Green at the 2009 Toronto Film Festival
|Born||Eva Gaëlle Green
6 July 1980
|Alma mater||American School of Paris
St. Paul Drama School, Paris
Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art
|Relatives||Johanne Green (twin sister)
Paul Le Flem (great grandfather)
Marika Green (aunt)
Elsa Lunghini (cousin)
Eva Gaëlle Green (French: [ɡʁin]; Swedish: [ˈɡʁeːn]; born 6 July 1980) is a French actress and model. She started her career in theatre before making her film debut in 2003 in Bernardo Bertolucci's controversial The Dreamers. She achieved international recognition when she appeared in Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven (2005), and portrayed Vesper Lynd in the James Bond film Casino Royale (2006). In 2006, Green was awarded the BAFTA Rising Star Award.
Since 2006, Green has starred in independent films Cracks (2009), Womb (2010), and Perfect Sense (2011). She has also appeared in the television series Camelot (2011), and played Angelique Bouchard in Tim Burton's big-screen adaptation of Dark Shadows (2012). In 2014, she played Artemisia in the 300 sequel, 300: Rise of an Empire, and Ava Lord in Frank Miller's and Robert Rodriguez's Sin City sequel, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. She is currently starring in Showtime's Penny Dreadful.
Early life and education
Green was born in Paris, France, two minutes earlier than her fraternal twin sister, Joy (Johanne). She is the daughter of Marlène Jobert, an actress, and Walter Green, a dentist. Her father is of Swedish and French descent, and through him she is the great-granddaughter of the French composer Paul Le Flem. Her mother, a native of French Algeria, later moved to Metropolitan France. Green is Jewish, as is her mother. However, she was raised without religion; she has said "I feel like a citizen of the world. Life and cinema don't have borders." Green has described her family as "bourgeois", and has said that her sister is very different from her. Green is a natural dark blonde; she has dyed her hair black since she was 15 years old. The French-Swedish actress Marika Green is her aunt. The 1980s pop-star Elsa Lunghini is her first cousin, through their mothers.
Green was raised in France and attended the American University of Paris, an English-speaking institution. She also spent time between Ramsgate, London and Ireland growing up. Green was quiet in school, and developed an interest in Egyptology when she visited the Louvre at age seven. At age 14, after seeing Isabelle Adjani in The Story of Adele H., Green decided to become an actress. Her mother initially feared that an acting career would be too much for her sensitive daughter, but later came to support young Eva's ambitions. Green continued her studies at St. Paul Drama School in Paris, and took an acting course at Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Around this time, Green returned to Paris, where she performed in several plays. Green stated that in drama school, "I always picked the really evil roles. It's a great way to deal with your everyday emotions."
In 2002, Green had her film debut, when director Bernardo Bertolucci cast her for the role of Isabelle in The Dreamers (2003), which involved her in extensive full frontal nude scenes and graphic sex scenes. Green told The Guardian that her agent and her parents begged her not to take the role, concerned that the film would cause her career to "have the same destiny as Maria Schneider", and because of Schneider's traumatic experience during the filming of Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris. Green said that with Bertolucci's guidance she felt comfortable during the filming of the nude and sex scenes, but was embarrassed when her family saw the film. Her performance was well-received, with some comparing her to Liv Tyler. Green expressed surprise when a minute was cut from the film for the American market, stating, "[T]here is so much violence, both on the streets and on the screen. They think nothing of it. Yet I think they are frightened by sex." Her next film was Arsène Lupin (2004), in which she portrayed Lupin's love interest. She enjoyed the light-hearted role, although she has stated that she generally prefers more complex characters.
Her performance in The Dreamers led to Ridley Scott casting Green in Kingdom of Heaven (2005), a film about the Crusades where she played Sibylla of Jerusalem. Green performed six screen tests, and was hired with only a week before principal photography began. Green found the atmosphere of coming onto a film so late tense and exciting, and also liked the film's ambiguity in approaching its subject matter. To her disappointment, much of her screen time was cut. Stephanie Zacharek of Salon.com praised her performance: "She doesn't quite know what to do with her character's stilted dialogue, but she carries herself so regally that you barely notice." Nev Pierce of the BBC, however, called her character "limp". Green was satisfied when her character's complex subplot was restored in the director's cut. Total Film noted the new scenes completed her performance: "In the theatrical cut, Princess Sibylla sleeps with Balian and then, more or less, loses her mind. Now we understand why. Not only does Sibylla have a young son, but when she realizes he's afflicted with leprosy just like her brother Baldwin, she decides to take his life shortly after he's been crowned king."
