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Gerard Depardieu may have been in the news for all the wrong reasons recently, but the French actor has lived with controversy his whole life, according to his recently released autobiography, That’s the Way It Was, parts of which were published in Britain’s Daily Mail on Sunday.
The bad boy of French cinema wrote that he worked as a male escort as a teenager on the streets of Chateauroux, where he was born, and then later Paris. “I’ve known since I was very young that I please homosexuals,” Depardieu said in his autobiography as told to writer Lionel Duroy, adding: “I would ask them for money.”
Depardieu admitted that he would occasionally also mug his clients. “At 20, the thug in me was alive and kicking,” he told Duroy. “I would rip some of them off. I would beat up some bloke and leave with all his money.”
Depardieu, best known in the U.S. for his breakout role in Green Card, revealed he spent time in prison for auto theft. His life of crime extended to some grave-robbing too, helping a man to dig up freshly buried bodies to steal jewelry and clothing.
Unsurprisingly, Depardieu devoted space in the book to his legendary appetite for alcohol. The actor recently claimed that he can easily drink 14 bottles of wine a day, and he claimed he drinks not because of alcoholism but to get away from the phobias that plague him. ‘I’m obsessed with the racket in my body, the beating of my heart, the gurgling of my intestines, my joints cracking,” he said in the book. “It’s become a phobia to the point that if I’m alone in a hotel, I must drink so as not to hear it, so as not to go mad from it. I can’t get to sleep unless I am dead drunk.”
Depardieu also touches upon his highly controversial decision to obtain Russian citizenship to avoid paying an 87 percent tax for high-income individuals in France. The actor called France a “filthy mess” and said he shouted “Are you happy now?” in a telephone conversation with the French president Francois Hollande after he had left the country.
Russian president Vladimir Putin also featured prominently in the book after Depardieu struck up a friendship with him 2008 and both realized they had much in common. “We could have both become hoodlums,” he remarked of Putin in the book. “I think [Putin] immediately liked my hooligan side … that I had occasionally been picked up off the pavement dead drunk.”