This year has become Eva Green’s year, and is certainly one for the history books. In March, the French actress was seen in plate-mail playing the vengeful Persian warrior-queen Artemisia in the action hit 300: Rise of an Empire. Then, in late April, she popped up in Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, which has recently been renewed for a second season, where she traded in the armour and swords for frocks and black lace as Vanessa Ives, an enigmatic Victorian prone to demonic possession. Then in August, Green caps her run of titillating period pieces with the release of the crime noir sequel Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For, in which she portrays the dangerous siren Ava Lord.
With both the upcoming White Bird in a Blizzard and The Salvation arriving in October, 2014 has, coincidentally or not, been a renaissance for the 33-year-old. Strength, astounding beauty and vulnerability play a part in each of her roles; perhaps that’s why so many fell for Eva Green in Casino Royale for which she won the BAFTA for Best Rising Star. But she’d already made us weak at the knees with a risqué performance in her debut, The Dreamers, and we had seen her tough side in Kingdom Of Heaven’s Sibylla. Green has also proved the best thing in movies or TV shows that don’t necessarily work, dominating Camelot and chewing the scenery and “out-weirding” Johnny Depp in Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows. Who knew that was possible?
10. Kingdom Of Heaven: Director’s Cut (Ridley Scott, 2005)
The theatrical cut of Ridley’s Scott’s crusades epic, Kingdom of Heaven, in which Green plays Middle Eastern Princess Sibylla, was confusing, incoherent and noisy. The more finely etched director’s cut, available on DVD and blu-ray, is an impressive and beautifully felt epic that generously fleshes out Green’s role, allowing us to see the full berth of Sibylla’s slow descent into madness. In theatres, Kingdom of Heaven wasn’t much to write home about, but if you find Scott’s original cut you’ll have one of Green’s best films.
9. Perfect Sense (David Mackenzie, 2011)
David Mackenzie’s best film to date sees Ewan McGregor’s chef and Eva Green’s epidemiologist struggling to cope with a new viral disease that slowly eliminates people’s senses, from taste to smell. Here, we see Green trying to do something different from the roles she played before, playing someone that is tumbled into a raw and emotional affair with McGregor that is fuelled by lust and catastrophe as the mysterious disease starts robbing them of their humanity.
8. Cracks (Jordan Scott, 2009)
In Cracks, Eva Green plays a nonconformist teacher at a girls’ boarding school in 1930s Britain, and is considered an outsider among her colleagues but yet her pupils adore her. When a Spanish student, Fiamma, arrives, Green’s Miss G becomes dangerously fascinated with her, sparking uncontrollable jealousy among the pupils. Here, Green is utterly compelling as Miss G, playing someone who’s trying to hide her inner cracks by putting on this confidant façade for her pupils. But, when she yearns a desire for Fiamma, we learn that she’s driven by a longing to repair her own damaged and fearful self.
7. Camelot (Various, 2011)
Although Starz’s dark, gritty and adult take on the legend of King Arthur was met with a lukewarm reception, there were some redeeming features to be found, and Eva Green as the villainous main antagonist, Morgan, was definitely the bright spot in the series. Green’s scene-stealing performance made you want to fall in love with evil, and she’s deliciously nasty without being too overwhelming.
6. The Dreamers (Bernardo Bertolucci, 2003)
Eva Green’s big screen debut, Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers is an intoxicating, yet controversial, study of sexual awakening and youthful idealism. It completely embodies all that is Eva Green, and she is the beating heart and soul of the film. Green made Isabelle a very interesting and convincing character that was full of passion and contradictions. Although she appeared to love sex and to want it, deep down she just wanted to be loved. Definitely a star-making performance.
5. 300: Rise Of An Empire (Noam Murro, 2014)
Whilst Noam Murro’s sequel wasn’t up to the standards set by Zack Snyder’s incredibly popular original, Eva Green’s electrifying performance makes the experience hugely enjoyable, and she’s the sole reason to watch as the bloodthirsty warrior queen, Artemisia. Dangerous, insane, sexy and unapologetic, she revels in death and destruction, and accepts no opposition from anyone, whether it is a subordinate or an enemy. Green completely nailed that, and gets away with it, even if it means kissing heads she happily lops off or having a sex-fight with her archenemy.
4. Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For (Frank Miller & Robert Rodriguez, 2014)
Off the back of the 300 sequel, Green becomes the titular “dame to kill for”. Green IS Ava Lord straight from the pages of Frank Miller’s graphic novel and onto the screen, manipulating and bending men to her will and using her feminine wiles, as well as her body, as weapons to her advantage. This was the role Green was destined to play and she’s clearly having enormous fun bringing the cold, calculating and sociopathic femme fatale to life, and we’re having enormous fun seeing her achieve that.
3. Dark Shadows (Tim Burton, 2012)
Tim Burton’s film adaptation of the 1970’s TV series was met with a mixed reception and it wasn’t hard to see why as it was a mess, but an enjoyable mess nevertheless. Here, Green completely steals every scene as she plays one of sexiest female villainesses ever in the form of Angelique “Angie” Bouchard, the psychotic witch whose only goal in life is the continuing destruction of the Collins family and reputation. Her stunning beauty, her mesmerising eyes and, of course, the mind-blowing red lipstick was a perfect lure to seduce you into letting her do whatever bad thing she wanted to do to Johnny Depp.
2. Casino Royale (Martin Campbell, 2006)
The best Bond Girl starred opposite the best Bond with Daniel Craig in this franchise re-energiser as the illustrious Vesper Lynd. The film tells the tale of a young Bond’s ascension to an international killing machine, world saviour and womaniser, and Lynd was the woman who broke his heart. Vesper had intelligence to go with her beauty and Green turned in an enigmatically tricky and emotionally conflicted performance, providing us with a Bond Girl that had raw emotional conflict, as well as real depth.
1. Penny Dreadful (Various, 2014 – Present)
Without a doubt, Eva Green’s finest ever performance to date. Penny Dreadful, the latest TV show by Showtime (the company that brought us shows like Dexter, Homeland and Masters of Sex), is a supernatural gothic horror series that takes the stories of Frankenstein, Dracula and Dorian Gray and turns them on their head in truly spine-tingling fashion.
While it offered intriguing performances from the likes of Harry Treadway, Josh Hartnett and Timothy Dalton, Eva Green is the one you remember the most, and the character of Vanessa Ives has never been more enigmatic and complex. She can be polite and charismatic one minute, vulnerable and broken the next, and then she becomes freaky and scary. For example, in episode 2 (‘Séance’), a séance literally takes place where an ancient demon possesses her, and it’s here Green gives an eye-rolling, body-contorting, expletive-laden turn worthy of The Exorcist, and it’s truly terrifying. Then, later on in the series, she takes that range to the absolute limit.
In episode 5 (‘Closer Than Sisters’), she peels back the layers to show us someone who has quite literally danced with the Devil, and in episode 7 (‘Possession’), she switches between the possessed and broken versions of Vanessa with incredible ease, creating something that is both hypnotic and horrifying. In Penny Dreadful, she’s absolutely fearless, demonstrating an alarmingly quick versatility, and that’s why it’s my personal favourite performance from the sublime Eva Green. Frankly, I can’t wait to see where she takes Vanessa in Season 2.