Eva Green’s year has been one for the history books, or from them anyway. In March, the French actress was seen in plate mail playing the vengeful Persian warrior Artemisia in the action hit 300: Rise of an Empire. Then, in late April, she popped up in Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, recently renewed for a second season, where she traded in ancient duds for frocks and black lace as Vanessa Ives, a Victorian prone to demonic possession. In August, Green caps her run of titillating period pieces with the release of the crime noir sequel Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, in which she played the dangerous siren Ava Lord. Though Green insists that any similarities between her trifecta of roles is accidental, 2014 has, coincidentally or not, been a renaissance for the 33-year-old, who first turned heads as Bond girl Vesper Lynd in 2006’s Casino Royale and since then has largely sashayed under Hollywood’s radar.
“To tell you the truth,” admits Green in her lightly accented English. “I was not offered something interesting [after Casino Royale] by Hollywood. Every role was the boring beautiful girl. Instead of doing that, I made movies that not a lot of people saw but were good for my heart. I’ve always found the movie business rather cold, so finding parts to play and having people enjoy them has made this year a miracle for me.”
Not that the London-based Green, a high fashion favorite, isn’t used to attention — her mother is the well-known French actress Marlene Jobert (her father, Walter, is a dentist), and she’s been a regular in European tabloids ever since she appeared as a baby with her mom and twin-sister Joy on the cover of Paris Match. Perhaps that’s why off set, this self-described nerd prefers low-key pursuits at-odds with her fierce on-screen persona. “I like to stay home and read rather than go to a club or something,” Green says. “I’m very shy. If I go out, I’m hugging the walls. ”
Now, though, inhabiting the kind of powerful femme fatale roles that Angelina Jolie used to devour has now become Green’s specialty, rendering her a cult favorite and rescuing her from being eternally entombed as a Bond girl. “It’s been fun playing these strong, sexual women,” she says. “Especially in Sin City my character is a real bitch. She uses her body as a weapon. It’s very jubilating to do that. I wish I had the balls of my characters.”
As the Motion Picture Association of America noticed, she’s got something else. Green’s Sin City poster showed her posing with a gun and wearing a sheer bathrobe that left little to the imagination. The MPAA subsequently refused approval for the poster’s usage. “I don’t understand the problem,” she says. Then she adds with a laugh, “I heard that if my nipples were made darker the poster would be fine.”
With Penny Dreadful finished filming for the season, Green, whose dream collaborators include David O. Russell and Danish provocateur Lars Von Trier, is looking for her next project. “I’d like to do something funny,” she says, as long as it doesn’t require abandoning her blooming dark side. “It would,” she says, “have to be a comedy that’s very sharp, and very black.”