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Eva Green reflects on her time with James Bond

16-Feb-2008 • Casino Royale

'Casino Royale' star Eva Green hates her image as the sexy French girl - and the scandalous rumours that follow her, says Celia Walden in The Telegraph.

Eva Green, best known as the vulpine Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale, looks uncomfortably beautiful - encumbered, embarrassed and bored, it seems, by her own looks. This morning, in the draughty basement of a Sloane Street store, her narrow frame is clad in secretarial, dark-grey Roland Mouret, while her blue-black hair is tressed in neat waves around her pale face, which has been made-up to look un-made-up.

"After Casino Royale it all happened quickly," she says, with an unexpected cockney inflection to her thick French accent, "although I'm not really recognised in the street yet. I don't dress like this in real life, so I'm still getting away with it."

Green's hair, make-up and dress all have a stylist-imposed, straitjacket element to them - but then I spot her fingernails, which are unlacquered and bitten short. Perhaps she, out of all of the Bond Girls who seemed doomed to play nothing but bikini-clad lovelies, might escape the curse.

"I'll tell you in a few years," she says. "Bond really was a last-minute thing and I got very lucky. Since then, everything has been very good for me, very… unexpected."

There is no verbal fat with Green, no messy non sequiturs. The only cracks in her composure appear when she talks acting projects: a Jordan Scott drama set in an English boarding school and something "very exciting I can't tell you about yet" - all with the common thread of being "dark". "I do like dark things," she admits with relish.

Green has found herself placed firmly in the "kooky" bracket, the Helena Bonham Carter of French cinema. It's partly due to her choice of roles since Bond - she played the witch Serafina Pekkala in The Golden Compass (the first of Philip Pullman's trilogy His Dark Materials) - along with her tendency to appear at awards' ceremonies looking "like Morticia Addams in shockingly bad Givenchy", as one fashion editor described her.

Originally from Paris, she lives in London now, although her boyfriend, the Kiwi actor Marton Csokas, is often on the other side of the world. "It's good to go out with another actor, because your partner has the same life," she explains.

"We understand one another and share the same temperament." Can she see herself marrying Csokas - or any actor? "My mother went out with a fair amount of them, but then ended up with a dentist, so we'll have to see what happens."

Her mother, Marlène Jobert, was a very successful actress in France, but gave it up when she had Eva and her non-identical twin sister Joy; her father, Walter Green, was originally from Sweden.

Green describes her mother as someone who knows the pitfalls of the profession: "Every mother worries, of course, because it's such an up-and-down industry, but she's given me the greatest piece of advice, which is always to remember that it's just a job. You're not going to die, you know? So don't give it too much importance."

Green first decided she wanted to be an actress at the age of 14, training in London and New York before making her way on to the Paris stage.

"It would be quite refreshing to go back to the stage and be my own master again," she says now, "but I'd only do it if it were a very small theatre, somewhere intimate, because I've done theatre in really big places in Paris and it's just overwhelming. It swallows you up."

In France, she was spotted by Bernardo Bertolucci, who cast her in The Dreamers, an erotic tale of a threesome set during les événements of Paris in 1968. The film involved nudity, which caused something of a commotion when she made the transatlantic leap.

"My God, in America it was a big deal," she recalls. "The Dreamers was my first feature film and I don't know if I could do it again, but I like to show emotions and if that means being naked and it's not gratuitous I might do it… With Bond it was fine, though, because they're not ready to show nipples in Bond films yet."

She laughs mischievously, and I get a glimpse of what she must be like in less formal circumstances: a normal 28 year-old who likes to "play the piano like a little bourgeois girl" in her spare time.

But Green is all too aware of becoming stereotyped with "the whole sexy French girl thing". "You become a product and people typecast you," she says. "It's very stressful, because you take it personally if you're not right for a part and you question yourself a lot."

I remind her that she once described the acting world as "full of bull----". She still thinks that. "I could move to New York, because I love it there, but not LA, not Hollywood," she agrees.

When she went to the Oscars last year, she found them "funny", rather than exciting. "I felt I was dreaming, but there were so many egos. And you have to remember it's not real."

Yet she is willing to play the game - we meet in the Mont Blanc store, because she has just been appointed as an "ambassador" for their watches and jewellery. "I like their mentality because they are very interested in the arts," she says, with a perceptible awareness of the indignity of brand promotion. "I like it that they do charity work, too," she adds hastily.

Her other concession to stardom is the use of a stylist for big occasions: yet she turned up to the Dior 30th anniversary show at Versailles in a shocking pink kimono. "I know that I was very much criticised for my pink geisha outfit."

She shakes her head and colours slightly. "I was very happy with it, and then everybody got so shocked. I just wanted to make it special, rather than wearing a boring black dress, but now it's becoming very important, like 'What is she going to wear this time?'

I just wanted to have some fun, but now I feel a lot more self-conscious about things."

This embarrassment extends to a recent rumour in France that President Sarkozy tried, unsuccessfully, to woo Green by inviting her on the campaign trail, before he got together with Carla Bruni. She nods: "Yeah.

I have never met Sarkozy, but it became such a big thing." Would she have liked to have been the First Lady of France? "God, no. It's a lot of pressure. No, no, no."

Then suddenly she laughs again: and I realise that whether it's Sarkozy, clothes or film choices, Eva Green will always refuse to follow the pack.

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