(MENAFN -Arab News) Ulie Gayet, the actress whose affair with French President Francois Hollande sparked a scandal and set tongues wagging worldwide, is a prolific performer known for her versatility across 70 film roles
Slender, with light-chestnut hair, a ready smile and delicate features, the 41-year-old actress has played in films ranging from romantic comedy to thriller to drama, and is also a well-known face on television
But she has steered clear of the public eye since a glossy magazine reported her affair with Hollande — other than to sue the magazine, Closer, for violating her privacy, seeking 50,000 euros (68,000) in damages and 4,000 euros in legal costs
Closer reported in its January 10 issue that Hollande, 59, routinely hops on a motor scooter to spend the night with Gayet in an apartment near the Elysee presidential palace, and has his bodyguard bring them croissants in the morning
The scandal took its latest twist Saturday when Hollande told AFP he had split with his long-time partner Valerie Trierweiler, who had been France’s First Lady
Trierweiler, 48, has been holed up in a presidential residence outside Paris after being hospitalized for a week when Closer broke its story
Hollande has known Gayet since at least 2012, when she campaigned for him ahead of the presidential election that brought him to power
She featured in a campaign clip in which she described him as a “humble,” “fantastic” man “who is really tuned-in.
Known for being energetic and headstrong, Gayet also recently campaigned in favor of gay marriage, one of Hollande’s most socially divisive policy priorities
Born in the upmarket Paris suburb of Suresnes on June 3, 1972, Gayet trained as an actress and studied art history
After an internship in London with Jack Waltzer of the Actors Studio, she studied at the Fratellini Academy circus school in Paris and trained in classical singing
She started her cinema career in 1993, appearing in Konstantinos Costa-Gavras’s “Little Apocalypse” and “Blue,” the first film in Krzysztof Kieslowski’s “Three Colors” trilogy
But it was a 1996 comedy, Dominique Farrugia’s “Delphine 1, Yvan 0,” that made her a star in France.