Karina was 17 when she arrived in Paris—indigent and unable to speak French. Living off the streets she got a break while sitting at the cafe Les Deux Magots. She was approached by a woman from an advertisement agency who asked her to do some photos. She became a successful fashion model, meeting Pierre Cardin and Coco Chanel.Chanel helped her devise her professional name, Anna Karina.
Karina's first film appearance, although uncredited, dates from 1959, when a soap advertisement in which she appeared as a model was included near the end of Guy Debord's On the Passage of a Few Persons Through a Rather Brief Unity of Time. The image was accompanied by Debord's voice-over: "The advertisements during intermissions are the truest reflection of an intermission from life."
Jean-Luc Godard, then a film critic for Cahiers du cinéma, first saw Karina in a series of Palmolive ads in a bathtub covered in soapsuds. He was casting his debut feature film, Breathless. He offered her a small part in the film, but she refused when he mentioned that there would be a nude scene. When Godard queried her refusal, referring to the supposed nudity in the Palmolive ads, she is said to have replied "Are you mad? I was wearing a bathing suit in those ads — the soapsuds went up to my neck. It was in your mind that I was undressed."
Other notable films include: George Cukor's Justine (1969), Tony Richardson's Laughter in the Dark (1969), Christian de Chalonge's L'Alliance (1970), Andre Delvaux's Rendezvous a Bray (1971), The Salzburg Connection (1972), Franco Brusati's Bread and Chocolate (1973) and Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Chinese Roulette (1976). In 1972 she set up a production company named Raska for her film-directing debut Vivre Ensemble, in which she also acted and which was released in 1973. She wrote and acted in Last Song in 1987. She has since appeared in Haut, Bas, Fragile (1995) by Jacques Rivette and sang in The Truth About Charlie.
Karina has also appeared on stage, in Rivette's adaptation of La Religieuse, Pour Lucrece, Toi et Tes Nuages, Françoise Sagan's Il Fait Beau Jour et Nuit and Ingmar Bergman's Apres La Répétition.
Karina has also maintained an important singing career. At the end of the 1960s, she scored a major hit with "Sous le soleil exactement" and "Roller Girl" by Serge Gainsbourg. Both songs are taken from the TV musical comedy Anna (1967), by the film director Pierre Koralnik, in which she sings seven songs alongside Gainsbourg and Jean-Claude Brialy. She subsequently recorded an album, Une histoire d'amour, with Philippe Katerine, which was followed up by a concert tour. Karina has also made several appearances on television. In 2005 she released Chansons de films, a collection of songs sung in movies.
Karina wrote, directed and starred in Victoria, a musical road movie filmed in Montreal, Quebec and Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean in 2007. A review by Richard Kuipers in Variety praised it as "a pleasant gambol through the backwoods of Quebec...Given plenty of room to work off each other, the members of this fine ensemble keep pic on track...Big plus is the music and heartfelt songs by Philippe Katerine".
Karina has written four novels: Vivre ensemble (1973); Golden City (1983); On n'achète pas le soleil (1988); and Jusqu'au bout du hasard (1998).
 Personal life.
Karina and Godard married on 3 March 1961, during the shooting of A Woman Is a Woman, and divorced in 1965. After Godard, she was married to scriptwriter-actor Pierre Fabre (1968–1973), actor-director Daniel Duval (1978–1981) and director Dennis Berry (1982–1994).