world by enrolling at the prestigious National Conservatory of Dramatic Art in Paris. Just after her graduation in 1977, she landed her first role in front of a camera, in an episode of the long-running TV series "Cinema 16". Several years later, she made her movie debut with a small part in a big film, an adaptation of the sprawling Victor Hugo novel "Les Miserables" (1982), playing the part of Noemi. Although she has never reached top-billing status, Chalem has settled into character roles and managed to sustain a career largely playing such parts. She was in the Oscar-nominated "Camille Claudel" (1988), a period biopic about the sculptor of the title, and also played in the internationally-released "Total Eclipse" (1995), a drama about the relationship between the poets Rimbaud and Verlaine starring Leonardo DiCaprio. In TV, she made several appearances in the durable TV mystery series "Maigret", among other works. Chalem also has a talent for writing, and penned a pair of TV movies, 1982's "Les sept jours du marié" and "Nés de la mére du monde" (2003), directing the latter effort as well.