This pensive-looking blonde former leading light of the Paris cafe-theater scene has brought poise and intelligence to over 60 screen roles since the 1970s. Despite a comic name bestowed by her stage partner Coluche, Miou-Miou has proven adept at both drama and comedy and has worked with a distinguished roster of international directors including Bertrand Blier, Marco Bellochio, Alain Tanner, Joseph Losey and Diane Kurys.
Acknowledged as something of a rebel, the street smart Miou-Miou was the daughter of a gendarme who began working as a young girl helping out at her mother's fruit and vegetable stand. While laboring as an apprentice at a Paris upholstery shop, Miou-Miou (then Sylvette Herry) met several actors and was invited to join Coluche and Patrick Dewaere at the Cafe de la Gare coffee house theater. (She and Dewaere were a couple and became the parents of a daughter). Quickly established as a stand-out, she made her film debut in "La Cavale" (1971) and had a small role in "Les Adventures de Rabbi Jacob/The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob" (1972) before breaking out in "Les Valseuses/Going Place" (1973), in which she was a petty thief starring alongside the equally unknown Dewaere, Gerard Depardieu and Isabelle Huppert. Miou-Miou's impact was immediate and during the next five years she starred in 15 motion pictures, including one in Canada. In 1979, she played the title role of the prostitute in "La Derobade" and won the Cesar Award for Best Actress, which she refused to accept citing her belief that artists should not compete against one other.
Her career was hardly affected by the gesture, though. Miou-Miou played the title role in "La Femme flic/Lady Cop" (1980) and had the lead in "Josepha" (1982) playing the female half of a writing partnership who marry because they don't want to hurt each other. The next year came the internationally-acclaimed "Coup de foudre/Entre Nous" which teamed her with Huppert as a couple who open a dress shop and fall in love. It launched the career of directory Diane Kurys, earned an Oscar nomination as Best Foreign-Language Film in 1983 and gained a theatrical release in the USA in 1984.
A two-year lull in the quality of Miou-Miou's films was erased by the wicked satire "Tenue de soiree/Menage" (1986) in which she starred with Depardieu and Michel Blanc. She earned a Cesar nomination for "Le Lectrice/The Reader" (1988). Louis Malle cast her against type as a middle-class, materialistic homemaker in "May Fools" (also 1988). Miou-Miou also played the mother of her real-life daughter, Jeanne Herry-LeClerc (the product of her love Her clout helped launch the feminist film "Scenes de menage" (1991) and she was a heroic mother opposite Depardieu in Claude Berri's "Germinal" (1993). In 1996, she won applause at the Cannes Film Festival playing the wife who walks out on Daniel Auteuil in Jaco van Dormael's "Le Huitieme jour/The Eighth Day".
Miou-Miou has also occasionally returned to the stage, principally starring with Sami Frey in "La Musica" (1985) in Paris, and as Hermione in a production of Jean Racine's "Andromaque" in Lyon in 1989. Her work on TV has been sporadic, by she did star in the 1987 adaptation of Emile Zola's "L'Argent" for French TV.