Is this the least likeable character you’ve ever played? She’s a gold-digger who sleeps with rich men...
I never imagined that she could be a dislikeable character. I don’t know why, but my morals make me understand the reasons why she wants what she wants. I accepted that she had this dream of being a princess, that she wanted this world of money and luxury, that she’s going to find her happiness. I was also more concerned about the complexity of the character and the depth, and the fact that she used some special strategy to fulfil her dream and obtain what she wants.
So you don’t think she’s a little bit of a bitch?
Not at all! She’s really less a bitch than the guy who wants her. I think that the nasty people are mostly these guys who know what kind of girls they are. These guys, they buy women. I think that’s disgusting. She just wants to have a good time.
Were you influenced at all by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany’s?
Oh, I knew that he wanted to make a very elegant, romantic comedy in the way they were making them in the ‘50s. But he had told me about this movie, which I had seen of course. But Irene is a character of her time. She’s not naive or sweet. She’s tough. So I couldn’t get any influence. I had to do my own thing.
Do you particularly enjoy doing romantic comedies?
As an audience, I really enjoy romantic comedies. Because it’s a little moment that you can spend dreaming for two hours. But what I really enjoyed from this movie is that the comedy is almost more important than the romance. I’m thinking about the seduction scene, where she teaches how seduce a man and what are the rules. As an actress, it’s great scene to play. And the movie is full of real acting scenes, so it’s great.
Do you get many offers from Hollywood?
Well, no, not that much. I’m not looking for those offers. If there’s an opportunity, like The Da Vinci Code, where’s there’s an audition and I get it, I’m happy to... jump in the big bath. Almost like a tourist. But I don’t have any ambitions to make a career there.
Would you ever do something completely different, like starring in a horror?
Well, me, I’m very technical. So when they propose me a movie, I always think how it’s going to be for me to shoot it. So a horror movie, I’m gonna think, “I’m gonna spend three months, pretending that I’m scared. And yelling. And covered in blood...’ I don’t think that, for me, I’m interested in exploring those emotions.
What films inspire you?
I would say that the movie that I really enjoyed when I was younger... If I say Tootsie, with Dustin Hoffman. For me, that is a terrific job. So that inspired me. Or The Colour Purple. Whoopi Goldberg, to do that and then in Jumping Jack Flash when she is completely different. For me, she was one of the best actresses in the world. As for French films, I like Cyrano de Bergerac. Same thing. When you see Depardieu or Anne Brochet, the way they play this famous scene is fabulous. I can tell you Taxi Driver and so on, but these are the movies of my youth.
What would you do if Michael Haneke or Lars on Trier called you up?
[laughs] Well, the thing is, I haven’t watched a film by Michael Haneke. But I heard The Piano Teacher was wonderful. First, I would watch his movies. And I think that I would say, ‘Are you sure you didn’t make the wrong phonecall?!’ Because I’m not sure I’m his cup of tea! Because I don’t think I’m like... I think I’m too provincial.
And you’re playing Coco Chanel next?
I’ve been approached to do with part for 5 or 6 years, but I was really waiting for a good point of view of her. And I’m very happy with the script because it’s about her youth and what made her what she and her style would become.
You’re the face of Chanel too, right?
Next year. Maybe, if they don’t change their mind!
Why do you love working with Jean-Pierre Jeunet?
We said that we will do a trilogy. Amelie, A Very Long Engagement and shooting the commercial! To work with Jean-Pierre, it’s not just to have the pleasure to work with him but it’s to work with all his crew which I adore. It’s a pleasure to share a new adventure with people I like. And know that the result won’t suck!