Interview Audrey Tatou

Having stolen our hearts in ‘Amelie’, Audrey Tatou returns this weekend in ‘Priceless’. Here, the french actress talks about the film, what went wrong with ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and the glamour of Old Hollywood cinema.

Haven stolen our hearts in the french classic ‘Amelie’, Audrey Tatou’s film career has had its twists and turns. She explored migration in the dark and gritty ‘Dirty Pretty Things’, she reunited with Jean-Pierre Jeunet in the French war Epic ‘A  Very Long Engagement’, she even starred in Hollywood’s take on ‘The Da Vinci Code’. Now she’s returning home for ‘Priceless’, a very french film with old Hollywood charm.

Q: How come this is your first film role since making ‘The Da Vinci Code’?
A:I shot it at the end of 2006, end of December, so it was my first film since ‘The Da Vinci Code’. I had accepted this movie before ‘The Da Vinci Code’, so we had to change the schedule for me to be able to do ‘Da Vinci Code’.

Q: Are you happy with ‘The Da Vinci Code’? The critics hated it but it made a lot of money, so people must have liked it…
A:I keep seeing myself with all the special effects. It’s hard for me to watch the movie as a spectator. Usually it’s difficult for me, and for me in this movie it’s even harder; I guess that’s where my cynicism comes in. It’s too much for me. But I liked the experience, and I enjoyed shooting the film. I would do it again if I had to. But everything is so different from what I am as a person.

Q: Your new film ‘Priceless’ feels like a throwback to old Hollywood. Did it remind you of any classic films, maybe ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’?
A:Yes, I think you are right. There are some little things, and with the location, the luxury, the story, it is an elegant romantic comedy. So I would think it fits with this family of movies, rather than any one in particular, but I think in Priceless there is something different. It is about the insolence and almost the cruelty that we can feel in this comedy. It’s a not a sweet romantic comedy – it’s stronger, a bit more cynical, which shows a very true part of the psyche!

Q: Your character in Priceless, Irene, is quite a departure for you; she’s a real seductress…
A:This character for me was very new, because it was far from the kind, shy and discreet areas that tend to play. It was a very new image that I can give. It was new to play a woman who plays with her sincerity, and who is a seductress, a manipulator and a liar! I was able to compose a character as opposed to being very natural, so it was very interesting for me. It was great to realise that I could be this kind of real woman!

Q: Did you think Irene is bad girl, manipulating all these men, or is she just taking advantage of male stupidity?
A:I don’t think she’s playing on older male stupidity, because I don’t think that these men she’s with are stupid. They are very aware of their loneliness, and that’s the reason they have to buy this young woman. I think it’s more the expression of how you can be a slave in modern society, in a different way. She’s not a victim, because she chose to do that, to try and seduce older men and to obtain their money, comfort and the lifestyle she likes. Her motivation is not nasty; she has a true fascination for the places that she’s goes in these relationships. To me, it’s scary where she goes, but I think that she considers herself living a life like a princess in this world. Even if the charming prince isn’t as young, pretty and exciting as she may like!

Q: So she’s not a bad person?
A:I think she would be doing something bad if she were really cheating the people around her. But she’s not a thief and she’s not trying to kill anybody. And I think that the people she’s seducing know exactly who is the person they are with. And in the film, with her relationships, she does not expect people to kill themselves financially. Especially in her relationship with Jean. She says right at the beginning that he cannot afford to be in love with her! It’s cruel, but there’s no question of feelings at the beginning; for her, this comes with money. That [the romance] all comes at the end. After all, it’d be weird to have a romantic comedy with no romance at all!

Q: You are going to play the great designer Coco Chanel in a new movie?
A:That’s true; I will start shooting at the end of the summer. If everything goes to plan, I shall play her, but it’s not a huge biopic about her. It’s a film about her early life, her personality, all her experiences that lead us to see and understand who she will become. It’s an interesting way to look at her. It is not fictional, it is based on her life. The script is finished but I have not had time to digest it all. The director did some research about Coco and she wanted to see what the most interesting period of her life was, and she thought her youth was fascinating, so we’re going to take every element of her young life.

Q: Have you ever considered why French actresses have never prospered in Hollywood?
A:I don’t know. First, I don’t know their motivation; did they really want to work in Hollywood? But also I think it’s very difficult for French people to work in Hollywood, because it’s such a huge industry and to be able to create some space for yourself is a hard job. So I’m not sure French people are ready to do that, and of course the language doesn’t help! You almost can work only as a foreign character. You can’t play everything like an American can. Then the French film industry, which is not amazingly well, it is able to finance big productions, and we have wonderful directors, who might be as famous as Steven Spielberg, so for myself I am very pleased to work with French directors. They can being me so much pleasure.

Q: You love literature; Are you ever tempted by writing?
A:I have never thought to write anything, except lists of what I have to do! I don’t think I’ll write, at least not until I become an old woman! But I would like to be more creative, but I’m not very serious as a person. So I prefer a moment of thinking more than the action!

Q: You always take photos of your interviewers. What do you with them?
A:Right now, I have no objective, but you never do anything for nothing, so one day I will understand this puzzle! The first time I did it, it was because I was meeting so many people and they were all blurring together. So I needed to make all these people not entirely anonymous! And I realised later it was interesting and funny to see all those faces. It makes it more human.

‘Priceless’ is at Irish cinemas from June 13th