Depardieu, Gérard

Depardieu, Gérard
born Dec. 27, 1948, Chateauroux, France

French film actor.

He made his film debut in 1965 and played minor parts until his performance in Going Places (1974) brought him a major role in Bernardo Bertolucci's 1900 (1976). He became French cinema's top male star in the 1980s and also made films elsewhere in Europe and in the U.S. Noted for a screen image that combined sensitivity with masculine strength, he delivered compelling performances in The Last Metro (1980), The Return of Martin Guerre (1981), Jean de Florette (1986), Manon of the Spring (1986), Cyrano de Bergerac (1990), and Tous les matins du monde (1992).

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▪ French actor
born Dec. 27, 1948, Châteauroux, France

      French motion-picture actor noted for his versatility and for his unusual combination of gentleness and physicality.

      The son of migrant labourers, Depardieu received little formal education and at age 15 went to Paris, where he studied acting. He made his screen debut in the short film Le Beatnik et le minet (1965) and began to appear as a bit player in full-length films in the early 1970s. His performance as a young thug in Les Valseuses (1973; Going Places) brought him his first real notice, and he subsequently appeared in such major films as Bernardo Bertolucci's 1900 (1976), François Truffaut's Le Dernier Métro (1980; The Last Metro), Loulou (1980), Le Retour de Martin Guerre (1981; The Return of Martin Guerre), Andrzej Wajda's Danton (1982), Jean de Florette (1986), and its sequel, Manon des Sources (1986; Manon of the Spring). He starred in Camille Claudel (1989), and in 1990 he won the best actor award from the Cannes International Film Festival for his role in Cyrano de Bergerac (1990).

      Depardieu played a wide variety of roles, including both historical figures (from peasants to the French Revolutionary leader Georges Danton and artist Auguste Rodin) and contemporary figures (from composers to thugs). He was notable for projecting a screen image of masculine strength that was nevertheless imbued with gentleness and sensitivity. He acted in as many as six films a year, and by the late 1980s he had become the most popular actor in France and had achieved an international reputation.

      Throughout the 1990s and into the 21st century, Depardieu continued his prolific acting career. His performances in the French films Le Colonel Chabert (1994; Colonel Chabert), about a soldier who returns home from war to find his wife married to another man, and Quand j'étais chanteur (2006; The Singer), were well received in France. He also starred in American films such as Green Card (1990), My Father the Hero (1994), Crime Spree (2003), and Last Holiday (2006).

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Universalium. 2010.

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