Actress Julie Gayet shy about latest role as Francois Hollande's lover
Julie Gayet has known 'fantastic' president since at least 2012, when she campaigned for him
Julie Gayet, the actress whose affair with French President Francois Hollande sparked a scandal and set tongues wagging worldwide, has steered clear of the public eye since a glossy magazine reported their trysts.
But she is pursuing legal action against another magazine, Closer, for violating her privacy, seeking €50,000 (HK$530,000).
Closer reported 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 on Saturday when Hollande said he had split with his long-time partner Valerie Trierweiler, who had been France's first lady.
Trierweiler, 48, was holed up in a presidential residence outside Paris after being in hospital for a week.
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 favour of gay marriage, one of Hollande's most socially divisive policy priorities.
With a ready smile and delicate features, the 41-year-old actress has played in 70 films ranging from romantic comedies to thrillers to dramas, and is also a well-known face on television.
Born in the upmarket Paris suburb of Suresnes, 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' Little Apocalypse and Blue, the first film in Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colours trilogy.
But it was a 1996 comedy, Dominique Farrugia's Delphine 1, Yvan 0, that made her a star in France.
In 2007 Gayet opened a small production company, producing Fix Me by Palestinian Raed Andoni and Bonsai by Chile's Cristian Jimenez, among other films.
Last year she co-directed a documentary on filmmakers.
Gayet has two adolescent children with Argentinian author and screenwriter Santiago Amigorena, whom she married in the early 2000s. They have since separated.
It is unclear if Gayet may eventually succeed Trierweiler as Hollande's companion.
A spokesman for parliamentary Socialists, Thierry Mandon, said France did not need a first lady.
"We're not in a traditionally Anglo-Saxon country where the private life is dramatised, like in England or even more so in the United States," Mandon said. "We're in a republic, and in a republic those with legitimacy are those who've been elected."
Additional reporting by Associated Press