updated 09/10/2010 AT 8:00 AM ET
•originally published 09/10/2010 AT 11:00 AM ET
Born in Paris of French and Spanish-Moroccan heritage, the 44-year-old has costarred with an international roster of stars (to Americans, he’s probably most recognized for his role in 2002’s Unfaithful, with Diane Lane and Richard Gere) and has been linked to some of the world’s most beautiful women, including Juliette Binoche and singer Kylie Minogue.
But here are some things that may surprise you about the sexy Martinez, who left school early to launch a career.
1. He started out as a boxer.
Like his father before him, Olivier first fought on the European circuit as a welterweight. When he was 22, friends convinced him to study acting. “I wanted to be a boxer because I thought that’s how I could make money,” he admits. “But I found a better way.”
2. His breakthrough role came in 1992.
In only his fifth professional acting job, Martinez was nominated for a César (France’s Oscar) opposite national treasure Yves Montand in Montand’s final film, IP5. Two years later, Martinez received international attention in the romantic epic Horseman on the Roof, with Binoche. For the swashbuckling role, he learned to fence, ride a horse and speak Italian.
3. He’s modeled.
Martinez’s rugged good looks have not gone unnoticed. Since 2006, he’s been the face for Yves St. Laurent’s men’s fragrances. On screen, his face has also been seen as Javier Bardem’s friend in Before Night Falls (2000), Lane’s Unfaithful lover, and the younger man who seduces Helen Mirren in a 2003 TV adaptation of Tennessee Williams’s The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone. Hollywood has cast him on both sides of the law: as Angelina Jolie’s French-Canadian cop partner in Taking Lives (2004), while Colin Farrell cuffed him as a criminal in 2003’s S.W.A.T.
4. He loves bikes and dogs.
A trained mechanic and devoted motorcyclist, Martinez owns several bikes. In Paris, he lives with Sheba, a mixed-breed beagle, who was a gift from ex Minogue.
5. He is very French.
Never married, Martinez has been romantically involved with a number of beautiful women, including Binoche, Minogue, Mira Sorvino and now, apparently, Berry. Earlier this year, British papers reported Martinez was seeing Victoria Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, whom director Michael Bay is said to be casting as Megan Fox’s successor in the upcoming Transformers 3.