French actress Mélanie Laurent was hard at work buying knickers for a porno film when Quentin Tarantino called to confirm that she’d landed a part in his spell-check unfriendly World War II extravaganza Inglourious Basterds. Tarantino’s job offer was the cue for Laurent and her costume department to spend the next few minutes dancing ecstatically in the Paris streets, waving G-strings above their heads. In the role that the director carved out for the 23-year-old Laurent, she plays a Jewish girl who, after witnessing her family being massacred by the Nazis, masquerades as a cinema owner in Paris, where she hatches a revenge plan.
In reality, Laurent, who started acting when she was 14, insists, “I’m a girl who cries. I’m definitely not strong.” That’s hard to believe since she’salready holding down multiple high-intensityjobs. As an actress, she earned notice in her homeland by starring in Philippe Lioret’s 2006 drama, Je Vais Bien, Ne T’en Fais Pas, followed by Alfred Lot’s 2007 thriller, La Chambre des Morts. Then, in 2008, she took up a second career, directing a short film that was selected for competition at Cannes. It says a lot about the fast-moving state of her mind that she admits, “I can’t even remember the name of the film.” It’s De Moins en Moins, about a young female with dementia.
So how exactly did this successful actress and budding director end up in porn? Shortly after Cannes, Laurent was one of six directors selected to make an erotic movie for a project called X Femmes for Canal+ (the French equivalent of HBO). “After 10 minutes, it’s just like making any other film,” Laurent says of her contribution,â?? À Ses Pieds. She’s quick to add, though, that she personally would never star in a porno.
Trailer for Inglourious Basterds
Having completed work on Inglourious Basterds—her most prominent role to date—she’s recently been hanging out in Woodstock, New York, making an album out of some rock songs she’s written. It seems like typical French folly, until she admits, “When I was young, I wanted to sing and direct. Acting was just a happy accident.”
Photo above: Mélanie Laurent in Paris, April 2009. Shirt and necklace: Louis Vuitton.Cosmetics: Clarins, including Wonder Volume Mascara. Fragrance: Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Cherry BLossom. Styling: Mattias Karlsson/Intrepid. Hair: Frédéric Birault/B Agency. Makeup: Lloyd Simmonds/Agence Carole. Special thanks: Le Studio Rouchon.