Audrey Tautou’s new film Beautiful Lies is out this Friday. Jamie Steiner had a quick chat with her to talk about the difficulty of comedy, staying in France rather than moving to Hollywood and opening her “secret box”
You and Pierre, the writer/director, have worked before on Priceless. What was it about that film that made you say yes to this one?
Because I loved the movie and the role he wrote for me. I have a very special relationship with Pierre because we speak the same language.
What was it like working with Natalie Baye? Had you worked with her before and did you have time to develop the mother/daughter type relationship?
I had worked with her on Venus Beauty Salon but I really discovered her on this film. We didn’t have any time to create the relationship so we had to be efficient immediately but our understanding was so easy things went very smoothly. She’s a wonderfully confident actress.
Has she inspired you?
I’m not inspired by any career because I don’t have any expectations.
What is it like working with Sami? In some ways Emilie is an unsympathetic character. How did you bring about her likeability so that Sami would fall in love with her?
It was my sacred dream to work with Sami one day. I consider him one of the best French actors ever. You can never see him working which is how you know an actor is great. I think Emilie is very charming and Sami falls in love with her because he’s a clever man. Behind her facade she is deeply good and not that confident. She’s attractive because she’s complex.
Why have you stayed in France rather than make the move to Hollywood?
Because they offer me great parts in great movies and I don’t want to become more famous than I am today. I’m not interested in films that are going to be shown all around the world.
Whilst this is a comedy that has romantic parts in it, was the fact that it explored this darker side of love that drew you to the project?
Yes because I like the fact that this romantic comedy doesn’t fit into a formula. In life you need shadows because otherwise everything is flat and Pierre’s world isn’t flat.
Has there been a role you’ve turned down that you later regretted?
They’ve got so many people that are so keen to work in Hollywood they don’t bother with the girl who isn’t interested. I would’ve loved to have been in Gorillas in the Mist because I love monkeys.
You often take comedic roles. Are they harder to pull off as an actress?
It’s difficult because it doesn’t just require sincerity but precise timing too. Without the correct rhythm you’re just not funny. Without the laughter of the audience you have no idea how well you are really doing. It’s much harder than playing in a normal drama and you don’t get Oscars for playing in a comedy!
You’re notoriously very private in your relationship with the media. The filmmaker Laetitia Colombani (He Loves Me…He Loves Me Not) said “It was a rich collaboration but I know nothing of her life”. Do you try to be private with everybody?
No, not everybody but I am very shy and it takes time for me to open my secret box. (tittering from the audience) That is not a sexual thing. Apart from when I’m drunk. I’m joking, really I’m joking.
There’s a growing trend of screen actors turning to the theatre for new roles. Have you ever contemplated making a similar move?
Actually I played in The Dolls House last year in a theatre in Paris for four months and I did a tour in France in January and February. It was tiring but very nurturing.
What did you prefer about it?
It is the relationship you develop with your character and the responsibility you have with that character, particularly with someone like Nora it is very complex and you always discover something. Each evening you can progress and you so arrive at an understanding or an integration with the character which is just incredible. The difference between the first and last time you play the role is so large it is amazing to take part in that process.
Do you think that your career has been governed more by accident than by focused ambition and if so what would you have done if the accident hadn’t happened?
I’m very independent with this work and if nothing had happened I have no idea what I would have done. I like many other things like photography and writing and travel so I have a lot of cerebral occupations. I am going to become a sailor and do a world tour on my yaucht if I don’t get any more work.