Born Sophie Danièle Sylvie Maupu in Paris, France, at the age of 14 she played in the teenager movie La Boum (1980), which overnight elevated her to teenage idol status in France and many other European countries. In 1983, she was honored with a Cesar Award, France's equivalent of an Oscar, for "Most Promising Actress".
Two years later the less funny but more sentimental sequel La Boum 2 (1982) increased her popularity further. At age 16 she played a more demanding role in Fort Saganne (1984), where her partners were Gerard Depardieu and Catherine Deneuve. The same year she played with Jean-Paul Belmondo in Joyeuses Pâques (1984).
She showed her dramatic skills in films directed by her long-time companion, director Andrzej Zulawski: L'Amour braque (1985), Mes nuits sont plus belles que vos jours (1989), La Note bleue (1991) and La Fidélité (2000).
Marceau rose to international stardom playing the part of Princess Isabelle in Mel Gibson's epic Braveheart (1995). Following this success, she appeared in A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999), and the James Bond film The World Is Not Enough (1999).
Marceau wrote a semi-autobiographical novel Telling Lies (2001), and tried directing, as well. Making her directorial debut in a feature film, Sophie Marceau was awarded Best Director by the jury of the 2002 Montreal World Film Festival for her film Parlez-moi d'amour (Speak to Me of Love), starring Judith Godrèche. Prior to this, in 1995, she had made a 9-minute short film, L'Aube à l'envers, which also starred her friend Godrèche.