Gérard Depardieu

  1. Philippe Leotard, Kamouraska, France, 1972. 
    The reason Depardieu never made a film with Claude Lelouch… The flashy realisateur was also a producteur and asked  the Saved stage find to make Comme dans le vie. So Depardieu rejected  the Claude Jutra gig only to find  Pierre Villemin’s film was cancelled  after three weeks shooting. Lelouch said he couldn’t  pay the actor  (30m Francs) for stupid reasons: (a) the film was not good, (b) too dangerous to shoot in Vietnam.   “Listen to me,” said Depardieu, virtually unkowni at  the time, “keep your money. Your attitude is disgusting. Never will I make a film with you.” And he never did. No matter how often Lelouch called.  “I’ve  many faults,” agreed the superstar, “but I always keep my word.”

  2. Samy Frey,  César et Rosalie, France, 1972.    TTwo guys in love with the same woman… Oskar Werner  refused the  younger guy. Well, he’d been here before and saw little reason to modernise Jules et Jim, the French classic   that made  him a  star in ’62..  (Besides he was the same age as his César, Vittorio Gassmann, a year younger than Yves Montand). BB-Ventura-Belmondo became BB-Gassman-Belmondo, then Deneuve-Montand-Belmondo, then Schneider-Montand-Depardieu, ultimately, beautifully Schneider-Montand-Sami Frey…. When Deneuve proved pregnant. Annie Giradcot wanted it., Marlene Jobert pleaded for it,  But  Romy proved a glorious Rosalie in Claude Sautet’s greatest box-office triumph, his most autobiographical work –  the most cherished for the French public. BB and Ventura made Boulevard du rhum, 1971, and did not get on.

  3. Philippe Leotard, La gueule ouverte, France, 1973.   Depardieu  had talks with the elder newcomer, the obnoxious and always over-praised realisateur Maurice Pialat – and then decided upon Bertrand Blier’s Les valseuses, instead. And France’s biggest star was born.  Depardieu  later made three films with for  “the  lyrical  toad”  – fractious projects full of vitriolic walk-outs and vows of “never again!”

  4. Jacques Spiessier, RAS, Italy-France-Tunisia, 1973.   Auteur Yves Boisset “rejected me for his Algerian war film because…  I was trop acteur… too much of an actor.  Also, he thought that during the tele-film, Rendez-vous a Baden-Berg, 1966, that I’d had slept with his girlfriend, Martine Redon.  Not true. At the time I could never have an affair with an actress.  She swore by all the gods that nothing happened. He wouldn’t believe us.”
  5. Patrick Dewaere, Adieu poulet,  France, 1975.   Lino Ventura and Dewaere were fine in the old cop/young cop thriller. Ventura and Depardieu would have been devastating!
  6. Terence Hill, Un genio, due compari, un pollo (US: A Genius, Two Friends And An Idiot), Italy-France-West Germany, 1975.   Les valseuses Go West… That was Sergio Leone’s plan for Depardieu, Patrick Dewaere and Miou-Miou.   But the French film didn’t do well enough to impress the suits. Just Miou-Miou went to Monument Valley  “and  did her thing perfectly”  opposite Terence Hill and Robert Charlebois. “The Canadian singer had the humour and humanity of Eli Wallach but [director[ Damiano Damiani never made use of it.” The movie disappointed the maestro and he never made another Western.
  7. Jean-Pierre Marielle, Calmos, (US : Femmes Fatales), France, 1975. Bertrand  Blier wanted to use his greatValseuses tandem of Depardieu and Patrick Dewaere  but they were all booked up. All because of greatValseuses tandem of Depardieu and Dewaere.  Blier went older with Marielle and Jean Rochefort. (A better US title was the  more correct Cool, Calm and Collected).
  8. Patrick Dewaere, Le Juge Fayard, dit “Le Shérif,” France, 1976.    To his surprise, Yves Boisset  called  on Depardieu again, this time to play the slain Judge Jean-Marie Fayard. “But I wouldn’t work with Boisset”  – due to their 1973 quarrel.  “Le gros” often phoned Dewaere about the films he had turned down – and this one would be better for him.  “I wasn’t wrong, the film was an enormous success and Patrick was exceptional.”
  9. François Truffaut, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, 1976.   An idea only revealed by Steven Spielberg in 2002. “I love French cinema and theatre and greatly admire French  actors. I regularly offer them roles, and they nearly always say Non.”
  10. Victor Lanoux, Une Femme à sa fenêtre, France, 1976.   Considered as an urgent replacement for Lanoux, injured during the first week of shooting. However, realisateur Pierre Granier-Deferre found a way to continue with Lanoux… although being less than pleased with his work.

