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Vanessa Paradis Biography

Home > Supermodels > P > Paradis, Vanessa > Biography

Birth Name: Vanessa Paradis
Born: 12/22/1972
Birth Place: France

Born on Dec. 22, 1972 in Saint Maur-des-Fosses, France, Paradis was raised by her parents, André and Corinne, in the Paris suburb of Villiers-sur-Marne. Attracted to movies at an early age, she studied dance and piano as a child, and later entered the French television amateur talent show, "L'Ecole des fans" (1976-1998), where she performed "Emilie Jolie." The move was set up by her uncle, Didier Pain, a record producer who began managing her career. Assisted by Pain, Paradis recorded a demo, Les magie des surprises parties in 1985. Though unreleased, the demo did capture the attention of composer Franck Langolff and led to recording her breakout single, "Joe le taxi" (1987) when she was just 14 years old. The song was a big hit in France, where it topped the charts for 11 weeks. It crossed the channel to England and peaked at No. 3 on the British charts, which was rare for a French-language song, and was later featured on her first pop album, M&J (1988). Paradis followed up with her second album, Variations sur le meme t'aime (1990), which contained a cover version of Lou Reed's "Take a Walk on the Wild Side."

Capitalizing on her popularity as a singer, Paradis segued into acting with a role as a troubled student whose teacher (Bruno Cremer) rejects her after a passionate love affair in "Noce Blanche" (1989). Her performance as a Lolita-like nymph earned Paradis considerable acclaim and a César Award for Most Promising Newcomer. She soon attracted the attention of advertising executives, who were quick to use her young, fresh face for a 1992 campaign for Coco Chanel perfume. Critics scoffed at the ads, which featured Paradis dressed as a bird whistling and swinging from a trapeze in a gilded cage while a fluffy white cat looked on. Meanwhile, Paradis recorded her third album, the English-language Vanessa Paradis (1992), which had more of a 1970s disco sound and featured collaborations with Lenny Kravitz, whom she was dating at the time. After the success of her third recording, Paradis launched a European tour, playing 70 concerts before returning to France to star in "Elisa" (1995), in which she portrayed a moody girl placed in an orphanage after her mother committed suicide. Once again, Paradis delivered a performance that earned raves from the critics.

Instead of playing yet another brooding teen, however, Paradis opted to show audiences her playful side as a witch in the romantic comedy "Un Amour de sorciere" (1997), and followed that up with the action comedy "1 Chance sur 2" (1998). By this point, Paradis was finished with Kravitz and moved on to a relationship with French actor, Stanislas Merhar, staying with him until 1998. It was then that she met American star Johnny Depp - who was in France making "The Ninth Gate" (1999) with Roman Polanski - and began a long-term relationship that resembled a marriage and later resulted in two children, daughter Lily-Rose and son Jack. The pair continued to work, of course, and split their time between Los Angeles and a home in France's Le Plan-de-la-Tour on the southeastern coast of the Mediterranean. Meanwhile, Paradis delivered one of the best performances of her career, playing a heartbroken women who meets a knife thrower when she is about to leap to her death from a bridge in "La Fille du pont" ("Girl on the Bridge") (1999). Back in the recording studio, Paradis made her fourth album, Bliss (2000), which featured tracks with Depp and predictably topped the French charts while spawning minor hit singles with "Pourtant" and "Commando."

Following her second live album, Au Zénith (2001), Paradis returned to acting with the French-made comedy "Atomik Circus, le Retour de James Bataille" (2004) and "Mon Ange" ("My Angel") (2004). She provided the voice of Margote in the animated "Doogal" (2005) and appeared on French television in the small screen movie "Le soldat Rose" (2006). Paradis recorded what many fans and critics considered to be her best album then to date, Divinidylle (2007), which once again reached No. 1 on the French album charts. A third live album, Divinidylle Tour (2008), was released the following year, while Paradis deftly balanced music and acting with a starring turn in the French romantic comedy "Heartbreaker" (2010). Meanwhile, rumors began to swirl around the tabloid media that Paradis and Depp had split following 12 years together, despite appearances of a near-perfect relationship. While initially vague about the alleged split, Paradis assuredly stamped down the rumors while doing press for her next film, "Café de flore" (2011), saying unequivocally that said rumors were "false." She went on to say that magazines reporting such harmful falsehoods were fit for the fireplace or toilet.

By Shawn Dwyer