THE ONLY THING MORE PAINFUL THAN INTERVIEWING a foreigner who needs a translator is interviewing an actor. Think about it. What's there to ask? The "actor profile," by its very nature, is all gossip and innuendo, a personality parade more about the star's life and career than the movie they're promoting. So when I was offered an interview with ...Elodie Bouchez, star of the French film The Dreamlife of Angels [see review in Film Shorts], I jumped at the chance. What can I say? I have a soft spot for French actresses with thick accents. Ms. Bouchez did make it easy, and not just on the eyes. Her English was so good she almost never used the translator sitting beside her. More importantly, she has a healthy take on the whole movie industry.

Growing up in the suburbs of Paris, she dreamed of being an actress, but in the same way that all kids with no connections to the movie business dream of it: not too seriously. Life, however, would eventually draw her into acting. As a pre-teen, she took dance lessons, until she was asked to be a teenage model, which she did from ages 13 to 16. At age 16, she met Serge Gainsbourg, the famous French singer, who cast her as the female lead in his fourth and final film, Stan the Flasher.

A decade ago, on my post-collegiate tour of Europe, I discovered Gainsbourg's music, and learned bits and pieces about his reputation as a French Tom Waits. "For sure, he was the best artist in France," Bouchez told me. "The best singer, the best writer, and a very, very good director. Yeah, he was very provocative. He had so much talent. His text and lines were sometimes sexual, but was so really in a nice way, a smart way. For sure, he's the best. We have no more like him now in France, nobody else like him."

Since that first film, Bouchez has been working almost non-stop. Heck, she's made four films since Dreamlife of Angels became a hit in France last year, including a French film shot in English, and she's been cast in an upcoming American independent, Shooting Vegetarians. Knowing the magnetism of Hollywood, I wondered if she was open to making, say, an action film. "Why not? I mean, I'm interested with everything. It could be Hollywood, or it could be a Japanese movie. If I read a script and I like the story, I like the character, and I like the director--even if that's a Hollywood movie, even if he has a bad reputation--if I like it I'll do it, but if I don't like it, I won't do it." Ah, she makes me wish more actors made decisions based on intuition.

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