Born in Cornwall but based in France, British actress Kristin Scott Thomas has enjoyed a truly international career.
Oscar-nominated for her role in The English Patient and awarded a Bafta for Four Weddings and a Funeral, the 47-year-old has juggled high-profile Hollywood films with acclaimed stage performances in London and Paris.
A fluent French speaker, she can currently be seen in French thriller Tell No One (Ne le dis a personne) as a wealthy lesbian caught up in a murderous conspiracy.
Scott Thomas spoke to Gavin Esler for a Hardtalk Extra special.
How does acting in French compare to doing it in English?
It can be exhilarating. French is a foreign language, but I've been speaking it since I was 18 so it's second nature to me. It's always a relief to return to English though; I am making this tiny effort when I'm speaking French, which gets tiring after a while.
Does being English in France make it easier to find work there?
In Tell No One she plays a wealthy lesbian embroiled in a conspiracy
You get away with murder as a foreigner - you can make mistakes and people will forgive you! Exoticism can give you an edge: it makes people assume you're cleverer than you are and gives you the upper hand. In France the range of characters I'm asked to play is much wider than in England, where I've very much typecast as upper-class and brittle.
Tell No One is set in Paris but is based on a novel by US thriller novelist Harlan Coben. How did that combination work in practice?
What's so clever is the way it transfers this very American atmosphere to Paris; the director Guillaume Canet has done that very cleverly. It shows the city as it is today - a modern city without an accordion or striped jumper in sight. You get a taste of all the different kinds of Paris, from the clean, fashionable side to the grittier, dangerous aspects of it.
Apart from Four Weddings, the film you're best remembered for is The English Patient. How important was it to your career?
The English Patient was a huge turning point in my career and my life; it became this huge thing. But the whole Oscar build-up got completely out of control; I spent more time talking about that film than I spent making it! Straight after that I went into a series of really big pictures that took forever to shoot. It was all so huge and so different from my European life. After a while I couldn't really cope with it any more.
Scott Thomas will next be seen with Woody Harrelson in The Walker
Was that why you chose to return to Europe?
Yes. The thing I found difficult about American film-making was the need to be appealing all the time - you have to be adorable and attractive. In European films you can be mean and nasty; there's a little more bite to them.
Tell No One is out now in the UK.