As the film industry prepares for the 66th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, Audrey Tautou is preparing to battle her natural instinct to flee the limelight. Last year she walked (and wowed) the red carpet whilst celebrating her film ‘Thérèse Desqueyroux’, but this year she really sticks her head above the parapet in her new role as ‘mistress of ceremonies’ at the festival.
Euronews’ Ali May spoke to one of French cinema’s national treasures about her undying love for Stephen Frears, feelings of ambivalence towards Hollywood, and why some cinema fans still cannot shake the image of her as the pixie-faced heroine of Amélie, one of the most successful French films of all time.
Ali May, euronews: “You have acted in blockbuster thrillers, you have acted in comedies, in love stories and of course Thérèse Desqueyroux is one of your period dramas. Is there any genre that you think is more attuned to your artistic ambitions and abilities or do you just not mind?”
Audrey Tautou: “I can not say that I have preferences… I love, love stories, I love comedies, but I also like harder films, which offer something different… a reflection of something more intellectual, it’s fascinating for me.”
euronews: “Thérèse Desqueyroux is a twisted, complicated character. Was there any part of the character that you found hard to play?”
Audrey Tautou: “With Claude Miller, the film’s director, we took time to talk about the character, to discover her, so I think, even before we started shooting, I was quite integrated with who she was. It meant there was no mystery, nothing felt unclear… and so I did not find it too difficult. She is a woman who wants to determine her own life, to escape both her marriage and the cruel and the hypocritical bourgeoisie around her, she falls into this very immoral act of poisoning her husband.. mainly from a survival instinct, but it is true, it is almost a little transgressive.”
euronews: “OK, I have a confession here for you: when I see your picture I think ‘oh Amelie’ and it’s hard to think of you as Audrey. I want you to look back at that film 12 years ago. What was it that made it such a classic and that character such a memorable hit?”
Audrey Tautou: “I don’t know, but I think this movie is a little miracle; it had something that touched people’s hearts, and so deep… it’s quite indescribable! That it touched so many people, irrespective of their culture, nationality, it is strange but really, I do not have the answer.”
euronews: “I think it was in a way the very foundation of your international success. Would you agree with that?”
Audrey Tautou: “It is set in wonderful Paris, and it is probably true, that whilst it allowed the audience to discover Paris, and France, perhaps they also found me in passing. But its not something that I am really aware of; I’m just happy and proud to be an ambassador for French cinema, that’s for sure.”
euronews: “Let’s now look at your international career. It’s only once every few years that you do a Hollywood film. What’s the reason? I don’t think the reason is that you don’t get offers. I’m sure you’re getting lots of offers.”
Audrey Tautou: “No, I do not get a lot of proposals, but that’s because I’m not so present in their market. They have extraordinary actresses, and I do not speak English very well… so there are a few reasons why I am maybe a little on the margins. It is true that, from time to time, I have had great experiences in Hollywood, and I hope to have such an opportunity again, but working there is not an obsession for me either.”
euronews: “You have a very interesting catalogue of films in your career. When you look back at them if you wanted to pick two or three that you had most fun with, which films would you say they were?”
Audrey Tautou: “I would say ‘Amelie’, that is for sure… I would say ‘Hors de Prix’, ‘Coco avant Chanel’… and I can not help thinking of ‘Dirty Pretty Things’, which I shot with Steven Frears, who I have been completely in love with for 10 years, and I said again yesterday, he knows it. No, it was an extraordinary experience, one of the best experiences of my life.”
euronews: “Tell me about your future plans…”
Audrey Tautou: “I don’t like to necessarily predict things too much. I try to implement small personal projects, that are not necessarily associated with cinema. There are two movies I worked on which are set to be released in France, so I’ll take care to present them, and then there are other things… life, family, friends.”