There’s nothing I don’t love about Gerard Depardieu renouncing his French citizenship and becoming a Russian because Gallic nonsense, Vladimir Putin and famous people who pee on airplanes are three of my very most favorite things!
As such, I was already excited enough to read Lauren Collins’ in-depth profile of the actor when I spied it in this week’s issue of The New Yorker. Then I realized it was actually a write-around. Make that one of the most elegant, clever and well-researched write-arounds I’ve read in aaaaages. It seriously matters not that she didn’t get one direct quote from her subject when you’re convulsing with glee over everything else she managed to unearth.
Obviously this called for a list.
THE TEN MOST AMAZING LINES/PARAGRAPHS FROM LAUREN COLLINS’ AMAZING GERARD DEPARDIEU WRITE-AROUND IN THIS WEEK’S ISSUE OF THE NEW YORKER
1. “Nouns get all the good parts—potato, macaca, the Appalachian Trail—but this winter, in Paris, a jobbing three-syllable adjective set off a political scandal.” (This was just the lede. I propose an inaugural Pulitzer for ledes, which will obviously be won by this sentence. Even an Ellie is fine with me if the Pulitzer people want to be snotty about it.)
2. “[Depardieu] had grown up poor, but free, and meat remained for him the avatar of prosperity. He was a Rabelaisian sensualist, not a Balzacian crook.”
3. “He felt that Depardieu ought to be left alone in Belgium with his ‘booze binges’ and his chickens.”
4. “Libération had owned the story since early last fall, when it ran a now famous front page featuring Bernard Arnault, the C.E.O. of the fashion conglomerate L.V.M.H. Arnault, France’s richest man, had recently applied for Belgian nationality. The headline read, ‘Casse-Toi, Riche Con!’ (roughly, ‘Get Lost, Rich Asshole!’), a play on a gaffe by Sarkozy, who once dismissed a heckler at an agricultural fair by saying, ‘Casse-toi, pauvre con.’ (Arnault is suing Libération for “extreme vulgarity and violence.” He has said that he will continue to reside in France and pay taxes there.) Another cover pictured Depardieu, in a sort of contrapposto position, as’“Le Manneken Fisc.’ This united, in a single pun, tax exile; the Manneken-Pis, a Brussels fountain with a urinating cherub; and a 2011 incident in which Depardieu soiled the carpet of an Air France jet.” (Look, I know it’s an entire paragraph but you try breaking up all that amazing. I did it for you.)
5. “On the ninth day, the actress Catherine Deneuve, in a sort of epistolary round-robin, squared off against Torreton. With regal condescension, she admonished him for attacking Depardieu, his better. ‘You speak of his physique! His talent! ‘This mess,’ of which you speak. By what right, what democratic concern, do you make your filthy condemnation’ Deneuve wrote. ‘What you would have done in 1789, my body still trembles.’” (WHAT? Just stay with me.)
6. “The pigeons wrote letters, too. One was delivered on YouTube by an animated bird, who warbled sadly from the pavement against a backdrop of commuters’ calves. ‘Monsieur le Président,” he sang, ‘It’s been years now / that I’ve worked like an ass / to augment my wealth / that I didn’t steal / Unlike the others who have left / I had confidence / I stayed in France / and you betrayed me.’
7. “Morano, a reliable font of aggression (she was once filmed harassing a Senegalese-born street vender, telling him, ‘We can’t welcome all the Senegalese’), is lampooned in the French media as a poissonnière, or fishwife.”
8. “…after a Vogue photo shoot, Depardieu calmed his nerves with ‘a steak big enough for three, a huge slab of Roquefort, and two bottles of young red wine from his château.’”
9. “The next day, Brigitte Bardot swore that she would move to Russia, too, if a French court did not forestall plans to euthanize two tubercular elephants.”
10. “Daniel Senesael, the mayor of Estaimpuis, had become a minor sensation in Francophone quarters. An irrepressible booster of the region, he once took off his pants at a gathering for local civil servants and belted out a song called ‘Naked and Tanned All Over.’”