Audran, Stéphane (1932—)

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Audran, Stéphane (1932—)

French actress. Born Colette Suzanne Jeannine Dacheville in Versailles, France, on November 2, 1932; married Jean-Louis Trintignant (divorced); married Claude Chabrol (a director), in 1964 (divorced in late 1980s).


La Bonne Tisane (Kill or Cure, 1958); Les Cousins (The Cousins, 1959); Les Bonnes Femmes (with Bernadette Lafont , 1960); Les Godelureaux (1961); L'Oeil du Matin (The Third Lover, 1962); Le Signe de Lion (The Sign of Leo, 1962); Landru (Bluebeard, 1963); Le Tigre aime la Chair fraiche (The Tiger Likes Fresh Blood, 1964); Paris Vu Par (Six in Paris, 1965); La Ligne de Démarcation (directed by Eric Rohmer, 1966); Le Scandale (The Champagne Murders, 1967); Les Biches (1968); La Femme Infidèle (1969); La Rupture (The Break Up, 1970); Le Boucher (1970); La Dame dans l'Auto avec des Lunettes et us Fusil (The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun, 1970); La Peau de Torpedo (directed by Jean Delannoy, 1970); Sans Mobile Apparent (Without Apparent Motive, 1971); Juste Avant la Nuit (Just Before Nightfall, 1971); The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972); Les Noces rouges (Wedding in Blood, 1972); Folies Bourgeoises (1976); Blood Relatives (1978); And Then There Were None (1974); The Black Bird (1975); Silver Bears (1977); Eagle's Wing (1978); Violette Nozière (Violette, 1978); Le Gagnant (1979); La Soleil en Face (1979); The Big Red One (1980); Coup de Torchon (Clean Slate, 1981); Brideshead Revisited (1981); Le Beau Monde (1981); Boulevard de Assassins (1982); Les Affinites Electives (1982); Le Paradis pour Tous (1982); Thieves After Dark (1983); Le Sang des Autres (1984); Mistral's Daughter (1984); The Sun Also Rises (1984); Night Magic (1985); La Cage aux Folles III (1985); Le Gitane (1985); Suivez Mon Regard (1986); Les Saisons du Plaisir (1987); Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story (1987); Babette's Feast (1987); Sons (1989); Jours tranquilles à Clichy (Quiet Days in Clichy, 1990); Le Messe en si mineur (1990); and Betty (1993).

An enormously popular star in France, Stéphane Audran is known for her ability to play the vapid sophisticate or elegant mannequin, while hinting at far more intensity below the surface. After a series of small parts, she first starred in L'Oeil du Matin (The Third Lover, 1962); she has since appeared in nearly 50 films, 21 of them directed by her ex-husband Claude Chabrol. In Paris Vu Par (Six in Paris, 1965), "she was the quarrelsome mother," writes David Thomson, "whose son puts cotton wool in his ears so that he never hears her cry for help in an emergency." Thomson regarded the part as a "sardonic, marital joke" on the part of Chabrol. In her next two husband-directed movies, Audran portrayed traditional "fashion plates." It was Chabrol's Les Biches in 1968, however, that "properly discovered her as an actress," continues Thomson. "In one sense, her acutely made-up beauty needed very little heightening to suggest lesbianism, but the eventual sexual reversal of the film allowed her a new poignancy that was an advance for both actress and director." For her performance, she walked off with the Berlin Festival's Best Actress prize. Audran also received Britain's Academy Award for Juste Avant la Nuit (Just Before Nightfall, 1971) and Luis Buñuel's witty The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972), which also starred Delphine Seyrig .

In the late 1970s, Audran began to take roles as a supporting actress; she won a César award for her performance as the dowdy middle-aged woman contrasted with Isabelle Huppert in Violette Nozière (Violette, 1978). In 1987, Audran was again lauded for her performance in the title role of Babette's Feast, based on a short story by Isak Dinesen . An instant classic, the film concerns Babette Hersant who—fleeing from government reprisals against the Paris Commune, which had already claimed her

husband and son—arrives in a remote village in northern Norway (though the movie was shot in Jutland). In exchange for asylum, she takes a job as unpaid housekeeper for two aging sisters (played by Birgitte Federspiel and Bodil Kjer ), daughters of a strict Lutheran minister who had imposed a rigid asceticism on the community before his death. For 14 years, she cares for them, cooking their frugal fare. Then Babette wins the lottery and offers to cook them a dinner to celebrate the centenary of their departed father. She methodically spends every penny of her winnings and prepares a sumptuous feast of quail, turtle soup, baba au rhum, and blinis with crème frâiche and caviar for all of the villagers who later learn that she was once head chef at the Café Anglais in Paris. "With her marvelous screen presence and mature beauty, Stéphane Audran is an ideal Babette," wrote James Reid Paris. In this parable about the healing power of art, Audran said she felt as though she was "transcending the ingredients and performing a sacred act." The film "speaks of the communication among the people. It is a miracle; it involves the union of the spirit and matter. A metaphysical tale."


Paris, James Reid. Classic Foreign Films: From 1960 to Today. NY: Citadel Press, 1993.

Thomson, David. A Biographical Dictionary of Film. 3rd ed. NY: Knopf, 1994.