  11. Pierre Segui, The Deer Hunter, 1978.   Director Michael Cimino didn’t get all  his own way. He had wanted Jeff Bridges for Nick, Dourif as Steven and the mighty Derpardieu as Julien, a French legionnaire.   Robert De Niro tried to pesude his 1900 co-star to join what became a Best Picture Oscar-winner, but Gérard was way too busy. Comme d’habitude.
  12. Patrick Dewaere,  Coup de tête, France, 1978.  At first, the mighty Gaumont combine  point-blank refused Dewaere as being too much like the titular hothead (for stalking out of La carapate). And to rub its displeasure in, Gaumont  boss Alain Poiré suggested who else  but “Le gros.” Director Jean-Jacques Annaud had nothing against that idea Over dinner, Annaud told Dewaere he couldn’t use him – uninsurable because of his drug habit. The actor  stopped eating, looked Annaud straight in the eye and promised: “l’ll stop. Finish! Never take anything again.” Actually, he might have played better football when high and loose. He was so bad, he had to be doubled  by  soccer star Lucien  Denis.
  13.  Patrick Dewaere,  Un mauvais fils, France, 1980. Dewaere had failed twice before with Claude Sautet – losing bits in César et Rosalie and Vincent, François, Paul et les autres.  (“I don’t see you in a suit,”  the director had told him).  Anyway, the auteur  wanted to keep his promise to “Le gros” – to work with him  again  and in  a lead role this time. And that was an ex-druggie returning to France after five years in a US prison… Perfect for Patrick! Sautet reconsidered, feeling that Gerard didn’t (yet) have Dewaere’s winning vulnerability  that had so impressed Sautet in Preparez vos mouchoirs. The situation was solved when François Truffaut called up GéGé for Le Dernier Métro.

  14. Richard Berry, Une chambre en ville, France 1982.  
     Depardieu and and Deneuve seemed magic casting by realisateur Jacques Demy for  a “musical tragedy”  close to  his heart and home  town of  Nantes.  “But she wanted to sing and Depardieu said:  If she sings, I sing as well.”  He could, she couldn’t.  “A catastrophic duo!” said Demy.  He cast and dubbed two lesser egoes: Richard Berry, Dominique Sanda.  Only Danielle Darrieux sang for herself.  At age 65.

  15. Alain  Souchon,  L’Eté meurtrier (UK/US : One Deadly Summer),  France, 1982.    It was either  because of Adjani or the stupid name  of her lover – Pin-Pon – but all The Guys  passed.   Depardieu, Dewaere, Gerard Klein and singer Yves Duteil. Adjani suggested another singer… one who could never take the shine off her.  They made a a  rubbish couple:  non-sexpot and non-actor.  Realisateur Jean Becker got him for his next film, Elisa, 1994.  So how was he, a decade later? “Gérard is someone with an extreme sensitivity… a magnificent  companion.” 
  16. Philippe Noiret, L’African, France, 1982.   Times were changing. Realisateur Philippe De Broca talked to Depardieu and then Belmondo. It used to be Belmondo before anyone. “All the heroes in his films are… De Broca,” said Noiret. “That’s why as he got older he’s moved from Jean-Pierre Cassel to me!”

