One of the sturdiest supporting players in French cinema for decades and an instantly recognizable face onscreen, François Berléand seemed as comfortable in genteel, laid-back slice-of-lifers as he did in saucy, edgy erotic dramas; throughout his career (unlike some of his Gallic colleagues), this distinguished performer remained squarely in France and seldom, if ever, worked internationally. Berléand accepted one of his earliest roles in director Bob Swaim's violent and cynical 1982 police thriller La Balance (an arthouse hit in its day), then subsequently worked for directors including Caroline Huppert (Signe Charlotte, 1986), Nicole Garcia (Place Vendôme, 1998), and Benoît Jacquot (Seventh Heaven, 1997).
American arthouse audiences may most commonly associate the thespian, however, with a pair of collaborations: his two-film association with the eminent Louis Malle (for whom he played a priest in Au Revoir les Enfants and a bourgeois family member in May Fools) and his sizzling work for Catherine Breillat as a sadomasochistic professor in the director's groundbreaking, feminist-infused erotic drama Romance (1999). In 2006, Berléand teamed up with the celebrated Guillaume Canet for a supporting role in the psychological thriller Tell No One. In addition, Berléand appeared as Inspector Tarconi in the action-packed Transporter movies and portrayed Gilles Triquet, the equivalent of David Brent (Ricky Gervais) and Michael Scott (Steve Carell), on Le Bureau (2006), the French version of The Office.