Magnetic, intense French actor Mathieu Amalric made his film debut in the 1980s, but achieved greater fame almost a decade later with appearances in features by Steven Spielberg, Julien Temple and Sofia Coppola. In his native country, Amalric was best known for his three collaborations with director Arnaud Desplechin, who gave him his first notable role in 1997's "Ma Vie Sexuelle." The acclaim surrounding Amalric's work with Desplechin led to other notable performances in European films, as well as a second career as a film director. Amalric's profile rose to global proportions after his moving turn as a paraplegic in Temple's "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (2007). His decision to play the villain in "Quantum of Solace" (2008), the second James Bond picture with Daniel Craig, raised eyebrows among his arthouse following, but he soon laid their fears to rest by reuniting with Desplechin for "A Christmas Tale" (2008). The dichotomy of the two projects proved that Amalric was a performer whose passion lay less with stardom than with the quality of the project at hand.
Born Oct. 25, 1965 in the Parisian suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine, he was the son of journalists for the acclaimed newspaper Le Mond - mother Nicole Zand was its literary critic while his father, Jacques Amalric, was its foreign affairs editor. Amalric's parents separated when he was in his teens, and the turmoil he experienced during that period later informed his first directorial effort, "Eat Your Soup" (1997). The director's chair was Amalric's original destination - as a young man, he was introduced to the legendary filmmaker Louis Malle, who hired him as assistant director on his acclaimed 1987 film "Au revoir les enfants." Amalric made two short films before "Eat Your Soup," but also maintained a hand in acting starting in 1984 with the Gerard Brach-penned "Les favoris de la lune." But in 1996, his secondary career surpassed his chosen profession with his Desplechin's "Comment je me suis dispuite (ma vie sexuelle)." Amalric's performance as a doctorate student struggling with both his career and his fidelity to his girlfriend won him a Cesar Award in 1997, launching him as one of France's most acclaimed leading men.
Collaborations with such noted directors as Andre Techine ("Alice et Martin," 1998), and Jeanne Labrune ("Special Delivery," 2002) preceded a reunion with Desplechin in 2004 for "Kings and Queen." His turn as a musician struggling with mental illness netted him his second Cesar and a host of additional awards. By this point, the praise showered upon Amalric by the European critical community began to attract the attention of American filmmakers. In 2005, he made his American feature debut as a Mossad informant in Steven Spielberg's "Munich." The following year, Sofia Coppola cast him as a guest at a masked ball in her sophomore directorial effort, "Marie Antoinette." Despite his growing popularity, Amalric also found time during this period to direct two more films: 2001's "Wimbledon Stadium" and 2003's "La Chose publique."
Praise for his starring role as a psychologist who becomes embroiled in the Nazi past of businessmen in "Heartbeat Detector" (2007) preceded his greatest triumph with "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly." Cast as French "Elle" editor Jean-Dominique Bauby, who endures a stroke that leaves him unable to move, save for his left eyelid, Amalric gave an enormously moving performance that brought him a third Cesar, as well as a host of nominations. The film's high profile in the international award market - including four Academy Award nominations and a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film - helped to further introduce Amalric to audiences around the world.
"Butterfly" was one of seven films starring Amalric that saw release in 2007; though only slightly less prolific in the following year, 2008 proved to be a watershed for the actor. Not only did he reunite for a third feature with Desplechin - the tense drama "A Christmas Tale," with Amalric as the black sheep of a volatile family - but he joined the ranks of Bond villains by tackling Dominic Greene in Marc Forster's "Quantum of Solace" (2008). Greene, a businessman whose environmental leanings conceal his involvement with the terrorist organization Quantum, was among the least operatic of Bond f s, but Amalric's decision to play him as a mix of European leaders Tony Blair and Nicholas Sarkozy added a touch of chilling realism to the performance. Though the film garnered mostly negative reactions upon its release, Amalric was singled out for his effective turn. Amalric closed out the year with an appearance in "Les Herbes folles" (2008) for iconic French director, Alain Resnais.
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Writer (Feature Film)
First acting role was a small part in the French drama "Favourites of the Moon"
Directed first short film, "Sans rires"
First substantive role was as a notorious lothario in "Diary of a Seducer"
First gained fame in the film "Ma Vie Sexuelle (My Sex Life...or How I Got Into an Argument)"
Starred in the French film "Late August, Early September" directed by Olivier Assayas
Appeared opposite Juliette Binoche in the art-house hit "Alice and Martin"
Directed debut feature, "Wimbledon Stage"
Wrote and directed "La Chose publique (Public Affairs)"
Offered an award-winning turn in the critically acclaimed drama "Kings & Queen"
Cast by director Steven Spielberg in the thriller "Munich" opposite Eric Bana and Daniel Craig
Helmed the documentary short "Let Them Grow Up Here"
Garnered international recognition as paralyzed fashion editor Jean-Dominique Bauby in the Oscar-nominated "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
Cast as the villain in the Marc Forster directed James Bond film, "Quantum of Solace"; starring Daniel Craig as Bond
Co-wrote and directed "On Tour"
Directed and starred in "The Blue Room"
Played Wolf Hall on the British TV mini-series "Wolf Hall"
Nabbed a supporting part in "The Forbidden Room"