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11 Surprising, Amazing, Disappointing, and Enviable Things About Gerard Depardieu

Gerard Depardieu: He's majestically bizarre! And not just in an "oh, French people" way. Here are some staggering tidbits from an article appropriately titled "The Big Cheese: The Crazy Life of Gerard Depardieu," which includes both astounding new quotes and some impressive biographical information from the French superstar who has two new movies about to come out.

1. His outlook: "I am a killer of life, but I've never used my bullets!"

2. On his American film roles: "I refused more than I did ... In Hollywood, you still have wonderful actors but it's so hard to work there. To work becomes a Kafka nightmare — it's the last communist country!"

3. He has 180 movie and TV credits since 1970.

4. He has invested in oil fields in Cuba, a Romanian telecommunications firm, and a vineyard. "I'm not passionate about wine-making," he says. "I'm passionate about the country. I know the people who grow my grapes."

5. He did not have an easy childhood. "His father, Dédé, was an illiterate, alcohol-dependent sheet metal worker; his mother, Lilette, so crushed by poverty, once let slip that she considered aborting young Gérard with a knitting needle. He left home at 12, so the story goes, to live with a pair of ageing but apparently hospitable prostitutes who worked the US army base on the other side of town, before hitting the road in his mid-teens."

6. He and his oldest son, who died at age 37 a few years ago, did not get along. Guillaume Depardieu wrote in his autobiography, "There is nothing in [my father's] life but deceit ... He's the only person I know who lies to his analyst."

7. On his baby mamas: "I had wonderful companions during my life, and afterwards we separated — but not like enemies. We stayed friends. It was always a costly thing to get a divorce, for example, but it's just money. It's not important. I had children with really wonderful women. I still like them."

8. On women generally: "I think we can learn everything from women. And I especially learnt from women who have been my lovers or my mistresses. But I also learnt a lot from female writers, like Virginia Woolf and Anaïs Nin."

9. He does not like Juliette Binoche: "I would really like to know why she has been so esteemed for so many years. She has nothing. Absolutely nothing!"

10. The man can drink: "There was a time when he boasted that he was drinking five or six bottles of wine a day ... Indeed, this is a man who is known not to regard wine as alcohol. 'He didn't drink a drop of alcohol during the shooting,' says Gustave de Kervern, co-director of Mammuth. 'He was very focused on his work. But every so often he'd bring us a bottle of what he called working wine.'"

11. On growing older: "Life is about continuity — with obstacles. You need energy to live this life ... The body is fixed, but if I was to become a legume, you know ... if I have an accident ... it is not important. The most important is what you are. I never changed since when I was three years old, I don't think."

Working wine. Working wine!

The Big Cheese: The Crazy Life of Gerard Depardieu [Independent UK]

Photo: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images