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French actor Gerard Depardieu under scrutiny over remarks in new documentary

Gerard Depardieu is among France’s most well-known stars (Thibault Camus/AP)
Gerard Depardieu is among France’s most well-known stars (Thibault Camus/AP)

French actor Gerard Depardieu’s behaviour towards women has come 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 on Thursday on national TV channel France 2.

It had never been shown before to the public.

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.

Gerard Depardieu
The Gerard Depardieu documentary had never been shown before to the public (PA)

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. 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 on Thursday that she 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 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 apologise 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 did not 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 misbehaviour but said he decided not to do any more projects with Depardieu.

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.