Isabelle Huppert, the veteran French actress, took home the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama, at the 74th Golden Globe Awards for her work in Paul Verhoeven’s thriller, “Elle.” Acting since 1971, Huppert has appeared in over 100 films, including in “uncompromising art-house fare,” such as the “The Piano Teacher” and “White Material.” This fall, in addition to “Elle,” Huppert stars in “Things to Come,” a wistful, funny drama by the French director Mia Hansen-Love. Despite such an extensive resume, this was Huppert’s first Golden Globe nomination and win.
Huppert – who has, however, already this year won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress, the Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Actress, and the Satellite Award for Best Actress in Motion Picture for “Elle” – is something of a budding star in the eyes of the mainstream media, particularly in the U.S., as of late. Interest in her is growing increasingly, and this awards season – with talk of an Oscar nomination – will likely cement her in a position of household fame.
A recent profile by the New York Times’s T Magazine – penned by Rachel Donadio – paints Huppert - age 63 - in a compelling light. It notes that Huppert “consistently chooses roles that are morally complex and sometimes hard to watch. And yet we can’t bring ourselves to look away … What directors love about Huppert — and she prides herself on being an auteur’s actor — is her ability to convey moral complexity in the most unique ways.”
Dutch film director, producer and writer, Paul Verhoeven, the man behind “Elle,” describes Huppert’s allure: “I think there is always a mystery to her acting. I have never seen an actor or actress add so much to the movie that was not in the script.” He describes Huppert’s craft as “pure Brechtian,” as she puts distance between herself and the audience, without trying to seduce it or seek its sympathy.
Backstage on Sunday evening, Verhoeven told reporters, "Isabelle Huppert is the only person who could have made this movie work.” Onstage, Huppert thanked her director for "letting me be what I am."
Writing for Vulture, Amy Larocca describes Huppert as “small — five-foot-three — and very slight, and she moves with complete determination. There are no extraneous gestures or words; the impression she leaves is of the most self-actualized human being in the world.” As for her background, we are not privy to too much. “Huppert is known for her privacy and reserve — she generally doesn’t talk to the press about anything other than her films.”
What we do know is this: “She grew up in a wealthy suburb of Paris, the youngest of five children. Her mother encouraged her to act, and enrolled her in the conservatory when she was 14. Her father manufactured safes … She and her partner, the film producer and director Ronald Chammah, have three children,” as Donadio shared in T Mag.
Given the significant emphasis on the red carpet during awards season, it is difficult not to notice that Huppert is becoming a favorite not only of critics and fashion industry insiders but of those on the periphery, as well. On Sunday evening, the New York Times’s fashion director and critic, Vanessa Friedman, for one, was taken by Huppert’s dress, tweeting: “Whoever made Isabelle Huppert's dress should take credit asap.” We have since learned that it is Armani Privé. Others chimed in, praising Huppert for “slaying” on the red carpet, still others called her the epitome of “class.”
The Telegraph penned a piece, entitled, “How Isabelle Huppert’s grown up French style made her a surprise fashion star at the Golden Globes,” noting: A front row fixture at Dior, Chanel and Armani (she attended the latter's couture show in July and likely picked her Golden Globes gown from the presentation), her irreverent, nonchalant sense of style has allowed her to play both muse and model for many designers over the years. Photographer Helmut Newton, after all, took a series of now-iconic, provocative portraits of her in the 1970s.”
You may also recognize her from the Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott-lensed Givenchy campaign F/W 2014 ad campaign.
A potential Oscar nominee ("Elle" did not make the Oscars shortlist for Best Foreign Film. Huppert, however, could still potentially score a nomination for her performance on January 24) and a budding fashion favorite, this is a woman to watch – both for her fashion choices and of course, her work.