Audrey Tautou seduced audiences as the enchanting Amelie, now she is back and doing the same for rich old beaus in her new romcom with an edge, Priceless.
It is exactly two years since Audrey Tautou teamed up with Tom Hanks in Hollywood blockbuster The Da Vinci Code. But rather than use the experience to launch an assault on the American film industry, the diminutive French starlet chose simply to slip quietly back out of the limelight.
"I don't want to do an anonymous Hollywood movie which is why I'm not interested in those types of experiences," she explains.
"I like my work and I like to work, because I like to meet people. It really depends on the people I'm going to work with.
"It's not a question of language, or country or where the production is set, it's only a question of people and talent."
Audrey first came to the world's attention in 2001 French language film Amelie, the tale of a shy but eccentric Parisian girl, who finds pleasure in observing other people and subtly interfering with their lives.
Then came her first English role the fol-lowing year as a struggling Turkish woman in Dirty Pretty Things, Stephen Frears' drama about immigrants in London.
Now she is back speaking in her native tongue in the romantic comedy Priceless, alongside a young Nicholas Cage lookalike, Gad Elmaleh.
Audrey plays Irene, a scheming gold-digger who mistakes shy waiter Jean (Gad) for a millionaire. When she finds out he doesn't actually have a penny to his name, she runs off to the Cote d'Azur.
Jean follows and sets himself up as a male gigolo to earn some money - and Irene's respect. Before long the pair inevitably fall in love.
"I loved this movie, because yes it's a romantic comedy, but in other ways it's cruel and heartless," Audrey says.
"It's not like a sweet sugary comedy where it's all about romance and love. It's quite dark, like a satire.
"I don't like predictable movies. I don't like sugary romantic comedies, I like it when it's possible to destroy that a little bit. That's why I prefer a special film like this," she adds, smiling enigmatically.
After playing very likeable characters in Amelie and The Da Vinci Code, Irene is something of a departure for the 31-year-old actress.
"It was a good opportunity for me to play a strong character," she admits.
"She's tough but she's also special because her motivation is from something in her youth. I really think she has an admiration - almost a compulsion - for this luxury universe.
"She thinks to be happy she needs to be in the money. It's like a security for her. But in a way she avoids true feelings."
For Audrey, the daughter of a dentist and a teacher from the Auvergne, money has never been important - and now she has earned her fair share through her films, she finds it hard to come to terms with being well-off.
"I didn't grow up in a luxury universe, but we never had any money problems," she says.
"My parents were very careful and serious about money, so since I've discovered glamourous places in this world, I keep seeing this type of living through tourist eyes. I didn't grow into this pattern of extravagance. For me, it's still a novelty. I still feel like a foreign character with money."
The Da Vinci Code, based on the controversial best-selling thriller by Dan Brown, propelled Audrey to international stardom when it memorably opened the Cannes Film Festival in 2006.
But the actress found it hard at first to accept "being famous".
"I felt that I was restricted in my freedom," she admits. "It's different to walk around and be surrounded by people who are staring at you.
"I remember when I became very famous after Amelie, I was in a restaurant for my birthday with a friend," she continues.
"There was a huge table of people beside us where we were sitting and I was not really aware of this new celebrity I was experiencing.
"There was a moment when a guy came over and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I was shocked!
"Then he went back to his table and everybody was applauding him like he had won a bet. I was traumatised! I had become a bet!" she says with a laugh.
"It was a big problem for me not to have the freedom to take the subway and to be as before. But now, I've accepted this new situation and I know how to handle it better."
Growing up in France, Audrey and her three younger siblings were always encouraged to do well by her parents, she says.
"They expected a lot from us and they were not satisfied by the mediocre. They had high expectations of us. They always asked us to try, and to do our best and their best was kind of a high standard."
Despite all the critical acclaim she has received, with a Bafta nomination to boot, Audrey admits she still has doubts about her acting ability.
"I am not self-confident at all," she reveals. "It's a paradox in a way. I would say I know what I don't want to do, but I don't know what I can do.
"I need to be reassured. Most of the time, when I'm hired for a part, I always think there's been some kind of mistake," she says.
Worries aside, Audrey's career success looks set to continue, albeit on this side of the Atlantic. She's currently working on a biopic of fashion icon Coco Chanel - "I am superstitious, so I don't really want to talk about something that isn't definitely happening yet."
Neither will the actress be drawn to talk about her love-life, although she is rumoured to be engaged to writer Lance Mazmanian.
Does she ever feel lonely during filming? "No never," she says. "When I'm on set, I always create a new family and I really like to dive into this new experience with these new people.
"I'm constantly very fulfilled. I really like to share everything. I never feel lonely anywhere. I also like to be myself and I like to travel.
"As long as it's new and I have something to discover and I have something to enrich myself, I'm always happy."
* Priceless is out today.