Isabelle Huppert: What You Don’t Know About the Iconic French Actress Who Is Considered France’s Meryl Streep

Monde, rencontrer Isabelle Huppert! Despite being one of the most acclaimed actresses in France, the iconic French star, 63, is just now making headlines in Hollywood this awards season. After her surprise Golden Globe win for bBest Actress in a Drama Motion Picture for her performance in Elle, the actress is a contender to take home her first-ever Oscar on Sunday, February 26.

In the controversial film, Huppert plays a successful video game CEO named Michèle, who is raped by a masked assailant who breaks into her home. When she sets out to track down her attacker, they become caught up in a thrilling and provocative game of cat and mouse.

Isabelle Huppert
Isabelle Huppert attends HBO’s Official Golden Globe Awards Afterparty – Arrivals at Circa 55 Restaurant on Jan. 8, 2017, in Los Angeles. David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

In anticipation of Huppert stealing the show on Sunday — and causing an upset by beating fellow nominee, La La Land’s Emma Stone — here are five things you didn’t know about the actress:

1. She’s Known as France’s Meryl Streep — And She’s Not Afraid of a Challenge

Huppert is known for taking on controversial female roles that challenge the audience. As critic Roger Ebert once said, Huppert’s characters are “repressed, closed-off, sexually alert women” who are “not safe to scorn.” Her past performances consist of her characters engaging in incest in Ma Mére and sadomasochism in The Piano Teacher, among other roles that have taken her to very dark places. That said, she separates herself from the character once off set. “I am an actress from the roots of my hair to the tips of my toes,” she told The New York Times. “I know exactly what it means to suffer for a character, to hate a character, to love a character. Although as an actress it’s completely different. You don’t suffer the same way the spectator suffers. When you suffer as an actress, you don’t suffer, you have pleasure.”

2. She’s a Mom of Three and Very Private When It Comes to Her Personal Life

The Elle star grew up in a wealthy suburb of Paris and, the youngest of five kids, was encouraged by her mom to start acting. She’s been married to film producer and director Ronald Chammah since 1982. Her eldest daughter, Lolita Chammah, is also an actress and they’ve appeared in films together including Copacabana, Barrage and Story of a Woman. “Our relationship is much stronger than a fiction relationship,” she told The New York Times in November of working with Lolita. “[The first time we acted together] we had a hard time really believing in it. We were laughing. We couldn’t manage to behave like actresses. Then we settled down. We had to.”

Isabelle Huppert Elle
Isabelle Huppert as Michele and Arthur Mazet as Kevin in ‘Elle.’ Guy Ferrandis/SBS Productions'Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

3. She’s Surprisingly Humble

Despite winning dozens of awards, this is Huppert’s first-ever Oscar nomination. When asked by Deadline if she’d want to experience being nominated for an Oscar all over again, the actress said: “It’s a little early to say. Your question is very sweet. I’m right in the middle of it so I’m enjoying every second. I’m really happy for everything that’s happening to me. It’s really extraordinary and it’s too early to want to live it again; I haven’t even finished the first time.”

4. She Considers Work Her Vacation

“Doing movies for me is like a vacation,” Huppert said during a Q&A with John Waters in 2014. “Stage for me is like climbing a big mountain, and movies for me is like doing a nice little walk.”

5. She’s Also Starred in One of Your Favorite TV Shows

Chic as she may be, Huppert has appeared on America’s beloved NBC hit Law & Order: SVU. In 2010, she portrayed the mother of a young boy who had been kidnapped in season 11’s finale, “Shattered.” She also just so happens to go berserk on Mariska Hargitay.

And bonus fact: Huppert also has more César Award nominations, which are essentially the French Oscars, than any other French actress: 16 to be exact!

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