The daughter of actress Marlène Jobert, Green performed in theatre before making her film debut in The Dreamers (2003), which generated controversy over her numerous nude scenes. She achieved greater fame for her parts in Kingdom of Heaven (2005), and in the 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale, for which she won a BAFTA. She has also modelled for numerous brands.
Green was raised in France, and spent some time as well in Ramsgate, London and Ireland. Her school was English-speaking. Green was quiet at school, and developed an interest in Egyptology when she visited the Louvre at age seven. Green aspired to become an actress when she saw Isabelle Adjani in The Story of Adele H. at the age of fourteen. Jobert initially feared the effect an acting career would have on her sensitive daughter, but she soon supported her ambitions.
At seventeen, Green enrolled at Eva St. Paul Drama School in Paris for three years, and then spent ten weeks at Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Green stated that at drama school, "I always picked the really evil roles. It's a great way to deal with your everyday emotions." Green trained at Tisch School of the Arts in New York City, before she returned to Paris, where she performed in several plays. Green was nominated for a Molière Award award for her performance in Jalousie en Trois Fax.
Director Bernardo Bertolucci discovered Green in 2002, and found her "so beautiful, it's indecent". She accepted his invitation to star in The Dreamers (2003), despite her parents' initial objections because of Maria Schneider's traumatisation after filming Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris. Green performed extensive nude scenes, which felt natural once on set, though she was embarrassed when her family saw the film. In addition to performing, Green was also credited with writing the score. Her performance was well received, with some comparing her to Liv Tyler. Green expressed surprise when a minute was cut from the film for the American market, as "there is so much violence, both on the streets and on the screen. They think nothing of it. Yet I think they are frightened by sex." Green followed up The Dreamers with Arsène Lupin (2004), in the light-hearted part of a love interest which she had fun playing, though she generally preferred more complex parts.
It was her performance in The Dreamers that convinced Ridley Scott to cast Green in Kingdom of Heaven (2005), a film about the Crusades where she played Sibylla of Jerusalem. Green performed six screen tests, and was hired with only a week before principal photography began. Green found the atmosphere of coming onto a film so late tense and exciting, and also liked the film's ambiguity in approaching its subject matter. To her disappointment, much of her screentime was cut. Stephanie Zacharek of Salon.com praised her performance as "She doesn't quite know what to do with her character's stilted dialogue, but she carries herself so regally that you barely notice", but Nev Pierce of the BBC called her character "limp". Green was satisfied when her character's complex subplot was restored in the director's cut. Total Film noted the new scenes completed her performance: "In the theatrical cut, Princess Sibylla sleeps with Balian and then, more or less, loses her mind. Now we understand why. Not only does Sibylla have a young son, but when she realises he's inflicted with leprosy just like her brother Baldwin, she decides to take his life shortly after he's been crowned king.
Green was considered for parts in The Constant Gardener (a role which went to Rachel Weisz) and The Black Dahlia. She was a piece of last-minute casting for the role of Vesper Lynd in the James Bond film Casino Royale (2006). Green was approached in mid-2005 but turned it down. Principal photography was already underway, and director Martin Campbell noted casting the role was difficult because "we didn't have the final script and a Bond girl always had the connotation of tits 'n' ass." Campbell saw Green's performance in the director's cut of Kingdom of Heaven, and Green was approached again. She read the script, and found the character of Vesper far deeper than most Bond girls. Green's performance was well received: Entertainment Weekly called her the fourth best Bond girl of all time; IGN named her the best femme fatale, stating "This is the girl that broke — and therefore made — James Bond"; and she won a BAFTA and an Empire award for her performance. Both were voted for by the British public.
Green portrayed the witch Serafina Pekkala in the film adaptation of The Golden Compass (2007), and will return to shoot two sequels if she wishes (coincidentally, it also stars Casino Royale's Daniel Craig, although they do not have any scenes together). Green hoped the religious themes of the book would be preserved, but references to Catholicism were removed from the film. Green next appears in Franklyn, playing Emilia, a schizophrenic woman. One personality she portrays is a tormented artist (which she compared to real-life figures Sophie Calle and Tracey Emin) and Green described the other personality as "full of life, very witty, big sense of humor".
In addition to her acting career, Green has modelled for Breil, Emporio Armani, Lancôme, Heineken, and Christian Dior SA's "Midnight Poison" perfume, in an advert directed by Wong Kar-wai. She has also expressed interest in returning to the theatre, and has no plans to go to work in Hollywood because, "The problem with Hollywood is that the studios are super powerful, they have far more power than the directors. My ambition at this moment is just to find a good script."
Green's favourite film is Cries and Whispers, and she is a fan of directors François Truffaut, Ingmar Bergman, Tim Burton, Lars von Trier, David Lynch, and David Fincher. She admires the actresses Lauren Bacall, Marlene Dietrich, Bette Davis, Jeanne Moreau, Cate Blanchett, Juliette Binoche, and Helena Bonham Carter. She credits Blanchett and Kirsten Dunst as her fashion influences, describing her own taste as, "bright pink lipstick, hot pink or geisha colors. Make up is allowed to be a bit weird, I feel." Her favourite artists are Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, and she is a keen museum visitor. Green enjoys music, listening to film soundtracks and classical music when preparing for roles, and she plays the piano.
|Film||Year||Role||Notes and Awards|
|The Dreamers||2003||Isabelle||Nominated - European Film Awards for Best Actress|
|Arsène Lupin||2004||Clarisse de Dreux-Soubise|
|Kingdom of Heaven||2005||Sibylla|
|Casino Royale||2006||Vesper Lynd|| Won - BAFTA Rising Star award|
Won - Empire Award for Best Female Newcomer
Nominated - Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated - National Movie Awards for Best Best Performance by a Female
Nominated - Irish Film and Television Awards for Best International Actress
|The Golden Compass||2007||Serafina Pekkala|