Isabelle Huppert was born in 1953, in Paris, France, but spent her childhood in Ville d'Avray. Encouraged by her mother (who was a teacher of English), she followed the Conservatory of Versailles and won an acting prize for her work in Alfred de Musset's "Un caprice". She then studied at the Conservatoire d'Art Dramatique and followed an illustrious theatrical career, which includes Ivan Turgenev's "A Month in the Country", Euripides' "Medea" (title role) etc.

She made her movie debut in 1971 and soon became one of the top actresses of her generation, giving fine performances in important films, like Claude Goretta's The Lacemaker (1977), as a simple-minded girl who falls in love with - and is betrayed by - a student, Jean-Luc Godard's Sauve qui peut (la vie)  (1980), as a prostitute, and Maurice Pialat's Loulou (1980), as an upper-class woman who is physically attracted by a young vagabond. She made her US debut  playing a brothel madam in Michael Cimino's disastrous Heaven's Gate  (1980) and has an extremely productive collaboration with Claude Chabrol, who cast her in several movies, including Violette Nozière (1978), in which she played a young woman who murders her parents, and Une affaire de femmes (1988), in which she gave an excellent performance as a shameless abortionist, the last woman to be executed in France.

More recent good films include Patricia Mazuy's The King's Daughters (2000) and Michael Haneke's controversial The Piano Teacher (2001), as a sexually repressed piano teacher.