Léa Hélène Seydoux-Fornier de Clausonne (born 1 July 1985), known as Léa Seydoux, is a French actress. She began her acting career in French cinema, appearing in films such as The Last Mistress (2007) and On War (2008). She first came to attention after she received her first César Award nomination for her performance in The Beautiful Person (2008) and won the Trophée Chopard, an award given to promising actors at the Cannes Film Festival.
Since then, she has appeared in major Hollywood films including Inglourious Basterds (2009), Robin Hood (2010), Midnight in Paris (2011) and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011). In French cinema, she was nominated for the César Award for Most Promising Actress for a second time for her role in Belle Épine (2010) and was nominated for the César Award for Best Actress for the film Farewell, My Queen (2012).
In 2013, Seydoux came to widespread attention when she was awarded the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for her role in the critically acclaimed film Blue Is the Warmest Colour. That same year, she also received the Lumières Award for Best Actress for the film Grand Central and, in 2014, she was nominated for the BAFTA Rising Star Award and starred in the films Beauty and the Beast, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Saint Laurent. She played Madeleine Swann in the 24th James Bond film Spectre, which was released in 2015.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 2.1 2005–2007
- 2.2 2008–2012
- 2.3 2013–present
- 3 Modeling
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Filmography
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Seydoux was born in 1985, the daughter of businessman Henri Seydoux and philanthropist Valérie Schlumberger. She was born in Passy, in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, but grew up in Saint-Germain-des-Prés in the 6th arrondissement. She has five younger siblings and an older sister, Camille, who works as her stylist. Her parents are both partly of Alsatian descent. Her father is a great-grandson of businessman and inventor Marcel Schlumberger, while her mother is a granddaughter of Marcel’s brother, Maurice Schlumberger. Seydoux’s parents divorced when she was three years old and they were often away, her mother in Africa and her father on business, which, combined with her large family, meant that she “felt lost in the crowd… I was very lonely as a kid. Really I always had the feeling I was an orphan.” Through her family involvement in media and entertainment, Seydoux grew up acquainted with prominent artists such as photographer Nan Goldin, musicians Lou Reed and Mick Jagger and footwear designer Christian Louboutin. For six years, she went to summer camp in America, at the behest of her father, who wanted her to learn to speak English. She had a strict Protestant upbringing, but she is not religious.
My grandfather Jérôme has never felt the slightest interest in my career. [My family] have never lifted a finger to help me. Nor have I asked for anything, ever.
The Seydoux family is widely known in France. Her grandfather, Jérôme Seydoux, is the chairman of Pathé; her granduncle, Nicolas Seydoux, is the chairman of Gaumont Film Company; her other granduncle, Michel Seydoux, also a cinema producer, is currently the chairman of the Lille-based football club Lille OSC; and her father is CEO of the French wireless company Parrot. Despite Seydoux’s connections, her family initially took no interest in her film career and did not help her. As a child, she had no desire to act. She instead wanted to be an opera singer, studying music at the Conservatoire de Paris.
Her mother Valérie Schlumberger is a former actress-turned-philanthropist and the founder of the boutique CSAO (Compagnie d’Afrique du Sénégal et de l’Afrique de l’ouest), which promotes the work of African artists. Seydoux once worked as a model for their jewellery line Jokko. Schlumberger, who lived in Senegal as a teenager, is also the founder of the charitable organisations ASAO (Association pour le Sénégal et l’Afrique de l’Ouest) and Empire des enfants, a centre for homeless children in Dakar, of which Seydoux is the “godmother.”
Seydoux describes her youthful self as short-haired, slightly disheveled, and widely viewed as a bit strange: “People liked me, but I always felt like a misfit.” Still concerned for her shyness in adulthood, Seydoux has admitted to having had an anxiety crisis during the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.
Seydoux says that as a child she wanted to become an opera singer, studying music at the Conservatoire de Paris, but eventually her shyness compelled her to drop the idea. It wasn’t until the age of eighteen that she decided to become an actress. One of her friends was an actor, and Seydoux has said: “I found his life wonderful, I thought, ‘Oh my god, you can travel, you’re free, you can do what you want, you’re the boss.'” She then fell in love with an actor and decided to become an actress to impress him. She took acting classes at French drama school Les Enfants Terribles, and in 2007 she took further training at New York’s Actors Studio with Corinne Blue.
