With model-good looks being a near-universal prerequisite to ‘making it’ in Hollywood, it might seem like moving from the modelling industry into acting would be a logical, seamless transition. However, with a number of successful models proving to be acting disasters, we are naturally wary of those that make the switch, suspecting that talent may have taken a backseat to beauty. In François Ozon’s brilliant new film Jeune et Jolie, Marine Vacth proves that these prejudices far from apply to her. In a performance that has received rave reviews, Vacth stars as a curious young girl on a journey of sexual discovery. To celebrate the release of Jeune et Jolie last week we take a look at some others who have proven that models can have serious acting chops too.
Starting out as a model at the tender age of 15, the beautiful Marine stunned her way to a number of high profile campaigns, replacing Kate Moss as the face of Yves Saint Laurent perfume. However, Marine left behind what surely would have been an impressive career in modelling to pursue her true passion in film. Jeune et Jolie marks her breakthrough role, gaining international recognition for her performance – delivered with the assurance and subtlety of an actor years her senior.
Film highlights – Jeune et Jolie
Dutch beauty Famke Janssen moved from Holland to the US to pursue a career in modelling, experiencing great success evident through her work in the late 80s with Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel and Victoria’s Secret. She burst onto the scene with her brilliantly camp portrayal of Xenia Onatopp in Pierce Brosnan’s best Bond film – Goldeneye – and cemented her ‘respectable actor’ status as Jean Grey in Bryan Singer’s X-Men trilogy.
Film highlights – Goldeneye, Taken, X-Men
Halle Berry has had a truly remarkable, record-breaking career. Winning Miss Teen All American and Miss Ohio as a teen, she later went on to become the first African American Miss World entrant in 1986. Making her film debut in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever, Halle went from role to role until, in 2001, she became the first – and only – African American to win Best Actress at the Academy Awards for Monster’s Ball. Like Janssen, Berry also starred in the X-Men Trilogy as Storm, and appeared as a Bond girl in the –albeit terrible – Die Another Day. Oh well, you can’t win ‘em all, Halle!
Film Highlights – Monster’s Ball, X-Men, Cloud Atlas
Before being scouted whilst walking the streets of London aged 14, Lily Cole had never considered modelling. Yet this chance encounter proved to be the most important in her life. Appearing on the cover of Vogue aged 16, the only was up for Cole as she went on to work with fashion giants such as Prada, Alexander McQueen, Chanel and Louis Vuitton. While still an influential model, Cole tried her hand at acting, taking on a few small roles before starring in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus alongside Heath Ledger in his final film.
Film highlights – The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, St. Trinians
While not the most prolific of models, Mark Wahlberg can easily boast the most colourful past on this list. Coming into the public eye as the younger brother of Donnie Wahlberg of New Kids on the Block fame, Mark was angry and violent through his adolescent years, suffering from cocaine addiction at 13 and getting convicted for attempted murder at 16. Turning over a new leaf, Wahlberg reinvented himself as rapper Marky Mark, later modelling for Calvin Klein underwear. Wahlberg then made the transition to acting, gaining plaudits for his portrayal of Micky Ward in 2010’s The Fighter.