Let’s face it, French president François Hollande is rather . . . 1-D. He’s got no quirks to keep up our attention with, let alone any acceptable performance as president of France. So a story about an alledged affair with an actress, as was recently broken by the French glossy Closer, is bound to up the ante of a dull—very dull—political mandate.
As it were, the rumors of Hollande’s alledged affair with French actress Julie Gayet are not news, there are have been talks of it for over a year. But it’s almost a non-issue here in France, where people don’t mind a First Mistress every once in a while.
More to the point, affairs are pretty much expected from politicians, given the public’s low expectations. President Mitterrand had a mistress. In fact, she was present at his funeral, side by side with his widow.
In fact, during a recent survey the French showed indifference, some even expressing distaste that the media were not focusing on the more important affairs of the state. But others have joined the chorus of media-fed joyous finger-pointing, the argument being that, previous presidents were not spared press coverage of their infidelities so why should this president ?
Closer Magazine recently published photos (which have since been pulled from the web) of Hollande riding his scooter to Gayet’s apartment on or around New Year’s Day and spending the night there, with a one-man security detail for his protection. The lone bodyguard apparently went to get the presidential croissants in the morning.
The actress in question, Juliet Gayet, is an unknown in the U.S., unlike her cohorts Léa Seydoux (« Mission Impossible » or Marion Cotillard « La Vie En Rose ».) Hollande could not have chosen a better partner than her, as Gayet is cut from the finest cloth. She chooses her actor gigs carefully and is also a singer. In 2007, she founded a film production company with a friend. She cites Fellini as her favorite filmmaker and actresses Jeanne Moreau, Jessica Lange and Romy Schneider are her influences. She was married to an Argentine filmmaker and had two children with him. She has since divorced him, the Argentine starting a relationship with Juliette Binoche in 2006.
I’ve watched Gayet in an interview in which she is asked about her encounter with Hollande during a dinner that was well attended by filmmakers. Anyone remotely skilled at reading body language would notice Gayet being giddy and gushing when describing her encounter with the president (the brushing aside of the hair, the amusing inuendos, the embarrassed chuckling). Surely she can’t be that camera-shy.
So what now ? We wait to see what the blowback will be. Gayet and Hollande have both asked Closer to take down the images, which the magazine has. And remains to be seen what Valerie Trierweiler, Hollande’s life partner, will do, if anything.