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French actress Juliette Binoche is widely regarded as one of film's most respected actresses for the intelligence she has brought to her complex roles.
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Despite her rising profile in the United States, Binoche turned down high-profile roles in American blockbusters such as Jurassic Park and Mission: Impossible to focus her career on French art films. She explains, "I have said no to Hollywood roles where I've been asked to play a secret agent—always small roles where they are seductive stereotypes." Instead, she chose to star in the highly acclaimed, if lower-grossing, 1991 film The Lovers on the Bridge (1991),
and later won the César Award for Best Actress for the 1992 film Damage. Binoche also starred in the Three Colors trilogy (1993-1994), winning a Best Actress trophy at the Venice Film Festival for her role in the first installment, Blue.
Binoche's international popularity and critical acclaim soared to new heights with her performance in director Anthony Minghella's 1996 film The English Patient. Binoche portrayed Hana, a French-Canadian nurse looking after the critically wounded Hungarian geographer Laszlo Almásy in an abandoned monastery. The film won nine Academy Awards, including Binoche's Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Following her performance in The English Patient, Binoche again retreated from the spotlight, appearing on stage in a 1997 London production of Naked and a 2000 Broadway production of Betrayal as well as several French films. She then returned to international prominence to display her considerable comedic gifts opposite Johnny Depp in the blockbuster comedy Chocolat (2000). Binoche earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her portrayal of Vianne, a woman who brings life to a conservative French village by opening a chocolate shop. Since then, Binoche has continued to turn in acclaimed and successful performances while remaining true to her commitment to high-quality art films. She recently starred in the French-Taiwanese film Flight of the Red Balloon (2007) as well as Certified Copy, for which she won Best Actress at the 2010 Cannes film festival.
Binoche's personal and professional lives have always been deeply intertwined. She had a long-term relationship with Leos Carax, the director of Lovers on the Bridge; dated Olivier Martinez, her costar in The Horseman on the Roof; and had a daughter, Hana, by Benoît Magimel, whom she met filming Les Enfants du Siècle in 1999. Binoche also has a son, Raphaël, with professional scuba diver André Halle. She most recently dated Santiago Amigorena, an Argentinean screenwriter and director with whom she has worked on several occasions. Through it all, she has remained unmarried because, she says, she has struggled to find her perfect match. "You've got to search without searching and that is what's so difficult," Binoche says about love.
Known in France simply as "La Binoche," Juliette Binoche is widely considered the most successful and talented French actress of her generation. She is the very rare actress who has managed to achieve mass popularity without ever appearing in mass-market films. Instead, she earned fame through quality projects that achieved box office success despite their seeming indifference to it. Binoche sums up her philosophy on the vocation of acting, "The law of acting for any actor is ups and downs. Sometimes you have wonderful roles, sometimes you have nothing. You have to accept it's like that. It's not fonctionnaire [civil servant] work. But it's true you have to say no to those roles you're not going to be nourished by. You have somehow to be a little fulfilled in it so that you can bring something out of yourself that is challenging, enlightening, creative. Otherwise you should do something else."
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