Mélanie Laurent (born 21 February 1983) is a French actress, director, singer, and writer. She is best known to international audiences for her role as Shosanna Dreyfus in Quentin Tarantino's 2009 film Inglourious Basterds, for which she won Best Actress from the Online Film Critics Society and the Austin Film Critics Association.
Mélanie Laurent was born in Paris, the daughter of Annick, a ballerina, and Pierre Laurent, a voiceover actor (who dubs the character Ned Flanders in the French version of The Simpsons). Laurent is Jewish, and has both Ashkenazi and Tunisian Sephardic ancestry. A grandfather survived deportation by the Nazis. Her maternal grandparents were film poster editors. She grew up in the 9th arrondissement of Paris and was immersed from birth in the arts.
Her career began when Gérard Depardieu, seeing her while she watched her best friend's father working on the set of Asterix and Obelix, asked her if she wanted to be in movies. Laurent replied 'Why not?' and next week his assistant called her. Depardieu gave Laurent a part when she was 16 in The Bridge, a drama he starred in and co-directed with Fréderic Auburtin.