|January 12, 1966|
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Born on Jan. 12, 1966 in Paris, France, Olivier Martinez was raised in a working-class suburb along with his younger brother, Vincent. His father was a professional boxer-turned-mechanic of Spanish descent hailing from Morocco, while his mother was a secretary and a native of France. Coming out of his teens, Martinez abandoned school and went to work in jobs that included a stint as a jeans salesman and later, a bartender. For a time, he began following in his father's footsteps, boxing as a professional welterweight, but put down the gloves after a car accident left him with a lingering back injury. In 1989, at the age of 23, a casting director saw him bartending and helped the attractive young man enroll in the Conservatoire National Superieur d'Art Dramatique, where the world of acting opened Martinez's eyes to both a new creative outlet and a potential career. With spots on French television as early as 1990, it was not long before Martinez was demonstrating the breadth of his heretofore unrecognized talents on the big screen.
Cast as a young criminal sharing time with screen legend Yves Montand in Jean-Jacques Beineix's "IP5: L'île aux pachyderms" ("The Island of Pachyderms") (1992), Martinez was nominated in 1993 for France's top acting honor, the Cesar, for Most Promising Actor. He soon delivered on that promise, effectively jumping into the drama "Un, deux, tres, soleil" ("1, 2, 3, Sun") (1993) as Paul, the charming local thief. In 1994, Martinez found himself again in the same place at the Cesar Awards, although this time he left the ceremony with the trophy firmly in hand. By this time, director Jean-Paul Rappeneau knew he wanted Martinez to anchor his filmed adaptation of the classic French novel, "Hussard sur le toit, Le" ("The Horseman on the Roof") (1995). With this latest project, Martinez vaulted to international prominence working with one of France's top acting icons, Juliette Binoche. Paired in the epic story of a woman searching for her husband in the midst of a cholera epidemic, the romance onscreen was subdued, as Martinez's Italian revolutionary Angelo Pardi was forced to suppress the onset of attraction. The press surrounding the film was as salacious as the film's romance was chaste, with reporters intent on gleaming details about the much hotter off-screen romance between the up-and-coming actor and Binoche - a highly-publicized relationship throughout which Martinez and Binoche lived as a couple for the next three years.
Though he was a cinema sensation in his native country, in America, Martinez had been saddled with the press label of "the French Brad Pitt" due to their similarities in age and period of professional ascent. He was utilized once again by the director who had helped him to a Cesar, Bertrand Blier, playing a poet in Blier's exploration of sexuality in "Mon Homme" ("My Man") (1996), but by1999, Martinez had resolved to learn English in preparation for things to come, aided by American television sitcoms and films. Looking for an opportunity to test himself as an actor, Martinez played Cuban writer Lázaro Gómez Carriles in cowriter-director Julian Schnabel's acclaimed biographical drama "Before Night Falls" (2000). Co-scripted by the real life Carriles, the award-winning film placed Martinez alongside such cinema superstars as Javier Bardem and Johnny Depp. While his small role made him a more familiar face with American audiences, it was his ongoing romance with Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino that attracted more press.
Even for the typically staid American audience, Martinez nearly made the subject of infidelity palatable - or at the very least, understandable - when he made his U.S. film debut in "Unfaithful" (2002), a remake of France's "Femme infidèle, La" ("The Unfaithful Wife") (1969). Directed by Adrian Lyne, one of Hollywood's most reliable directors of sensuality, Martinez tore into the role of Paul, a Manhattan bookshop owner initiating an illicit affair with Diane Lane's married suburbanite. Actor Richard Gere - a Hollywood sex symbol himself with a longer-running track record than most - co-starred as Lane's loving husband, who, after discovering his wife's torrid affair, confronts Martinez, leading to dire consequences. Although "Unfaithful" met with mixed reviews, it performed well enough - especially with female audiences - to prompt Martinez to relocate to Los Angeles, where, after his break up with Sorvino, he began a nomadic life in Hollywood as newly minted star.
Martinez was off to a good start with such ventures as the remake of Tennessee Williams' "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone" (HBO, 2003). British actress Helen Mirren and Martinez, as Italian gigolo Paolo di Lio, steamed up the screen, and the actor's budding relationship with the studios began to bring him more mainstream work. Martinez played a suave European drug lord facing down L.A.'s "S.W.A.T." (2003) team then took the role of Canadian police officer Paquette in "Taking Lives" (2004), a steamy thriller starring Angelina Jolie as an F.B.I profiler. Meanwhile, Martinez's personal life threatened to once more overshadow his acting career and preoccupy audiences, after he began dating Australian pop star Kylie Minogue. The couple weathered the press as her music career exploded and she underwent a battle with breast cancer in mid-2005. Martinez stayed by Minogue's side during her treatment and recovery, but by early 2007 the couple had called it quits. Martinez quickly returned to focusing on his work, even prepping for his role as a werewolf pack leader by spending quality time alongside caged wolves for MGM's adaptation of the young adult supernatural novel, "Blood and Chocolate" (2007).
Although seen little on screens over the years that immediately followed, it was once again Martinez's personal life that garnered him substantial press. While shooting a film in the spring of 2010, the actor became involved with his co-star and leading lady Halle Berry. The actress, whose five-year relationship with French-Canadian supermodel Gabriel Aubry had produced a daughter, Nahla, was reportedly already in a state of collapse and abruptly came to an end around this time. As speculations mounted regarding the nature of Martinez's relationship with the A-list star, Berry's interactions with her ex became increasingly tense over issues of visitation rights with their child. In March 2012, the couple made it official when Berry publicly announced her engagement to Martinez, just prior to the release of "Dark Tide" (2012). Filmed two years earlier, the disappointing aquatic thriller was most notable for having been the production on which Martinez and Berry first met. Reportedly having reached a truce with Aubry over visitation rights, Berry's relationship with Nahla's father once again grew strained after the actress expressed an interest in relocating to Martinez's homeland of France, where she claimed she could better protect her daughter from the increasingly intrusive Hollywood paparazzi. Aubry vehemently fought back in the courts, claiming she wanted him out of their daughter's life and Martinez in as new dad.
In November 2012, after months of legal maneuvering, a Los Angeles judge denied Berry's request to relocate Nahla's permanent residence to France, putting her and Martinez's plans - the couple had been recently spotted checking out preschools in Paris - on hold. Brewing frustrations and hostilities finally reached the boiling point on Thanksgiving Day when a fist fight between Martinez and Aubry erupted outside Berry's L.A. home after Nahla's father dropped her off for the holiday dinner. Both Martinez and Aubry suffered injuries and were treated at a nearby hospital. Initially reported to the police by Berry and Martinez as the instigator, Aubry was later arrested for personal battery, while Berry was granted an emergency restraining order against her daughter's father shortly thereafter. Not surprisingly, in the days that followed the violent altercation, accusations came from both sides, with Aubry filing a restraining order of his own against Martinez, claiming that not only had the French actor started the brawl, but that Martinez had also threatened to kill Aubry if he did not agree to allow the family to move to France. Shortly thereafter, Berry and Aubry reached a custody agreement. She and Martinez were married in July 2013, and the birth of their son, Maceo, followed in October.