ENTERTAINMENT
21/07/2011 11:14 BST | Updated 20/09/2011 06:12 BST

Catherine Deneuve Still Entrances In The Big Picture, Explains Writer Douglas Kennedy

A bestselling writer surely has the best of both worlds - he enjoys fame, riches and plaudits, but also the chance to walk down the street without hordes of paparazzi too busy chasing after more glittering, less talented folk. The lucky few - think John Grisham (A Time To Kill, The Firm, etc), Nicholas Evans (Horse Whisperer) - who also get their work on screen in a big-budget adaptation, really do sip at the holy grail where commercialism meets creativity.

Douglas Kennedy is one of that elite bunch - his books including The Pursuit of Happiness, The Special Relationship and The Woman in the Fifth have been translated into 21 languages, garnered him that highest of French literary honours - that Chevalier thing, that only beautiful AND clever people get - and his 1997 novel The Dead Heart was the basis for the film Welcome to Woop Woop.

More recently, he has shared the work of adapting his first bestseller, The Big Picture, for a French film, starring Romain Duris and Catherine Deneuve. The story is a complex one moving from typical Parisian fare of adultery and secrecy to something far more abstract, and Kennedy wasn't sure what to expect when he first sat down to watch it in its complete form.

"As far as is possible, I try to divorce myself from the fact that I've written it," he tells me in London. "I really tried to sit in the cinema and lose myself in the plot, and just hoped that I would watch a good story. And I was genuinely entranced by what they did."

As well as removing himself from the position of writer, Kennedy equally distances himself from production, leaving it in "far more capable hands". But, for this self-professed lover of all things French, there was one almighty compensation for his involvement - the prospect of having Deneuve, the nearest thing France has to a living deity, agreeing to appear in his film.

Deneuve is now 68, and plays a woman with great troubles in The Big Picture, nonetheless, her magic endures, leaving Kennedy suitably entranced:

"I've only met her the one time," he recalls. "I saw her in a restaurant in Paris, and approached her. And of course she looked guarded, because she's had complete strangers coming up to her for 50 years. But then I told her who I was, and she relaxed, and was completely charming. So, if nothing else, writing this book has brought me a genuine smile from Catherine Deneuve and that's got to be worth something."

WATCH:

The Big Picture will be in selected cinemas from Friday 22 July.