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Maïwenn Cannes 2011 2 (cropped).jpg
Maïwenn in 2011
Maïwenn Le Besco

(1976-04-17) 17 April 1976 (age 46)
Les Lilas, France
Other namesOuin-Ouin
  • Actress
  • writer
  • director
Years active1981–present
(m. 1992; div. 1997)
Jean-Yves Le Fur
(m. 2002; div. 2004)
Children2; including Shanna Besson
Parent(s)Catherine Belkhodja (mother)
RelativesIsild Le Besco (sister)
Jowan Le Besco (brother)

Maïwenn Le Besco (French: [majwɛn lə bɛsko]; born 17 April 1976), known mononymously as Maïwenn, is a French actress and filmmaker.

Early life

Maïwenn Le Besco was born on 17 April 1976 in Les Lilas, Seine-Saint-Denis, the daughter of artist Catherine Belkhodja. She is of mixed Vietnamese, French and Algerian descent. Her Algerian ancestry comes from her maternal grandfather. Maïwenn's stage mother pressured her to act at a young age, an experience later chronicled by Maïwenn in her one-woman shows Le Pois Chiche (The Chickpea) and I'm an Actress.[1]


Maïwenn starred in several films as a child, then teen, actress—notably as "Elle, as a child" (the child version of the lead role played by Isabelle Adjani) in the 1983 hit film L'été meurtrier (One Deadly Summer).[2]

Following her marriage to director Luc Besson and the birth of their daughter in 1993, Maïwenn interrupted her career for several years.[3] During this period, she only appeared in a supporting part in Besson's Léon (1994), in which she was credited as Ouin-Ouin. She also directed the film's making-of. Perhaps Maïwenn's most internationally-seen film role was her appearance as the alien Diva Plavalaguna in Besson's The Fifth Element (1997).

After her breakup with Besson, Maïwenn returned to France. She performed as a standup comedian in an autobiographical one-woman-show, and reentered the movie business after several filmmakers saw her comedy routine in Paris. She appeared in several notable movies, including the horror film Haute Tension (English title: High Tension), in which she starred opposite Cécile de France. By the time the film came out in 2003, she had decided she wanted to try directing.[2]

In 2006, she directed her first feature film, the semi-autobiographical Pardonnez-moi. According to Maïwenn, after Besson learned she planned to use her own money to produce the film, he told her "You need to immediately stop what you're doing. You're crazy. Nobody puts their own money into a movie."[1] After seeing the film he apologized, saying she was right on this occasion.[1] Her second film was Le bal des actrices (2009, All About Actresses), in which she appears as herself making a documentary.[4] She achieved international recognition when her third film, the social drama Polisse (2011), won the Jury Prize at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.[2] All three films feature Maïwenn with a camera, stemming from a childhood fascination and her interest in the mise en abyme, the story within a story.[4] Her 2015 film Mon roi was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.[5] The release of her 2020 film, DNA, was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, Maïwenn is making a film on the life of Louis XV starring Johnny Depp.[6]

Personal life

Maïwenn met film director Luc Besson when she was 12 and he was 29, and they began dating when she was 15. In January 1993, at age 16, she gave birth to their daughter Shanna.[1][7] On the DVD extras for the 1994 film Léon: The Professional, Maïwenn said the film is based on her relationship with Besson.[8] She was 20 at the beginning of filming (early 1996) for The Fifth Element, during which Besson left her for the film's star, Milla Jovovich.[9]

In 2004, Maïwenn had a son, Diego, with Jean-Yves Le Fur, her second ex-husband who is a real estate developer.


