Family & Companions
This offbeat-looking player with a piercing gaze, is perhaps best known in the USA for his galvanizing, heavily made-up performance as Yves Montand's buffoonish and pathetic nephew Ugolin in Claude Berri's diptych "Jean de Florette" (1985) and "Manon of the Spring" (1986). Hailed by Toronto Sun critic Bruce Kirkland as "the most underappreciated French actor of his generation," Daniel Auteuil is equally at home portraying contemporary figures or historical personages. He combines the skill and grace of a leading man with the wide range of a character player and regardless of the material, proves completely compelling.
Auteuil originally hoped to follow his parents in singing and in his teens participated in a few operettas, but the form was dying and he enrolled in acting classes instead. He made his stage debut suspended on stage in a bag for the Paris production of "Godspell" and later scored a huge success in the 1979 Paris stage production of Bernard Slade's "Tribute" (called "Coup de chapeau" in France) which focused on a glad-handing theatrical press agent who is acclaimed 1980 production of "Le Garcon d'appartement" in Paris, in which he also starred.
Auteuil reached a new level of international appeal as Harry, the motivational speaker on the brink of a nervous breakdown who encounters George, a man with Down's Syndrome, in "Le Huitieme jour/The Eighth Day" (1996, released in the USA in 1997). The film confirmed Auteuil's status in France as the equivalent of American actors like Dustin Hoffman or Robert De Niro--a leading star who plays what could be said to be character parts. Among Auteuil's credits are such zany titles as "Les Hommes preferent les grosses/Men Prefer Fat Girls" (1981), "Que le gros salaires levent le doigt!!/Will All the High-Salaried Workers Please Raise Their Hands!!" (1982) and "Romuald et Juliette/Mama, There's a Man in Your Bed" (1989). In the latter, Auteuil portrayed an executive who falls in love with his Afro-French cleaning lady. For the French version of the hit comedy "Look Who's Talking" (1989), Auteuil provided the voice of infant Mikey (performed by Bruce Willis in the original). He also starred opposite Isabelle Adjani in "La Reine Margot/Queen Margot" (1994) as Henri de Navarre, the Protestant king who becomes Roman Catholic to unite France, and as brother to Catherine Deneuve in "Les Voleurs (Thieves)" (1996).
Originally he was expected to co-star with Juliette Binoche as the husband of the title character in the WWII drama "Lucie Aubrac" (1997), but she dropped out over conflicts with director Claude Berri and was replaced with Carole Bouquet. Auteuil then essayed a dashing swordsman in the period drama "Le Bossu/On Guard!" (1997). In 1999, the actor made his English-language debut as a private detective living in London who is drawn into the seedy world of an international pedophile ring in the thriller "The Lost Son." Auteuil fared much better that same year in an award-winning turn as a seductive knife thrower who comes to the rescue of a suicidal Vanessa Paradis in "La Fille sur le pont/Girl on the Bridge," a ravishingly-looking black-and-white drama directed by Patrice Leconte. Reuniting with the helmer, Auteuil finally acted opposite Juliette Binoche in the period drama "La Veuve de Saint Pierre/The Widow of Saint Pierre" (2000). Cast as husband and wife, these two top notch French stars offered believable performances of somewhat forward thinkers who were besotted by one another. The actor remained in period garb to limn the titular character in "Sade" (2000), the Benoit Jacquot-directed drama set in 1774 and covering a time when the notorious author was incarcerated with other titled nobles.
As the new century dawned and Auteuil reached 50, he continued to offer intriguing and nuanced screen performances. He stepped into the role of Francois Pignon, a character that has appeared in several of director Francois Veber's films in the comedy "Le Placard/The Closet" (2001). In the movie, the middle-aged Pignon is faced with losing his job and his psychiatrist offers an extreme solution for him to retain it -- disclose his homosexuality (even though he is heterosexual). Despite the strange premise, Auteuil brought a skill and plausibility to his portrayal. He subsequently appeared in support of Gerard Depardieu in the period thriller "Vidocq/Vidocq, la derniere aventure" (also 2001).
