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Willem Dafoe, born in 1955, is an actor with more than 80 titles to his name from a career spanning over three decades. In 1985 he starred in 'To Live and Die in L.A.' and the following year in Oliver Stone's 'Platoon' (1986), the latter earning him an Oscar nomination, which cemented his position as one of Hollywood's most talented character actors. He is known outside of the US for his collaborations with Lars von Trier.
Paul Dano was born in 1984 in New York. He began his career as a child actor on New York's Broadway. Dano received a BAFTA Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his performance opposite Daniel-Day Lewis in Paul Thomas Anderson's 'There Will Be Blood' (2007). The film marked his second consecutive role in a Best Picture Academy Award nominee, following his performance in 'Little Miss Sunshine' (2006).
He was a henchman in the underrated Timothy Dalton Bond vehicle 'License to Kill' (1989) and became better known thanks to his hilarious portrayal of Fenster in 'The Usual Suspects' (1995). He had also impressed – opposite Kevin Spacey for the first time – as an ambitious film exec in 'Swimming with Sharks' (1994). His Dr. Gonzo in Terry Gilliam’s take on Hunter S. Thompson’s 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' (1998) somehow manages to outdo Johnny Depp’s most extreme excesses. But it is his sensitive portrayal of a Mexican cop staying afloat amidst the mire of police corruption and drug smuggling in Steven Soderbergh’s 'Traffic' (2000) that made him a star. It also won him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. He worked again with Soderbergh, playing the eponymous rebel and hero of the revolution in the filmmaker’s two-part epic 'Che' (2008). It is a stunning performance in a complex, intelligent and overlooked film. He is solid in '21 Grams' (2003), odd but amusing in 'Sin City' (2005), out of place in the big budget misfire 'The Wolfman' (2010) and amusing as The Collector in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' (2014). As Alejandro in 'Sicario' (2015), he offers up one of his finest roles. A mystery who is revealed as a monster, Del Toro nevertheless imbues his character with enough sympathy for us to initially side with him. It’s a masterclass in understated acting and evidence of Del Toro’s unique screen persona.
To describe Catherine Deneuve as an icon of French cinema is only to hint at her importance as an actor over the course of the last 60 years. To discuss every film is impossible, but each decade has produced roles that have indelibly marked her imprint on the medium, both in France and internationally. Deneuve shot to fame as the adorable shop assistant in Jacques Demy's blissfully romantic musical drama 'The Umbrellas of Cherbourg' (1964). Three years later, she would reunite with Demy, starring alongside her sister Françoise Dorléac and Hollywood legend Gene Kelly in the melodious 'Les Demoiselles de Rochefort' (1967). Between these sublime confections, she was a woman losing her mind in a London apartment in Roman Polanski's nightmarish 'Repulsion' (1965). She was both the object of sexual fantasy and a sexual fantasist in Luis Buñuel's 'Belle de Jour' (1968) and went on to work with the director again in 'Tristan' (1970), a film that even Alfred Hitchcock was speechless at. Deneuve won a new generation of admirers playing a centuries-old vampire in Tony Scott's feature debut 'The Hunger' (1983), while her award-winning performance in Regis Wagnier's '>Indochina' (1992) cemented her position as the grande dame of French cinema. Her roles in Leos Carax's 'Pola X' (1999) and Lars von Trier's Dancer in the Dark (2000) highlighted her willingness to tackle unconventional roles, while 'Potiche' offered her the rare opportunity to indulge in farce.
An art student who aspired to be a musician but was spotted in a Paris street by a casting director and subsequently pursued a successful acting career, Romain Duris is as much at home playing romantic leads as he is angst-driven rebels. The casting director approached him for a role in Cédric Klapisch’s 'Le Péril jeune' (1994) and he has continued working with the filmmaker, appearing in a further four films, often opposite Audrey Tautou. He also formed a fruitful partnership with Romany director Tony Gatlif, starring in 'Gadjo Dil'o (1997) and 'Exils' (2004). His international breakthrough was as a property owner’s henchman son who dreams of becoming a concert pianist in Jacques Audiard’s much admired 'The Beat That My Heart Skipped' (2005). 'Heartbreaker' (2010) and 'Populaire' (2012) highlight a lighter side to Duris’ screen persona, while 'The New Girlfriend' (2014) finds him breaking new ground in François Ozon’s smart, gender-bending comedy drama.