French actress Audrey Tautou's first major film role was in 1999's Venus Beauty Institute. By 2000, she was a fixture in French movie theaters, with films Marry Me, Pretty Devils and Happenstance. International success came with 2001's Amélie, the top-grossing French language film of all time. Tautou went on to star in two American projects, Dirty Pretty Things and The Da Vinci Code.
Tautou played the lead role in the biopic of fashion designer Coco Chanel, titled Coco avant Chanel, and directed by Anne Fontaine. Filming began in Paris in September 2008, and released in France on 22 April 2009. The script is partially based on Edmonde Charles-Roux’s book “L’Irrégulière” (”The Non-Conformist”). As part of promoting the film, Tautou was named as the next spokesmodel for Chanel No. 5, replacing Nicole Kidman. She was directed in the advertisement by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, with whom she worked on Amélie and A Very Long Engagement. The advertisement was released in 2009 to coincide with the film's release.
From that light offering that owed more than a nod to 1930s screwball comedy, Tautou returned to familiar territory to star as a lonely working class gal with artistic leanings who falls for a similarly offbeat and awkward type (Guillaume Canet) in "Ensemble, C'est Tout" ("Hunting and Gathering") (2008), based on the novel by Anna Gavalda. The following year, Tautou was chosen to portray fashion legend Coco Chanel in the biopic "Coco Before Chanel" (2009), where she ably balanced the elegance and fierce determination integral to her character's rise from a French orphanage to head arguably the most famous fashion house in history.