PARIS — Ludivine Sagnier, her hair wet and matted in a bun, breezes into a hotel here just after noon, slithers onto a white leather sofa and fishes a cigarette out of her Miu Miu bag.

Despite her Gallic nonchalance — or because of it — Sagnier, at 26, represents the new cool mood in French film. She’s mellow and sophisticated, intelligent and ad hoc, with a beauty that’s neither too studied nor too neglected. She feels her surroundings instinctually, flagging a waiter for an espresso.

Dressed in Diesel jeans, a pink sweater and a Christian Lacroix jacket, Sagnier says she’s just out of the shower — not the gym, a fact she punctuates with a cloud of smoke.

“I take care of myself,” she insists. “But I like a little destruction and a little of…healthy life. I’m a simple girl — really.”

Whether that’s actually true, Sagnier is one thing for sure: hot. She’s coming off solid reviews for her complex performance as a sleepwalker in director Xavier Giannoli’s thriller “Une Aventure.” And few can erase the memory of her cavorting as a psychopathic nymphomaniac in Francois Ozon’s “Swimming Pool.”

The actress has also been busy offscreen. Six months ago, she gave birth to her first child — a daughter, Bonnie — with her co-star in “Aventure,” Nicolas Duvauchelle.

Sagnier met the tattooed actor just over a year ago and they’ve been the “It” couple of French film ever since. Miu Miu even brought the pair together for its spring ad campaign, shot by Terry Richardson.

“I was pregnant in those pictures,” says Sagnier. “But at least I knew Terry wouldn’t make me get down on all fours and stick a feather in my bum.”

Born in Sevres, just west of Paris (“It’s very green and bourgeois”), Sagnier’s father taught English (she speaks it seamlessly) and her mother wanted her to play piano.

“Music was too complicated,” she says. “Words were more my thing. Theater was my compromise with my parents. I started theater at seven and went to the conservatory in Versailles.”

This story first appeared in the October 6, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

She enrolled in university, acted in a string of supporting rolls, and then got noticed by Ozon, who cast her in “Water Drops on Burning Rocks” and “8 Women” before “Swimming Pool.”

What makes Sagnier rare is she’s an art-house darling who can also do mainstream. To wit: She’s already made some inroads in Hollywood (in 2003 she played a fey Tinkerbell in P.J. Hogan’s “Peter Pan”). And she says she has a “couple” of projects incubating next year in the U.S.

But one thing Sagnier won’t change is her French attitude.

“I won’t play to that American star game,” she insists. “In France it’s not good to be seen too much; in Hollywood it’s a virtue. I prefer keeping my mystery.”

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