Born in Quebec, Lanctôt gravitated towards artistic pursuits in her youth, performing as a musician before working as an animator. During the early 1970s, director Gilles Carle recruited her to play the title character in his black comedy "The True Nature of Bernadette," resulting in an Canadian Etrog Award for Best Performance by a Lead Actress. Two years later, Lanctôt was featured with Richard Dreyfuss and Randy Quaid in "The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz," also becoming involved with the movie's director, Ted Kotcheff, for a few years. Rather than find other Hollywood roles, however, she opted to stick with French-language projects, even unveiling her own film "L'homme à tout faire" in 1980. Her follow-up, "Sonatine" (1984), gained further attention, including two awards at the Venice Film Festival, and she continued to work as a filmmaker and screenwriter, not revisiting screen acting until 1996, when she turned up on various TV series. At home in her French-Canadian comfort zone, she was little seen outside of Quebec until she appeared in a minor role in the Academy Award-winning dramedy "The Barbarian Invasions." Continuing to write, direct and act, Lanctôt excelled at performances in thoughtful dramas in her later years, including her own religious-themed movie "Pour l'amour de Dieu" (2011) and the sports-centric coming-of-age film "Sarah Prefers to Run" (2013).