One of France's most respected actors, Daniel Auteuil has established himself as a performer at ease in any number of genres, ranging from period dramas to romantic comedies to crime thrillers. The son of opera singers, he was born in Algeria on January 24, 1950. He started his career in musical comedy and made his film debut in 1972. After starring in a number of forgettable comedies, Auteuil had his breakthrough playing the scheming farmer Ugolin in Jean de Florette (1986). He won a Best Actor César and a Best Supporting Actor BAFTA for his portrayal, and that same year he earned further acclaim for his work in the film's equally popular sequel, Manon des Sources. Auteuil's involvement in Manon had the added benefit of introducing him to costar Emmanuelle Béart, with whom he would have a ten-year relationship that produced a daughter, born in 1992.
The awards he earned for his portrayal of Ugolin established him as one of his country's most promising actors, and Auteuil subsequently became known for his work as one of the screen's most accomplished purveyors of emotional turmoil. His searching, conflicted portrayals found particularly effective expression in such films as Un Coeur en Hiver (1992), for which he won the European Film Academy's Best Actor award; Ma Saison Préférée (1993), in which he and Catherine Deneuve starred as siblings with an unnatural bond; La Séparation (1994), for which earned a César nomination for his portrayal of a husband undergoing a nervous breakdown; La Reine Margot (1994), in which he played the cuckolded Henri of Navarre; Le Huitième Jour, in which he played an emotionally stunted workaholic; and Les Voleurs (1996), a crime drama in which he and Deneuve were again cast as a brother and sister. In 1999, Auteuil made one of his few English language outings in Chris Menges' Lost Son, playing a detective living in self-exile in London who gets caught up in a pedophilia ring. That same year, he collaborated with celebrated director Patrice Leconte on La fille sur le pont, playing a knife-thrower who embarks on a journey across Europe with a suicidal young woman (Vanessa Paradis).