NEW YORK (Reuters) - Just after turning 50, Kristin Scott Thomas sometimes feels ignored, even though on screen she has managed to avoid the pitfalls of an aging actress unable to nab complex roles.
The British actress largely credits French cinema and society as embracing women as they age, as seen in her new French film, "Leaving," which opens in U.S. theaters on Friday, in which she portrays a repressed married woman who embarks on an all-consuming affair.
It's the kind of role that embraces the idea that as women age they are complicated yet sensuous and desirable, the Paris-based actress said in a recent interview in New York.
"I have become an invisible 50-year-old," the Paris-based actress said glancing around a hotel in a recent interview in New York. "But I don't think that French cinema has got a problem with age at all ... they like seeing and telling and watching stories about women my age."
In "Leaving," Scott Thomas said she had forgotten that numerous sex scenes were required, but was persuaded into doing them by director Catherine Corsini. Now she is relieved to be promoting a character neither bland nor forgotten.
"I am really pleased to be talking about women of my age who, yes, they have desire. They have life inside of them. They are not just regretfully looking at their children and thinking 'Ah yes, I was beautiful too once,'" she said.
"Leaving" also touches on other issues, including abusive relationships -- "domestic violence in middle class, 'nice' families is something I have always been horrified by."
And the film shows that women can grow in sexual confidence, which also appealed to the actress. She called it, "the idea that mature women can completely have a sort of sexual confidence that you don't have as a young woman, or that I didn't have as a young woman."
Several independent films have aided her resurgence in recent years, "with a bunch of really interesting, passionate, engaged people" compared to Hollywood studio movies which she likened to "taking part in some piece of choreographed machinery that really doesn't affect anybody."
Scott Thomas has managed to avoid being typecast as the sardonic best friend seen in "Four Weddings and a Funeral" or as a woman with a penchant for affairs in the desert in "The English Patient," for which she earned an Oscar nomination.
"I was so fed up with being asked to do the same thing," she said rolling her eyes. "Every time there is a film about a desert. And the bitter, twisted best friend, chain smoking."
Yet she also seemed overwhelmed by an upcoming schedule packed with the U.S. release next week of "Nowhere Boy," in which she plays John Lennon's aunt, several French films, a small thriller opposite Ethan Hawke and another opposite Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt.
"I want a nice big blank canvas in front of me," she said.
Recalling her past acting days and life a few decades ago, she said she previously had searched for new arenas to explore her talent and persona and tried "different ways to be," but now at age 50, "you just accept what you have."
"I used to be so intensely preoccupied by unhappiness... now there are times where you might get down but you can move on much faster now," said the actress who has three children from a marriage that broke up in 2005.
"The funny thing about getting older is I find I tick all the boxes, little by little. Marriage breaks up. Tick. Three kids. Tick. Career high. Tick," she said, but now, "you are looking for other things besides mad love affairs."
She knows she is considered in France as sometimes "fiery and demanding," but agreed she would like to be considered as one of the best actresses on stage and film.
"One of my generation. I wouldn't go farther than that. Even this week would be quite good," she joked.
Reporting by Christine Kearney, editing by Bob Tourtellotte