Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts first wowed critics in bruising crime drama Bullhead (2011), a role that jump-started his career. Filmmakers from across the world quickly came knocking, so enamoured were they with the actor’s ability to find the vulnerability in even the most violent characters.
From Jacques Audiard’s gripping drama Rust and Bone (2012) – in which he starred alongside Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard, to Thomas Vinterberg’s remake of Far From the Madding Crowd (2015), Schoenarts has proved that he is nothing if not adaptable.
His latest film is Disorder, the sophomore feature from writer-director Alice Winocour, in which he plays an ex-solider who takes a job in personal security. Suffering from the damaging effects of PTSD brought about from his time on the battle lines, he finds that his new job offers little respite from his increasing paranoia.
Slick and tightly composed, Disorder is a tension-fuelled thriller featuring Schoenaerts at the top of his game. Ahead of the film’s DVD and Blu-ray release on 25 July, we’ve compiled the Belgian’s hunk’s finest roles to date.
Schoenaerts plays Vincent, an ex-Special Services soldier who takes a job in security after returning home. When his wealthy employer leaves, Vincent is left to protect his wife Jessie (Diane Kruger) and their child. Schoenaerts gives a chilling performance as Vincent, who suffers from the ramifications of PTSD. This slick thriller deals with Vincent’s paranoia and his uncertainty that Jessie is in danger.
The Danish Girl (2016)
Schoenaerts plays the fictional role of Hans Axgil in the Oscar-winning film The Danish Girl, the latest from Tom Hooper. Hans is an art dealer and childhood friend of Lili Elbe (Eddie Redmayne), who undergoes groundbreaking transgender surgery. As Lili’s wife Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander) confides in Hans, they grow closer and he becomes her friend and confident, causing a rift in her marriage as Lili makes her own choices. Schoenaerts only plays a small role in the film, which rounded off a pretty solid year for his career.
A Bigger Splash (2015)
Starring alongside the likes of Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton and Dakota Johnson, Schoenaerts plays a filmmaker whose Italian vacation with girlfriend Marianne Lane (Swinton), a famous rock star, is scuppered with the arrival of an old friend and his estranged daughter, played by Fiennes and Johnson. Directed by I Am Love (2009) filmmaker Luca Guadagnino, this is a balmy, feisty drama about jealousy, passion and fraught desires.
Far From The Madding Crowd (2015)
Playing one of the suitors in this new adaptation of Tom Hardy’s classic literary love story, Schoenaerts steps into the shoes of English actor Alan Bates to play Gabriel Oak, a sheep farmer who vies for the attention of Bathsheba Everdene (played by Carey Mulligan). At the same time, he’s forced to fend off her other suitors Frank Troy (Tom Sturridge) and William Boldwood (Michael Sheen). Schoenaerts, who was handpicked by co-star Mulligan after she saw his performance in Rust and Bone, is captivating in this richly appealing adaptation of a classic novel.
A Little Chaos (2015)
Directed, written by and starring the late Alan Rickman, A Little Chaos is a romantic drama following landscape designer Sabine (Kate Winslet) who is commissioned to build a garden at the Palace of Versailles for King Louis XIV (Rickman). The story follows her struggles with class barriers as she becomes entangled with the court’s renowned landscape artist André Le Nôtre, played by Schoenaerts.
Suite Française (2015)
Set in a war-torn France in 1940, Suite Française follows the story of Lucile Angellier (Michelle Williams) as she awaits news of her husband, a soldier who’s been taken as a prisoner of war. When German troops start to take up residence in the villagers’ homes, Lucile tries to ignore Bruno von Falk (Schoenaerts), the handsome German officer staying with her, but a powerful love begins to draw them together and into the tragedy of war. Schoenaerts gives an enchanting performance as the soldier who’s torn between his love for Lucile and his duty as a soldier.
The Drop (2014)
His second collaboration with writer-director Michaël R. Roskam, this English-language crime drama sees Schoenaerts playing the small but important role of Eric Deeds, a man who sets off a series of events that lands a bartender (played by Tom Hardy) at the centre of a robbery that goes violently awry. The film also stars Noomi Rapace, John Ortiz and James Gandolfini, in one of his final roles.
Blood Ties (2013)
From Tell No One (2006) director Guillaume Canet, this 2013 crime drama is a remake of Jacques Maillot’s 2008 French thriller Les liens du sang, which itself was an adaptation of Bruno and Michel Papet’s novel ‘Deux frères: flic & truand’. In another supporting – but crucial – role, Schoenaerts plays a criminal who gets caught up in the machinations of two warring brothers on opposing sides of the law (played by Clive Owen and Billy Crudup) in 1970s Brooklyn.
Rust and Bone (2012)
The critically acclaimed Rust and Bone sees two towering performances from both Schoenaerts and his co-star Marion Cotillard. The romantic drama directed by Jacques Audiard follows Ali (Schoenaerts), an unemployed father in his mid-20s who’s looking for work to support his son. When he gets a job as a bouncer in a nightclub, he meets Stephanie (Cotillard) a killer whale trainer who later suffers an accident, causing her legs to be amputated. As Ali and Stephanie grow closer, they begin to question their relationship in a heartfelt story about an exhilarating love.
Schoenarts planted himself firmly on the acting scene with this gritty crime drama – his first film with Michaël R. Roskam, which was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 2012 Academy Awards. Set in Sint-Truiden, Schoenaerts plays Jacky, a monosyllabic cattle farmer who, after being approached to make a shady deal with an infamous west-Flemish beef trader, unleashes his inner fury when a chain of events threaten to expose his past. The film is based on the assassination of a high-profile government livestock inspector in 1990s Belgium.