In a summer already crowded with franchise blockbuster movies, Brett Ratner is throwing his hat into the ring with “Rush Hour 3,” which opens Friday. For the requisite “hot chick” role, Ratner tapped model Noémie Lenoir, who already has appeared on the silver screen in her native France and proved she has the chops to keep up with co-stars Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan by even being willing to cut and bleach her dark and wavy locks for the film. “We had so much fun on set. We were always laughing,” says the bilingual 27-year-old, who is a single mum to son Kelyan (dad is soccer player Claude Makélélé). She sat down with WWD at Cafe Cluny — wearing a dress so short it made the staid tourist types next to her splutter in their cappuccinos — to discuss working with Ratner, New York real estate and being an MTA.

WWD: How did you get this role?

Noémie Lenoir: I saw Brett in Cannes and he told me that he was working on writing “Rush Hour 3,” and he wanted me to be in it. I still had to audition, though, and in the end it was between me and three other girls and I got the part.

WWD: Are you going to be heading to Hollywood now?

N.L.: I live in Paris and London now, but I just bought an apartment in New York and am moving back here in the fall. I am so excited, but it’s a big project. New York is in the middle between Los Angeles and Europe — so I think it’s the best place for me right now.

WWD: What do you think of the model-slash-actress stereotype? You are still actively doing modeling campaigns, for Marks & Spencer and L’Oréal. Do you feel like you have something to prove?

N.L.: I think it is different in Europe and the transition has been easier for me. I would love to act full-time, but I still make a living modeling and the modeling business has been good to me, so I can’t forget that.

This story first appeared in the August 9, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

WWD: Do you enjoy the whole ritual of the red carpet? It’s not so different from the catwalk.

N.L.: I do like getting dressed up and having your makeup done, but I still get nervous going on the red carpet. I love wearing Jean Paul Gaultier for the red carpet, and for everyday life, I wear simple dresses and lots of jeans and ballerina flats from designers like Barbara Bui, Mayle and Jill Stuart.

WWD: What’s different about doing a big American action film, considering you mainly did French films before?

N.L.: Everything is really organized!

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