In 2005, Seydoux appeared in the music video for Raphaël’s single “Ne partons pas fâchés”. The following year, Seydoux played her first major screen role as one of the main characters in Sylvie Ayme’s Girlfriends (Mes copines). She starred in Nicolas Klotz’s short film La Consolation, which was exhibited at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. In these years, she also did her first work as a model for American Apparel, posing for their Pantytime campaign, and had a role in the films 13 French Street and The Last Mistress.
Seydoux first came to widespread attention in 2008, when she appeared in Christophe Honoré’s The Beautiful Person, a role that earned her the 2009 Chopard Award at the Cannes Film Festival for “Best Upcoming Actress” and a César Award nomination for Most Promising Actress. In 2009 she had a major part in Jessica Hausner’s Lourdes, and a small role in her first Hollywood film, Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. In 2010 she starred alongside Russell Crowe in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood, playing Isabella of Angoulême; other 2010 work includes Louis Garrel’s Petit Tailleur, and Rebecca Zlotowski’s Belle Épine, which earned her a second César nomination of Most Promising Actress.
Seydoux auditioned to play Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, but the part ultimately went to actress Rooney Mara. Seydoux recalled in an interview: “I got upset, but I don’t think I’d be able to do anything to get that part. It was totally against my nature. I worked hard, but Lisbeth was almost anorexic. I wasn’t like that”. Seydoux was chosen, however, to play Gabrielle in Midnight in Paris, by Woody Allen, whom she calls one of her favorite directors of all time. There was no casting – Allen was shown pictures of three French actresses and from all he chose Seydoux. In 2011 she participated in another Hollywood production, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, in which she played the assassin Sabine Moreau alongside stars Tom Cruise and Jeremy Renner.
After Mission: Impossible, Seydoux returned to French cinema, starring in My Wife’s Romance (Le Roman de ma femme) and Roses à crédit in 2011, and the critically acclaimed Farewell, My Queen and Sister in 2012. Also in that year, Seydoux played roles in Blue Is the Warmest Colour by Abdellatif Kechiche, and Grand Central by Rebecca Zlotowski, both exhibited at the 66th Cannes Film Festival.
In 2013, Seydoux was nominated for Best Actress at the 38th César Awards for her role as Sidonie Laborde in Benoît Jacquot’s Farewell, My Queen. Later that year at Cannes, Blue Is the Warmest Colour won the Palme d’Or and the jury, headed by Steven Spielberg, took the unusual move of awarding the prize not just to the director Abdellatif Kechiche, but also to the film’s two stars, Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos.
In 2014, Seydoux won the Best Actress award at the 19th Lumières Awards for her role in Blue Is the Warmest Colour and Grand Central. She was also nominated for the BAFTA Rising Star Award and the César Award for Best Actress in the same year.
Seydoux co-starred with Vincent Cassel in Beauty and the Beast, a Franco-German romantic fantasy film directed by Christophe Gans. Her other 2014 films were The Grand Budapest Hotel, a Wes Anderson film in which she cameoed as a maid; and Bertrand Bonello’s Saint Laurent, in which she played the role of the titular designer’s muse Loulou de la Falaise.
In 2015, Seydoux starred with Vincent Lindon in Diary of a Chambermaid, a period piece based on Octave Mirbeau’s novel Le Journal d’une femme de chambre. The film, which the script was written specifically for Seydoux, marked her second collaboration with Benoît Jacquot, following the 2012 film Farewell, My Queen. Although the film was screened in competition at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival to mixed reviews, critics were generally receptive to Seydoux’s performance. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian said that it was “a fine central performance from Seydoux”, while critic Jordan Mintzer wrote that her performance is “robust and engaging throughout [the film]”.
Seydoux appears alongside Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz in Yorgos Lanthimos’s English-language debut The Lobster (2015), in which she played the ruthless leader of a group of rebels, the loners, who live in the woods. The film had its premiere at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Jury Prize. She also appears as Madeleine Swann, the Bond girl in 2015’s Spectre, the 24th James Bond film.
Seydoux is set to appear in Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only the End of the World, based on Jean-Luc Lagarce’s play Juste la fin du monde, and also in 2016’s superhero film Gambit as Bella Donna Boudreaux.