A study of political science led her astray to the theatre and in the seventies she became a notable figure on the Parisian stage in works by Hacine, Claudel, and Montherlant.
She appeared first on TV in 1975 in Les Mémoires de Deux Jeunes Mariées, adapted from Balzac.
She made her movie debut in Les Chiens (79, Alain [essua) and then in Les Uns et les Autres (81, Claude Lelouch), before doing her first film for Truffaut, La Femme d'à Côté (81), with Gerard Depardieu. Then she did La Vie est un Roman (83, Alain Resnais); the fond secretary in Vivement Dimanche! (83, Truffaut); Benvenuta (83, André Delvaux); Swann in Love (84, Volker Schlondorff); L'Amour à Mort (84, Resnais); Les Enragés (85, Pierre-William Glenn); L'Été Prochain (85, Nadine Trintignant); the wife in Family Business (86, Costa-Gavras); Le Paltoquet (86, Michel Deville); Mélo (86, Resnais); The Family (87, Ettore Seola); Paura e Amore (88, Margarethe von Trotta); Pleure Pas My Love (88, Tony Gatlif); Australia (89, Jean-jacques Andrien); Afraid of the Dark (92, Mark Peploe); The Deserters Wife (93, Michel Bat-Adam); Amok (93, |oel Farges); Colonel Chabert (94, Yves Angelou); Sabrina (95, Svdnev Pollack); Beyond the Clouds (95. Michelangelo Antonioni and Wim Wenders); very handsome still in Ridicule (96, Patrice Leconte); Pédale Douce (97, Gabriel Aghion); Elizabeth (98, Shekhar Kapur); La Cena (98, Scola); the mistress to Balzac (99, |osée Dayan); La Débandade (99, Claude Bern); Le Fils du Français (99, Gérard Lauzier); Le Libertin (00, Aghion); Change-Moi Ma Vie (01, Liria Begeja); Callas Forever (01, Franco Zeffirelli); 8 Femmes (02, François Ozon); Sin Noticias de Dios (02, Agustín Díaz Vanes).
François Truffaut fell in love with Fanny Ardant in 1979, on television, w'hen he saw her play the lead in the miniseries Les Dames de la Côte. Truffaut’s love was real, even if the small screen had prompted it. He liked “her large mouth, her deep voice and its unusual intonations, her big black eyes and her triangular face,” and she became not just the muse of his final years, but his lover and companion, and the mother of his last daughter.