Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Gérard talks

I'm just dying to go on and on about some shows I've just seen (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie at the Acorn, A Chorus Line on Broadway and ¡El Conquistador! at New York Theater Workshop) but I must refrain until my TONY colleagues' reviews come out.

In the meantime, here are a few translated nuggets from a great interview Gérard Depardieu gave to the French weekly Les Inrockuptibles a few weeks ago. The piece is pegged to Depardieu's latest movie, Xavier Giannoli's Quand j'étais chanteur, but it covers his entire career—which, lest we forget, includes movies by owlish French authoress Marguerite Duras and Italian nutjob Marco Ferreri—and Gégé talks like someone who really couldn't give a shit what people think.

• About producing some of his own movies:
"On La Chèvre [1981], for instance, I really felt I got screwed by [producer] Alain Poiré. He didn't want to pay for three plane tickets so that Elisabeth and the kids would visit me on the shoot. And when the movie made millions, he got [director] Francis Veber, [costar] Pierre Richard and myself together and gave us keyrings [laughs]. Well, all right then! (…) Working on La Chèvre was a turning point since before that I was labeled an 'intellectual actor' because I worked a lot with Duras. Yet I always thought of her not so much as intellectual as earthy. And she was a lot more manipulative and grounded than the people who claimed her a genius. But she was a genius, whom we'll still talk about in 500 years. Whereas I'm not so sure about Marguerite Yourcenar, for instance."

• About having to sing in his new movie:
"I learned to sing with [director Claude] Régy. I found it really immodest, I couldn't do it. I had to do it for a Peter Handke play, Les gens déraisonnables sont en voie de disparition. Before that, even drunk it wouldn't have occurred to me. But I learned to do everything on stage. I've even been able to sleep. I woke up, saw Andréa Ferréol, who was only mildly bothered, I waited a beat and went back to acting. I'm telling you about it because I don't think it matters."

• About his relationship with Godard on 1993's Hélas pour moi:
"I remember a chat on a dock in Lyon. We talked for two hours. He kept bugging me with the word star. I told him, 'Truffaut is right, it's normal that you don't have any balls because they've been crushed, but I can't believe how Protestant you are. You're far from being a thug.' Godard's problem is his relationship with money: He wants to get dough, pull off robberies, but then he's afraid. You can't be afraid. When you're paid seven million to make Hélas pour moi without a script, you've got to take them without thinking twice about it."

• About meeting Marco Ferreri:
"The first thing he said to me, with his Italian accent, was, 'Are you temerarious?' I was on my way to pick up some money for expenses, he had just gotten his. All these people were tight with their money. I loved these communists around 1975–76, like Bernardo Bertolucci, who drove a Benz. Bernardo said to me, 'But my Benz is red!' He had a great sense of humor back then. Marco, on the other hand, was a real pain in the ass. He kept it all in, he couldn't even shit. With Marcello [Mastroianni], it really made us laugh."

• About distributing Satyajit Ray's movies:
"I went to India and I wanted to create a Ray Foundation so that his movies would be kept together. I coproduced his three last movies with [Daniel] Toscan du Plantier. I remember that he told me that E.T. was one of his short stories. The biggest hit in American cinema comes from India! He'd sent the script to Columbia way before. When you read it, all E.T. is in there. Of course, no rights were ever paid."

• About Hollywood:
"Hollywood is full of bourgeois. Even worse: Bourgeois who, for the most part, dream they are hoodlums or thugs. A bit like Godard."

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