Nationality: French. Born: Châteauroux, 27 December 1948. Education: Attended École communale; Cours d'art dramatique de Charles Dullin; École d'art dramatique de Jean Laurent Cochet. Family: Married Elisabeth Guignot, 1970, children: Guillaume, an actor, and Julie; a third child, Roxanne, born in 1993. Career: Spent his early teens as petty thief; a prison psychologist suggested dramatics as possible therapy, early 1960s; made his film debut while still in his teens in Leenhardt's Le Beatnik et le minet , 1965; appeared in occasional drama on French television, 1966–1970s; appeared in a number of plays in Paris, 1968–1970s; appeared in the French TV series L'Inconnu , 1974; earned international critical and popular recognition in such films as Le Retour de Martin Guerre and Danton , early 1980s; directed his first film, Tartuffe , 1984; made his first English-language film, Green Card , 1990. Awards: Prix Gérard Philipe, France, 1973; César Award, Best Actor, for Le Dernier Métro 1980; Montreal World Film Festival Best Actor, for Danton , 1982; National Society of Film Critics Best Actor, for Danton and La Retour de Martin Guerre , 1982; Venice Film Festival Volpi Cup-Best Actor, for Police , 1985; Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture-Comedy Musical Golden Globe, for Green Card , 1990; Best Actor César Award, Cannes Film Festival Best Actor, London Critics Circle Award-Actor of the Year, for Cyrano de Bergerac , 1990; Golden Camera Award, 1995; Venice Film Festival Golden Lion, for his contributions to the world of film, 1997. Address: Artmédia, 10 av George V, 75008 Paris, France.
Le Beatnik et le minet (Leenhardt—short); Christmas Carol (Varda)
Le Cri du cormoran, le soir au-dessus des jonques (Audiard)
Un peu de soleil dans l'eau froide (Deray); Le Tueur (de la Patellière)
Nathalie Granger (Duras) (as salesman); La Scoumoune (Giovanni) (as burglar); Au rendez-vous de la mort joyeuse (Juan Buñuel); L'Affaire Dominici (Bernardt-Aubert); Le Viager (Tchernia)
Deux hommes dans la ville ( Two against the Law ) (Giovanni); Rude journée pour la reine ( Rough Day for the Queen ) (Allio); Les Gaspards ( The Holes ) (Tchernia); Les Valseuses ( Going Places ) (Blier) (as Jean-Claude); Stavisky (Resnais); La Femme du Ganges (Duras)
Vincent, François, Paul, et les autres (Sautet); Pas si méchant que ça ( The Wonderful Crook ) (Goretta) (as Pierre)
Maîtresse (Schroeder) (as Olivier); 7 Morts sur ordonnance (Rouffio); Je t'aime, moi non plus (Gainsbourg) (as René la Canne); Bertolucci secondo il cinema (Amelia—doc); L'ultima donna ( La Dernière Femme ) (Ferreri)
1900 ( Novecento ) (Bertolucci) (as Olmo Dalco); Barocco (Téchiné) (as Samson); Baxter—Vera Baxter (Duras); René la Canne (Girod)
Le Camion (Duras); Violanta (Schmid); La Nuit tous les chats sont gris (Zingg); Dites-lui que je l'aime ( This Sweet
Ciao maschio ( Bye Bye Monkey ; Reve de Singe ) (Ferreri) (as Gérard Lafayette); Le Sucre (Rouffio); Les Chiens (Jessua)
L'Ingorgo ( Traffic Jam ) (Comencini) (as Franco); Temporale Rosy (Monicelli) (as Raoul); Buffet froid (Blier) (as Alphonse Tram)
Mon Oncle d'Amerique (Resnais) (as Rene Ragueneau); Le Dernier Métro ( The Last Metro ) (Truffaut) (as Bernard Granger); Inspecteur La Bavure (Zidi) (as Roger Morzini); Je vous aime ( I Love All of You ) (Berri); Loulou (Pialat) (title role)
Le Chèvre ( The Goat ) (Veber—released in U.S. in 1985) (as Campana); La Femme d'à côte ( The Woman Next Door ) (Truffaut) (as Bernard Coudray); Le Choix des armes ( Choice of Arms ) (Corneau) (as Mickey); Le Retour de Martin Guerre ( The Return of Martin Guerre ) (Vigne) (title role)
