Marion Cotillard nearly gave up acting at 27.

The 34-year-old star - who earlier this year won the Order of the Arts and Letters from the French government for her services to the country's culture - admits she became dangerously close to quitting the acting profession because few people wanted to cast her, but came back to the idea upon the advice of her agent.

As a teenager, I didn't want to be me; I wanted to be many different people. Maybe I realized that they all lived inside me and that if I managed to connect with them, they would become aspects of me.

She said: "The directors I dreamed of were Coppola, Scorsese, Tim Burton, David Lynch, Spielberg because of 'E.T.' I wasn't considered an actress.

"I didn't want to get bitter while waiting for something to happen, so when I was 27, I told my agent I was stopping and going to work for Greenpeace. He said, 'Please just have this one meeting.' It was with Tim Burton, for 'Big Fish', and I got the part."

Despite nearly quitting, Marion does feel like she has always wanted to work in performance because she always enjoyed portraying other people.

She told US Vogue: "As a teenager, I didn't want to be me; I wanted to be many different people. Maybe I realized that they all lived inside me and that if I managed to connect with them, they would become aspects of me."

Such a feeling helped her portray Edith Piaf in 'La vie en rose' - for which she won the Best Actress Oscar in 2007.

She said: "There was one little problem: The finance people didn't want me. I learned how to make the space inside me for her to come in."