First Eric Cantona, now Audrey Tautou takes to the stage

French actors are migrating from the cinema as Parisian theatres recover from crisis-deflated 2009

She may never have played for Manchester United but she does now have something in common with Eric Cantona.

Audrey Tautou, the most successful and highest paid of a new generation of French cinema actresses, followed Le Grand Eric last week by becoming the latest of a series of high-profile transfers from the French screen to the stage.

Tautou, 33, who was projected to world stardom by her roles in Amélie (2000) and The Da Vinci Code (2006), has made her theatrical debut in Paris in Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House.

Audrey comfortably outscored Eric. Cantona received, at most, polite reviews last month for his gutsy, but sometimes inaudible performances, just off the Champs-Elysées, as a dying man trapped in the ruins of a supermarket. Tautou has received rave reviews for her performance as Nora Helmer, a young wife who tries to escape from the suffocation of a conventional, 19th-century bourgeois marriage. The theatre critic of Le Parisien said that she was "irresistible".

Both Cantona and Tautou are part of a wider emigration from French cinema to theatre, as the Paris stage tries to recover from a disappointing, crisis-deflated 2009. Another recruit has been the actress Isabelle Huppert, who is playing Blanche Dubois in Un Tramway, a loose interpretation of the Ten-nessee Williams play, A Streetcar Named Desire.

In April, the British film director Sam Mendes will make his first excursion into French theatre when he directs two Shakespeare plays in Paris, The Tempest and As You Like It.

Audrey Tautou knew that she would be given no quarter by French theatre critics if she failed to make the leap on to the stage. "Everyone is waiting for me to fall on my face, but I don't care," she told the newspaper Le Figaro.

The role of Nora in A Doll's House might have been written for Tautou. In her cinema career, she has progressed from her early roles as a lovable, naive, fragile and comical young woman (such as Amélie). She made a much-praised appearance last year as a tortured and not always likeable Coco Chanel in a movie about the fashion designer's early life. For her performance in Coco Avant Chanel (Coco before Chanel), Tautou has been nominated for a César, the French equivalent of an Oscar.

In A Doll's House (written in 1879), her character, Nora, makes a similar progression from a childlike wife, patronised by her husband, to a tortured and would-be liberated adult woman. The production at the Théâtre de la Madeleine until 10 June, directed by Michel Fau, is played for laughs in the first half – somewhat unusually but with great success.

Le Parisien wrote: "Stuffed like a sweet into a sky-blue dress, wrapped around with a big bow, Audrey Tau-tou makes a perfect doll. She talks like a little girl, she lisps, she skips and overdoes the cheerfulness to play up to her husband... As the play progresses, her face becomes more serious, more adult, more that of a woman."

Tautou said that, as a girl, she had dreamed of appearing on the stage "but life led me in another direction".

"I was so spoiled by my cinema career for so long that I hardly dared to ask to go on stage."

Asked to describe the difference between the two forms of acting, she said: "In the cinema, I sink into my characters very quickly, which leaves you little chance to play around. In the theatre, it's the opposite. You start by playing with the role and, bit by bit, you feel close to your character.

"You build things, you try things, you rub them out again. It's scary but great fun."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury


Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas


Arts and Entertainment


Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7


Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary


Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige


Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions