Born Caroline Trousselard and raised in southern France, Ducey became an actress at age 11 with a series of local theater roles, then studied drama at the Marseilles Conservatory. While still in her teens, Ducey made her film debut in the award-winning Trop de Bonheur (1994). Though she moved to Paris to study literature at the university, Ducey continued to act, earning roles on French TV and in the films Famille Je Vous Hais (1997) and Innocent (1998). But when Breillat cast her in Romance over 200 other hopefuls, she revealed herself to be an actress of remarkable bravery as well as skill. As the masochistic Marie, Ducey overcame her initial fears about the script, and her discomfort about acting with Italian porn star Rocco Siffredi, to give a performance praised for its honesty and daring, even by those critics less than taken with Breillat's stripped-down visual stylization and overwrought view of female sexuality. Touted as the most explicit non-porn film ever, Romance drew attention at several international film festivals, garnered a U.S. release, and became a box-office success in France, cementing Ducey's status as an actress on the rise. Ducey's next film, the period drama La Chambre Obscure (1999), once again dealt with the fallout of sexual rejection.