For Asterix and Obelix's birthday party, their mothers, Sarsaparilla (Praline in French) and Vanilla (Gelatine in French) visit from Condatum, bringing a decorated Roman sword and helmet as presents. They immediately fuss about why their sons are still single, and attempt (without success) to arrange marriages.
Asterix and Obelix's fathers, Astronomix and Obeliscoidix (Oblodalix in French), have remained in Condatum for the tourist season to run their Armorican souvenir business. After a night of beer and boar, the two are arrested in connection with the theft of the sword and helmet of "a very high-ranking Roman dignitary", later revealed to be Julius Caesar's enemy Pompey. The items had been stolen by the dipsomaniac veteran Roman legionary Tremensdelirius, who then traded them to Astronomix and Obeliscoidix for a barrel of barley beer.
Bogus Genius, the Prefect of Condatum and Pompey's ally, sends his agent Fastandfurius and a gifted tragic actress named Latraviata to infiltrate the Gaulish village to recover the sword and helmet, now known to be in the possession of Asterix and Obelix. Disguised as Obelix's love interest Panacea and feigning amnesia, Latraviata succeeds in fooling the Gauls.
Meanwhile, the real Panacea and her husband Tragicomix discover that Asterix and Obelix's fathers have been imprisoned, and set out for the village to warn their friends. On their way, they run into Latraviata and Fastandfurious, who have left the village, and the imposture is exposed. Fastandfurious is "menhired" by Obelix, and Pompey's weapons (damaged by a menhir's weight) are recovered. Asterix and Obelix then free their fathers, and Pompey and Bogus Genius are taken into custody. Caesar rewards the Gauls with a golden statue of himself, which Asterix then presents to Latraviata for her acting.
This is the first appearance of Asterix and Obelix's parents in the mainstream comic line.
When Asterix and Obelix's fathers warn Bogus Genius of their sons' retribution, a legionary whispers that this is a "little quirk of theirs ... they're always quoting from that play, Waiting for Godotrix", a reference to Samuel Beckett's tragicomedy, Waiting for Godot. This allusion does not appear in the original French version, which instead uses a biblical allusion, with the legionary saying, "It's an obsession with them, they talk about their sons as if they were waiting for the Messiah."
The award Latraviata receives parodies a Csar Award given by the French Acadmie des Arts et Techniques du Cinema (hence a golden Caesar). The first Csar Award for Best Actress was given to Romy Schneider in 1976 (who resembles Latraviata unmasked).
At one point in the story, an angry Obelix punches Asterix, the first time he has done so (though Asterix later repays the favour while in a hyperactive stupor, having been given some of the magic potion while concussed).
During the book, Dogmatix finds a mate and sires puppies, putting him way ahead of Obelix and Asterix in starting a family.
In this book, Asterix and Obelix share the same birthday. However, in the book Obelix and Co. and the live-action movie Asterix and Obelix take on Caesar, Obelix does not share a birthday with Asterix. This coincides with the retcon introduced in the short story Birth of Asterix, which was published in 1994, nearly 20 years after Obelix and Co., but seven years prior to Asterix and the Actress.
The souvenir store run by Asterix and Obelix's fathers is called 'Modernities & Collectibles' (as opposed to Antiques).
On page 33, 'Romans Go Home' is scrawled on a pillar outside the tavern in Condatum, a reference to the same graffiti in Monty Python's Life of Brian.
Some fans have suggested the name of the agent Fastandfurius (Pincodus in French) is a reference to the movie series Fast and Furious, although the first film in the series was not released until June 2001, three months after the English release of Asterix and the Actress.
Latraviata's name is a reference to the opera La traviata by Giuseppe Verdi.
Asterix and the Actress was France's best-selling comic book of 2001, selling 2,288,065 copies.
Uderzo released a special edition of the album called Astrix et Latraviata - L'album des crayonns (Asterix and the Actress - The Album of Preparatory Work) (2001) to show the production stages from sketching to scanning, printing, inking and coloring.