  17. James Woods, Once Upon A Time In America, US-France, 1982.    
    After his epic about the West, Sergio Leone planned another on the East – based on The Hoods
    , “an autobiographical account” of New York Jewish gangster Harry Goldberg. He wrote it in Sing Sing prison as Harry Grey. Leone thought he resembled Edward G Robinson.  Harry probably agreed. He certainly used “a repertoire of cinematic citations, of gestures and words seen and heard thousands of times on the big screen…” So  did Leone with a 400 page script packed with echoes of Angels with Dirty Faces, Bullets or Ballots, Dead End, High Sierra, Little Cesar and White Heat. In October 1975, he even fancied the elderly James Cagney and Jean Gabin as the older Noodles and Max – the younger beingGérardDepardieu and Richard Dreyfuss. Surely one French star would be completing the role of the other? No, because  Depardieu had promised to learn David “Noodles” Aaronson’s Brooklynese. The maestro claimed he interviewed “over 3,000 actors,” taping 500 auditions for the 110 speaking roles. Jack Nicholson and Al Pacino passed on Noodles. In 1980, Tom Berenger and Paul Newman were up for Noodles (young and old) with either John Belushi, Dustin Hoffman, William Hurt, Harvey Keitel, John Malkovich or Jon Voight as Max, then Joe Pesci (he became Frankie, instead) and James Woods was Max. And Scott Tiler and Rusty Jacobs were the young Noodles and Max in the three hours-49 minutes unfurled at the ’84 Cannes festival… instead of Leone’s aim: two three-hour movies

  18. Alain Souchon, L’eté meurtrier/One Deadly Summer,  France, 1983.   “He was taken by Maurice Pialat at the time,” recalls film-maker Jean Becker who got him for his next film, Elisa, 1994.  So how was he, a decade later? “Gérard is someone with an extreme sensitivity… a magnificent  companion.”
  19. Lee Marvin, Canicule, France,  1983.    Sadly, the mighty Gérard made just the one  film with  the prodigious dialoguist-turned-auteur Michel Audiard (129 scripts in 36 years) – Le cri du cormoran, le soir au-dessus des jonques in 1970.  This gangster on the run with a million in cash was penned with GéGé in mind, but proved… in a word, grotesque.  Marvin co-starred with Gérard’s drinking buddy, Jean Carmet, and probably had little memory of it.  Lucky  him. (After two more films, Marvin was dead at 63 in 1987).  
  20. Roland Giraud, Trois hommes et un couffin, France, 1985,  Of the three guys in the smash-hit movie, only Michel Boujenah was chosen without question (he won the best supporting César actor; the film  was nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar… while Chicago critic Roger Ebert railed against “the stupidity on the screen.”) Producer Jean-François Lepetit wanted Roland Giraud as Pierre, but auteur Coline Serreau preferred Daniel Auteuil – he spiit for Jean de Florette and his supporting César. Serreau had little luck with Gérard Depardieu (he was Jedan de Florette!)  or Jacques Villeret, so Giraud won the day, after all.  I avoided the Paris Press screening – who needed another horror movie – after mistaking couffin (cradle) for coffin!

  21. François Cluzet, ‘Round Midnight, US-France, 1986.   Christophe(r) Lambert was also considered for the impossible:  a boring jazz film.
  22. Donald Sutherland,  Oviri – The Wolf At The Door,  Denmark, 1987.    When French money was involved, it had to be Depardieu (or Claude Brassuer) as Paul Gaugin.  Going it alone, director Henning Carlsen’s 14th film became Sutherland’s 65th.
  23. Burt Reynolds, Malone, 1987.   Starting with Delon before making  its inevitable  trek to The Bulk’s  door, the French  thriller  finished  up  in LA.  Burt always wondered “how this guy got re-written into me.”
  24. Thierry Fremont, Mon ami, le traite, France 1988.   Agreed in 1977,  having failed  to make José  Giovanni’s previous project, The Bouncer.  “I hope this time I’ll be luckier.”  Non! 
  25. Nick Nolte, Farewell To The King, 1989.   Before director John Milius got hold of it,  French realisateur Pierre Schoendoerffer had lined it up to follow Depardieu’s Le sucre in 1978. Nick Nolte twice played Depardieu roles in the Hollywood rehash of his comedies,   Les compères, 1983, Les  fugitifs, 1986.
  26. Jean-Marc Barr, Europa,  Denmark-Sweden-France-Germany-Switzerland, 1991.   “I saw him as Leo,” admitted Danish autuer Lars von Trier, ”but the French co-producers suggested Jean-Marc…  I hesitated after seeing him in Le grand bleu, thinking him too immature for  such a complex character.  Then, I realised Leo fitted him like a glove.”  Barr has been  in almost every Von Trier film  since then.   
  27.  Jean-Marc Barr, Le Brasier, France, 1991.   Gérard was wise to avoid going down these coal mines – pretentious as only a French film, at its worst,  can be. So horrendous that Eric Barbier did not get  a director’s jgig again for nine  years. 
  28. Jacques Dutronc, Van Gogh,  France 1991.   Realisateur Maurice Pialat’s first thought: “I wanted to make a self-portrait with the head of Gérard.” Depardieu greatly admired it and  wrote a passionate open letter to Pialat in the Liberation newspaper.
  29. Richard Bohringer, Veraz, France 1991.    Xavier Castano’s first feature.  He never made a second, returning to first assistant acting and producing duties.

