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Like Maria Schneider and Stefania Sandrelli, whom she starred opposite in 'The Conformist', Dominique Sanda came to define a particular kind of European cinema in the 1970s. She brought mystique to a role, as well as intelligence, adding depth to each character she played. Her debut was for the great French filmmaker Robert Bresson in 'A Gentle Woman' (1969), then came Bertolucci’s masterpiece 'The Conformist' (1970). The dance scene with Sandrelli made both stars overnight. She worked with some of the greatest Italian directors throughout the 1970s and 1980s, from Vittorio de Sica ('The Garden of the Finzi-Continis'), Luchino Visconti ('Conversation Piece') and Margueritte Duras ('Le Navire Night') to Jacques Demy ('A Room in a Town') and Mauro Bolognini, who directed her in a Cannes-winning performance in 'The Inheritance' (1976). She also starred in films by Hollywood directors John Huston and John Frankenheimer, and continues to act, most recently in 'Saint Laurent' (2014).
He had been acting in film and television for a decade before Matthias Schoenaerts' break came with 'Bullhead' (2011), a visceral examination of masculinity in crisis. 'Rust and Bone' (2012) followed and with it roles in international productions. Schoenaerts can be charming or malevolent. He is an actor of subtlety who can engage his sizeable physique in more imposing roles. He adds colour to roles in 'The Drop', 'A Little Chaos' and 'Suite Française' (all 2014), but excels in 'Far From the Madding Crowd' (2015). In 'Disorder' (2015), like his character in 'Bullhead', he is an uncoiled spring. An ex-soldier protecting a wealthy businessman's family, it's soon made clear that he may pose a greater danger to them than any unknown assailant. He is equally impressive in 'A Bigger Splash' (2015), one of his finest roles to date and a fine showcase for his range as an actor.
He's one of the legends of 1970s Hollywood cinema. He grew up in a Calvinist community and saw his first film when he attended University. His passion for cinema matched his obsession with guns. A fascination with masculinity would inform his finest work, but before becoming a writer-filmmaker he was a Paulette – one of the protégées of firebrand critic Pauline Kael. Admiration for the cinema of Carl Theodore Dreyer, Robert Bresson and Yasujiro Ozu would inform his films. He wrote 'The Yakuza', based on his brother Leonard's story and directed by Sydney Pollack. A bleak period informed 'Taxi Driver' (1976). It cemented his reputation. Further collaborations with Martin Scorsese followed: 'Raging Bull' (1980), 'The Last Temptation of Christ' (1988) and 'Bringing Out the Dead' (1999). But his personality proved too strong to remain just a writer. 'Blue Collar' (1978) is a stunning debut. 'Hardcore' (1979) felt more like an exorcism of his strict religious background. 'American Gigolo' (1980) was a key film in defining the 1980s – all shoulder pads and Armani suits – and drew heavily on Bresson's 'Pickpocket' (1959). It was also first in a trilogy of sorts, followed by 'Light Sleeper' (1992) and 'The Walker' (2007). He is at his best when he surprises: the rapturous splendour of 'Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters' (1985); the smart satire of religious comedy 'Touch' (1997); the dysfunctional biopic 'Autofocus' (2002). 'Affliction' (1997) is a stunning adaptation of Russell Bank's novel, 'Adam Resurrected' (2008) is a genuine oddity, 'The Canyons' (2013) is a mess. 'Dog Eat Dog' is as ferocious as it sounds, falling somewhere between 'Natural Born Killers' (1996) and a hardboiled crime drama.
Martin Scorsese is widely regarded as one of the most significant and influential filmmakers in cinema history. His body of work tackles themes such as Italian American identity, Roman Catholic guilt and redemption, machismo, and modern gang conflicts. Scorsese's landmark films include 'Mean Streets' (1973) and 'Taxi Driver' (1976), all of which star Robert DeNiro. In 2006, he won his first Best Director Oscar for 'The Departed'.
