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Olivier Martinez: Man of Mystery

"Taking Lives" is a such an edge-of-your-seat thriller that even the actors are tense when they watch it.

"The first time I saw it," Olivier Martinez, one of the stars, says, in his French accent, "I jumped out of my seat - twice."

The film is about a serial killer pursued by detectives played by Martinez and Angelina Jolie. But despite Martinez's previous screen roles, don't expect a steamy scene between them.

"My character doesn't like her," says Martinez. In fact, his character is a bit offended that an FBI agent has been pulled in to help him. "My character, (Joseph) Paquette, he's a tough cop from Montreal."

A scenario is very different from the movie "Unfaithful," in which Martinez seduced a married woman played by Diane Lane. After that, Hollywood saw the actor as a sex symbol.

"Good for me, but I didn't do it on purpose," he says. "I didn't know it would come up that way. It was the first time I did scenes a little bit erotic."

Although his sensual performance in "Unfaithful" made American audiences take notice, he was also seen in last summer's action film "S.W.A.T," and appeared in the critically acclaimed drama "Before Night Falls."

The actor has been working in English for only three years. "Never too late," he says, "As you can notice. I have a little tiny accent when I speak English."

It's not just a language barrier he has crossed.

He says, "Culturally, it's total different. You don't have the same priorities. If you work with a crew in France, and the food is bad at lunch, you have a strike, so that's as simple as that. In France, Italia, Spain, forgetaboutit, no way."

Martinez has been romantically linked with a number of actresses including Juliette Binoche and Mira Sorvino and, most recently, with singer Kylie Minogue. But he won't confirm it.

"I don't read these kind of papers, they're very cheap," he says. "The less you know about me as a man, the more I will be able to make you believe what I do on screen. That's why I don't talk about my personal life. I want to stay mysterious."

He'd much rather talk about the new thriller "Taking Lives".

"It's such a great feeling to be scared when you know you're not going to be hurt," he says with a grin. "That's the pitch. It's a bit long but now that I know more than 30 words in English, I just want to practice."

"Taking Lives" also stars Ethan Hawke and Keifer Sutherland.