  30. Roberto Benigni, Son of the Pink Panther, 1992.  
    Presumption, thy name is Blake Edwards… In an exact re-run of losing Peter Ustinov from the original 1964 comedy, writer-director Edwards felt he had the French #1 set as the #1 French cop’s #1 bastard son. Too slow writing, too fast with a shooting date, he found Depardieu, quelle surprise, booked up to the end of the century.  Edwards also lost Rowan Atkinson, Tim Curry, Kevin Kline (Inspector Dreyfus in the 2005 Panther reboot with an execrable Steve MartinTo), Bronson Pinchot (rapidly un-listed after his  Blame it on the Bellboy  flop) – and chose Benigni, far less subtle than Peter Sellers.  So, an Italian as the gormless gendarme-son of the far funnier gendarme-father.  Ah, but his mother was Italian, you see. But no longer Elke Sommer, who was Maria Gambrelli in Clouseau 2: A Shot in the Dark, 1963, but Claudia Cardinale, the  Princess Dala in the first Panther 30 years previously. She was the owner of the titular pink diamond,  not even mentioned in this greedy sequel which was as stupid as that. Atkinson was marked “UK known only” when suggested for Detective Clifton Sleigh in  Curse of the Pink Panther, 1983, another mess made after the 1980 death of Inspector Sellers. But hey wasn’t Benigni Italy-known only at the time?!

  31. Jeremy Irons, Damage, 1993.   Announced by director Louis Malle for Josephine  Hart’s  much  praised  novel of  a  tragic, sexual obsession  by a 50-something  politico for his  son’s lover. One small problem.  He was a British politico.
  32. Jean-Pierre Mocky, Le mari de Léon, France, 1993.    “I asked all of them, but none of them wanted to do it,” said Mocky. “ Depardieu said it was too close to Tenue de soirée.  So I did it myself.”  Not too much of a stretch for the most prolific French film maker  – 63 films since 1946.
  33. Robert De Niro, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, 1994.   Producer Francis Coppola fancied  Depardieu (or Malkovich), Kenneth Brannagh went for a real monster. Don Corleone.
  34. Eddy Mitchell, Le Bonheur est dans le pré, France, 1995.   The film was devised by scenarist Florence Quentin for Jean Carmet. And his pal Depardieu agreed to join him.  Then, helas, Carmet died in 1994.
  35. Kevin Kline, French Kiss, 1995.   “He was committed for years,” said a  disappointed Meg Ryan.
  36. André Dussolier, La belle epoque, France, TV,  1996.   FrançoisTruffaut’s final script was turned into a TV series by the French ratings champ, TF1. Truffaut had planned a series plus a film.  He was discussing the role of Louis Renault with Depardieu on August 12, 1983 – when he  felt “a revolver explode in my  head,” first indication of his fatal brain tumour
  37. Jeremy Irons, Lolita, 1996.   When UK director Adrian Lyne started talking re-make in 1992, Hollywood said: Dustin Hoffman.  Lyne said: Depardieu.  Backers said nothing – for three years.
  38. Frank Langella, Lolita, 1996.   Adrian Lyne tried to keep him aboard as Humbert Humbert’s rival, as if any one – any accent – could improve on Peter Sellers as Clare Quilty.
  39. Stellan Skarsgård, Breaking The Waves, Denmark-Sweden-France-Holland-Norway-Iceland, 1996.   “As I wrote the script, the role began to resemble him,” said Danish director Lars von Trier.  “I met him in Paris but he was far too busy and…not particularly interested.”

