Despite beginning her career as a child performer, Judith Godreche was not really well-known to US audiences until Patrice Leconte's "Ridicule" was released in 1996. The film introduced her smoky-eyed, Gallic sensuality to Americans as she essayed the role of Mathilde de Bellegarde, the impetuous proto-feminist who was not clever enough for the aristocracy that survived on barbed wit. The dark-haired beauty first appeared in films as Claudia Cardinale's daughter in "L'Ete prochain" (1982). At age 14, she left school to play her first screen lead in Benoit Jacquot's "Les Mendiants" (1986) and the following year left home for good to pursue a film and theater career. Godreche was a teenager who accompanies her boyfriend's family on vacation with coming-of-age results in "La fille de quinze ans" (1988), and reteamed with Jacquot to co-write the screenplay for and star in "La Desenchantee" (1989), portraying a teenager who encounters a variety of different men and is changed by the experiences. She then played a heroin addict who dreams of a career in TV in "Paris at Dawn" (1991) and was the troublesome half-sister in "Une nouvelle vie" (1993). She won praise for her work as a confused and maladjusted twentysomething in "Grande Petite" (1994). After her international breakthrough, Godreche returned to the stage in the Paris production of Edward Albee's award-winning "Three Tall Women" and made her English-language debut as the leading female role opposite heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio in the 1998 remake of "The Man in the Iron Mask."