Juliette Binoche was born March 9, 1964, in Paris, France. The daughter of an actress and an artist/theatrical director (who separated when she was still a young child), Juliette Binoche studied acting at the National School of Dramatic Art in Paris. Her breakthrough film role in France was in the controversial Je vous salue, Marie, or Hail Mary (1985), in which she played the scorned lover of Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary, a role specifically written for her by the film’s writer-director, Jean-Luc Godard. Over the next several years, Binoche turned in a number of well received performances in French films such as Rendez-vous (1985) and Mauvais sang (Bad Blood, 1986).

Though a well-known actress in France, Binoche first earned international attention in 1988, when she starred as the repressed Tereza opposite Daniel Day-Lewis in Philip Kaufman’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, based on Milan Kundera’s acclaimed novel. In 1992, she starred as a young woman who begins a sexual relationship with an English politician who happens to be the father of her fiancé in the erotic Fatale, or Damage, costarring Jeremy Irons and directed by Louis Malle. She also starred in the acclaimed French feature Les Amants du Pont-Neuf, or The Lovers on the Bridge (1991).

Binoche earned serious acclaim for her performances in the Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski’s acclaimed Trois couleurs (Three Colors) trilogy of films, garnering a César Award (the French equivalent of an Oscar), a European Film Award, and the Venice Film Festival Award for Best Actress for Bleu, or Blue (1993). She reprised the role, that of a wife and mother coping with the fallout from a tragic accident in Blanc, or White, and Rouge, or Red (both 1994).

In 1996, Binoche reteamed with Ralph Fiennes (her costar in a 1992 film version of Emily Bronte’s classic novel Wuthering Heights) in The English Patient, the World War II-era saga of a badly wounded man (Fiennes) who is cared for by a Canadian nurse (Binoche), to whom he slowly reveals his tragic story. The film, directed by Anthony Minghella and costarring Kristin Scott Thomas and Willem Dafoe, won nine Academy Awards (out of 12 nominations), including Best Picture. For her part, Binoche beat out industry favorite Lauren Bacall (The Mirror Has Two Faces) in the Best Supporting Actress category, becoming the night’s most surprising victor.

Over the next several years, Binoche was virtually absent from American movie theaters, but busied herself with French film projects and stage productions. In Alice et Martin (1998), she played an artist who falls in love with a younger man, and she turned in an acclaimed performance as George Sand in Les Enfants du siecle (Children of the Century) in 1999. She made her London stage debut in Naked in 1997, and in 2000 appeared on Broadway for the first time in Betrayal, costarring Liev Schrieber and John Slattery. In the sprawling French period drama La Veuve de Saint-Pierre (The Widow of Saint-Pierre) (2000), she starred opposite famed French actor Daniel Auteuil.

Binoche’s charming performance in Lasse Hallström’s Chocolat (2000), as a wandering single mother who shocks a pious French village by opening a chocolaterie, or candy store, during Lent earned her a second Academy Award nomination, this time for Best Actress. The film costarred Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Alfred Molina, and Lena Olin.

In addition to her impressive acting career, Binoche has served as the spokesmodel for Lancome cosmetics since 1995. She has a son, Raphael, from her relationship with deep-sea diver Andre Halle, and a daughter, Hana, born in 1999, with her current companion, Benoit Magimel, her costar in Les Enfants due siècle.

-A&E Biography

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