Dozens of French actors denounce 'lynching' of Depardieu

AFP - [email protected]
Dozens of French actors denounce 'lynching' of Depardieu
Gerard Depardieu. (Photo by VALERY HACHE / AFP)

Nearly 60 French actors and other prominent figures have denounced the "lynching" of disgraced film legend Gerard Depardieu, who is charged with rape and is facing a litany of other sexual assault claims.


An open letter signed by British actress Charlotte Rampling, former French first lady and singer Carla Bruni, and Depardieu's former partner, actress Carole Bouquet, claims the star is the victim of a "torrent of hatred".

"Gerard Depardieu is probably the greatest of all actors," added the letter published in French newspaper Le Figaro on Christmas Day.

Depardieu, who has made more than 200 films and television series, was charged with rape in 2020 and has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by more than a dozen women.

Despite no court ruling against him, many have rushed to distance themselves from the actor in recent days.

His supporters said: "We can no longer remain silent in the face of the lynching he is facing."

The letter said Depardieu was being attacked "in defiance of a presumption of innocence from which he would have benefited, like everyone else, if he weren't the cinema giant he is."

Depardieu - who turns 75 on Wednesday - called the signatories "courageous" and praised the letter.

"I thought it was beautiful," he told broadcaster RTL by phone.

Depardieu admitted he had been shown the letter before its publication but insisted he had not asked for it.

He also said that a number of figures refused to sign it.

The actor faces fresh scrutiny over sexually explicit comments including one about a young girl riding a horse during a 2018 trip to North Korea that were broadcast for the first time in a documentary on national television this month.

"When people attack Gerard Depardieu in this way, they are attacking art," the letter said.

"France owes him so much. Cinema and theatre cannot do without his unique and extraordinary personality.

"Nobody can erase the indelible imprint of his work on our times."


Last week French President Emmanuel Macron said Depardieu had become the target of a "manhunt", while his family has denounced an "unprecedented conspiracy" against him.

Rights activists condemned Macron's comments as an "insult" to all women who have suffered sexual violence.

Politicians have also called Macron out, including former French president Francois Hollande.

The letter, titled "Don't erase Gerard Depardieu", sparked a new wave of indignation.

"Is rape part of the 'work' when it's produced by an artist?" Sandrine Rousseau, a French lawmaker and feminist, said on X (formerly Twitter).

Laurent Boyet, founder of Les Papillons (Butterflies), a group that fights violence against children, said the letter was "indecent" and added that the organisation was dropping one of the signatories, actor Pierre Richard, as its ambassador.


"We are and always will be on the side of the victims," Boyet said.

Anne-Cecile Mailfert, head of the Women's Foundation, told AFP that "no one is above the law", while activist Emmanuelle Dancourt, of the #MeTooMedias group, said she was "saddened" and "appalled" by the letter.

But she also said she understood how Depardieu's friends felt they had to defend him.

"The people who do this are our friends, our fathers, our husbands, our neighbours, our colleagues, people we know," she said on BFMTV.

Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak has said the actor might be stripped of the Legion of Honour, the country's top award.

Depardieu is no stranger to scandal, having made headlines by brawling, drunk driving and urinating in the aisle of a plane.

He has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and has a Russian passport.


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Alexander 2023/12/28 19:18
This is not a fair journalism. Yes, he has praised putin in the past (regrettably, as many others), but you don't bother to specify whether his stance has evolved since the war began (and it seems it has). The omission, deliberate or not, leaves a wrong impression.

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