French beauty Anne Parillaud paid her dues in teen pictures and B-dramas before earning international acclaim as Luc Besson's unforgettable Nikita (La Femme Nikita) (1990). Raised in Paris, Parillaud made her film debut as "the girl with the kitten" in Un Amour de Sable (1977). Still in high school, she hoped to pursue a law career until a more substantial role in Michel Lang's teen comedy L'Hôtel de la Plage (The Beach Hotel) (1978) (which she filmed during summer break) made her love acting. Parillaud earned a reputation for playing promiscuous teens in Écoute Voir (Look See) (1978), Girls (1980), and Patrizia (Patricia) (1980). She went on to star in two thrillers for her then-boyfriend Alain Delon, Pour La Peau d'un Flic (For a Cop's Hide) (1981), and Le Battant (The Cache) (1983). In 1985, while taking a break from acting to reinvent her image, Parillaud met director Luc Besson at a Paris film festival. They moved in together and had a daughter in 1987. In the meantime, Besson wrote Nikita, the story of a drug-addicted murderess who is transformed into a political assassin by a secret government agency. To prepare for the violent crime drama, the actress slept in the Paris metro, took judo lessons, and learned how to fire a handgun. She earned a César for her performance in the film, which was France's second highest grossing picture of 1990 and spawned both an American remake and a television series. Parillaud and Besson ended their five-year romance shortly after Nikita's release, and the actress left France to make her U.S. debut in John Landis' failed vampire comedy Innocent Blood (1982). She then starred in the equally disastrous Map of the Human Heart (1992), before returning to Europe to play Béatrice Dalle's sister in the unremarkable À la Folie (Six Days, Six Nights) (1994). Parillaud gave stand-out performances as an oppressed mother in Frankie Starlight (1995) and as a rich seductress in Passage à L'Acte (1996), but was still unable to match the success she had as Nikita. She did not fare any better opposite Gabriel Byrne and Leonardo Di Caprio in the flop The Man in the Iron Mask (1998) or with William Baldwin and Graham Greene in Shattered Image (1998). Yet, the indomitable and talented Parillaud continued to work steadily into the new millennium, appearing in Claude Lelouch's romantic comedy Une Pour Toutes (One 4 All) (2000), Olivier Marchal's action flick Gangsters (2002), and Catherine Breillat's farce Sex Is Comedy (2002).