French actress Audrey Tautou is best known Stateside for her starring role in Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s 2001 fantasy, Amelie, in which she occupied a role that placed her squarely in the sights of starry-eyed indieists destined to spend the rest of their lives searching for their own bashful gamines with perfect bangs. Now she’s breaking that stereotype to bits, playing the ravishing manipulator at the heart of Pierre Salvadori’s lighthearted fairy-tale comedy Priceless. Tautou talked to Vulture about her wicked new role, the boob-baring wardrobe it required, and weight-obsessed fans with too much time on their hands.
People who loved you in Amelie will be kind of shocked by your performance in this film.
Yeah, well, it was also a surprise in France! I think people were surprised, from the beginning, by the fact that I could be the type of actress who would be able to fit in this kind of role.
Was that part of the appeal?
There’s many things that attracted me. The first one was the desire to work with Pierre Salvadori, because I am really crazy about his movies. When I learned that he was writing a script for me, I was so pleased that I think I would have accepted anything! And then when I realized that he was thinking about me in such a different part from what I had ever done before, I was even more pleased. I’m usually kind of comfortable in shy characters and people who don’t express their feelings well. With this part I had the opportunity to have fantasies. To be … provocative.
Your character is kind of unlikable at times. Some people are going to see her as a prostitute.
Even if the character had been a prostitute I still would have been very pleased to play the part. I never wanted to play characters who are just very moral and nice girls and all of that. I’m not interested in being the Mother Teresa of the movie business. I don’t care about playing a nasty girl or a stupid girl or a whore. I don’t care about that. But I think that if you see her only as a whore, you dismiss some very interesting aspects of the movie.
Your wardrobe was amazing — all those gorgeous, slinky dresses. Was it natural for you to adopt such a glamorous look?
It was not natural at all! It became more natural as time went on. [Laughs.] The first time I tried on one of those dresses I was really afraid. I had my two hands on my two boobs, and I was thinking I am always going to work with an eye on my breasts, just to make sure that they stay where they are right now. And when I first got ready and went to shoot I tried to become half my size, you know, as small as I could? But then I realized very quickly that I did not look ridiculous in those dresses. And I figured out that it could have a certain effect, because the costume designer told me that one of the technicians came by to thank her for the dresses she chose. That showed me, okay, it works.
Some people made a big deal out of how skinny you looked at the Da Vinci Code premiere — and they may be saying the same after seeing this movie because you’re still so thin. Is that frustrating?
Well, in fact I haven’t heard anything about that, and I haven’t read it anywhere, so you just taught me something! But no — I think that’s a very nice subject for people who have nothing else to talk about. I would urge them to keep going.