After working as an office secretary, Dutch actress Sylvia Kristel decided to become a model in the 1970s. She made commercials and in 1972 she was proclaimed Miss TV Europe. She also had a number of small roles in Dutch feature films, including Frank & Eva and Because of the Cats. Her international breakthrough, however, came with the erotic French film Emmanuelle (Just Jaeckin, 1974). The film was a worldwide hit and there were Emmanuelle sequels, but fame also brought alcohol and drug problems along with it.
In the 1980s Kristel overcame these obstacles and played in films such as Mata Hari (Curtis Harrington, 1985), The Arrogant (Philippe Blot, 1987) and Dracula's Widow (Christopher Coppola, 1988). In the 1990s Kristel took up painting and played in Dutch and Belgian films, including Gaston's War, An Amsterdam Tale and Lijmen/Het been. In 2004 she made her first short film, Topor et moi, which was awarded a special jury prize during the Tribeca Film Festival in New York in May 2006.