You play a corset-busting French love interest to Sean Bean as Marie-Angelique in Sharpe’s Peril, ITV1’s flagship costume drama. What time is it set?
Early 19th century – 1818, to be exact.
Could you have survived back then?
I think I could have survived in any age or period of time. My character overcomes all the obstacles and the boundaries that came with living then, and I think I would have done as well.
Still, modernity is great, right? What gadget would you want to have?
I was going to say my iPod, but back then you’d probably write poems or songs, or read… and the lifestyle would be so different you actually wouldn’t need all the stuff that we have now. I don’t think I’d take anything. It’s liberating to not have a phone or modern stuff sometimes.
So you’d dump your Blackberry?
Yeah. Everyday I try to go for a hike where I am not contactable. I’m just walking and trying to be in tune with nature in the Hollywood hills.
Yes – your new home. Settled in okay?
Absolutely, although I sometimes wake up and find myself in surreal, surreal situations. I mean, one day I forgot where I parked in a mall, and Bruce Willis came to help me out. That can only happen in LA.
Hold on – Bruce Willis?
Yes. And I had never actually met him, so I felt like I was in a movie – you know, I’m in trouble and Bruce Willis comes to the rescue? He was shopping with one of his daughters, but stopped to come and help me out. He was really nice.
Did you get star struck?
I was more concerned about my car (laughs). Maybe in my head, I was like: “Oh my God, it’s Bruce Willis,” but, to be honest, I didn’t feel star struck. It was just surreal – a bit like an out of body experience. Something similar happened the other day. I was in my car singing super loud at a red light, and I turned my head and saw Jake Gyllenhaal was laughing at me.
Weird. Weren’t you on the set of The Dark Knight with his sister?
Yes! It was amazing. My part was small, but if you’re going to have a small part in a movie, then that’s the movie to be in.
Shame it was only a scene. Did you try a pirouette or two to get extra exposure?
Well, I did seven years of ballet but it wasn’t required, and I knew that. I thought what was interesting about that character was that although it was a small part, it was a key scene. I wasn’t a bimbo or whatever.
And you had it over dinner with the billionaire Bruce Wayne. Does money turn you on?
Well, you know, I like nice things. But it’s not my primary concern. I’d rather have somebody with great values, and a great sense of humour. I mean, all the money in the world can’t buy you taste. Of course, it’s not a downsi`de, but there’s so many other criteria it’s not a debate.
Has the number of men hitting on you increased since The Dark Knight?
Honestly? I haven’t felt different – mainly because men were always hitting on me [laughs].
Understandably. What type of approach works on you?
I love somebody who’s not tacky, annoying or cheesy. Subtle and witty, without pressuring me – then I’m intrigued. Building a relationship is like an intellectual game. Say chess. Or like a dance. And romance is very important.
Would a sophisticated French woman go for a brutish Brit?
I never have, but I’ve worked with a lot of British people recently and haven’t found them brutish. They were respectful, sweet and funny, with a great, dry humour. I like to laugh, so I love it when a person has self-deprecating humour. If you can laugh at yourself, you’re a good date.
And what’s a bad date?
One that isn’t exclusive. Too often American and British men think the dating culture allows them to date several people at once. That’s cheating. In France when we kiss, we are together.
Oh. Can we kiss, then?
Thanks to being tortured in Vietnam, John McCain can’t raise his arms above his head. Can you?
Of course, and my leg – I did gymnastics for nine years, but I ended up a bit tall for the discipline, so now I keep fit by doing a lot of dancing. But I’m not talking about a night out in Paris, with a glass of whisky in one hand. I’m talking about real dancing, the kind that requires flexibility, strength, stamina…
Are you a gamer?
Yes, but I don’t like playing alone. I prefer Mario Kart – it’s fun, user-friendly and you can throw a banana skin at the other racers.
How would you cope with life at sea?
I get seasick, and I’m much more interested in surfing than serving, so I guess I’d be a terrible Royal Marine.
Would you let your man wear them?
Honestly, living in Besançon it’s difficult to keep up with the latest trends, but is this serious? I can’t picture my boyfriend in a pair of Ugg boots. Never.
What outfit did you last wear to a fancy dress party?
I don’t remember my last fancy dress party very well. I was Lara Croft. I won the prize for the best outfit and was rewarded with two bottles of champagne, which disappeared quite rapidly.
Are you a spender or a saver?
What a question! I’m a girl – I loooooove shopping!
Are you a wrestling fan?
I like fighting. I used to practise boxing all the time, but I had to stop – bruises are not exactly camera-friendly.
Do you like hard forwards or prissy backs?
I prefer Sébastien “the Caveman” Chabal to Frederik Michalak, but for me, Mr Foxy is Jonny Wilkinson. I don’t have his picture hanging on my bedroom wall, though.
What’s your go-to meal?
Cancoillotte – it’s melted French cheese spread on bread and it’s absolutely great for breakfast. I can make it plain, or flavoured with garlic, shallots or even Arbois wine.
When was your last big head-smasher?
Just after shooting with FHM France in Tunisia. I drank way too much gin and tonic and the morning after was horrible. I kept on getting hot flushes and feeling queasy. I still don’t know how I managed not to throw up on the plane.
What gets you upset?
I hate waking up. And, on that note, I’m going to bed. Sweet dreams.
Original interview by Stuart Hood in the January 2009 issue of FHM UK magazine