Audrey Tautou

Perhaps the least likely torch-bearer of a philanthropic trend, 23-year-old Audrey Tautou has become just that. Fresh from playing the shy, well-meaning title character whose meddling alters the lives of fellow Parisians in the irresistible comedy Amélie, Tautou has been receiving stacks of mail recounting examples of "The Amélie Effect": an accumulation of good deeds and charitable acts the film has inspired.


The rare commercial triumph that has also enthralled critics, Amélie has enchanted audiences from eight to 80, with only the occasional cynic demurring. One such curmudgeon was Cannes Film Festival president Gilles Jacob, who shut the film out of competition. Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet knew what he had, however, and preemptively opened the film in France just weeks before the festival. To Jacob's chagrin, it was a smash.

Q: How do you think the Cannes controversy affected the film?

A: In many ways it's better that the film wasn't selected, because it could not have been released before the festival, and if it hadn't won a major award, the word of mouth might not have been so good.

Q: Was your childhood anything like Amélie's?

A: I had a happy, normal childhood, unlike hers. I'm shy like her, but not nearly as introverted. But like her, I always used my imagination. And when I was little, my goal was to work with apes, like Dian Fossey. No one could tell me how to make that happen, so I turned to acting instead.

Q: With Hollywood beckoning, do you have any plans to work in the U.S.?

A: I don't know; I'm not sure how it works here. My goals for now are to meet interesting people and to be in projects that are artistically valid, whether they're Swedish, Spanish, English or American--I don't discriminate.


Lael Loewenstein