Of the many holds not barred in a recent interview with Gerard Depardieu for Austrian magazine Profil, the most widely reported has been his burn of compatriot Juliette Binoche. (Translations taken from Lizzy Davies' Guardian article except where otherwise specified):
"Please can you explain to me what the secret of this actress is meant to be?” he asked rhetorically about the 2010 Cannes Best Actress, and previous Oscar winner, "I would really like to know why she has been so esteemed for so many years. She has nothing. Absolutely nothing!"Compared to her, he claims,
“...Isabelle Adjani is great even if she's totally nuts. Or Fanny Ardant – she is magnificent, extremely impressive. But Binoche? What has she ever had going for her?”Now this writer has her problems with post- ”Tirez Sur Le Pianiste” (“Shoot the Piano Player”) French films in general - entirely too many of them revolve around a love triangle involving an older man and some nymphette young enough to be his granddaughter who say enigmatic things while staring out of apartment windows. That, or they’re overstuffed heritage cinema costume drama love triangles instead. But of Binoche herself we’ve nothing particularly bad to say - in fact we loved her in her Cannes-winning role in “Copie Conforme” (“Certified Copy”), and hey, if she can be all haunting and dreamy in ”Trois Couleurs: Bleu” (“Three Colours: Blue”) and do a passable job of playing Dane Cook’s girlfriend in “Dan In Real Life,” well, girl’s got some range, right? I mean, Dane Cook.
But, proving that he’s not just a contrarian Gallic boor, elsewhere in the article (which we Google translated from German, which was presumably itself translated from Depardieu’s native French so subtleties are undoubtedly missed, if there were any to begin with), the actor does mention people and films he admires - PT Anderson’s “There Will Be Blood” coming in for special praise, and especially Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance. And here he also leaves some clues as to the foundation of his dislike of Binoche’s work - in answer to a question about the theatricality of Day-Lewis’s character he says (though probably less google-garbled):
“Yes, but he is good! One must in such a larger role too much show rumble right! It's like with Ivan the Terrible: I will represent him thunderous as Daniel Day-Lewis and all previous Ivan reciters together!”For all her versatility, Binoche has never been one to rumble and boom her way through her roles - perhaps she’s simply not theatrical enough for him?
The rest of the interview also features its fair share of insight. Asked if it’s true he has considered giving up acting altogether, Depardieu goes all “Sunset Boulevard” claiming that no, “it’s the cinema itself that has given up.” An artist such as himself, he asserts, has little place in a 3D-animation, CG-heavy film world where “artistically ambitious” stories have taken a back seat. He also frankly discusses his late son Guillaume’s troubled life, attributing a lot of his wildness to his thwarted attempt to emerge from his father’s long shadow in the acting world, but also mentioning a cathartic moment the day before he died which, says Depardieu:
“...was a wonderful conversation in which he told me that he finally was sure that he loved me. Guillaume did everything he did, without fear. Completely fearless.”To be sure, Depardieu Sr has been in some awful shite, (having nearly 200 film credits to your name is bound to skew your stinker-to-classic ratio) but he seems to be trying to live a “large” life in which, as he says, acting is just a part. Certainly this interview makes him out to be an opinionated but interesting bon vivant and contains some fascinating tidbits, like his long friendship with Bruce Springsteen surviving The Boss writing an eventually unused soundtrack for Depardieu’s version of "Le Tartuffe," and his lifelong refusal to vote due to being ‘unqualified’ because of his impoverished, ill-educated upbringing. But he is at his most entertaining and outspoken on the subject which, despite his assertions to the contrary, has to be closest his heart: cinema. And he wins this writer over when he frankly refers to Leos Carax’s Binoche-starrer “Les Amants du Pont Neuf” (“Lovers of the Ninth Bridge”) as “not even... a film but just a piece of shit.” Hah!
So perhaps we’ll have to agree to disagree on Binoche, (for all she may take herself a little too seriously sometimes, and for all she isn’t the stagey, grand dame presence that seems to be to Depardieu’s taste, at least she wasn’t in "Babylon AD"), but while we’d rather watch her, we’d rather go for a beer with Gerard. Or, more probably, six or ten bottles of wine. From his own vineyard, natch.