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French actor Gerard Depardieu is under scrutiny over sexual remarks and gestures in new documentary

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French actor Gerard Depardieu is under scrutiny over sexual remarks and gestures in new documentary
AP
SYLVIE CORBET
December 08, 2023

PARIS (AP) — French actor Gerard Depardieu’s behavior toward women came under renewed scrutiny in France after a documentary showed him repeatedly making obscene remarks and gestures during a 2018 trip to North Korea.

The footage, filmed by a professional crew that covered Depardieu’s visit during the 70th anniversary of North Korea's formation, was included in an investigative documentary that aired Thursday on national TV channel France 2. It had never been shown before to the public. Some excerpts quickly went viral on the social media.

Depardieu, 74, is among France’s most well-known stars. He was put under investigation in December 2020 for rape and sexual assault, reportedly at his Paris home, following allegations from actor Charlotte Arnould in 2018. The investigation is ongoing.

Depardieu has denied any criminal conduct.

In the video recorded in North Korea by an unnamed video production company, Depardieu can be seen making groaning sounds and sexual comments in front of women, including about a 10-year old girl. He can also be seen posing for a photo while saying he was “touching the bottom” of a North Korean interpreter by his side.

The documentary also features French comedian Helene Darras, who accused Depardieu of touching her bottom when she was a young extra for the 2008 film “Disco.” The Paris prosecutor's office said Thursday that Darras filed a complaint against Depardieu in September for alleged sexual assault.

In a brief phone call with the journalists who worked on the documentary, Depardieu said, “This whole thing is deeply bothering me” and declined an interview offer.

He published an open letter in French newspaper Le Figaro newspaper in October that said, “I want to tell you the truth. I have never, ever abused a woman.”

About Arnould’s rape accusation, Depardieu wrote, “There has never been any coercion, violence or protest.”

“All my life, I’ve been provocative, outgoing, sometimes rude. … I never meant to do any harm, and I apologize for behaving like a child trying to entertain the crowd. But I’m not a rapist nor a predator,” he said in the open letter.

Film director Fabien Onteniente, who worked with Depardieu on “Disco,” said in a Friday interview with French broadcaster France Info that he didn’t witness any misconduct by the actor at the time. However, he said he “saw something” a few years later while making another film with Depardieu.

“So I had a private conversation with him. I told him that it’s inadmissible.” Onteniente said. The director did not give any details about the alleged misbehavior but said he decided not to do any more projects with Depardieu.

Film director Marc Missonier says in the documentary that he had previously heard about the “inappropriate attitude” of Depardieu.

“We can say that the French cinema world didn’t ignore the problematic behavior of Gerard Depardieu,” he said, adding that the actor's “status” as a world-famous star had once protected him.

French investigative news website Mediapart earlier this year published information saying that Depardieu has been accused of harassing, groping or sexually assaulting 13 young women.

The France 2 documentary claims the number of accusers now stands at 16.

French women’s activism group Osez le feminisme, or Dare Feminism, denounced “rape culture” and expressed its support to Arnould and others women affected by Depardieu's alleged misconduct. The group, which uses the hashtag #balancetonporc, which in English roughly translates to “squeal on your pig”, has widely been viewed as helping to create France's version of the #MeToo movement.

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