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You've got to hand it to Mr and Mrs Tautou -- when they named their daughter after Hollywood legend Audrey Hepburn, they must have known something about their little tyke's future.

Cut to 34 years later, and the petite French actress is just about the closest thing cinema has to the new Audrey Hepburn.

Having shot to fame 10 years ago with the award-winning, life-affirming and rose-tinted Amelie, Audrey Tautou has become one of the world's most famous faces. Thanks in part to her movie work, of course, but Tautou's general avoidance of all things Hollywood has meant it's more for her work as the face of Chanel that much of the world knows her face today.

"I'm not interested in making very big movies," the actress explained when I caught up with her recently. "I had fun making The Da Vinci Code, but all those lights, all that fuss, it's just not how I like to make movies. I prefer to work on a smaller scale. Because, truth be told, you can tell bigger truths with smaller movies." Amen, sister.

Tautou is in London for her latest movie, a clever little romantic comedy called Beautiful Lies, which sees the French actress reunite with her Priceless director, Pierre Salvadori.

Like that 2006 offering (and pretty much all of Tautou's films in recent years), Beautiful Lies manages to be both sweetly farcical and bitterly clever, as a love letter from a secret admirer (Sami Bouajila) is misappropriated by Tautou's hair salon manager to cheer up her recently dumped mother (Nathalie Baye).

The twists and turns that follow make Beautiful Lies far more Coward and Wilde than Sandler and Aniston.

So, what was it that grabbed Tautou? The character of Emily? The script? Working with Pierre again?

"It was to work with Pierre again, first," she answers. "And after I got the script, it was the script too. I loved my part. I loved the fact that she's so unbearable, and charming. I like when a character is very close to being hated, you know, and finally, I think we like her. Even if she can be so mean."

When it comes to doing research on Tautou, there isn't all that much to go on. This is the woman, after all, who regards herself as a tomb. Her private life is just that -- her private life.

"So, obviously, nobody knows that you are three-times married, and that you have six children," I quip.

"No, nobody knows," says Tautou, "and I'll ask you not to reveal such secrets".

"I'll delete all of this," I nod. Still, can Audrey Tautou actually avoid the fame?

"Well, you can't avoid it completely," she answers, "but you can decide, for instance, not to do some movies which will expose you so much that afterwards you can't have the control of your celebrity. That's a choice I made."

When we spoke in 2005, Tautou said she was desperate to travel to Ireland, being a major Oscar Wilde fan. I ask her if she has actually made it over since then.

"No, not yet ... "

"Not yet?"

"I wanted to ... "

"Audrey, it's been six years."

" ... go to Ireland."

"You could swim it ... "

"I tried to go to Ireland two months ago, but I chose the weekend of the big rugby final."

"We have other weekends. Every five days, we have another one ... "

Tautou laughs.

"Ah, that's good to know. I'll look into one of those other weekends ... "

Beautiful Lies hits Irish screens on August 12


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