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.
Films as Actor:
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 SweetSickness) (Miller); Die linkshändige Frau (The Left-Handed Woman) (Handke) (as man with T-shirt); Préparez vos mouchoirs (Get Out Your Handkerchiefs) (Blier) (as Raoul)
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)
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)
By DEPARDIEU: book—
Lettres volées, Paris, 1988.
By DEPARDIEU: articles—
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.
On DEPARDIEU: books—
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.
On DEPARDIEU: articles—
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.
French actor Gérard Depardieu (born 1948) rose from humble beginnings to become a worldwide movie star. The award-winning actor has enjoyed a film career spanning more than four decades, and has appeared in over 170 films. Many of those films have garnered him critical and commercial successes, both in his native Europe and around the world.
An Impoverished Upbringing
Depardieu was born in Châteauroux, a small provincial community in central France, on December 27, 1948. His taciturn father, René "Dédé" Depardieu, was a barely literate sheet metal worker; his mother, Alice "Lilette" Marillier, came to Châteauroux with her family as refugees during World War II. The couple married in 1944 and had two children—one son and one daughter—before the birth of Gerard. The family lived in cramped quarters and Depardieu's father was not an active parent, so much of the stresses of caring for three small children fell to his mother. Depardieu, who would eventually have five siblings, became the family's charming prankster, earning the nickname of Pétarou, or "Little Firecracker."
When an American Air Force base set up in his hometown, Depardieu became fascinated with Americans and their culture. He and his older brother were regulars both on the base and at social gathering spots popular with the American troops. By the time Depardieu completed his formal schooling in the early 1960s—he completed only grade school, not attending lycée, the French equivalent of high school—he stood nearly six feet tall and could readily pass for several years older than his true age of 13. Depardieu took to petty crime and wandering, working a series of odd jobs such as printer's apprentice, dishwasher, traveling salesman, and beach club attendant on the Riviera before relocating to Paris at the age of 16.
Introduced to Acting
Depardieu arrived in Paris on a whim, following a friend who was moving to the capital to pursue acting. Depardieu visited the drama school with his friend and immediately showed ability as a performer. Self-doubts about his provincial background and poor education interrupted Depardieu's acting training for a time. However, after being taken into prestigious acting coach Jean-Laurent Cochet's class, Depardieu quickly honed his acting techniques. Depardieu had difficulties speaking fluently, and began working with speech therapist Alfred Tomatis. With Tomatis's help, Depardieu overcame his difficulties not only with language, but with reading comprehension and recall. During his training with Cochet, Depardieu met Elisabeth Guignot, whom he would marry in 1970. The two had their first child, Guillaume, in April of the following year. In 1973 the pair had a daughter, Julie.
By the late 1960s, Depardieu had begun landing roles in theater and television productions around Paris, often playing hulking thugs in keeping with his rough-hewn appearance. Depardieu's film debut came in Roger Leenhardt's Le Beatnik et le minet, and his television debut on an episode of the French series Rendez-vous à Bedenberg. Depardieu's reputation grew with his strong performance in the theatrical play Galapagos; although the production itself was a flop, Depardieu received good reviews. In 1973 Depardieu co-starred in Bertrand Blier's film Les Valseuses (known in the United States as Going Places). In his biography Depardieu, Paul Chutkow noted that "the French critics agreed that the film's three young actors were fresh, unconventional, and outright brilliant." The film's plot placed its protagonists as sexually and otherwise aggressive young people who challenged the accepted standards of conventional society. The controversial film achieved critical and popular acclaim, shepherding in a new era of French filmmaking. In one of the lead roles, Depardieu was transformed from an actor to a star.
Became European Star
After Les Valseuses, Depardieu became a film actor in earnest. Throughout the 1970s he appeared in many films, typically playing thugs or deviants. Some of his most noteworthy roles were as a peasant in Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci's epic film 1900, as a crude chauvinist in the sexually-charged and controversial La Dernière Femme (The Last Woman) and, in another film by Les Valseuses director Blier, as a husband who seeks to find his sexually stifled wife a new lover in Preparez vos Mouchoirs (Get Out Your Handkerchiefs). Even when the films were not critically successful, Depardieu benefited in some way. Bertolucci's 1900 was considered a cinematic flop, but offered Depardieu the opportunity to meet and work with American actor Robert DeNiro, who served as an inspiration to Depardieu throughout his career. Chutkow commented that both men "were heavyweights, prolific actors who could play anything from light comedy to epic drama, and both had a flair for taking quirky characters and making them poignant and universal."
Depardieu has consistently worked with France's leading film directors—such as Blier—to great success. In 1979 he co-starred with respected French actress Isabelle Huppert in Maurice Pialet's Loulou. Playing the title role, Depardieu portrays an unemployed but charming rogue who lures the bourgeois Huppert away from her traditional life and friends by his personal magnetism. In the early 1980s Depardieu began working with respected French director François Truffaut. Their first collaboration, Le Dernier Métro (The Last Metro), paired Depardieu with actress Catherine Deneuve. The film tells the story of a Jewish theater owner in Paris during the time of the World War II Nazi occupation. His wife (Deneuve) seeks to protect her husband from the occupying forces. Depardieu plays an actor trying to break into legitimate theater; during the course of the film, he develops a relationship with Deneuve's character. The film was a massive critical success, garnering many prestigious César awards at France's Cannes Film Festival, including a Best Actor prize for Depardieu.
Prolific and versatile, Depardieu made nearly every type of film imaginable during the 1980s: drama, romance, comedy, serious film, and lighthearted fare. Depardieu's 1981 comedy La Chèvre (The Goat) was Depardieu's biggest box office success and the beginning of a three-film series. The last of these three films was eventually remade in English as Three Fugitives, starring Nick Nolte and Martin Short. The following year Depardieu took a turn in the historical film La Retour de Martin Guerre (The Return of Martin Guerre). The movie, based on a true story, portrays a man who leaves his small medieval village for a stint in the army, and later returns to reenter the lives of his wife, family, and community. However, there is a question as to whether the man claiming to be Martin Guerre is indeed the real Guerre; Depardieu's delicate handling of the role makes it one of his finest performances.
In the late 1980s Depardieu turned his hand to a different form of expression: writing. After the death of his mother, Depardieu sought to tell people of all kinds what he had never said in life through his book, Lettres volees (Stolen Letters). Published in 1988, the book was an intensely personal work displaying another facet of the actor's psyche, and it became a bestseller in France.
Found Success as Cyrano and in the United States
Depardieu continued to find success with his films throughout the remainder of the 1980s. However, a project on which he embarked at the close of the decade would prove to be one of his most career-defining. Based on the life of a real sixteenth-century man named Cyrano de Bergerac, the play Cyrano de Bergerac was written in the late 1800s and has remained a staple of French literature since that time. Brought to stage and screen many times previously, the story returned under the helm of French director Jean-Paul Rappeneau with Depardieu in the title role. Although Depardieu did not initially capture the role, by the time shooting began in earnest his natural ability to weave complex characters had allowed him to immerse himself in the intricacies the part demanded. In the film Depardieu portrays a poet and playwright who falls in love with his beautiful cousin Roxane, but does not believe she will find him attractive because of his large nose. Depardieu won the César at Cannes for his performance, and was nominated for an Academy Award for the role.
After the success of Cyrano de Bergerac, Depardieu took on a new challenge: playing roles in English rather than his native French. Although his early exposure to English from the American Air Force base in his hometown had given him a rough grasp of the language, Depardieu was by no means an expert speaker. Nevertheless, he paired with American actress Andie MacDowell in the romantic comedy Green Card. In the film, the two play a couple who marry for convenience—for Depardieu, the titular immigration green card—but eventually fall in love. A few years later Depardieu appeared in another English-language comedy, My Father, the Hero, a remake of his 1991 French film Mon père ce heros. In 1996 Depardieu appeared with Whoopi Goldberg and Haley Joel Osment in the film Bogus. Again, Depardieu took the title role, this time as the imaginary friend of a young boy struggling to accept the death of his mother. It is noted in the International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers that Depardieu's "charisma allows him to transcend the thinness of the material."
Depardieu appeared in several high-profile projects in the late 1990s, many based on classic literary works. Appearing as the title characters in The Count of Monte Cristo and Balzac, Depardieu returned to dramas with great success. He also appeared in a small role in Kenneth Branagh's film version of William Shakespeare's classic play Hamlet, and in Randall Wallace's English language film The Man in the Iron Mask as Porthos, one of the legendary three musketeers.
In the 2000s Depardieu continued to act in diverse films on both sides of the Atlantic. He appeared in the Disney film 102 Dalmatians, in the gritty drama City of Ghosts, and as a gourmet chef in the Queen Latifah vehicle Last Holiday. As well as his performances in Hollywood, Depardieu appeared in French films such as Nathalie, in which he plays the role of a philandering husband—a role in some ways hearkening back to his first major appearances in the 1970s.
Depardieu has many interests outside of acting. A wine enthusiast, he owns a château and winery where he creates his own vintages. In 2005 he announced his retirement from acting with characteristic earthy eloquence, telling the French newspaper Le Parisien: "I've got nothing to lose. I did 170 films, and I've got nothing else to prove. I'm not going to keep up like this forever…. I retire in style with this film. It's wonderful." However, in December of 2006, Variety announced that Depardieu had joined such per-formers as Joseph Fiennes, Malcolm McDowell, and Jacqueline Bisset in a period biographical film based on the life of composer Antonio Vivaldi. Whether or not Depardieu's career continues at the same frenetic pace which has marked it over the years, Depardieu's reputation as one of France's premiere actors is assured.
Chutkow, Paul, Depardieu: A Biography, Knopf, 1994.
International Directory of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 2: Actors and Actresses, 4th ed., St. James Press, 2000.
Newsmakers 1991, Gale Research, 1991.
"Gerard Depardieu Joins the Cast of Vivaldi," http://www.movieweb.com (January 1, 2007).
"Gerard Depardieu Pulls the Curtain on Movie Career," November 16, 2005, http://www.news.yahoo.com (January 1, 2007).