Actresses like Penelope Cruz and Audrey Tautou have achieved dual success: balancing big budget Hollywood movies with world cinema, switching between acting in English and their mother tongue.
These women prove that you don’t have to be American or become Americanised to make it big, and just because you’ve found blockbuster success doesn’t mean you need to abandon your origins. Take this summer, for example. Tautou returned to her French routes to play Coco Chanel – a role she seems made for – in Anne Fontaine’s beautiful biopic, Coco Before Chanel. Whilst Cruz teamed up with long-term partner Spanish director Pedro AlmodÃ³var for their third collaboration, Broken Embraces.
With these established stars leading the way it seems that 2009 is the year for rising world talent. There’s undeniably an impressive brigade of young actresses coming through the ranks and onto our cinema screens.
Born: 18th October 1984
Birthplace: Mumbai, India
This year’s overnight success story belongs to Pinto, who, along with the rest of the cast, found instant stardom with the multi-award winning Slumdog Millionaire. Particularly impressive as Slumdog marked her feature film debut, earning her a BAFTA nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and it’s easy to see a big career ahead. Most recently, Pinto has been filming an untitled Woody Allen project in London, co-starring Naomi Watts, Anthony Hopkins and Antonio Banderas. She’ll also be appearing with Willem Dafoe in Miral, a drama set in the 1940s, after the creation of Israel. On top of acting projects Pinto’s also found time for romance with her Slumdog co-star Dev Patel, although the pair have tried their damndest to keep the relationship under wraps.
Born: 21st February 1983
Birthplace: Paris, France
Laurent danced her way down the Cannes red carpet with her Inglourious Basterds director, Quentin Tarantino. If that entrance, and her cool performance as Shoshanna Dreyfus, are anything to go by this French actress has only just begun. Not content with simply acting, Laurent has also written and directed. Her film De moins en moins was nominated for Best Short Film at the 61st Annual Cannes Film Festival. Although Inglourious Basterds has introduced her to the world, Laurent says she’s not seduced by the fame and fortune Hollywood movies offer: “I have amazing parts in France. The dream was just to make a movie with Tarantino.” Next up, Laurent will appear in three French films; Jusqu'à toi, Le concert and La rafle. She’s also dating Irish singer Damien Rice, whose iconic song The Blower's Daughter was featured on the Closer soundtrack.
Born: 15th July 1976
Birthplace: Algermissen, Germany
Although already a familiar face, Kruger’s star rose dramatically this year with her role in Tarantino’s war drama, giving her the chance to not only star alongside Brad Pitt for the second time – they were both in Troy – but also to act in her German mother tongue. Also fluent in French and English, in 2008 Kruger starred in the French thriller Anything for Her and her career reflects her trilingual ability. Although Kruger has perfected her English accent – Tarantino was convinced she was American – she has admitted that her nationality did make it harder for her starting out in acting. The girlfriend of Dawson’s Creek star Joshua Jackson, Kruger will next be seen starring alongside Jared Leto and Rhys Ifans in Mr. Nobody, a fantasy drama which spans different time zones of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Born: 30th September 1975
Birthplace: Paris, France
Cotillard is following in the footsteps of Juliette Binoche, Catherine Deneuve and Audrey Tautou, fast becoming one of the most celebrated French actresses of her generation. After her surprise Best Actress win at the 2008 Oscars – the last time a leading lady won with a non-English speaking role was Sophia Loren in 1962 – for the biography on famed singer Edith Piaf, La Vie en Rose, Cotillard has firmly crossed the Hollywood line. It was Tim Burton who introduced Cotillard to English-speaking audiences with her role in 2003’s Big Fish. She went on to star with Russell Crowe in The Good Year and her part alongside Johnny Depp in this year’s stylish gangster biopic Public Enemies was pure perfection, celebrating her French accent as Billie Frechette. Cotillard is only getting started though; in November she’ll be seen in Chicago director Rob Marshall’s new musical Nine, along with Penelope Cruz, Daniel Day Lewis and Nicole Kidman, to name just a few. And then in 2010 she’s starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and Ellen Page in Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated Sci-Fi thriller, Inception. It’s fair to say the future’s looking pretty good for Cotillard.
