An international star of extraordinary, almost otherworldly beauty, French actress Juliette Binoche was born March 9, 1964, in Paris. The daughter of a sculptor/theater director and an actress, Binoche studied acting at the National School of Dramatic Art of Paris. After graduation, she followed in her mother's footsteps and became a stage actress, occasionally taking small parts in French feature films. Binoche first earned recognition in 1985 for playing a modernized, teenaged version of the Virgin Mary in Jean-Luc Godard's controversial Je Vous Salue, Marie (Hail Mary). The actress became a bona fide French star the same year with an acclaimed performance in André Téchiné's Rendez-Vous. Though she was the darling of the 1985 Cannes Film Festival, Binoche did not gain true international acclaim until she played Tereza in Philip Kaufman's The Unbearable Lightness of Being in 1988.
In the meantime, Binoche become involved with Leos Carax, a then-hot young filmmaker who cast her in a lead role in his chilling Mauvais Sang (Bad Blood). While involved with Carax, Binoche appeared in his Les Amants du Pont-Neuf (Lovers on the Bridge), a film they began in 1988 but did not finish until 1991 due to financial difficulties. She and Carax parted ways two years later after Binoche's great success starring opposite Jeremy Irons in Louis Malle's Damage (1992). The same year, the actress appeared with future English Patient co-star Ralph Fiennes in a new film version of Wuthering Heights, and followed that with the lead role in Krzysztof Kieslowski's Blue (1993). (She also appeared briefly in the trilogy's other installments, Red and White.)