Actress Marion Cotillard sparked a political row yesterday after accusing America of fabricating the 9/11 attacks.
The 32-year-old French actress, who received an Oscar last month for her performance as singer Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose, openly questioned the truth behind the terrorist atrocity in an interview broadcast on a French website.
"I think we're lied to about a number of things," Cotillard said, singling out the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center as an example of the US making up horror stories for political ends.
Referring to the two passenger jets being flown into the Twin Towers, Cotillard said:
"We see other towers of the same kind being hit by planes. Are they burned? They [sic] was a tower, I believe it was in Spain, which burnt for 24 hours. It never collapsed. None of these towers collapsed. And there [in New York], in a few minutes, the whole thing collapsed."
She added that the towers, planned in the early Sixties, were an outdated "money-sucker" that would have cost more to modernise than to rebuild altogether, which is why they were destroyed.
She said: "It was a money-sucker because they were finished, it seems to me, by 1973, and to re-cable all that, to bring up-to-date all the technology and everything, it was a lot more expensive, that work, than destroying them."
Cotillard's stardom and increased earning power looked assured following her Oscar win.
But after her outburst, in which she also queried the 1969 Moon landings, a successful future in Hollywood appears to be in jeopardy.
She said: "Did a man really walk on the Moon? I saw plenty of documentaries on it, and I really wondered. And in any case I don't believe all they tell me, that's for sure."
Cotillard, who was born and brought up in Paris, made the comments on Paris Première - Paris Dernière, a programme broadcast a year ago.
At the time her remarks were largely ignored, but their appearance yesterday on the French magazine website Marianne2 comes at a time when Cotillard's profile is sky-high.
She is shortly due to fly to Chicago to star alongside Johnny Depp in Public Enemies, a gangster movie expected to be her first big money-spinner.
Cotillard's film career began in Luc Besson's 1998 film Taxi - a huge hit in France but less so around the world.
She is slowly becoming a household name in France, in a list most recently topped by her close friend Audrey Tautou and previously by women such as Catherine Deneuve and Brigitte Bardot.
But Cotillard, who lives with actor and director Guillaume Canet, frequently tells interviewers she has no interest in money or prestige.
Denying that she had any kind of "Anglo-Saxon ambition", she said she prefers to "choose roles which suit me".
Despite her low-key image, Cotillard is an environmental activist who once worked as a spokesman for Greenpeace.
News of her anti-Americanism comes as Franco-American relations appear to be thawing, following Paris's refusal to show support for the invasion of Iraq.
President Nicolas Sarkozy insists he is pro-American, even supporting so-called "Anglo-Saxon" economic reforms. (Daily Mail. 3.02.2008,http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/showbiz/showbiznews.html?in_article_id=523729&in_page_id=1773