You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

International Star You Should Know: Veerle Baetens

Belgian star of 'Broken Circle Breakdown' moves easily among film, TV and concert halls


Although Antwerp-born Veerle Baetens (pronounced VERE-luh BAH-tuns) was already on the radar of most European casting directors for her work in TV and film, her incandescent turn as Elise, the bluegrass-singing mom whose daughter takes ill in Belgian foreign-language Academy Award nominee “The Broken Circle Breakdown,” brought her global attention, winning the thesp actress kudos at the 2013 European

Film Awards and the Tribeca Film Festival. “I have a daughter of my own, and playing this part … was special,” Baetens says.


“Broken Circle” helmer Felix Van Groeningen calls Baetens a “pitbull” as a thesp. “What strikes me most — apart from the fact that the camera loves her, and the fact that she is the hardest working actor I have ever met — is that she has the ability to grab the emotion of the scene almost immediately,” he says.


A mezzo-soprano who plays piano and guitar, the musical-theater-trained Baetens has her own Euro-pop band, Dallas. Before “Broken Circle,” she never thought about the film’s particular brand of American roots music, but she became a fan of the genre. “I especially love music with moving lyrics. That’s why I started to like bluegrass. The songs are so true and simple, and they touch your heart.” The soundtrack from “Broken Circle Breakdown” became a surprise bestseller in Belgium and France, and the group’s shows are a hot ticket.


Baetens, who speaks fluent Dutch, English and French, recently appeared in two episodes of the BBC’s historical drama “The White Queen” as Margaret of Anjou; she’s on Belgian movie screens in local hit drama “The Verdict,” which has grossed $4 million-plus; and she’s co-writing a screenplay, the subject of which, for now, is under wraps. “I would love to work anywhere in the world, as well as at home,” she says. “The White Queen,” she notes, was shot in English. “It felt very comfortable,” she says.


Baetens’ character in “Broken Circle Breakdown” is covered in tattoos, so the ink-free thesp sat for 2½ hours every day while removable art was applied to her body.

More Film

  • Mara Watkins Nabhaan Rizwan Steven Wouterlood

    Diverse Talents Pepper Variety's Fifth 10 Europeans to Watch List

    Variety has unveiled its fifth edition of 10 Europeans to Watch, spotlighting 10 rising talents from across the continent who are poised for breakthroughs in 2019. The selection includes emerging actors, directors, showrunners and cinematographers from six countries whose dynamic talents are being showcased on screens big and small, and on both sides of the camera. [...]

  • Glass Movie

    Box Office: 'Glass' Shines Overseas With $48.5 Million Weekend

    After autobots and aquatic kings have dominated foreign markets over the past few weeks, a different kind of hero has risen to the top of box office charts. M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass” is the new champ overseas, pulling in $48.5 million from international territories. The supernatural thriller, a sequel to 2000’s “Unbreakable” and 2016’s “Split,” debuted [...]

  • Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo, Marco Graf

    'Roma' and 'The Favourite' Lead London Critics' Circle Winners

    After ruling the U.S. critics’ award circuit, “Roma” continued its dominance on the other side of the pond, as the London Film Critics’ Circle announced its winners tonight. A week after landing seven BAFTA nominations, Alfonso Cuarón’s Mexico City memory piece landed film of the year and director of the year honors from the group [...]

  • M. Night Shyamalan Should Stop Writing

    The Big Twist M. Night Shyamalan Needs: He Should Stop Writing His Own Scripts (Column)

    Quick, name the greatest film by each of the following directors: Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, David Lean, Robert Altman, Roman Polanski, Kathryn Bigelow, Jonathan Demme. Answers will vary (mine would be: “Psycho,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Nashville,” “Chinatown,” “The Hurt Locker,” “The Silence of the Lambs”), but whatever your taste, odds are that [...]

  • Andy Vajna Dead: 'Rambo' Producer and

    Andy Vajna, 'Rambo' Producer, Dies at 74

    Andy Vajna, executive producer of several “Rambo” films as well as “Total Recall” and several “Terminator” movies, died Sunday in Budapest after a long illness. He was 74. The Hungarian National Film Fund confirmed his death, calling him a “dominant figure in the Hungarian and international film industry” who was responsible for the development of [...]

  • Glass trailer

    Box Office: 'Glass' Dominates MLK Weekend With $47 Million

    M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass” topped box office charts during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, collecting $40 million over the weekend for a four-day sum of $47 million. If estimates hold, “Glass” will come in behind “American Sniper” ($107 million) and “Ride Along” ($48 million) as the third-best showing for both January and MLK holiday [...]

  • FICG Names Estrella Araiza As New

    Estrella Araiza To Head Up Guadalajara Intl Film Festival

    The Guadalajara Intl. Film Festival (FICG) has announced that Estrella Araiza, until now the festival’s head of industry and markets and director of the Guadalajara IntL. Film Festival in Los Angeles, has been promoted to the position of general director of the prominent Mexican festival. She replaces Ivan Trujillo, appointed director of TV UNAM. Araiza [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content