While giving an interview to Austrian magazine Profil during the Salzburg music festival, actor Gérard Depardieu (Green card, La vie en rose) made some pretty heinous comments about Juliette Binoche, an actress who for all intents and purposes is his female equivalent in both stature and experience–you might say she’s the people’s actress. Responding to a question about director Leos Carax (he directed Binoche in The Lovers on the bridge) Depardieu wondered what the fuss was all about with the Chocolate actress: Please, can you explain to me what the secret of this actress is meant to be? I would really like to know why she has been so esteemed for so many years. She has nothing. Absolutely nothing!
Shocking, yes, but it had to happen sooner or later. The actor has been on a tightrope walking act for decades, trying to balance crabby egotism with a total mastery of acting.
Things fell apart at times. In the latter part of 2009 Depardieu was called down to the police station after damaging a car parked in his neighborhood. Charges were dropped and the matter was forgotten.
What makes Depardieu tick? There’s something of the ‘country bumpkin makes good’ pathos in Depardieu’s life, blended with a fury that’s unnatural, perhaps hereditary. Director Claude Berri has said about him, in life Depardieu is a thug and a prince. He’s cowardly and courageous, cruel and generous.
Nothing explains the outburst but could it be that Depardieu is bitter about being overworked? In the late 1990s he made fifty-five films in one year. His IMDB page lists nine projects in development and a lot of rumored projects. A workaholic, the bon vivant actor is also a restaurateur and a hotel owner. It would be easy to use this as an excuse but that’s not the intent; what Depardieu did was vulgar and certainly uncalled for.
Is there something going on between Carax, Depardieu, and Binoche? Maybe Binoche borrowed money from Depardieu to open a Persian restaurant—never borrow from friends, they say. An article in The Guardian quoted an observer as suggesting that, Juliette Binoche has an Oscar and Depardieu doesn’t. Not likely. Depardieu has never showed much interest in his own crossover potential and so why would a foreign–¬albeit ¬universal—award matter to him so bitterly?
I reached out to Jean-Michel Frodon, a colleague who used to run Les Cahiers du Cinema, and here’s what he told me: Gérard Depardieu is a giant actor who often talks out his mind. What he said is pure bullshit, about Juliette Binoche, about Leos Carax, and about Pialat, who gave more interviews to Cahiers du cinéma than he gave to any other publication, Maurice who was close to Serge Toubiana [Cinémathèque Française], then editor in chief, and incidently to me, who became later editor in chief of Cahiers.The best explanation I can think of regarding the insults to Juliette Binoche, whom I consider the best actress of her generation, and also a very generous and daring person, is heavy drinking. It’s only a guess, but other explanations would be worse.
Adding insult to insult, Depardieu commented that Carax needed six years to complete Lovers, and that in the end the movie’s a piece of [blank.] Binoche and Depardieu have never appeared together on screen. Something tells me that that’s going to stay this way a while. NEWS FLASH, NEWS FLASH! Mel Gibson just ran his fast car into a wall in a fit of jealous rage.