Josiane Balasko

Josiane Balasko

A product of the cafe-theatre scene of Paris in the early 70s, Balasko made her film debut in 1976 playing bit parts in "Une Fille unique" and in Roman's Polanski's "The Tenant." Working in theatre with other rising comic actors such as Michel Blanc and Thierry Lhermitte, Balasko made her real screen acting debut in "Les Petit Calins" and then was with her Les Splendid crew in Patrice Leconte's popular "Les Bronzes" and its sequel "Les Bronzes font du ski" (1979), establishing her as a generational symbol. It was in "Clara et les chics types" (1981), that Balasko began to establish herself as a so-called "anti-sex symbol," and also "Les Hommes preferent les grosses/Men Prefer Fat Girls" (1981), which she co-wrote. Following the lead of Michel Blanc, a cabaret theatre star turned movie star, turned director, Balasko made her directorial debut in 1985 with "Sac de Noeuds," a dark comedy about three social misfits trying to regenerate their failed lives. She followed this by directing herself in "Les Keufs" (1987), in which Balasko played a police inspector trying to crack a prostitution ring. "Les Keufs" also probed racism French-style. "Trop belle pour toi!" which was directed by Bertrand Blier, followed in 1989. She also was applauded for her work in "Tour le monde n'a pas eu la chance d'avoir des parents communistes" (1994), movingly playing a working-class mother and communist activist in Paris of the 1950s. Balasko had not abandoned the theatre. In the early 90s, she starred on stage in "Solo," a French translation of the London and Broadway hit, "Shirley Valentine," the wife and mother who dreams of a romantic vacation. Balasko insisted on a poster for the show featuring herself -- in all her real flesh -- in a bathing suit. Rather than stopping traffic, the posters won Balasko the hearts of the women of Paris. They cheered her, saying Balasko, who might be termed overweight but hardly obese, had liberated them from images of svelte models with pumped-up bosoms.