Muse and wife of director Atom Egoyan, Arsinee Khanjian has managed to appear in all of the filmmaker's projects without being typecast into narrow, predictable roles. Bearing the kind of strong, dark features that lend themselves to her portrayals of enigmatic women of character, Khanjian has proven herself to be one of the screen's more compelling actresses, enlivening the films of both her husband and those of such directors as Olivier Assayas.
Born in 1958 to Armenian parents living in Lebanon, Khanjian was raised in Beirut. Due to the country's dangerous political situation, her family moved to Montreal when she was 17. Strongly encouraged by her family to get a good education, she studied theatre in French at the Conservatoire Lasalle and received an undergraduate degree in Spanish and French at Concordia University. It was while she was pursuing her master's degree in political science that Khanjian met future husband and creative partner Egoyan at an audition for his feature debut, Next of Kin (1984). Cast in a starring role in the drama -- which centered on a young man's search for his heritage and identity -- Khanjian moved to Toronto and finished her M.A. at the University of Toronto. She worked as an administrator for the Ontario Arts Council until the mid-'80s before quitting to pursue acting full-time; throughout the rest of the decade, Khanjian continued to appear in lead and supporting roles in Egoyan's films, doing particularly memorable work as a near-catatonic hotel maid in Speaking Parts (1989).