Auteuil was married to actress Emmanuelle Beart, with whom he has appeared in several features, including Edouard Molinaro's romantic comedy "L'Amour en douce/Love on the Quiet" (1984) and Claude Sautet's subtle drama of a love triangle, "Un Coeur en hiver" (1993). He has been the companion of frequent co-star Marianne Denicourt ("The Lost Son," "Sade") since the late 1990s.
Cast (Feature Film)
Moved to Paris; landed first stage role in "Early Morning"
Performed in the chorus of the Paris production of the American musical, "Godspell"; then appeared in musicals for next two years
Made film debut in "L'Agression", starring Catherine Deneuve and Jean-Lous Trintignant and directed by Gerard Pires
Played one of his earliest leading roles in "Heros n'ont pas froid aux d'oreilles/Heroes Are Not Wet Behind the Ears"
Gave an award-winning stage performance in the French adaptation of Bernard Slade's play "Tribute"
Appeared in the film "A nous deux", directed by Claude Lelouch
First of three films for director Claude Zidi, "Bete mais discipline/Dumb But Disciplined"
Directed and starred in a theatrical adaptation of Gerard Lauzier's "Le garcon d'appartement"
Co-starred in Zidi's "Les Sous-doues/The Under-Gifted"
First collaboration with director Edouard Molinaro, "Pour cent briques t'as plus rien"
Appeared in the sequel, "Les Sous-doues en vacances/The Under-Gifted on Vacation", directed by Zidi
First film opposite future wife Emmanuelle Beart, "L'amour en douce/Love on the Quiet"
Turned down one of the leading roles in the farce "Trois hommes et un couffin/Three Men and a Cradle" in order to play the role of Ugolin in Claude Berri's films, "Jean de Florette" and "Manon des Sources", opposite future wife Emmanuelle Beart
Portrayed a businessman whose yogurt empire is on the verge of collapse whose black cleaning lady comes to his assistance in "Romuald et Juliette/Mama, There's a Man in Your Bed"
Delivered a strong performance as a violin maker who competes with his boss for the affections of a musician in Claude Sautet's "Un Coeur en hiver"
Acted on stage in "Woyzeck"
Cast as Catherine Deneuve's brother in Andre Techine's "Ma Saison preferee/My Favorite Season"
Played King Henry of Naverre in Patrice Chereau's costume drama "La Reine Margot/Queen Margot"
Acted with Beart in "Une Femme francaise"
Won international acclaim for starring in "Le Huitieme jour/The Eighth Day"
Reunited with Deneuve and Techine for "Les Voleurs/Thieves"
Portrayed a member of the Resistance married to the title character in the fact-based "Lucie Aubrac"
Delivered an award-winning turn as a carnival knife thrower who rescues a woman from suicide and forms a symbiotic bond with her in "La Fille sur le pont/Girl on the Bridge", helmed by Patrice Leconte
English-language acting debut in "The Lost Son" as a French detective in London searching for the missing adult child of an elderly couple
Reteamed with Leconte as a French-Canadian army captain who with his wife (Juliette Binoche) attempt to rehabilitate a man sentenced to death in "La Veuve de Saint-Pierre/The Widow of Saint-Pierre"
Starred in the Paris production of David Hare's "The Blue Room"
Had title role in Benoit Jacquot's period biopic "Sade"
Returned to comedy to play a dull office worker who faced with losing his job is persuaded to make the claim he's gay (even though he isn't) in "Le Placard/The Closet"; Gerard Depardieu co-starred
Reteamed with Gerard Depardieu in the thriller "Vidocq"
Starred opposite Kristin Scott Thomas in "Petites Coupures", written and directed by Pascal Bonitzer
Co-starred with Juliette Binoche in "Caché," the French-language film, written and directed by Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke
Played a a Parisian tycoon with a highly developed aptitude for deceit in Francis Veber's "The Valet"
Cast in Patrice Leconte's film "My Best Friend"