For all the chiseled abs and testosterone-fueled bloodletting of the new sword-and-sandals movie “300: Rise of an Empire,” the person making the strongest impression with critics and audiences is French actress Eva Green, who plays the vengeful naval commander Artemisia. Here are five things to know about Green.
Where she comes from: Green, 33, was born in Paris to an actress, Marlene Jobert, and a dentist, Walter Green. Her twin sister, Joy, was born minutes later. Green took an interest in acting as a teenager, graduated from the American University of Paris, and went on to study drama in Paris and London.
Where you’ve seen her before: Green made her film debut in Bernardo Bertolucci’s 2003 romantic drama “The Dreamers,” starring Michael Pitt as an American college student in Paris who forms an intense bond with a brother and sister (Louis Garrel and Green) against the backdrop of the 1968 student riots.
Green’s most famous role came in 2006, when she played Vesper Lynd, James Bond’s love interest, opposite Daniel Craig in “Casino Royale.”
She also had roles in “Kingdom of Heaven,” “The Golden Compass” and “Dark Shadows.”
What critics are saying about her role in “Rise of an Empire”: Frankly, that she’s the best part of the movie. Reviews for the film have been mixed to negative, but movie critics have largely praised Green’s portrayal of the bloodthirsty Artimesia, who leads the Persian navy against the Greeks and has a personal vendetta.
The Times’ Betsy Sharkey called Green’s character “the one to watch” and added, “you couldn’t ask for a more magnetic villain.”
Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle called her “the movie’s one genuine point of interest,” and the Village Voice’s Stephanie Zacharek gushed, “behold the magnificent Eva Green, and tremble!”
What else they’re talking about from “Empire”: Two things, actually. First is Artemisia’s fierce wardrobe. “Leather and chainmail has rarely been as fetching,” Sharkey said. Zacharek also appreciated her outfits: “There are one-shouldered numbers draped with chains and dotted with grommets, shimmery columns that resemble liquid metal, and, perhaps finest of all, a skin-tight sheath with a row of silver spikes running down her spinal column like a violent shiver.”
Most reviewers also commented on a combative sex scene between Artemisia and Athenian leader Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton). Sharkey wrote: “Fueled by his-and-her rage that quickly leads to the ripping of clothes and some serious sword play along with the foreplay, the scene represents a high or low, depending on your point of view.”
Where you’ll see her next: Green is set to appear in “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For,” which like “Empire” is a sequel based on the work of comic book artist Frank Miller. She will also star in “The Salvation,” a western movie by Danish director Kristian Levring, and the Showtime horror series “Penny Dreadful.”