Eva Green, the iconic femme fatale who fled Hollywood: “I’ve already been told that I’m too old for some roles”
Bond girl, Tim Burton’s muse, style icon... The Parisian actress who won over an entire generation with her image as a mysterious goth has been away from the film industry for several years. What has become of her?
It doesn’t matter that almost 10 years have passed since the height of Eva Green’s popularity. On July 6, Twitter users made her name a Trending Topic for the entire day. It was a fitting tribute to celebrate her birthday and an unmistakable sign that the Casino Royale and Dreamers star has left her mark on an entire generation of viewers who grew up longing for the Parisian gothic beauty, with her black-lined blue eyes, pale skin, and jet-black hair. A Bond girl and Tim Burton’s muse, at 42 Eva Green is still a dame to kill for and the last great example of the quintessential cinematic femme fatale. The introverted performer dislikes exposure and the glamour of Hollywood’s red carpet and photocalls. Just when she was poised to become the next big global star, Green decided to step away from Hollywood. “I still feel like an ugly duckling in this world,” she confesses. Even after more than three years without appearing on the big screen, Eva Green’s legend is still as strong as ever.
“I don’t know, maybe it’s my dog hair, maybe it’s because I don’t talk much,” she says when asked about her image as a mysterious and inaccessible figure. Regardless of the reasons, few actresses today have been able to afford the luxury of leading the casts of blockbuster productions while also keeping such a low profile and preventing the media from reporting about the ups and downs of her love life, for example. We know little about her day-to-day life beyond the fact that she lives in London, works in Paris and uses her Instagram account (which has more than a million followers) to post old film photos and to show her support for activist causes, such as Ukrainian resistance to the Russian army’s invasion. In one of her latest interviews, the artist acknowledges that her age already bothers some Hollywood casting directors, highlighting the longstanding ageism that continues to plague Tinseltown. “Not one woman wants to age. I’ve heard already that I’m too old for some roles, so I don’t want to be a liar, going, ‘Oh, it’s so great.”’
It was never Eva Green’s plan to see her name engraved on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and not even a two-decade career has made her yearn for fame and posterity. Green began acting for therapeutic—not vocational—purposes. Pathologically shy, her schoolteachers recommended that Green take drama classes to overcome the seclusion that prevented her from interacting with her classmates and nearly fainting whenever she had to speak out loud. “I am so shy, and, at the same time, I kind of expose myself literally to thousands of people. I don’t really understand why I do that. I need to go through therapy!” noted the actress, who describes herself as a “masochist.” Despite testing her limits with each new role, Green—the daughter of actress Marlène Jobert and a dental surgeon—acknowledges that she has missed out on many professional opportunities because of her aversion to Hollywood parties and “small talk.”
But Green has always defended the advantages of playing roles on the big screen that are diametrically opposed to her own personality. She uses her profession as a form of therapy to deal with her shyness and anxiety. She considers herself to be a “quiet, almost boring” person, but she is committed to playing crazy witches, anti-heroine femmes fatales, and vengeful vampires. She says that good girl roles bore her, but in real life she has never been embroiled in a scandal. And, in contrast to her self-proclaimed reticence, she made her film debut in Bertolucci’s cult-classic movie Dreamers, appearing in a ménage à trois. Since then, she has acted in some of the most sexually charged scenes in Hollywood this century, in films such as 300: Origin of an Empire, Perfect Sense, Dark Shadows, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and Penny Dreadful. “I don’t like to do nude scenes, they are very uncomfortable, but people in the United States are completely fascinated by nudity (...) They think that because I am French I do it very easily,” she told Vice.
Unlike Maria Schneider in Last Tango in Paris, Green has always defended Bertolucci’s chivalry when filming intimate sequences. However, the French actress was victimized by producer Harvey Weinstein, the predator sentenced to 23 years in prison for rape and other sexual crimes. Green had to push Weinstein away to get rid of him when the two met for a business meeting in the French capital. “He behaved inappropriately. I got away without it going further, but the experience left me shocked and disgusted,” she told Variety.
In 2006, her role as spy Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale catapulted her to fame, and she won a Bafta breakout star award. But Green’s performance was also key to revitalizing and modernizing the multi-million-dollar franchise after Daniel Craig took over as 007. In addition to the fact that her character’s fatal destiny supported the plot of future films, Green sketched the first outlines of the next generation of Bond girls who—as Léa Seydoux and Ana de Armas later demonstrated—were no longer just hypersexualized damsels in distress but rather strong, thoughtful, and decisive characters as the film’s dramatic events unfolded. “There is nothing worse for an actress than being an empty shell (...) What should I do? Stand there and be... pretty?” the Parisian declared.
Next year could turn out to be a career renaissance for Eva Green. In addition to her role in the AppleTV+ series Liaison, a bilingual Anglo-French thriller, the actress will play an empowered Milady in an ambitious film remake of Alexandre Dumas’s classic The Three Musketeers. Co-starring Vincent Cassel and Louis Garrel, the project is one of the most expensive in French cinema’s history; it has a budget of over 60 million euros (over 61,359,000 US dollars). The movie will premiere in theaters in two parts in 2023. It’s guaranteed to be a success if Eva Green’s devoted Twitter followers have anything to say about it.