City Connect celebrates the birthday of the actress Catherine Deneuve who was born on this day in 1943. She is considered one of France’s most successful actresses and has starred in seven English-language films, most notably the 1983 cult classic The Hunger.
Catherine Deneuve has gained recognition for her portrayal of aloof and mysterious beauties in films such as Repulsion (1965) and Belle de jour (1967). Deneuve was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1993 for her performance in Indochine; she also won César Awards for that film and The Last Metro (1980).
As Catherine Dorléac, she made her film debut at age eleven in Les Collégiennes (1957), filmed in 1955 but not released until two years later. Deneuve subsequently began using her mother’s surname professionally so she wouldn’t be confused with her elder sister, Françoise Dorléac, who was using their father’s name.
Deneuve then starred in films such as Vice and Virtue (1962), directed by Roger Vadim. The film that brought her stardom was Jacques Demy’s 1963 musical Les Parapluies de Cherbourg. She made two more films with Demy , most notably another musical, Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (1967), with Dorléac – who was killed in a car accident the following year – as her twin sister. Further prominent films from this early time in her career included Roman Polanski’s Repulsion (1965), Jean-Paul Rappeneau’s La Vie de château (1966), which employed her ‘underused comic skills’, and Luis Buñuel’s Belle de Jour (1967), – as the ‘ haut-bourgeois housewife who achieves sexual satisfaction working in a Parisian brothel.’ In the Polanski film, Deneuve first portrayed the character archetype for which she would be nicknamed the “ice maiden”, playing a beautiful Belgian girl, an emotionally distant and mysterious woman ‘going homicidally insane in Kensington.’ Her work for Buñuel would be her most famous, and her screen persona as “a cold, remote erotic object which dreams are made on” reached a peak, according to the critic Philip French, in her second Buñuel film Tristana, (1970). Deneuve remained active in European films throughout the 1960s and 70s, but limited her appearances in American films of the period to The April Fools (1969) and Hustle (1975).
Shortly before his death in 1980, Alfred Hitchcock had planned to direct Deneuve in an adaptation of the spy novel The Short Night. Her most notable films during the decade were François Truffaut’s Le Dernier métro (1980), which garnered her the César Award for Best Actress, and Tony Scott’s cult classic The Hunger (1983), her third American film in which she starred as a bisexual vampire, featuring David Bowie and Susan Sarandon. Deneuve’s sex scene with Sarandon in The Hunger brought her a significant lesbian following.
Deneuve won a second Cesar Award and received an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress for her performance in Indochine (1992), which also won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. Deneuve is one of the distinct few to receive an Oscar nomination for a non-English speaking role. Her other significant films were André Téchiné’s Ma saison préférée (1993) and Les Voleurs (1995). In 1997, Deneuve was the protagonist in the music video for the song N’Oubliez Jamais sung by Joe Cocker. In 1998 she won acclaim and the Volpi Cup at the Venice Film Festival for her performance in Place Vendôme. In 1999 Deneuve appeared in five films, including: Est-Ouest, Le temps retrouvé, and Pola X. Her part in Lars von Trier’s musical drama Dancer in the Dark (2000) alongside Icelandic singer Björk was subject to considerable critical scrutiny. The film was selected for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
Deneuve’s fourth and most recent American film to date was The Musketeer (2001). She shared the Silver Bear Award for Best Ensemble Cast at the Berlin International Film Festival for her performance in 8 Women (2002). In 2005, Deneuve published her diary A l’ombre de moi-meme (“In My Own Shadow”, published in English as Close Up and Personal: The Private Diaries of Catherine Deneuve); in it she writes about her experiences shooting the films Indochine and Dancer in the Dark; and working with leading men such as Burt Reynolds, Jack Lemmon, Vincent Perez, William Hurt, John Malkovich, Alain Delon, Gerard Depardieu, and Marcello Mastroianni. In 2006, she headed the jury at the Venice Film Festival. She made another brief return to Hollywood with a guest-starring role on the FX TV series Nip/Tuck during its fourth season in November 2006. She also lent her voice to the Oscar-nominated animated feature Persepolis (2007). In 2008, she appeared in her 100th film, Un conte de Noël. That same year she was honored at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival for her contributions to European cinema.
In 2010 Deneuve starred in the period comedy Potiche (2010). Her latest film is the musical Les Bien-aimés (2011) co-starring her real-life daughter Chiara Mastroianni. Although they share four previous acting credits, this is the first time Deneuve and Mastroianni have shared a scene together.
During an interview at the Cannes Film Festival with Ali Naderzad, Deneuve was asked which was her own favorite film. “I still say it was The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. To do a film completely with music like an opera was an incredible experience. But to work with music all the time, it’s such a lift, you know? It’s an opera, it’s very different.”
One of the world’s great beauties, her image was used to represent Marianne, the national symbol of France, from 1985 to 1989. She was the face of Chanel No. 5 in the late 1970s and she caused sales of the perfume to soar in the United States – so much so that the American press, captivated by her charm, nominated her as the world’s most elegant woman.
In 1983, American Home Products retained her to represent their cosmetics line. The company hired world-renowned photographer Richard Avedon and Catherine Deneuve to promote its line of Youth Garde cosmetics in which she famously proclaimed “Look closely. Next year I will be 40.”
She is considered the muse of designer Yves Saint Laurent; he dressed her in the films Belle de Jour, La Chamade, La sirène du Mississipi, Liza, and The Hunger. In 1992, she became a model for his skincare line.
In 2001, she was chosen as the new face of L’Oréal Paris.
Deneuve is involved with the charities: Children Action, Children of Africa, Orphelins Roumains and Reporters Without Borders. Deneuve has also been involved with various charities in the fight against AIDS and cancer.
Deneuve speaks fluent French, Italian, English and is semi-fluent in German. In 1965, the 21-year old Deneuve married British photographer David Bailey. They divorced in 1972 but remain friends.
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