Oscar-winning French actor Juliette Binoche has given her sprawling career a second wind with striking performances in Claire Denis’ comedy drama “Let The Sunshine In” and sci-fi “High Life” (opposite Robert Pattinson). Best known by American audiences for her romantic roles in Anthony Minghella’s “The English Patient” and Lasse Hallström’s “Chocolat,” Binoche has worked with some of the most revered filmmakers worldwide, including Abbas Kiarostami (“Copie Conforme”), Leos Carax (“Les amants du Pont-Neuf”), Michael Haneke (“Caché”) and Olivier Assayas (“Clouds of Sils Maria”).

In her latest film, “Between Two Worlds,” Binoche stars as a well-known author from Paris who goes undercover in Northern France for her new book on low-paid workers facing injustices. Hired as a cleaner, she experiences the brutal and precarious work conditions while bonding with other women. The movie, whose cast was primarily made up of non-professionals and locals, was adapted from Florence Aubenas’ bestseller “Le Quai de Ouistreham.” The film was part of Cannes 2020’s Official Selection and had a robust launch in French theaters on Jan. 12, drawing more than 100,000 admissions during its first weekend.

While promoting “Between Two Worlds” during the Unifrance Rendez-Vous in Paris, Binoche spoke candidly about her drive to star in films that are politically or socially relevant, her desire to work with emerging filmmakers, being open to TV projects and why she didn’t produce “Between Two Worlds.”

What was it like starring alongside women who were real life cleaners and had never acted in a film before?

It’s formidable to build bridges between worlds that are far apart and seemingly so difficult to connect. Emmanuel Carrère chose non-professionals who are playing roles that are close to them in real life rather than actors, and I think it was the best way to be authentic, faithful to the story and give these people a voice…It’s important to speak out about poverty right now because we’re in this crisis which is amplifying the gap between the richest and poorest people. It’s only going to get worse.

You’ve worked with some of the best filmmakers in France and abroad. How do you balance projects on both sides of the Atlantic?

I’m not necessarily trying to have a balance in what I do because the language doesn’t matter so much. You can do an English-language film that no one watches, or do a French one that travels everywhere. When I’m offered roles in French or English, I check out the filmmaker or the theme — that’s what matters the most. Sometimes I can’t pin down the reason why I said yes to a project until we start shooting, and then I’m like, ‘Oh yes, that’s why I have to do this!’

I just did a movie shot in Mississippi (Anna Gutto’s “Paradise Highway”). It’s a first film but I liked the script and the prospect of playing a truck driver! I never imagined I’d play a truck driver! I thought it was a worthwhile challenge. I was drawn to incongruity and the prospect of embarking on a new adventure. As an actor it’s exciting not to know if you’ll be able to get back on your feet like a cat after a six-floor fall…If you’re only looking for safety, it’s best to work in an office.

Are you interested in doing more work in television?

I did an episode of ‘Call My Agent’ before but it doesn’t count because it was only three days of shoot, and last summer I did my first full series (“The Staircase”) directed by Antonio Campos, an American director who does both films and TV shows. I was stunned by the process; there are so many episodes and we started by shooting the end! I’m going to do another TV project soon so yes, it’s something I’m thinking about. Cinema is complicated right now…The distribution, financing; it’s difficult. One of the reasons why I took on this next TV project is to be able to do smaller movies. Next up, I’ll be starring in a project by Lance Hammer who directed “Ballast.” He’s someone I like very much, and his next film is a small but very exciting project.

Do you feel that women filmmakers are gaining ground in the film industry?

There seem to be more and more female directors, and in France, this upward trend is obvious. In the U.S. it seems to still be a struggle. I just did “Paradise Highway” with Anna Gutto, who is from Norway and has been living in the U.S. in 20 years, but still it wasn’t easy for her to board this project. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to make this film with her.

Since you are so invested in each movie you star in, have you ever considered stepping behind the camera to produce, co-produce or even direct your own films?

I wanted to produce “Between Two Worlds” but Emmanuel Carrère didn’t want me to. It hurt me and I felt humiliated. I came on set feeling worthless. But ultimately I was able to channel this feeling and it was the best preparation for this film. But I didn’t hold a grudge against him. I realize that Emmanuel didn’t know me, and I think in the future if I [asked] him to do a film with me as an actor and producer he would accept…I also have ideas for films and it makes me want to take the leap…It’s true that I’m starting to know something about the mise-en-scene!

But at the [same] time, I’m lucky to be working with filmmakers who have their own worlds and cinematic identity…It’s also exciting to work with emerging filmmakers because you can guide them without imposing your ideas. Filmmakers always need actors to embody their characters and bring their scripts alive; there’s something so visceral and sensual in a performance, that’s what gives a film its depth. So it’s always important to know how we can best contribute to a film, whether as an actor or as a director, because it’s a collaboratively-made work of art.

What can you tell us about Claire Denis’ “Fire” in which you star opposite Vincent Lindon? I hear the film will be premiering in competition at the Berlinale.

There are two words in the original title: “With Love and Fury” (“Avec Amour et Acharnement”). My impression is there was more fury than love going on!