Born: 5th July 1980
Birthplace: Paris, France
Green is most known for her lead role in 2006’s Casino Royale, making her the fifth French actress to play a Bond girl. Prior to being Daniel Craig’s love interest, Green had already accumulated a fan base in 2003 for the French film The Dreamers. Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, this risqué drama set in 1968 focused on a young American’s eye-opening experiences whilst studying in Paris. It was Green’s role as the seductive Isabelle, that persuaded Ridley Scott to cast her in Kingdom of Heaven. Now living in London, Green will next be seen in Cracks, a look at the lives and relationships at a boarding school, and Womb, about a grieving widow wanting to clone her late husband.
Born: 14th November 1979
Birthplace: Berdyansk, Ukraine
Another actress with Bond girl beginnings, Kurylenko had a successful career in modeling before embarking on acting in 2005, with her debut role in L'annulaire. It was her feisty portrayal of Camille, starring opposite Daniel Craig in 2008’s Quantum of Solace that propelled Kurylenko into the limelight. To prepare for the role Kurylenko trained with a dialect coach to perfect a Spanish accent, as well as being given the entire Bond box set to watch, as wasn’t familiar with the iconic character. This year she’s starred in the French film À l'est de moi, and an Israeli film Kirot. In 2010 Kurylenko will be co-starring with Michael Fassbender in the action-packed Roman drama, Centurion. She’ll also be appearing with Orlando Bloom and Vincent Cassel in Andrew Niccol’s The Cross.
Born: 30th November 1982
Birthplace: Paris, France
Poesy is undoubtedly best known for her role as Fleur Delacour in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Since her visit to Hogwarts though, she’s made a trip to Belgium, along with Colin Farrell and Ralph Fiennes, in the sleeper success In Bruges. And later this year she will star with Jim Burgess and Timothy Spall in psychological thriller Heartless. But she’s currently reunited with Daniel Radcliffe et al filming Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Born: 11th June 1994
Birthplace: Barcelona, Spain
Director Guillermo Del Toro picked Baquero out of 1000 young actresses for the lead role of Ofelia, in 2006’s Pan's Labyrinth. Del Toro has said he knew she was perfect for the part the moment he met her the and rewrote the part of Ofelia to accommodate an 11 year-old Baquero(the character was originally aged 8). Her performance won critical acclaim and the film won three Oscars in 2007. In 2008 Baquero worked with Del Doro again for a supporting role in The Anarchist's Wife. Next she’ll be starring in two American films: The New Daughter, a thriller with Kevin Costner, and Keeper of the Pinstripes, with Josh Lucas.
Born: 22nd July 1974
Birthplace: Münster, Germany
For her part in Run Lola Run – a role that director Tom Tykwer wrote specifically for her - Potente didn’t wash her hair for seven weeks to stop the red hair dye from running out. Since then she’s stuck to a more natural look, most notably as Matt Damon’s onscreen girlfriend in the Bourne films. In 2001 she reamed up with another leading American actor, Johnny Depp in Blow, based on a true story around the American cocaine market in the 1970's. Last year Potente supported Benicio Del Toro in Che: Part Two, Steven Soderbergh’s biopic based on the life of revolutionist Che Guevara. Next up, in 2010 she’ll be seen as a German spy in Shanghai, a drama based in China just before Pearl Harbour, starring John Cusack and Yun-Fat Chow. In 2006 she also managed to write and direct her own silent comedy, the German short film Der die Tollkirsche ausgräbt. Not bad for a girl who was discovered by a casting agent in a public toilet…
Born: 28th June 1969
Birthplace: Tel Aviv, Israel
At 40, Zurer is the oldest actress in our list, although she’s only recently crossed over into American territory after being hugely successful in her native Israel. Her international turning point was starring as Eric Bana’s wife in Steven Spielberg’s Munich, which was nominated for five awards at the 2006 Oscars. She then played an exotic terrorist named Veronica in Vantage Point, starring alongside Dennis Quaid, William Hurt and Sigourney Weaver. Following in the footsteps of Audrey Tautou, Zurer’s latest role was in Ron Howard’s Angels & Demons, co-starring with Tom Hanks. Although Zurer played the lead female role of Vittoria Vetra she avoided reading Dan Brown’s novel until filming had ended.