She Played ‘Amelie’ in the 2001 Movie. See Audrey Tautou Now at 46

Audrey Tautou - Amelie

While foreign films are much more common in the US these days, over 20 years ago, we couldn’t exactly say the same thing. So when the 2001 French film Amelie hit the theatres, the way we responded was something to behold. The whimsical movie is not only a cherished film in its native France but is still the highest-grossing French film to hit the United States.

We owe our obsession to the actress behind the bangs and big eyes, French actress Audrey Tautou. She played the role perfectly, and a moment in cinematic history will always be there thanks to her portrayal of Amelie. While the film has gone on to have a Broadway musical adaptation, international productions, as well as being the influence for the Emmy Award-winning series Pushing Daisies, it all started with Audrey and her time as Amelie. Let’s see what Tautou has been doing since her most famous critically acclaimed role.

Background info

French actress Audrey Justine Tautou was born on August 9, 1976, in Beaumont, Puy-de-Dome, France, to parents Bernard Tautou, a dental surgeon, and Evelyne Marie Laure Nuret, a teacher. If her name reminds you of Audrey Hepburn, yes, her parents did name her after the famous actress.

Audrey found her love of comedy and acting when she was young, took classes at the Cours Florent, a private drama school in Paris, and went on to study literature in college.

Tautou began her career as a model, appearing in some of the most prestigious magazines such as Marie Claire, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, and the coveted Vogue. In the late 1990s, she appeared on the French version of Star Search titled Jeunes Premiers, where she won the Best Young Actress Award.

Early career

Audrey Tautou - Venus Beauty Institute

Audrey’s early career was all about the television roles, with her first time on screen being the TV film Coeur de cible in 1996. She also appeared in 1997s La Verite est un villain defaut and Les Cordier, juge et flic. In 1998, she starred in television moves Bebes boum and Chaos technique, as well as popping up in an episode of Julie Lescaut and Le boiteux.

For Tautou’s feature film debut, she portrayed Marie in the French romcom Venus Beauty Institute, which earned her multiple awards for Best New Actress, including the award for Best Actress at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival.

Audrey was busy in 2000, appearing in the films Epouse-moi, Pretty Devils, the comedy Le Libertin, and Happenstance.


Audrey Tautou - Amelie

Could you imagine anyone other than Audrey Tautou as Amelie in the 2001 romantic comedy Amelie? Well, the role almost went to another famous face. Emily Watson (Punch-Drunk Love, Gosford Park, Red Dragon) was already cast in the role but dropped out right before shooting started, and the rest is, as they say, history.

The film follows Amelie, an extremely shy waitress who finds a box of items belonging to a boy who lived in her apartment before her. After hunting down the owner of the box and returning it, she decides to keep doing good things for others and bettering the lives of people she encounters. In the end, her shut-in neighbor does the same for Amelie, helping her find love with an eccentric man she fancies.

The film dominated the awards that year, being nominated for the big ones like Best Original Screenplay and Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars. Audrey was nominated for over a dozen awards for her portrayal of Amelie, including the BAFTA for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role and winning the Sant Jordi for Best Foreign Actress and the Lumiere for Best Actress.

Even the poster used to promote the film was awarded recognition as one of the top 25 movie posters seen in the last 25 years by Entertainment Weekly. From one of the best movies ever made to one of the best films of world cinema to one of the best movies of the decade to one of the best romantic comedies of all time, if there was a movie list, Amelie was on all of them.

What did Audrey do after Amelie?

Audrey Tautou - Davinci Code

With the kind of recognition that came from Amelie, Audrey was able to stay pretty busy. She played Angelique in the psychological drama He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not and Senay Gelik in Dirty Pretty Things, which earned her another Best Actress nomination.

In 2003, Audrey was Val in the film Happy End, which also starred Jim Parsons and Justin Theroux. Her next film, the romantic drama A Very Long Engagement, earned Audrey more fame and acclaim for her role as Mathilde Donnay. Another role she is well-known for is as Sophie in the 2006 thriller The Da Vinci Code opposite Tom Hanks.

Her role as Gabrielle ‘Coco” Chanel in the 2009 biographical drama Coco Before Chanel gained her more critical acclaim, adding three more Best Actress nominations to her name.

What is Audrey Tautou doing now?

Audrey Tautou now

Audrey Tautou is still acting. Her last live-action role was as Marie in the crime comedy The Jesus Rolls in 2019, a spinoff of The Big Lebowski. In 2023, Audrey voiced a role in the animated movie Nina and the Hedgehog’s Secret. She has one upcoming project where she will lend her voice again to the animated film Nina et le secret du herisson.

Audrey Tautou - The Jesus Rolls

Outside of acting, Audrey still models. You might recognize her as the face of Chanel, becoming the replacement spokesmodel after Nicole Kidman for Chanel No. 5, as well as for Montblanc and L’Oreal.

Personal life

Audrey’s personal life is definitely that. She was rumored to be engaged to director and writer Lance Mazmanian from 2004 until 2006, but when asked about it, she would never comment on the relationship. It was reported she was dating French musician Matthieu Chedi until 2008. If Audrey is dating anyone at the moment, it’s being kept quiet.

It’s clear that Audrey has that magical something on screen. We are thankful for her gift of Amelie in the cinematic masterpiece that is still an amazing watch over 20 years later. If you haven’t seen this staple in American pop culture, it will definitely be the little pick-me-up you need in your life.

While Tautou resides in France and wouldn’t entertain a move to the City of Angels, we hope this actress, model, and fashion icon continues to make movies, no matter the language.

Mariska Lee

Mariska is a recovering attorney who gave up her professional job to discover new perspectives of life while traveling in a 2009 Ford Transit. She has been living the van life for 3 years and has not looked back since.

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