Grandson of a carpenter, Olivier Gourmet grew up in Mirwart, a Belgian village where his father was a cattle dealer and mother the manager of a family hotel-restaurant. At 13, he was sent to boarding school, which was an unhappy experience that led him to "be closed in on myself". It was at this school that he began acting when he replaced a classmate at short notice in the school play. He discovered a talent for mimicry and comedy. Later he was torn between a career in sports journalism or comedy. He opted for acting and comedy and attended the Conservatoire de Liège where he won first prize after only two years. In 1996 he enjoyed his first significant role in a Dardenne brothers' film, The Promise. Since then Gourmet has featured in every film from the Dardennes. His performance in their film The Son earned him a Cannes Jury prize for interpretation in 2002. He is a much sought after actor with an extensive filmography making, on average five films per year. Internationally regarded as the one of greatest actors with staggering performances in a wide range of roles full of charismatic qualities and insights, he has also received the Critics Award at the Cannes festival in 2011 and in 2012 he was nominated in eleven categories at the Césars! Olivier has been married to Catherine since age 19 and they have two children, Louis and Juliette. After his mother suffered a stroke, the family returned to Mirwart to manage the hotel-restaurant with Olivier's wife leaving her advertising career.