  40. Jacques Villeret, Le dîner de cons (The  Dinner Game), France, 1997.  
     With a heavy heart, Depardieu refused his auteur pal Francis Veber’s 14m Euros offer.  “I’m simply incapable. I don’t have the necessary physical or psychological faculties. I’m totally depressed – la tête dans le sac – flying in too many planes to make too many films for my friends…  It’s impossibsle.  Get Jacques!”  Depardieu was back on form for Veber’s next, Le placard, 200 – their fifth conedy since 1981.

  41. Olivier Martinez, La femme de chambre de Titanic/Titanic Chambermaid, France, 1997.    Interested when Bosnian director Emir Kusturica was due to direct, not when  Paris producer  Toscan Du Plantier moved down  wind  to  Spain’s Bigas Luna.
  42. Liam Neeson, Les Miserables, 1998.   Roman Polanksi was first choice to direct –  “but  only with Gérard as Valjean.”  Plus, curiously, Liam Neeson as Inspector Javert.  Depardieu later played Hugo’s great hero  (following in the great French  tradition  of Harry Bauer, Jean Gabin, Lino Ventura and, in a Lelouch travesty, Jean-Paul Belmondo) in a tepid TV production, when he was  hunted by John Malkovich’s Javert.
  43. Gary Shandling, Town and Country, 1998.  A clever TV clown (The Larry Sanders Show) stands in for the greatest living French screen actor….!  Warren Beatty’s pal (already seen in Beatty’s Love Affair, 1994) took over when Depardieu’s  face and knee injuries from a drunken motor-cycle  crash  delayed Asterix and Obelix vs Caesar for a month.  Luckiest accident of his life as he had not time for one of the biggest Hollywood flops (worse than Beatty’s Ishtar, 1987), the   $90m movie earning a mere $6.7m at the box-office.  Instead of a review, Rolling Stone crtiic Peter Traverts wriote an obituary. “The corpse took with it the reputations of its starry cast, including Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, Garry Shandling, Andie MacDowell, Jenna Elfman and Nastassja Kinski. The director, Peter Chelsom – a Brit of demonstrable talent if you saw Funny Bones  and Hear My Song  – did not attend the funeral. “In lieu of flowers, please send e-mails to the studio begging that the film never be released on video. R.I.P.”  Beatty did not make another  film until directing Rules Don’t Apply in 2014.  Another almighty floperoo!
  44. Gérard Lanvin, Passionnement, France, 1999.    Realisateur Bruno Nuytten’s  dream of Depardieu-Adjani  became Lanvin-Charlotte Gainsbourg.
  45. Arno Chevrier, Agnes Browne, 1999. To follow her fierce directing debut, Bastard Out of Carolina, Anjelica Huston chose a softer subject in her second homeland, Ireland. She’d also play Agnes, widowed mother of seven  with nary an “organism.” Huston contacted Depardieu for Pierre, the French baker on Moore Street. But the actor had broken a leg in one of his motor-cycle crashes.  
  46. Christophe(r) Lambert, Vercingétorix, 2001.    A new project for  film-maker Daniel Vigne (Le retour de Martin Guerre) dissipated into an almost Carry On  debacle for  the myopic Highlander.
  47. Gérard Lanvin, San Antonio, France, 2003.   French film folk roared with laughter when Depardieu was announnced  as the famous Comissaire. He was just too… fat!  At least 20 kilos too heavy and so, Lanvin finally got the role, first offered him in  1993.  And le gros Depardieu became le gros Berurier – in le gros flop.
  48. Daniel Auteuil, 36 Quai des Orfevres, France, 2004.    On  the advice of their auteur Olivier Marchal (an ex-cop), the stars swopped their cops pushing to head the CID at the Paris police HQ. Depardieu became the drunken, corrupt Anti-Crime unit brute destroying Auteil’s decent, if law-bending boozer of the Search and Action squad. Not that their story ended there… The Guardian critic Philip French rightly called it the best French cop art since Bob Swaim’s La Balance, 1982.
  49. Bruno Todeschini, Une aventure, France, 2005.   Due opposite Charlotte Gainsbourg for the third time (after Merci la vie and Les miserables) for Xavier Giannoli when it  was A cause de la nuit.
  50. Daniel Auteuil, MR 73 (US: The Last Deadly Mission), France, 2007.     Not swopping this time, replacing the too busy Depardieu.   Although Auteuil  was now Schneider, not Vrinks, and in Marseille not Paris, this could almost be a continuation of his  disgraced  flic in the same director Olivier  Marchal’s 36 Quai des Orfevres.

