Fifty-six French stars, including Carla Bruni, Charlotte Rampling and Carole Bouquet, signed an open letter defending Gerard Depardieu, the Oscar-nominated actor who has been charged with rape and accused by more than a dozen other women of sexual assault, harassment or groping.
The essay, published in the conservative-leaning French newspaper Le Figaro, reads, in part: “We cannot remain silent in the face of the lynching targeting him, the torrent of hate being dumped on his personality” (via AP). “When Gerard Depardieu is targeted this way, it is the art [of cinema] that is being attacked. … Depriving ourselves of this immense actor would be a drama, a defeat. The death of the art. Our art.”
Other signatories included actors Pierre Richard, Victoria Abril and Nathalie Baye, and directors Bertrand Blier and Francis Veber.
Depardieu has not been convicted in connection with any of the allegations and denies wrongdoing. He called the open letter “beautiful” and its signatories “courageous,” France 24 reports.
Depardieu, the 74-year-old star of “Cyrano de Bergerac,” “The Man in the Iron Mask” and more than 200 other films and television series, was indicted in 2020 on rape charges connected to a 2018 lawsuit filed by actor Charlotte Arnould. One year after his indictment, Depardieu appeared in a film that opened Cannes’ Critics Week, “Robuste,” directed by Constance Meyer. When over a dozen more alleged victims spoke out as part of an investigative piece from Mediapart in April 2023, Depardieu’s reputation finally took a hit. In December, the French actor Hélène Darras filed a police complaint alleging Depardieu sexually assaulted her in 2007 while filming the movie “Disco.”
On Dec. 7, France Televisions aired a bombshell documentary detailing Depardieu’s history of sexual abuse allegations. The broadcaster’s head of film and international co-production, Manuel Alduy, told Variety the TV group doesn’t have any agenda against Depardieu, however, and won’t boycott his films: “We will not ban films, but we won’t celebrate artists who have been accused until they’re completely cleared.”
French President Emmanuel Macron stepped in controversy later in December when he said on television, “I’m a big admirer of Gerard Depardieu.”
Macron continued, “He’s an immense actor, who has delivered some of the most beautiful texts. He made France known, our greatest authors, our greatest characters, across the world. I’ll say it as France’s president but also as a citizen, he makes France proud.”
In France Televisions’ documentary about Depardieu, the actor is seen making crude, sexual and misogynistic jokes, including one referring to a child riding a pony. In his remarks, Macron suggested that the segment might have been edited in a misleading way. Per AP, France Televisions later said that the segment was authenticated by a bailiff who viewed raw footage.