If you are not familiar with Vincent Cassel, you’re excused, simply because he’s mainly known in the world of French acting.
Born in 1966 in Paris, France to French actor Jean-Pierre Cassel, Vincent was naturally exposed to the acting at a young age.
I first took notice of Cassel in 2002’s Irreversible, directed and written by Gasper Noe. This by far is one of my favorite roles of Vincent’s, and the movie itself is one of the most superbly written and acted French films, let alone movies, that I’ve ever seen. Irreversible tended to receive really great or really poor reviews due to its controversial subject matter.
Also starring in the film is actress Monica Bellucci, whom Cassel is now married and has a child with. Unlike most Hollywood couples, they’ve shared the screen several times in movies like L’appartement (1996,) Dobermann (1997,) Compromis (1998,) Mediterranean (1999,) Le pacte des loups (2001,) Agents secrets (2004) and Sheitan (2006.) Both actors also have been the Master of Ceremonies at the Cannes Film festival; Cassel in 2006.
You definitely may have seen Cassel in some American films, although his roles were usually small or supporting. He made his debut in English-language films in 1998’s Elizabeth playing “Duc d’Anjou,” followed by 2001’s Birthday Girl, 2003’s Reckoning and 2004’s Blueberry.
Most notably, Cassel played the martial-arts-light-guy in 2004’s Ocean’s Twelve and 2007’s Ocean’s Thirteen, as well as bad-ass “Kirill” in 2007’s Eastern Promises (opposite Viggo Mortensen and Naomi Watts) and villian “LaRoche” in 2005’s Derailed (opposite Jennifer Aniston and Clive Owen.)
Cassel is known for his villainous roles in general, stating “I love playing baddies.” He’s also done voice-overs for animated films like Shrek and Ice Age.
He’s won several awards in French cinema, and is currently starring in upcoming films, Black Swan, The Monk and Eleven Minutes.
I’m not quite sure what draws me to Cassel (perhaps it is my love for bad guys,) but whenever he takes the screen, my focus immediately shifts to him, no matter how little his role is. As mentioned previously, it looks like Vincent is going to be starring in more American films in the near future, which hopefully will help bring his name more into the spotlight of American cinema.