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obtain really great female parts in
Hollywood. Even more when you're
French and you don't live there and
don't express a strong desire to work
there. They have so many amazing
and talented actresses there already…
you can't really be a tourist.'
Actually, her English is quite
respectable, even though she sits
with a translator by her side and
protests, 'I don't have the vocabulary.'
She may have taken over from Nicole
Kidman as the face of Chanel No.5
back in 2009, but this daughter of a
dental surgeon and a teacher, who
hails from the provincial town of
Montluçon, struggles with the fame
that goes hand-in-hand with such
a life. 'I don't feel comfortable about
being the person that everyone is
looking at,' she says, likening it to
being 'the star animal at the zoo'.
Perhaps it's no coincidence that
for years, in every interview, she
took a photo of each journalist - so
she could be the one looking down
the lens. 'I am a contradiction,' she nods. 'I love my job but
somewhere deep down I was not made for it.' If that's the case,
then she covers it up very well. On the red carpet, her style
choices are elegant, eortless and bold; forever dubbed 'gamine',
she's one of the few stars that can stand up to the comparisons
with Audrey Hepburn, the actress she is named after.
The dark side
Like Hepburn, she's probably best known for doing light and uy;
call it the curse of Amélie, but it's been dicult to shrug o the
image of the hopeless romantic from Montmartre. Films such
as Priceless - loosely based on the Hepburn classic Breakfast at
Tiany's - cemented her as the French girl-next-door. But turning
38 this August, Tautou is determined to evolve. 'I hope to go more
towards the darker sides of humanity,'
she says. 'Complex psychological
characters are more attractive than
simple ones! That's what I prefer.'
This year, as well as attending
Cannes parties, she can be seen in
Mood Indigo. It's based on the cult
novel L'Ecume des Jours by Boris Vian,
here adapted by Michel Gondry, the
ceaselessly inventive director behind
the wonderful Eternal Sunshine of the
Spotless Mind. 'Michel is amazing,'
says Tautou. 'He has an idea every
second. He's very creative. Everything
we did in this movie was surprising
and amazing and crazy. We knew that
we would only do it once in our lives.
And I adored working with him.'
It also allowed her to reunite with
French actor Romain Duris, with
whom she'd worked previously, in
Cédric Klapisch's trilogy, L'Auberge
Espagnole, Russian Dolls and the
recent Chinese Puzzle. Duris plays
Colin, an inventor of ba£ing devices
(including a piano that mixes
cocktails) who falls for Tautou's sweet-natured Chloé, only to
discover that she's dying of a mystery illness: a water lily growing
on her lung. Tautou calls it a 'sugary part', but the darker turn it
takes ensures that it's not an exercise in saccharine.
Typical of a Gondry work, it's full of visual brilliance, such as the
scene where Colin and Chloé dance with bizarre elastic, elongated
limbs. 'It's completely surreal,' Tautou declares, admitting she
was surprised when Gondry wanted to work with her, 'because
sometimes I'm too insecure and I can lack self-con§dence.
When I admire people, I can't believe that they want me.'
Still, it's always been this way. When she was at college,
superstition prevented her from telling people she wanted to
act. 'I wouldn't say that to anyone - not even to myself. I'd just
let things come and things happen. I'd rather do things than talk
'I HOPE TO GO MORE TOWARDS THE
DARKER SIDES OF HUMANITY. COMPLEX
PSYCHOLOGICAL CHARACTERS ARE
MORE ATTRACTIVE THAN SIMPLE ONES'
Clockwise from left: Amélie; with
Chiwetel Ejiofor in Dirty Pretty
Things; A Very Long Engagement
PHOTOS: REX FEATURES