A rising star and bonafide heartthrob in his native France, Guillaume Canet became known to international audiences as one of the stars of Danny Boyle's The Beach. As the affable, levelheaded Etienne, Canet held his own against co-stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Virginie Ledoyen, and in the process he established himself as the European Union's latest poster boy for sensitive, trod-upon hunks everywhere.
Born in Boulougne-Billancourt on April 10, 1973, Canet began his professional career on the stage. He got his breakthrough starring with Christophe Malavoy in Pierre Boutron's production of La Ville dont Le Prince est un Enfant, and he subsequently acted in and directed a number of stage productions. After starring in various television features, Canet made his film debut in 1997's Barracuda, a Misery-esque psychological thriller in which the young actor played a comic book artist held hostage in the home of a mad man (Jean Rochefort).
In 1998, Canet won critical adulation for his starring role opposite Virginie Ledoyen in Pierre Jolivet's Un Plein Coeur. Cast as Ledoyen's hopelessly devoted boyfriend (a role that he would essentially repeat in The Beach), the actor earned a César nomination for Most Promising Young Actor for his portrayal. He went on to play a son looking for guidance from his errant father Jean Yanne in Remi Waterhouse's Je règle mon pas sur le pas de mon père (1999), and in 2000, he starred in the highly anticipated but ultimately disappointing The Beach. That same year, Canet appeared in Andrzej Zulawski's La Fidélité, a romantic drama that cast the up-and-coming actor alongside the likes of Sophie Marceau, Pascal Greggory, and Edith Scob.