Danton (Wajda) (title role); Le Grand Frère (Girod) (as Gérard Berger/Bernard Vigo)
La Lune dans le caniveau ( The Moon in the Gutter ) (Beineix) (as Gérard); Les Compères (Veber) (as Jean Lucas, + co-pr); Fort Saganne (Corneau) (as Charles Saganne)
Rive droite, rive gauche ( Right Bank, Left Bank ) (Labro) (as Paul Senznques)
Police (Pialat) (as Mangin); Une Femme ou deux ( One Woman or Two ; A Woman or Two ) (Vigne) (as Julien Chayssac)
Les Fugitifs (Veber) (as Jean Lucas); Jean de Florette (Berri) (as Cadoret/title role); Rue du départ (Gatlif) (as Dr. Lombart); Tenue de soirée ( Menage ) (Blier) (as Bob); Je hais les acteurs ( I Hate Actors ) (Krawczyk) (as prisoner in police station)
Sous le soleil de Satan ( Under Satan's Sun ) (Pialat) (as Father Donissan)
Camille Claudel (Nuytten) (as Auguste Rodin); Drole d'endroit pour une rencontre ( A Strange Place to Meet ) (Dupeyron) (as Charles)
Je veux rentrer à la maison ( I Want to Go Home ) (Resnais) (as Christian Gauthier); Deux ( Two ) (Zidi); Trop belle pour toi ( Too Beautiful for You ) (Blier) (as Bernard Barthélémy)
Cyrano de Bergerac (Rappeneau) (title role); Green Card (Weir) (as Georges Fauré); Shakha Proshakha ( Branches of the Tree ) (Satyajit Ray)
Uranus (Berri) (as Leopold); Merci la vie ( Thanks for Life ) (Blier) (as Dr. Worms); Mon Pere ce heros (Lauzier) (as André)
1492: The Conquest of Paradise (Ridley Scott) (as Christopher Columbus); Tous les matins du monde ( All the Mornings of the World ) (Corneau) (as Marin Marias)
Hélas pour moi ( Oh, Woe Is Me ) (Godard) (as Simon Donnadieu); My Father, the Hero (Miner) (as André); Germinal (Berri) (as Maheu)
Une Pure Formalité ( A Pure Formality ) (Tornatore) (as Onoff); La Machine ( The Machine ) (Dupeyron) (as Dr. Marc Lacroix); Elisa (Jean Becker) (as Jacques Desmoulins); Le Garcu (Pialat) (as Gérard)
Colonel Chabert (Angelo) (title role); Les Cent et une Nuits ( A Hundred and One Nights ) (Varda) (as Actor for a Day); François Truffaut: Portraits Voles ( François Truffaut: Stolen Portraits ) (Toubiana and Pascal) (doc) (as Himself); Le Hussard sur le toit ( The Horseman on the Roof ) (Rappeneau) (as Le commissaire de police)
Les Anges Gardiens (Poiré) (as Antoine Carco); Bogus (Jewison) (as Bogus); Le Gaulois ; Hamlet (Branagh) (as Reynaldo); The Secret Agent (Hampton) (as Ossipon); Unhook the Stars (Nick Cassavetes) (as Big Tommy); Le Plus beau metier du monde (Lauzier) (as Laurent Monier)
XXL (Zeitoun) (as Jean Bourdaloue)
The Man in the Iron Mask (Wallace) (as Porthos); La Parola amore esiste ( Notes of Love ) (Calopresti) (as Avv. Levi); Le Comte de Monte Cristo (Dayan—mini for TV) (as Lord Wilmore/Edmond Dantes/The Count of Monte Cristo); Bimboland (Zeitoun) (as Laurent Gaspard)
Wings Against the Wind (Palcy); Passionnément (Nuytten); Balzac (Dayan—for TV) (as Honore de Balzac); Mirka (Benhadj) (as Strix); Asterix et Obelix contre Cesar (Zidi) (as Obelix)
Les Acteurs (Blier) (as Gérard Depardieu); Vatel (Joffe) (as Vatel); Vidocq (Clavier) (as Vidocq); Les Miserables (Dayan—for TV) (as Jean Valjean) (+ pr); 102 Dalmations (Lima) (as Monsieur Le Pelt); Tutto l'amore che c'e ( All the Love There Is ) (Rubini) (as Molotov); Le Placard (Veber)
Tartuffe (d, title ro)
Agantuk ( The Stranger ; The Visitor ) (Satyajit Ray) (co-exec pr)
She's So Lovely (Nick Cassavetes) (co-exec pr)
Un pont entre deux rives ( The Bridge ) (co-d, pr, ro as Georges)
Lettres volées , Paris, 1988.
