She was discovered by Otto Preminger, who directed her in her first two motion pictures. She would go on to star in Hollywood films as well as in France where she lived in Paris with her first husband, attorney Francois Moreuil. She became even more of an icon from her roles in numerous French films and the tragedy of her turbulent life. Among her roles, she co-starred with Jean-Paul Belmondo in Jean-Luc Godard's classic work of New Wave cinema, Breathless (original French title: A bout de souffle).
During the latter part of the 1960s, Miss Seberg used her high-profile image to voice support for the NAACP as well as left wing political groups in the United States such as the Black Panther Party. Then FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover, since proven to have illegally kept large files on private citizens, considered her a threat and in 1970, when she was seven months pregnant, created a story to leak to the media that the child she was carrying was not fathered by her second husband, Romain Gary, but by a black civil rights activist. Before Hoover's plan to disgrace her could be implemented, the story was reported by the Los Angeles Times newspaper. In a later interview, Miss Seberg stated that the trauma of this event brought on premature labor and her child was stillborn. According to Miss Seberg's husband, after the loss of their child she suffered from a deep depression and became suicidal.
She made several attempts to take her own life, including throwing herself under a train on the Paris Métro. Miraculously, she survived the incident, but less than a year later, in August 1979, she went missing and was found dead eleven days later in the back seat of her car in a Paris suburb. The police report stated that she had taken a massive overdose of barbiturates.
In 1995 a documentary of her life was made titled: Jean Seberg: American Actress.
Some of Jean Seberg's films were:
- Saint Joan - (1957)
- Bonjour tristesse - (1958)
- The Mouse That Roared - (1959)
- Breathless - (1959) - (A bout de souffle)
- Five Day Lover - (1961)
- In the French Style - (1962)
- Playtime - (1962)
- Lilith - (1964)
- The Beautiful Swindlers - (1964)
- Backfire - (1964)
- A Fine Madness - (1966)
- Line of Demarcation - (1966)
- The Road to Corinth - (1968)
- Birds in Peru - (1968)
- Pendulum - (1968)
- Paint Your Wagon - (1969)
- Airport - (1970)
- L'attentat - (1972)
- Kill - (1972)
- Camorra - (1972)
- The Corruption of Chris Miller - (1973)
- Les Hautes solitudes - (1974)
- Grobe Ekstase - (1975)
- White Horses of Summer - (1975)
- The Wild Duck - (1976)