Kristin Scott Thomas was born in 1960 in Redruth, Cornwall. She gained international fame in the 1990s for her roles in the British classic comedy 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' (1994) and her intense performance in Anthony Minghella's 'The English Patient' (1996). Thomas, who is fluent French speaker, has been a prominent figure in French cinema, starring in films such as the immensely popular 'I've Loved You So Long' (2008).
Toni Servillo, born in 1959, has been described by Italian Vogue as 'the most versatile actor in the history of Italian cinema'. In 1977 he founded a theatre company, where he spent the next three decades working with many renowned directors. He made his feature film debut in his forties, in Paolo Sorrentino's 'One Man Up' (2001). Since then, he has collaborated on many Sorrentino films, including the Oscar winning 'The Great Beauty' (2013).
Léa Seydoux was born in Paris, France in 1985. She began acting in her native French cinema, gaining much acclaim for her breakout role in 'The Beautiful Person' (2008). She has since appeared in many Hollywood productions including 'Inglorious Basterds' (2009) and 'Midnight in Paris' (2011). Seydoux was awarded the Palme d'Or for 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' (2013) - one of only 3 women to ever be awarded this accolade.
Michael Shannon was born in 1974 in Kentucky, USA. His parents divorced when he was young, and he redirected an angry childhood into an acting career that began at age 16. He found a mentor in playwright Tracy Letts, and starring in Letts' plays led to career success. Shannon, who has been described as the heir to actor Christopher Walken, was nominated for an Oscar for his role in 'Revolutionary Road' (2008).
Son of legendary Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård, Alexander was a TV star in his native Sweden at the age of 13, however he gave up acting for seven years following this role. After returning to acting he was awarded the role of Meekus in ‘Zoolander’ (2001) and has since starred on TV in ‘True Blood’ (2008) and in such films as ‘Melancholia’ (2011), ‘The Diary of a Teenage Girl’ (2015) and the titular Tarzan in ‘The Legend of Tarzan’ (2016).
Stellan Skarsgård is one of the most prominent and well-respected film actors to have emerged from Sweden. Born in 1951, Stellan became a teen star in his native country and later spent many years at Stockholm's Royal Dramatic Theatre. His frequent collaborations with Lars von Trier granted him international recognition, appearing in films such as 'Breaking the Waves' (1996), 'Dancer in the Dark' (2000) and 'Melancholia' (2012).
Born in Kentucky, USA in 1926, Harry Dean Stanton is a prolific actor who has appeared in over 100 films in the course of his lifetime. His breakthrough performance came in ‘Cool Hand Luke’ (1967). He has since worked with directors such as Ridley Scott on 'Alien' (1979), Wim Wenders in what is often noted to be his finest role in ‘Paris, Texas’ (1984), and a number of David Lynch films.
Kristen Stewart began young. Aged 12, she was Jodi Foster's asthmatic daughter in 'Panic Room' (2002). She impressed in David Gordon Green's 'Undertow' (2004) and entertained in 'Zathura: A Space Adventure' (2005). The 'Twilight' series (2008-12) made her a global star and 'Snow White and the Huntsman' cemented her mainstream appeal, but her choices show that blockbusters are hardly likely to dominate her work. She brought offset appeal to her res in 'Adventureland' (2009), 'The Runaways' (2010) and 'On the Road' (2012). 'Camp X-Ray' (2014) may not have convinced but the film shoed Stewart's willingness to embrace more challenging material. She played a little too much to type in 'Still Alice', while her collaboration with Olivier Assayas on 'Clouds of Sils Maria' (2014) and 'Personal Shopper' (2016) show just how good she can be. She was magnetic in Woody Allen's otherwise average 'Café Society' and sparred beautifully with Lily Gladstone in Kelly Reichardt's 'Certain Women' (both 2016).
One of the most striking British actresses, known for her androgynous, otherworldly beauty, Tilda Swinton was born in 1960 and is a Cambridge graduate. She began her career in Derek Jarman's art films, and has more recently lent her talent to the mainstream, including 'The Chronicles of Narnia' (2005),'Michael Clayton' (2007) which won her both an Oscar and a BAFTA, and 'We Need to Talk About Kevin' (2011).