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Audrey Tautou: “Who is the artist?”

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Audrey Tautou
Photo by Alex de Brabant
Short Profile

Name: Audrey Justine Tautou
DOB: 9 August 1978
Place of Birth: Beaumont, Puy-de-Dôme, France
Occupation: Actress

Ms. Tautou, I’ve read that you are thinking about giving up acting. Is that true?

There was a rumor circulating that I had decided to stop. It is totally false. I love my job. I am passionate about the people I meet and the roles that I am given. So no, I don’t intend to stop. I have other interests, other things I enjoy doing, but they don’t stop the cinema.

What are the other things you are talking about?

I travel, I write, I take photos, I read, I draw. I have my own little personal projects, which for now are for my eyes only! Maybe one day I will dare to present them in front of other people but for now I don’t feel capable of that.

Because you don’t have enough time?

No, that’s not the problem. I don’t shoot 4 films a year so I have time for all those other things. The thing that is blocking me is a lack of self-confidence.

Do you also lack self-confidence as an actress?

Yes. I look for that self-confidence in the director I work with. The director will give me that dose of confidence that the rest of the time I am lacking to make me feel totally secure.

Don’t you think you are being a bit too hard on yourself?

It doesn’t mean that I think I suck! I am able to make a negative or a positive judgment about the roles and scenes I am in. Some of the work I’ve done is good work and when I watch myself I can see that there is not a moment when I leave the character. Often, in quite a few of my films, I will watch my work and see that in this scene or that scene I wasn’t quite on track. But I don’t beat myself up saying I am good-for-nothing and wondering why I was chosen.

So what do you mean then when you say you lack self-confidence?

What I mean is that I have no idea of what people think of me, and what they see through me. There are certainly people who appreciate me, but also others who don’t. I am often surprised to be cast by people who I thought didn’t like me, like Michel Gondry for example. I would never have imagined that he would ask me to act in his film.

Would you be surprised if you were cast by a Hollywood director, Spielberg for instance?

I think it’s difficult for him to think of me. (Laughs)

It would have been easier if you would have stayed in Hollywood after The Da Vinci Code.

Maybe, but I think one has to make a lot of sacrifices in Hollywood to get an interesting female role. I do think there are some wonderful roles in Hollywood, I just don’t think they would be given to me. I don’t really think that Hollywood works that way.

Why not?

I made certain career choices that mean that it won’t happen. To be chosen by those directors you have to be bankable and I haven’t done anything to be bankable. I am not saying I’m not up to it, I’m saying that the industry doesn’t work this way. Obviously I think they are wrong not to choose me. But I’m not interested in the budget of a film or the resources it has or how famous it will be worldwide. I want something I’m passionate about.

What kind of films are you passionate about?

Some films are pure entertainment of course, but what interests me and what I want to do are projects that really make you think, that move you, that will bring you something that will stay with you for a while. I think films are essential to the intellectual awakening of people. Art – be it painting, sculpture, music – they are all creations, they are creative acts. I consider a film, with everything that is involved in it, an art.

What about acting?

Actors interpret. You can’t compare acting with another form of art. I wouldn’t say acting is an art but film as a whole is.

But art is a form of expression and acting is very much a way of expressing yourself, isn’t it?

It’s not the question that an actor doesn’t feel like an artist because to be an artist is indeed to express and reveal oneself, through whatever outlet. The difference is that when you are an actor, you are under the direction of somebody else.

You only have so much freedom within your role.

Exactly. You serve an idea that doesn’t belong to you, so of course you add your own sensitivity, talent, vision, intelligence, but you are not at the source, the origin of the creation. This is why the actor is not really a creator but an interpreter. Who is the artist, the person who thinks up an object, who invents it, or the person who makes it?