Hit French movie AMELIE was originally written for British actress EMILY WATSON - but she couldn't speak the language.

Movie maker Jean-Pierre Jeunet felt sure Watson could master the language when he created his famous character for her, but she had to pass.

The GOSFORD PARK star says, "He (Jeunet) wanted someone to speak in English and French... so I said no."

But Watson was delighted when French actress Audrey Tautou landed the role, and shot to acclaim - because the same thing happened to her when Helena Bonham Carter turned down the lead role in Lars Von Trier's Breaking the Waves.

Watson adds, "Amelie launched Audrey Tautou, and she is a superstar now, which is fantastic.

"The same thing happened to me - Helena Bonham Carter was going to do Breaking The Waves and she dropped out, and there was my opportunity."