It’s easy to label Eva Green as the most underrated femme fatale in Hollywood. The 33-year-old French beauty carries an on-screen mystique that few can match—look no further than her scene-stealing performance in 300: Rise of an Empire for proof. But there’s more to Eva than smokey eyes and and an impenetrable air of confidence. Above all, Eva Green has been giving some of the most interesting and nuanced performances in recent years.
“I like characters who have strong façades and then have secrets. They have cracks,” she told Interview. “But I never see my characters as evil. I admit that it’s fun to play dark characters, because in life I’m not like this.”
Perhaps that’s what makes her breakout performance as Vanessa Ives in Showtime’s creepy new drama Penny Dreadful so fun to watch. Vanessa is a smart, confident, and enigmatic woman stuck in the confines of Victorian London. “She's kind of a rebel,” Eva told the Toronto Sun. “It's such a repressed time, the Victorian times. And so she's very hungry for life.”
“All her five senses are very much alive, tingling all the time,” she continued. “But it's in Victorian times, so it's always the conflict inside her. It's complicated. They're conflicted people. That's what actually drew me to it.”
Trust us, horror aficionados, you don’t want to miss Eva’s killer performance in Episode 2 of the Showtime series. You’ll definitely be talking about it Monday morning.
In honor of Penny Dreadful’s premiere on Sunday, May 11, let’s take a look at some of Eva’s best performances.
300: Rise of an Empire
Make no mistake: Eva Green owned this movie. Her take as a swashbuckling Persian naval commander in 300: Rise of an Empire was pretty much the only reason to watch Noam Murro’s 2014 followup to Zack Snyder’s 2007 gruesome epic, 300. The French beauty has so much fun in her role, equal parts dangerous and empathetic, she makes everyone else — even Lena Headey — look dull.
In Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows, a very blond Eva Green plays Angelique Bouchard, a manipulative witch whose spurned passions for Johnny Depp’s Barnabas Collins kicks off the entire film. Her eclectic performance—and intense chemistry with Johnny Depp— gave the Gothic film some much needed life. Plus, Tim Burton and Eva Green are basically kindred spirits. Sorry, Johnny.
If there was one reason to watch Starz's historical-fantasy-drama Camelot, it was Eva Green's performance as Morgan Pendragon, the ruthlessly ambitious daughter of King Uther. Eva is just so good at playing bad, and her take on the antagonistic character was complex and intriguing.
The Golden Compass
Even Eva’s smaller performances are memorable. As Serafina Pekkala, an ethereal witch queen, Eva’s disarming take on the role of a heroine in the film adaptation of Philip Pullman’s YA epic, as Serafina comes to the rescue of the film’s main protagonist Lyra Belacqua. It turns out Eva does have a things for the good guys, after all.
Eva sparked her career with her dazzling performance as Vesper Lynd in 2006’s Casino Royale. She played a reinvented Bond girl—smart, cunning, confidant—for a rebooted 007 franchise. It makes sense that Daniel Craig’s Bond would spent years mourning her loss; she was just that memorable.
Eva made her big screen debut in Bernardo Bertolucci's sexually charged film, The Dreamers. In the movie, Michael Pitt plays an American student who travels abroad to Paris. While in France studying film, he meets an incestual brother-sister combo Isabelle and Theo (Eva Green and Louis Garrel) who lure him into a sexual relationship. All three engage in a series of sex scenes so shocking that Eva’s agent (and her parents!) actually begged her not to take the role. We're pretty glad she did. Eva's performance as Isabelle—innocent and enchanting— is truly one-of-a-kind.
Are you happy Josh Hartnett is making a comeback in Penny Dreadful? Will you watch? Sound off in the comments!