Céline Bonnier, actress (born 31 August 1965 in Lévis, Québec). In a career spanning some 20 years, Céline Bonnier has shown that she has the stuff of the greatest actors—a presence that has an impact in any medium, be it stage or screen.
After graduating from the Conservatoire d'art dramatique in Québec City in 1987, she worked in that city with major directors such as Jacques Lessard and Robert Lepage. Her encounter with the latter had a decisive impact on her career. In 1990, after playing Juliet in a bilingual version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, co-directed by Lepage (from the Théâtre Repère company) and Gordon McCall (from Nightcap Productions), she acted in the Montréal production Les Plaques tectoniques, which also had runs in Glasgow and London and was made into a film by Peter Mettler. As a member of the Momentum theatre company since 1990, she has appeared in many plays under artistic director Jean-Frédéric Messier (Nuits blanches, 1991; Helter Skelter, 1994; Œstrus, 1996) as well as in her own productions (Cholestérol gratuit, 1999, and La Fête des morts, 2002, a theatrical trip through a cemetery, which she wrote, directed and starred in with Nathalie Claude). In 2007, continuing the inquiry into death that she had begun in La Fête des morts, Bonnier staged her play Le Chant des Gaston, on the subject of mourning, at the Espace Libre theatre in Montréal.
In 2002, the Association québécoise des critiques de théâtre (Québec theatre critics’ association) presented Bonnier with its critics’ special award for her “commitment, rigour and versatility.” Bonnier has indeed invested herself heavily in all her theatrical projects, working with directors such as Paula de Vasconcelos (Perdus dans les coquelicots, 1993; L'Autre, 2001), Dominic Champagne (Lolita, 1995), Denis Marleau (Urfaust, 1998; Les Aveugles, 2002-2004) and, most significantly, Brigitte Haentjens. Bonnier collaborated with Haentjens on productions at the Sibyllines theatre company that explored the worlds of Heiner Müller (Hamlet-machine, 2001), Sylvia Plath (La Cloche de verre, 2004, for which Bonnier won the Masque award for best actress), Louise Dupré (Tout comme elle, 2006), Virginia Woolf (Vivre, 2007) and the tormented Sarah Kane (Blasté, 2008). In this last production, which required two years of rehearsals, she shared the stage for the first time with her life partner, Roy Dupuis.
The critics’ recognition of Bonnier’s versatility was equally well deserved. She has appeared on stage in widely varied roles with some of Québec’s greatest theatre companies. In 1991, early in her career, she played Lise Paquette in Les Belles-Sœurs, a modern dramatic comedy by Michel Tremblay , at the Théâtre du Trident. In 1999, she played Chimène in Corneille’s classic 17th-century tragedy Le Cid, at the Théâtre Denise-Pelletier. (Both of these productions were directed by Serge Denoncourt.) Under the direction of Lorraine Pintal, Bonnier played Nicole Ferron in the adaptation of L'Hiver de force by Réjean Ducharme (Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, 2001) and Laura Pa in La Charge de l'orignal épormyable by Claude Gauvreau (Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, 2008).
Bonnier’s career in cinema began with the film adaptation of Les Plaques tectoniques (Tectonic Plates) in 1992. She went on to appear in Le Vent du Wyoming (A Wind from Wyoming), by André Forcier (1994) and Les États-Unis d'Albert, by Robert Favreau (2005), as well as in Favreau’s film adaptation of the play Les Muses orphelines (The Orphan Muses) by Michel Marc Bouchard (2000). Bonnier played the title role of a famous Québec bank robber in Pierre Houle’s Monica la mitraille (Machine Gun Molly) in 2004 and appeared with Ginette Reno in Ghislaine Côté’s Le Secret de ma mère in 2006. In Léa Pool’s Maman est chez le coiffeur (2008), set in the 1960s, Bonnier gave a convincing portrayal of a female journalist who has to choose between her job and her family. For her performance as an ex-convict and single mother in Denis Chouinard’s Délivrez-moi, Bonnier received best actress awards at the Jutra Awards, at the Brussels International Independent Film Festival and at the Tiburon International Film Festival in California.
On television, Bonnier has often portrayed women who have been beaten down or marginalized by life—for example in the series Tag I and Tag II (1999, 2002) and Le Dernier Chapitre (2002), for which she received three Gemini awards.