Interviews in Ciné Revue (Paris), 13 November 1975, 14 July 1977, 16 March 1978, 5 May 1981, and 13 January 1983.
Interview in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), May 1981.
"Gérard Depardieu: 'Hunk? Moi?,"' interview with Marcia Froelke Coburn, in American Film (New York), October 1983.
Interview with I. Ginsburg, in Interview (New York), January 1986.
"Gérard Depardieu en liberte," interview with O. Dazat, in Cinématographe (Paris), July/August 1986.
Interview with Serge Toubiana, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), December 1986.
"France's Leading Man," interview with J. Dupont, in New York Times , 14 January 1987.
"Entretien avec Gérard Depardieu: l'exercise de la passion," interview with Serge Toubiana and I. Katsahnias, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), May 1989.
Interview with Stephen O'Shea, in Interview (New York), December 1990.
"Nice One Cyrano," interview with Geoff Andrew, in Time Out (London), 2 January 1991.
"Paradise Lust," interview with Sarah Gristwood, in Time Out (London), 30 September 1992.
Chazal, Robert, Gérard Depardieu: l'autodidacte inspiré , Paris, 1982.
Gonzalez, Christian, Gérard Depardieu , Paris, 1985.
Dazat, Olivier, Gérard Depardieu , Paris, 1988.
Gray, Marianne, Depardieu , London, 1991.
Zurhorst, Meinolf, Gerard Depardieu: seine Filme, sein Leben , Munich, 1991.
Chutkow, Paul, Depardieu: A Biography , New York, 1994.
Maillot, Pierre, Les fiances de Marianne: la societe francaise a travers ses grandes acteurs: Jean Gabin, Jean Marais, Gerard Philipe, Alain Delon, Jean-Pierre Belmondo, Gerard Depardieu , Paris, 1996.
Stein, H., "Depardieu: French Primitive," and "You Gérard, Me Jane," by M. Haskell, in Film Comment (New York), March/April 1978.
Benhamou, A.-Fr., "Deux Monstres naissants," in Cinématographe (Paris), October 1980.
Ehrenstein, David, "French Active," in Advocate (Los Angeles) 3 November 1982.
"La Vedette de la semaine: Gérard Depardieu," in Ecran (Paris), 1 March 1984.
Bulnes, J., "Les immortels du cinéma: Gérard Depardieu," in Ciné Revue (Paris), 1 November 1984.
Dazat, Olivier, and D. Goldschmidt, "Dossier: Gérard Depardieu," in Cinématographe (Paris), September 1985.
Deriex, M., "Gérard Depardieu, l'homme-passion!," in Ciné Revue (Paris), 15 May 1986.
Schupp, P., "Gérard Depardieu," in Séquences (Montreal), October 1986.
Current Biography 1987 , New York, 1987.
Chutkow, P., "Gérard Depardieu Stokes the Creative Fires with Passion," in New York Times , 4 March 1990.
Privat, Pascal, "France's War of the Noses: Dueling Cyranos Stage and Screen," in Newsweek (New York), 7 May 1990.
Stars (Mariembourg, Belgium), June 1990.
Collins, G., "Depardieu Mystery: Gentleness of Heart in Boxer's Physique," in New York Times , 4 June 1990.
Clark, John, filmography in Premiere (New York), February 1991.
Hearty, K. B., "French Connection," in Premiere (New York), February 1991.
Corliss, Richard, "Life in a Big Glass: Gérard Depardieu Has an Appetite for Wine, Words, and Stardom," in Time (New York), 4 February 1991.
Conroy, Tom, "Gérard Depardieu Is the Hardest Working Man in Le Show Business," in Rolling Stone (New York), 7 March 1991.
Gray, Marianne, "Depardieu," in Film Monthly (Berkhamsted, England), May 1991.
Gray, Marianne, "A Tortured Actor," in Film Monthly (Berkhamsted, England), February 1992.
Williams, Michael, "Le Cinema c'est moi, dit Gérard," in Variety (New York), 7 February 1994.
Douin, Jean-Luc, "La béte humaine," in Télérama , 23 March 1994.
Naddaf, Roswitha, "Ein empfindsamer Brocken," in Film-dienst (G), 4 June 1996.
* * *
Simply put, Gérard Depardieu is both a consummate actor and his generation's premier European-born screen star. Like Marcello Mastroianni before him, he has been able to outshine his fellow European leading men and become a respected and valued international star: one of the few actors who primarily appears in non-English language films, but who has name recognition even among those who dismiss "art house" fare in favor of the most commercial Hollywood product.
