How a Young Juliette Binoche became the number one French actress

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'Juliette Binoche dans les Yeux' held at the Elysee Biarritz movie theatre in Paris, France on October 22, 2009 nicolas genin, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
'Juliette Binoche dans les Yeux' held at the Elysee Biarritz movie theatre in Paris, France on October 22, 2009 nicolas genin, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Juliette Binoche is a talent that needs no introduction. The French actress has been captivating audiences since she was a teenager in movies like...

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'Juliette Binoche dans les Yeux' held at the Elysee Biarritz movie theatre in Paris, France on October 22, 2009 © nicolas genin, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Juliette Binoche is a talent that needs no introduction. The French actress has been captivating audiences since she was a teenager in movies like Rendez-Vous and has become a prominent figure in the world of cinema, all the way to Hollywood with The English Patient, Chocolat  and "Un divan à New York", which you can watch now on TV5MONDEplus. However, few are aware of the journey that led to her success, particularly her youth and early career.

- Where to watch Juliette Binoche's movies in America -

TV5MONDE USA is the platform for all things French! The 24-hour French-language network airs over 150 French films every year on top of programs around French culture, Fashion, gastronomy and much more. You will also be able to pick from the thousands of French films and TV shows available on the French streaming platform TV5MONDEplus. Finally, you'll get access to curated channel TV5MONDE French Cinema on Demand, which selects 15 movies each month around a French director, actor or theme.

Watch now La Bonne Épouse with Juliette Binoche and Yolande Moreau on TV5MONDE Cinema on Demand or stream Un divan à New York with Juliette Binoche and William Hurt on TV5MONDEplus

Juliette Binoche's youth

Born on March 9, 1964, in Paris, Juliette Binoche's parents were both in the artistic field. Her father, Jean-Marie Binoche, was a mime, sculptor, and theatre director, while her mother, Monique Yvette Stalens, was a teacher and director who later pursued acting. Growing up, the young Binoche was exposed to the world of art, literature, and theatre, which nurtured her creativity and fostered her passion for acting.

In 1983, Binoche entered the Paris Conservatoire, formally known as the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts of Paris. Her talent was quickly recognized, and she became convinced that she wanted to be an actress and nothing else.

Binoche draws inspiration from various personalities and artistic movements that shaped her as an actress. Among her major influences are the French Nouvelle Vague, a movement of filmmakers who emerged in French cinema during the late 1950s, and Jean-Luc Godard, a prominent figure in the New Wave. Godard later cast Binoche in one of her earliest roles in the film "Je vous salue, Marie." when she was only 19.

Binoche's first roles

Binoche's early career in the French film industry was marked by a series of small roles in advertisements and supporting roles in films. She first appeared in a television commercial for a marshmellow product while working as a cashier at a Paris mall. At the age of 17, she landed her first significant role in Jacques Doillon's film "La vie de famille," which Doillon had rewritten to fit Binoche's casting. This role marked the beginning of her ascent in the industry and earned her critical acclaim.

Despite her youth, Binoche's charisma and intensity captivated audiences and caught the attention of directors. She quickly made a name for herself with her breathtaking performances in films such as "Rendez-vous," where she played the lead and earned a César nomination, and "Mauvais Sang," directed by Leos Carax, who she continued to collaborate with in the French blockbuster film "Les amants du Pont-Neuf" - France's most expansive film at the time.

One of Juliette Binoche's most significant and memorable early collaborations was with Krzysztof Kieślowski in his Three Colors trilogy. Binoche starred in the second film, "Three Colors: Blue," portraying a grieving widow who must confront her past. Her performance was both powerful and vulnerable, earning her critical acclaim, a César Award for best actress, and cementing Binoche's reputation as an international talent.

In the '90s, Binoche appeared in several romantic comedies, showcasing her versatility and range as an actress. She starred in the film adaptation of Jean Giono's "Hussard sur le toit" (The Horseman on the Roof) with François Cluzet, which was both a national and international success, and got her another César nomination for Best Actress.

Another notable film from this period was "Un Divan à New York" (A Couch in New York), a romantic comedy directed by Chantal Akerman. In the film, Binoche plays a Parisian woman who swaps apartments with an American psychoanalyst, played by William Hurt. The film explores cultural differences and the complexities of relationships in a lighthearted and humorous way. Binoche's performance was once again a standout, demonstrating her ability to excel in various genres. Tune on TV5MONDEplus for "Un divan à New York" with Juliette Binoche and William Hurt on TV5MONDEplus.

Binoche's dream of Hollywood

Binoche's range of roles in these early films showcased her versatility as an actress, and her talent was soon recognized worldwide. Her success and reputation in France led her to make a bold move to Hollywood, where she earned critical acclaim for her performance in the film "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" alongside Daniel-Day Lewis. After appearing in a few more movies or limited series for HBO, she was offered roles by Steven Spielberg for as "Jurassic Park," "Indiana Jones," and "Schindler's List" but refused them, opting for roles that were more aligned with her artistic sensibilities.

in 1996, she starred in The English Patient, a romantic war film directed by Anthony Minghella. The film is based on Michael Ondaatje's novel of the same name, and it stars an ensemble cast that includes Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, and Kristin Scott Thomas. Juliette Binoche plays Hana, a nurse who takes care of a severely burned patient in an abandoned Italian monastery during World War II. Hana is dedicated to her charge, the mysterious and fatally injured patient, and Binoche brings a tenderness and emotional depth to every scene she is in. Her performance was recognized with an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, and it is easy to see why. Binoche is a standout in this film, and she brings real heart to the story of The English Patient.

Another one of Binoche's most memorable performances in Hollywood was in the film "Chocolat" with Johnny Depp, directed by Lasse Hallström, which earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. In the film, Binoche portrayed Vianne Rocher, a chocolate maker who brings a conservative French village to life with her unusual ways.

Stream Juliette Binoche's movies and more on TV5MONDEplus