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French film actor Gérard Depardieu was known for his portrayal of sensitive but masculine characters. He has appeared in both French and American films, including 1900, The Last Metro and Green Card.
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Born in Chateauroux, France, on December 27, 1948, actor Gérard Depardieu has appeared in such films as Cyrano de Bergerac (1990), The Man in the Iron Mask (1998) and Life of Pi (2012). He is the one of five children born to a metal worker and a homemaker. Growing up poor, Depardieu had limited schooling. He ran away from home in his early teens and supported himself through odd jobs and some criminal acts.
A teenaged Depardieu eventually made his way to Paris, where he began studying acting at the Theatre National Populaire. Depardieu landed roles in theatrical productions and on television in the early days of his career. With his tall, hulking build, he was often cast as a bad guy or a thug.
Depardieu had a career breakthrough with Bertrand Blier's Going Places (1974). This popular dramatic comedy opened the door to many other film opportunities. Two years later, he appeared in Bernardo Bertolucci's 1900 (1976) alongside Robert De Niro. Depardieu worked with French screen legend Catherine Deneuve on The Last Metro (1980). He earned raves for his work on this wartime drama directed and co-written by famed filmmaker Francois Truffant. Depardieu also picked up his first César Award—the French equivalent of an Academy Award—for best actor, for his performance in the film.
While he was already a leading actor in Europe, Depardieu had his first big hit with American moviegoers in 1990 with the historic romance Cyrano de Bergerac. He received an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of the film's title character. Bergerac is a writer who fears he will be rejected by his true love, Roxane, because of his unattractive nose. He writes her beautiful love poems, but he has another man deliver these missives to her.
That same year, Depardieu starred opposite Andie MacDowell in the contemporary comedy Green Card. He soon turned paternal in the 1991 French comedy Mon père, ce héros. Three years later, Depardieu reprised this role in the English language version, My Father the Hero, in which Katherine Heigl played his daughter.
Continuing to work in European and American films, Depardieu played both dramatic and comedic roles with equal aplomb. He enjoyed success with such films as Germinal (1993) and Colonel Chabert in his native France. Depardieu also received a warm reception for his work in such English-language productions as Kenneth Branaugh's Hamlet (1996) and The Man in the Iron Mask (1998), in which he co-starred with Leonardo DiCaprio.
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With its natural splendor and key geographic location, France has forever been the destination of marauding hordes—whether they be sword-wielding barbarians or camera-toting tourists. However, these Frenchmen and Frenchwomen have extended their influence outward, beyond the borders of the Hexagone, through art, invention and philosophy. C'etait magnifique, or, as deemed by the aforementioned title, fantastically French.
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