Also like Mastroianni, Depardieu is an actor with smoldering intensity and a riveting screen presence who is as equally adept in dramas and comedies, serious films and strictly entertaining ones, and both period and contemporary scenarios. In them, he has brilliantly played a rainbow of characters: from peasant to politico; average working- or middle-class hero who finds himself in extraordinary situations to brooding, alienated antihero; idealistic romantic to bullying macho man and despicable, antisocial villain. A glance at Depardieu's eye-poppingly lengthy filmography serves as a reminder that he has appeared in an extraordinary number of the most praiseworthy motion pictures released since the mid-1970s.
Unlike Mastroianni, however, Depardieu lacks a more traditional movie-star handsomeness. He is a burly man who is inclined to put on weight, and whose facial characteristics might be described as common; his physical presence is closer to that of a Jean Gabin than a Mastroianni. As a type, he is more closely related to Gabin, Lino Ventura, and Harry Baur than suave Charles Boyer and Louis Jourdan, two Frenchmen who went on to become Hollywood personalities.
Among Depardieu's noteworthy early career roles—those that helped solidify his stardom—were ones in which his characters are seethingly sexual, and fashioned to shock middle-class complacency: the amoral hooligan who uses and abuses (sexually and otherwise) everyone he meets, in Going Places ; the carefree but brutal working class lout who is more appealing to a bourgeois young woman than her well-bred lover, in Loulou ; and the male chauvinist of classic proportion who is confused by the changing role of women, in The Last Woman. In the latter, he mostly parades about in the nude and, at the finale, cuts off his sex organ. Depardieu's talent for portraying brute force and vulnerability, in part through the contrast between his massive body and tender voice, has coincided with a feminist-oriented interest in questioning traditional gender roles and identity. And so he has played the sexually-oriented male whose actions are, to say the least, unconventional: the husband who willing finds his sexually unresponsive wife a lover, in Get Out Your Handkerchiefs ; the devil-may-care homosexual crook, in Menage ; and the businessman who rejects his beautiful wife for his plain, ordinary-looking temporary office worker, in Too Beautiful for You. Like Going Places , these three films were directed by Bertrand Blier; Depardieu has, over the years, consistently worked with the most respected French auteurs, including François Truffaut, Alain Resnais, Marguerite Duras, Maurice Pialat, and Claude Berri.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of Depardieu's talent is his ability to make believable completely disparate characters. He is perfectly cast as the simple blue-collar Everyman who is the victim of injustice (most especially as the hunchback farmer in Jean de Florette ); yet he is as equally mesmerizing as characters who are uncompromisingly hard-boiled (the sexist, racist lawman in Police ) and brilliantly idealistic (the title characters in Danton and Cyrano de Bergerac , arguably his two greatest screen roles to date).
Despite his heady list of intense and serious characterizations, Depardieu's versatility is further evidenced by his appearances in such undemanding, popular comedies as Les Compères and Les Fugitifs. In a similar vein, he has given charming performances in two English-language comedies, Green Card and My Father, the Hero (a remake of his 1991 French feature Mon Pere ce heros ), and the comedy-fantasy Bogus. In each, his charisma allows him to transcend the thinness of the material; his mere presence in Bogus , playing the imaginary friend of a little boy who has just been orphaned, adds a much-needed jolt to the mawkish storyline. To date, Depardieu's best English-language role is in Unhook the Stars , in which he is cast as a French-Canadian truck driver who becomes infatuated with a suburban Salt Lake City widow (Gena Rowlands). The film is a finely crafted exploration of the tensions and alienation found in quiet, desperate lives. Depardieu's few brief scenes with Rowlands, in which his character attempts to make a human connection with hers, are nothing short of wonderful.
Among Depardieu's highest-profile projects at the tail end of the 1990s were a series of impressively mounted made-for-TV adaptations. He had the title roles in The Count of Monte Cristo and the biopic Balzac , and starred as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables. He also was one of the members of the star-laden international casts of a pair of adaptations of literary classics. While he appeared all-too-briefly as Reynaldo in Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet , he was a colorful Porthos opposite Leonardo DiCaprio, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, and Gabriel Byrne in The Man in the Iron Mask. Depardieu's on-screen output remains as diverse, challenging, and compelling as ever—and there is no indication that, as he ages, he will forfeit his superstar status either at home or abroad.