In the Italian newspapers of 1957, Claudia Cardinale was once referred to as "the girl who didn't want to be in the movies" — the teenager won a contest to attend the Venice Film Festival but was reluctant to go. More than half a century later, the Tunisian actress boasts a career with performances in more than 150 films, working opposite some of the finest leading men in both European and American cinema: Omar Sharif, Marcello Mastroianni, Alain Delon, Burt Lancaster, Anthony Quinn and Marlon Brando.

Mastroianni was one of her frequent collaborators. In one of Federico Fellini's greatest works, the duo starred in
(1963), or Huit et demi as it's known in French. Cast as Mastroinanni's muse in the Academy Award-winning film about an Italian director that's lost his artistic way, Cardinale's career took off in the '60s. Known as Italy's sweetheart, she was first known to international audiences in The Pink Panther (1963). Now 78, the longevity of her career surpasses that of her peers, including Brigitte Bardot, her French counterpart who starred with her in the comedy Les Petroleuses (1971). Now supporting indie cinema, the screen siren still amazes us with her artistic thirst. See her rise to stardom in our gallery below.

Huit et demi will be shown at The Projector's Sundays with French Cinema on 1 May. Book tickets here. For last week's #WomanCrushWednesday, click here.