Green was considered for roles in The Constant Gardener (a role that went to Rachel Weisz) and The Black Dahlia. She was cast at the last minute for the role of Vesper Lynd in the James Bond film Casino Royale (2006). Green was approached in mid-2005 but turned it down. Principal photography was already underway, and director Martin Campbell noted casting the role was difficult because "we didn't have the final script and a Bond girl always had the connotation of tits 'n' ass." Campbell saw Green's performance in the director's cut of Kingdom of Heaven, and approached Green again. She read the script, and found the character of Vesper far deeper than most Bond girls. Green's performance was well received: Entertainment Weekly called her the fourth-best Bond girl of all time; IGN named her the best femme fatale, stating "This is the girl that broke – and therefore made – James Bond"; and she won a BAFTA and an Empire award for her performance. Both awards were voted for by the British public.
Green portrayed the witch Serafina Pekkala in the 2007 film adaptation of The Golden Compass. She found it difficult being flown on a harness because of her fear of heights, which led her to refuse to reshoot a scene on her last day of filming. Green hoped the religious themes of the book would be preserved, but references to Catholicism were removed from the film. Green next appeared in Franklyn, as Emilia, a schizophrenic woman whose multiple personalities are split between tormented artist (which Green compared to real-life figures Sophie Calle and Tracey Emin) and another, which she described as, "full of life, very witty, big sense of humor". She also filmed Cracks, the directorial debut of Jordan Scott, Ridley Scott's daughter, where she plays a mysterious teacher at a girls' school named Miss G, who falls in love with one of her pupils. In March 2009, she appeared in Womb, where she plays a woman who clones her dead boyfriend. It is a collaboration between actor Matt Smith and director Benedek Fliegauf.
She was considered for the role eventually played by Cécile de France in Un Secret (2007). Additionally, she was initially approached for the female lead in Lars von Trier's controversial film Antichrist (2009). According to Trier, Green was positive about appearing in the film, but her agents refused to allow her. The unsuccessful casting attempt took two months of the film's pre-production process. Anglo-French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg was subsequently cast in the role. Green later told she got along well with Trier, "but then we started talking about nudity and sex and so on. It got a bit too far ... It was my dream to work with him, but it’s a shame it was on that film that it nearly happened. I’m sure I would have been trashed doing that film".
Green starred in the first season of Starz's series, Camelot, as the sorceress Morgan le Fay. Green stated, "This is such an iconic story and you have 10 episodes to explore a character. It's not a girlfriend role that you could have in a movie. It's a real ballsy character. She has some guts." In 2012, Green played a vengeful witch Angelique Bouchard who curses Johnny Depp's character into a vampire in Tim Burton's Dark Shadows. In 2014, she played Artemisia in the 300 sequel, 300: Rise of an Empire. Since May 2014, Green starred in the Showtime series Penny Dreadful as Vanessa Ives. She played the titular role Ava Lord in the Sin City sequel, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014).
In addition to her acting career, Green did endorsements for Montblanc, Breil, Emporio Armani, Lancôme, Heineken, and Christian Dior SA's "Midnight Poison" perfume, in an advert directed by Wong Kar-wai.
In the media
In 2007, Green was voted the 6th sexiest movie star of all-time by Empire magazine. Empire also listed her character Vesper Lynd as the 9th sexiest female character in cinema history. In 2011, Los Angeles Times Magazine listed Green at No. 18 for their 50 most beautiful women in film. In 2012 she was listed number 57 in AfterEllen Hot 100. In April 2012, Shalom Life ranked her Number 2 on its list of "the 50 most talented, intelligent, funny, and gorgeous Jewish women in the world".
Green considers herself nerdy: "When people first meet me, they find me very cold. I keep myself at a distance, and I think that's why I'm so drawn to acting. It allows me to wear a mask". She lives alone and, by her own account, leads a low-key life when she's not working. When asked in an interview what people would be surprised to find out about her, she responded "I guess people would be surprised to find out that I am a bit of a homebody. I do not like clubbing or going to wild parties. After a day of shooting, I love to come home and relax by the fire with a glass of wine and a good book. Boring, huh?"
Green has expressed interest in returning to the theatre. She says she has no plans to work in Hollywood full-time because, "The problem with Hollywood is that the studios are super powerful, they have far more power than the directors. My ambition at this moment is just to find a good script". She added that in Hollywood she would probably get typecast as a femme fatale. Green supports UNICEF. She has expressed interest in taxidermy and entomology. She collects preserved skulls and insects.
In 2014, after playing a spiritualist in the TV series Penny Dreadful, she talked about her spiritual side. Green said while she is not religious, she does believe in the supernatural. "There are forces, yes – I’m not religious but I believe there is something other," she commented to press.
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