  51. William Hurt, The Countess, France-Germany, 2009.   Czech director Zdenek Troska opened the 21st Century by announcing Cher, Depardieu, Anjelica Huston, in the story of mass-murderer Elizabeth Bathory, the Hungarian countess  who kept her (1560-1614) beauty by bathing in the blood of virgin girls. French actress Julie Delpy took over, haphazardly, as writer,  composer, director. And star.
  52. Jean Dujardin, Le bruit des glaçons, France, 2010.   An alcoholic writer meets his cancer – embodied by Albert Dupontel – in Bertrand Blier’s brilliant return to caustic form.  “I wrote it for Gérard,” said l’auteur. “I write everything for Gerard. If I write a woman, it’s for Gérard. If I write a  dog…  He’s my perfect alter ego. But he was too busy… and I decided a young man,  having a tumour in  his 40s, would be more hard.”  
  53. Andre Dussolier, La Belle et la Bete, France, 2012.     French film critic turned realisateur Christopher Gans found it easy to cast his leads – Lea Seydoux and Vincent Cassel. But Belle’s father suddenly changed… and correctly so.  Dussolier at age 67 was less of an oak than Depardieu.
  54. Jacques Weber, Les yeux jaunes des crocodiles, France, 2013.   Last minute change of star for the first part of  Katherine Pancol’s literary trilogy. “Yes,” said the veteran stage star and director, “I’m replacing Gérard. Except Gérard is irreplaceable.  We talked about it… and as the role is that of a plump man of a certain age, who else would they call?”  They have both excelled as  Cyrano de Bergerac. Weber on-stage, 1983, Depardieu on film, 1989.
  55. Adrien Brody, Houdini, TV, 2014.   More about the role than this actual project. Paramount considered Edward G Robinson and Orson Welles as Harry Houdini in the 40s. He’s  been been portrayed  by actors as diverse as Tony Curtis, Harvey Keitell and Guy Pearce.  Richard Dreyfuss was ready for a 1976 biopic. Twenty years on,  Woody Allen sought  GérardDepardieu for a comedy about Houdini consulting Freud about his claustrophobia (!). By 2014,Johnny Depp and Ryan Gosling were tempted by the Indiana Holmes version in The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero. Finally, Oscar-winner Brody headed the A+E network’s two-parter made in Budapest – where Houdini was born.  
  56. Jonathan Pryce,The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, 2017.   
  57. Roman Duris, Eiffel, France-Germany, 2019.   Only the French could, indeed should,  make the buiiding of the world’s most famous tower  into a love story.  But that is what is what writer  Caroline Bongrand pitched off the  top of her head in a Hollywopd meeting.  Only to find out in her research that she was absolutely right… Luc Besson had fancied making a version co-starring (again!) Gérard Depardieuv and Isabel Adjani. New Paris  producteur Vanessa van Zylen selected Roman Duris and the Anglo-French  Emma Mackay who, as this was her French debut,  agreed to her first  nude scene.












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