Eva Green was born in Paris, the daughter of French actress Marlène Jobert and Swedish dentist Walter Green. Her mother, a Pied-Noir, was born in Algeria. Green's mother is Jewish. Green was raised without religion; she has said "I feel like a citizen of the world. Life and cinema don't have borders." Green was born two minutes earlier than her sororal twin sister, Joy. She grew up in the 17th arrondissement of Paris where she attended the American School of Paris. Green has described her family as "bourgeois", and has said that her sister is very different from her. Green is a natural dark blonde; she dyed her hair black aged 15. French-Swedish actress Marika Green is her aunt. The 1980s pop-star Elsa Lunghini is her first cousin.
Eva Green was raised in France, attended and graduated from the American University of Paris, an English-speaking institution, and also spent time between Ramsgate, London and Ireland. Green was quiet in school, and developed an interest in Egyptology when she visited the Louvre at age seven. At age 14, after seeing Isabelle Adjani in The Story of Adele H., Eva Green decided to become an actress. Her mother initially feared that an acting career would be too much for her sensitive daughter, but later came to support young Eva's ambitions.
At 17, Eva Green enrolled in St. Paul Drama School in Paris for three years, and then spent 10 weeks at Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Green stated that in drama school, "I always picked the really evil roles. It's a great way to deal with your everyday emotions." Green trained at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in New York City, before she returned to Paris, where she performed in several plays. Green was nominated for a Molière Award for her performance in Jalousie en Trois Fax.
Her performance in The Dreamers convinced Ridley Scott to cast Eva Green in Kingdom of Heaven (2005), a film about the Crusades where she played Sibylla of Jerusalem. Green performed six screen tests, and was hired with only a week before principal photography began. Green found the atmosphere of coming onto a film so late tense and exciting, and also liked the film's ambiguity in approaching its subject matter. To her disappointment, much of her screen time was cut. Stephanie Zacharek of Salon.com praised her performance: "She doesn't quite know what to do with her character's stilted dialogue, but she carries herself so regally that you barely notice." Nev Pierce of the BBC, however, called her character "limp". Green was satisfied when her character's complex subplot was restored in the director's cut. Total Film noted the new scenes completed her performance: "In the theatrical cut, Princess Sibylla sleeps with Balian and then, more or less, loses her mind. Now we understand why. Not only does Sibylla have a young son, but when she realizes he's afflicted with leprosy just like her brother Baldwin, she decides to take his life shortly after he's been crowned king."
Eva Green was considered for parts in The Constant Gardener (a role that went to Rachel Weisz) and The Black Dahlia. She was cast at the last minute in the role of Vesper Lynd in the James Bond film Casino Royale (2006). Green was approached in mid-2005 but turned it down. Principal photography was already underway, and director Martin Campbell noted casting the role was difficult because "we didn't have the final script and a Bond girl always had the connotation of tits 'n' ass." Campbell saw Green's performance in the director's cut of Kingdom of Heaven, and approached Green again. She read the script, and found the character of Vesper far deeper than most Bond girls. Green's performance was well received: Entertainment Weekly called her the fourth best Bond girl of all time; IGN named her the best femme fatale, stating "This is the girl that broke – and therefore made – James Bond"; and she won a BAFTA and an Empire award for her performance. Both awards were voted for by the British public.
Eva Green portrayed the witch Serafina Pekkala in the 2007 film adaptation of The Golden Compass (which, coincidentally, also starred Casino Royale's Daniel Craig, although they did not have any scenes together). She found it difficult being flown on a harness because of her fear of heights, which led her to refuse to reshoot a scene on her last day of filming. Eva Green hoped the religious themes of the book would be preserved, but references to Catholicism were removed from the film. Green next appeared in Franklyn, as Emilia, a schizophrenic woman whose multiple personalities are split between tormented artist (which Green compared to real-life figures Sophie Calle and Tracey Emin) and another, which she described as, "full of life, very witty, big sense of humor". She also filmed Cracks, the directorial debut of Jordan Scott, Ridley Scott's daughter, where she plays a mysterious teacher at a girls' school named Miss G, who falls in love with one of her pupils. In March 2009, she appeared in Womb, where she plays a woman who clones her dead boyfriend. It is a collaboration between actor Matt Smith and director Benedek Fliegauf.
Eva Green was initially approached for the female lead in Lars von Trier's controversial film Antichrist (2009). According to Trier, Eva Green was positive about appearing in the film, but her agents refused to allow her. The unsuccessful casting attempt took two months of the film's pre-production process. Anglo-French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg was cast in the role.
Eva Green will star in the first, ten-part season of Starz's series, Camelot, as the sorceress Morgan le Fay. Green stated, "This is such an iconic story and you have 10 episodes to explore a character. It's not a girlfriend role that you could have in a movie. It's a real ballsy character. She has some guts."
In February 2011, Eva Green was cast as Angélique Bouchard in Tim Burton's film adaptation of Dark Shadows.