Maïwenn in 2009 at the Deauville American Film Festival


Year Title Role Director Notes
1981 L'année prochaine... si tout va bien Prune Jean-Loup Hubert
1983 One Deadly Summer The Kid Jean Becker
Cinéma 16 Albine Patrick Saglio TV Series (1 Episode)
Les enquêtes du commissaire Maigret Colette Jean-Paul Sassy TV Series (1 Episode)
1986 State of Grace Jacques Rouffio
1987 Double face The Kid Serge Leroy TV Movie
1988 L'autre nuit Joan Jean-Pierre Limosin
1990 Lacenaire Hermine Francis Girod
La famille Ramdam Christiane Lehérissey TV Series (1 Episode)
1992 La gamine Carole Lambert Hervé Palud
1994 Léon: The Professional Blond Babe Luc Besson
1997 The Fifth Element Diva Plavalaguna Luc Besson
1998 Keskidi ? The Waitress Manuel Pouet Short
Coquillettes Joséphine Flasseur Short
2000 La mécanique des femmes Jérôme de Missolz
Le marquis Gilles Paquet-Brenner Short
2001 8 rue Charlot Bruno Garcia Short
L'oiseau rare Diane Didier Albert TV Movie
2002 Nestor Burma Jade Jacob Berger TV Series (1 Episode)
Caméra Café Irina Katostefia Francis Duquet TV Series (1 Episode)
2003 Osmose A Girl Raphaël Fejtö
High Tension Alexia Alexandre Aja
2004 Les parisiens Shaa Claude Lelouch
I'm an actrice Isabelle Maïwenn Short
2005 Le courage d'aimer Shaa Claude Lelouch
Star Stuff Grégory Hervelin Short
2006 Pardonnez-moi Violette Maïwenn Nominated - César Award for Most Promising Actress
2009 All About Actresses Maïwenn Maïwenn Nominated - Globes de Cristal Award for Best Actress
2011 Polisse Melissa Maïwenn
2012 Télé gaucho Yasmina Michel Leclerc
2013 Love Is the Perfect Crime Anna Arnaud Larrieu & Jean-Marie Larrieu
2017 The Price of Success Linda Teddy Lussi-Modeste
2019 All Inclusive Paloma Fabien Onteniente
2020 Soeurs Yamina Benguigui
2020 DNA Neige Maïwenn
2020 The Man In The Hat The Biker John-Paul Davidson and Stephen Warbeck

Director / screenwriter / producer

Year Title Role Box Office Notes
2004 I'm an actrice Director & Writer Short
2006 Pardonnez-moi Director, Writer & Producer Nominated - César Award for Best First Feature Film
2009 All About Actresses Director & Writer $4,948,702[10]
2011 Polisse Director & Writer $20,334,081[11] Cannes Film Festival - Jury Prize
Lumières Award for Best Director
Cinemania Film Festival - Audience Award
Sarasota Film Festival - Best in World Cinema
Nominated - Cannes Film Festival - Palme d'Or
Nominated - César Award for Best Director
Nominated - César Award for Best Film
Nominated - César Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated - Globes de Cristal Award - Best Film
Nominated - Lumières Award for Best Screenplay
Nominated - Stockholm International Film Festival - Best Film
Nominated - CinEuphoria Award - Best Film - International Competition
Nominated - CinEuphoria Award - Best Director - International Competition
2015 Mon Roi Director & Writer Nominated - César Award for Best Film
Nominated - César Award for Best Director
Nominated - Cannes Film Festival - Palme d'Or
Nominated - Lumières Award for Best Director
2020 DNA Director & Writer Completed

Theatrical writer


  1. ^ a b c d "Maïwenn: from child star to writer-director". The Boston Globe. 20 May 2012. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "An Exclusive Interview with Film Director Maïwenn". France Today. 1 March 2016. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  3. ^ Maïwenn Le Besco interview, Tout le monde en parle, France 2, 29 September 2001
  4. ^ a b "Into the danger zone". The Sydney Morning Herald. 23 June 2012. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  5. ^ "2015 Official Selection". Cannes. Archived from the original on 18 April 2015. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  6. ^ "Johnny Depp To Star As French King Louis XV In Historical Film". Deadline. 21 January 2022. Retrieved 24 January 2022.
  7. ^ "A former child actress doesn't flinch from a difficult subject". The Washington Post. 17 May 2012. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  8. ^ "Leon: The Professional Review". SBS. 6 September 2010. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  9. ^ The Fifth Element, Special Features of both the Ultimate Edition DVD and the remastered Blu-ray Disc.
  10. ^ JP. "Le Bal des actrices (2009)- JPBox-Office".
  11. ^ JP. "Polisse (2011)- JPBox-Office".

External links

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