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."

Arts and Entertainment
Serious player: Aussie Guy Sebastian rehearses for the big show in Vienna

Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
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.

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
    Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

    The end of an era across the continent

    It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
    Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

    'Focus on killing American people'

    Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
    Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

    Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

    The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
    Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

    Same-sex marriage

    As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
    The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

    The Mafia is going freelance

    Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable