Gerard Depardieu's own extraordinary candor underlies the unique resonance of this full-scale biography, the first to be written with the great French film star's total cooperation. In revealing and often astonishing detail, we see his rise from impossible beginnings: one of six children born in extreme poverty; the father a small-town illiterate, alcoholic, almost mute; the boy himself stuttering, barely speaking; the adolescent miraculously gregarious and independent, but exploding into mischief, petty crime, ...
Gerard Depardieu's own extraordinary candor underlies the unique resonance of this full-scale biography, the first to be written with the great French film star's total cooperation. In revealing and often astonishing detail, we see his rise from impossible beginnings: one of six children born in extreme poverty; the father a small-town illiterate, alcoholic, almost mute; the boy himself stuttering, barely speaking; the adolescent miraculously gregarious and independent, but exploding into mischief, petty crime, and, on occasion, violence; and, at the same time, escaping into - falling in love with - American movies. We see him at age sixteen, bursting out - to Paris, to freedom; discovering Marlon Brando and James Dean; wandering into an acting class - his talent immediately recognized, his horrendous speech defects addressed, his life as an actor beginning in earnest. From his first small parts on stage and in film and from his first major role (in Les Valseuses), through The Last Metro, The Return of Martin Guerre, Jean de Florette, and his Oscar-nominated Cyrano de Bergerac, one of the most exciting film careers of our time unfolds: Depardieu's work with Francois Truffaut, Catherine Deneuve, Yves Montand, Robert De Niro, Bernardo Bertolucci, and others, and his way of working - his effect on fellow actors and on directors, his preparation for his parts - are richly presented. And here is the man as well as the actor: his friendships, the huge film "family" he creates for himself and nourishes and is nourished by, the intense pressure of his self-imposed challenges, his marriage, which endures despite a style of life somewhere between excess and the impossible. Paul Chutkow has spent hundreds of hours over a period of two years talking, visiting, traveling with Depardieu. And he has spoken with hundreds of Depardieu's friends, colleagues, admirers, and critics. His book provides a riveting portrait of a great actor and an authentic inside look at filmmaking i
Born in 1948 in a French village scarred by Nazi occupation, film star Gerard Depardieu grew up with a stutter and severe hearing problems, exacerbated by parents who rarely talked in whole sentences. How this loner, school dropout and petty thief conquered his emotional traumas and went on to play eloquent soldier-poet Cyrano de Bergerac, a Resistance hero in The Last Metro and a rebel or sexual provacateur in dozens of other movies makes for an amazing life story. Chutkow, who writes on film for the New York Times and Vogue , peers behind the public mask of bravado to probe a serious, complex artist given to mood swings and workaholic excess. This engaging biography also investigates the scandal surrounding a 1991 profile in Time that quoted Depardieu as admitting that he had committed rape at age nine, a statement he subsequently denied making. Chutkow's analysis, based on Time 's own tape and interview transcript, supports Depardieu's denial and, in effect, charges the magazine with inaccurate journalism. Photos not seen by PW. (Mar.)
Toward the end of this addictive biography, the author exposes a critic who seriously and unjustly maligned the great French actor Grard Depardieu via a willful misinterpretation of the French word assister, an act that threatened the actor's career and personal life. The double irony is that Depardieu's life up until that point had been a search for the American dream and a way to overcome his personal problems with speech. Three things make this recording a rich morsel: Chutkow's attention to every subtext of Depardieu's impossibly dramatic life; the exquisite, on-the-mark voices (in several different accents) of narrator Frederick Davidson; and the comments of Depardieu and his circle of friends that delve into the actor's development and psyche, revealing his huge appetite for life, absolute lack of ego, phoenix-like spirit, remarkable lack of honesty, and great heart. Recommended for public libraries.Mark Pumphrey, Polk Cty. P.L., Columbus, N.C.