Known chiefly for character roles in his native France, Gallic actor Yvan Attal first entered the limelight in the late '80s and early '90s, with supporting turns in pictures such as Un Monde Sans Pitié (1989), Cauchemar Blanc (1991), and Les Patriotes (1994). He continued to essay parts in France, but broke through to international audiences with two memorable roles, spaced years apart: Benôit, an unexpected live-in houseguest who places great strain on the marriage of his former girlfriend, in Michael Winterbottom's fine seriocomedy With or Without You (1998), and Tony, a friend of one of the principal characters in Steven Spielberg's period terrorist drama Munich (2005). Attal tackled a much different segment of the U.S. audience market when tapped by director Brett Ratner to play George, a stereotypically snotty French taxi driver, in the blockbuster action comedy Rush Hour 3 (2007).
Attal made headlines in France and abroad when he married Euro screen siren Charlotte Gainsbourg, daughter of the controversial crooner and provocateur Serge Gainsbourg and model-cum-actress Jane Birkin. Attal cast his wife in his feature debut as a writer/director, My Wife Is an Actress (2001), in which he also starred, along with British actor Terence Stamp. Attal went on to direct Gainsbourg again three years later in his next outing as a writer/director/actor, Happily Ever After.