When Audrey Tautou says she is “not a conventional person”, it’s hard to disagree with her. The star of worldwide hit Amelie has spurned offers from the States in favour of playing a Turkish immigrant in Stephen Frears’s Dirty Pretty Things, which hit cinemas on Friday.
“I certainly don’t want to be in Thingy Blah Blah 3, if you know what I mean. I don’t have the ambition of having a career in that world,” she says.
Although Amelie propelled her to worldwide fame, Tautou has just about had enough of the genial Montmartre waitress, thank you.
“I gave myself a time limit for foreign journalists, because the film reached them later. But in France there was a moment where I said: ‘That’s it!’
“I was no longer going to reply to questions I’d already answered 300,000 times. It’s so banal.”
Tautou insists she has no interest in following compatriots such as Brigitte Bardot and Juliette Binoche to the US.
“I refuse to be under any sort of pressure,” she says. “I do not care if people want me to do this or that. It is not their life.
“My job is only to play in movies and have pleasure from work. I cannot guarantee success for myself or my movies. It is all very simple.”
Amelie grossed $72m in USA despite the Americans’ well-known apathy to all things subtitled but it could have been even bigger at the box office if Tautou had played ball.
The beautiful French actress refused to embark on a heavy promotional tour of the US for fear of over-exposure.
“As a viewer, I don’t want to be fed up with an actor because I see him or her everywhere, and I don’t want to make other people feel that way about me.”
In Dirty Pretty Things, Tautou plays a Turkish immigrant who dreams of moving to New York.
The French actress not only had to learn English for the role, but also how to speak it with a Turkish accent.
“In French, I can hear if I don’t sound right,” she says. “But in English, I have no idea, so I have to rely on my coach and director. I went to the first editing but when I was talking, I shut my ears. I was like an alien.”
Dirty Pretty Things is unlikely to win the sort of global audience which Amelie attracted. But the 24-year-old Tautou was exhilarated by the prospect of working with the High Fidelity film-maker.
“It’s a very unusual movie, very modern and typically Frears,” Tautou says. “I am trying new things, new characters and new situations. It is a good way to live.”
Tautou’s role is about as far from Amelie as you can get and she’s clearly determined not to be typecast as a dainty ingenue. There’s also the air of a woman uncomfortable with her new-found fame.
“If I try to walk in some areas of Paris, I cannot,” she says. “Before Amelie, I’d have had one chance in 10 of being recognised. Now I have only one chance in 10 of not being.”