You’d expect Audrey Tautou to be charming, and she is: She began our interview by bringing out her vintage camera so she could take my picture. (Apparently, Tautou keeps a photo album with portraits of all the journalists she meets.) Tautou shows off her considerable charm in “Delicacy,” the new French-language romance that opens March 14. She plays Nathalie, who must deal with her husband’s accidental death while falling into an unexpected romance with her coworker, played by Francois Damiens. While her slippery grasp of English put some limits on our conversation, Tautou’s performance is simultaneously a study in grief and a touching, comedic tour-de-force.
First of all, I’m curious to know what you thought of “The Artist.”
I really enjoyed this movie. I really like the performances of the actors, especially Jean Dujardin. I really think he did a tremendous job.
I guess it must be the biggest international French success since “Amelie” by now.
Yes, it’s great. I think France is very proud. I wish there had been one earlier.
It seems like it’s always the romantic French movies that American audiences will go for.
Maybe because we French people have a culture of romanticism. I don’t really know!
Well, it certainly shows in the new movie. What brought you to “Delicacy”?
It was, first of all, the desire to work with those two directors, because I love the script and I love how they wrote this story with lightness despite the drama of what happens at the beginning. And I like the journey of the woman and how she saves herself after losing everything.
They were both first-time directors. Did you have to teach them anything?
(Laughing) Oh, no, no. They were great. I just tried to give them everything I could in my performance. It was really great to participate in their enormous enthusiasm.
What did you like about the character?
I like her strength and I like her dignity. I like to see characters who hide their fragility behind a mask off. I don’t expect anything when I read a script, except that the story moves me and the character takes me to a new area that I never did before.
How many scripts do you normally say no to?
It’s so easy to say yes to scripts. But I have no idea how many I don’t do. It’s just that I have so many interests other than acting. I preserve myself to make me work as if it was the first time and to be as enthusiastic as I was in the beginning. When I’m doing a project, I do it because it’s something special and everything has to be interesting for me. The directors and their vision and their cleverness.
So what are your other interests?
I love to discover things in different cultural worlds. I love traveling and I love to read and go to museums and I sailboat. I love sailing boats. My life apart from my work is important. I like to work, of course, because I love movies, but I don’t feel lost if I’m not working. I need time to explore the world, you know?
Did you enjoy making “The Da Vinci Code”? Do you think you’ll make another film for American audiences?
Oh, well, that was a unique and amazing experience, and it was great to work with Ron Howard and Tom Hanks. It was such a crazy project and it was very hard work. I would love to do another movie in English. I’m not working for it. But if it falls from the sky and someone wants to hire me with my terrible English, I would love it.
Well, I have to ask about this one. I read an article that said you want to leave acting.
No! No, that’s totally wrong. That’s the horrible thing about the internet. When someone makes a mistake and it’s not well interpreted, the information propogates itself and spreads very quickly. I don’t want to quit. I was shooting when this article came out. I got a call from my sister, and she said, [imitating her voice] “Well, Drey, I heard you want to quit, and you didn’t tell me anything. I just want to discuss about that.” And I said, “What?” You know? It got bigger and bigger. It’s a little ironic because I was shooting and then there are three other projects you can see soon.
So, what’s next?
I just saw my next film, “Therese D.” It’s an adaptation of a novel, and I really think it’s outstanding. And then I’m going to shoot a movie directed by Michel Gondry, and it’s another adaptation. And then I’m going to shoot the third film in the trilogy by Cédric Klapisch, and maybe we’re going to shoot in New York.
Are there any directors you’d really like to work with?
There are so many rich cinemas in the world. I love to discover a film from Brazil or Argentina or Spain or England or Belgium… There are a lot of amazing directors there.
So, of course, yes, but I’m too shy to say their names. As long as they can give me a character that gets me back to that virgin pleasure I always try to have for acting in movies.