updated 08/25/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 08/25/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT
HOMETOWN: Montluçon, France
LATEST GIG: Dirty Pretty Things
•The Fallout of Fame: The whimsical romance Amélie—the most successful French movie ever in the U.S.—made Tautou, 25, the world's sweetheart. "I remember the first time I realized that something had happened," she says. "I was in a queue at the airport. The hostess was very nasty. When she saw me, she had this face as if she was watching the Virgin Mary."
•Speaking in Tongues: As an immigrant hotel maid in Dirty, Tautou not only acts for the first time in English, she does it with a Turkish accent. "Each sentence was a battle," she says.
•Primal Urges: "When I was small, I wanted to study monkeys," says the single Paris resident, reared by a dentist and a city official. But at 18, she enrolled in acting school. "I was thinking, 'How am I ever going to succeed in this business when there are so many beautiful girls?' " she says. "But I realized it was because I was living meters away from the Elite modeling agency."