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Career Watch: Can Eva Green Rise Above Femme Fatale Typecasting?

Thompson on Hollywood By Susan Wloszczyna | Thompson on Hollywood August 25, 2014 at 8:06AM

“Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" did little to add sizzle to the late-summer box office this past weekend after collecting a slim $6.5 million and dismissive reviews. But it’s not from lack of trying on the part of Eva Green. This casting addition to the stylized babes-brutes-and-bullets sequel based on Frank Miller’s lurid comic-book series steamed up more than a few critics’ 3-D glasses as Ava Lord, a diabolical emerald-eyed femme fatale who has a hard time keeping her clothes on.
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Eva Green

“Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" did little to add sizzle to the late-summer box office this past weekend after collecting a slim $6.5 million and dismissive reviews. But it’s not from lack of trying on the part of Eva Green. This casting addition to the stylized babes-brutes-and-bullets sequel based on Frank Miller’s lurid comic-book series steamed up more than a few critics’ 3-D glasses as Ava Lord, a diabolical emerald-eyed femme fatale who has a hard time keeping her clothes on.

“Pulp and noir were often built on the beautiful shoulders of such characters as Ava, and the main justification for seeing the film is to watch Eva Green claim membership in the pantheon of noir leading ladies," writes Todd McCarthy in The Hollywood Reporter.  Adds Voice Media's Amy Nicholson: “Eva Green is sexy, funny, dangerous and wild -- everything the film needed to be -- and whenever she's not on screen, we feel her absence as though the sun has blinked off.”

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Signature line:  “As charming as you are, Mr. Bond, I will be keeping my eye on our government's money -- and off your perfectly-formed arse.” – as feisty Bond girl Vesper Lynd, giving as good as she gets opposite Daniel Craig’s 007 in the 2006 version of “Casino Royale.”

Career peaks: Like Bridget Bardot in 1956’s “And God Created Woman,” Parisian-born Green, now 34, exploited her own siren-like sexuality and created a sensation as part of a semi-incestuous menage a trois in her 2003 film debut "The Dreamers." At the time, director Bernardo Bertolucci described his discovery as being “so beautiful, it’s indecent."

Eva Green as Angelique Bouchard in Tim Burton's "Dark Shadows"
Eva Green as Angelique Bouchard in Tim Burton's "Dark Shadows"

Ridley Scott chose her to play the sultry Sibylla, a married Jerusalem princess who has an affair with Orlando Bloom’s crusading knight in his 2004 medieval epic “Kingdom of Heaven.” (Alas, much of her role was excised including love scenes that were later restored in a director’s cut.) The film flopped domestically but did well overseas, turning Green into an international star. 

 
She had a better chance of proving herself a more than capable actress as the rare woman who has gained the upper hand over James Bond in “Casino Royale.” Fans of the series cheered her arrival as double agent Vesper Lynd, who bewitches Craig’s 007 with her witty banter and exotic good looks; she’s probably the lone Bond girl to steal the steely 007’s heart.
 
Despite her contributions to reviving the franchise with a new actor driving the Aston Martin, Green languished for a while after a fleeting role as a witch queen in the 2007 fantasy “The Golden Compass.” She started to get back on track with an appearance as the villainous Morgan in the 2011 miniseries “Camelot” and as the seductive Angelique Bouchard who bedevils Johnny Depp’s Barnabas Collins in 2012’s “Dark Shadows.”
 

“Rolling Stone” declared 2014 as Green’s comeback year, and she certainly started it off with a bang as the Persian warrior Artemisia in “300: Rise of an Empire.” She delivered the sequel’s killer line, “you fight much harder than you f**k”  with relish and shook the multiplex rafters with her bruising bout of hate-sex with her Greek foe. In a change of pace, Green is one of the good guys for once as the Victorian-era clairvoyant Vanessa Ives on Showtime’s horror series “Penny Dreadful,” which has been renewed for a second season. And if anyone can rise out of the ashes of ”Sin City” deux and survive, it will be Green.

Biggest assets: The London-based knockout has been compared to the early Angelina Jolie and rightly so. Just like Jon Voight’s daughter, she grew up with an actress mother, Marlene Jobert, and shares Jolie’s knack for making sexy seem smart while standing out in genres usually dominated by men. Green is also a welcome throwback to when Hollywood knew what do with alluring yet dangerous females who refused to be victims.

Eva Green in 'Penny Dreadful'
Eva Green in 'Penny Dreadful'

But unlike Jolie, Green has maintained an air of mystery about her private life, characterizing herself as a reclusive nerd. "I like to stay home and read rather than go to a club or something," she tells Rolling Stone. "I'm very shy. If I go out, I'm hugging the walls."


Awards attention:  Won BAFTA’s Rising Star Award in 2007.

Biggest misfire:  Middling reviews and a domestic box office of only $70 million canceled plans to turn “The Golden Compass,”  which cost $180 million, into a franchise based on the literary trilogy “His Dark Materials.”  That meant that audiences would not see Green reprise her role as Sarafina Pekkala, who is more developed in the middle story, “The Subtle Knife.” The film, whose source was better known overseas, proved to be a hit in other countries with a worldwide take of $372 million (New Line Cinema sold the international rights to offset the budget).

Biggest problem: Green tends to be typecast as an intoxicating fatal attraction with an erotic hold over males in larger-than-life roles. That she's so good in these parts is not necessarily a problem. It's just that Hollywood is not known for going outside the box when making casting choices: repeating yourself is not the best way to get ahead. And while she is far from old, Green is at an age where she might be wise to diversify her choices.

Gossip fodder: Green is more of a tabloid target internationally – something she is used to after dealing with her mother’s fame -- and is known as a fashion-forward celebrity. for four years until 2009 she dated New Zealand actor and star Marton Csokas after he played her royal husband in “Kingdom of Heaven.” They must still be friends, as Csokas also plays her ill-fated tycoon spouse in “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.”

Career advice: Green needs a strong director who sees beyond her obvious attributes. She has name-checked more than few on her wish list over the years, including Danish envelope-pusher Lars von Trier, David O. Russell, Spike Jonze, Stephen Daldry and Michel Gondry. She was originally cast in 2005’s “The Constant Gardener,” but had to drop out – a shame since the role of an impassioned political activist led to Rachel Weisz’s supporting Oscar win and could have been a possible career-changer for Green. She also revealed to Rolling Stone that she would like to do “something funny." In order to tempt her, she admits, "it would have to be a comedy that's very sharp, and very black."

What’s next? Green plays Shailene Woodley’s depressed, alcoholic mother who suddenly disappears one day in the Sundance coming-of-age thriller “White Bird in a Blizzard,” directed by indie fave Gregg Araki (Sept. 25). And she co-stars with superhot Mads Mikkelsen as a mute woman  embroiled in a revenge plot  in “The Salvation,” an intense western from Danish director Kristian Levring that premiered at Cannes this year.

This article is related to: Eva Green, White Bird in a Blizzard, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, 300/Xerxes, Career Watch, Penny Dreadful


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