Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Gérard and Me

There are only two French people in the world, me and Gérard Depardieu.

I say this with a degree of certainty because every time I turn on the French channel on cable, there he is—Gérard jeune, Gérard vieux,  Gérard in his 30s mince come un fil (thin as a thread), Gérard in his 40s balaise (hefty), Gérard now abolument gigantesque, (absolutely gigantic), Gérard en Francais, en Anglais and for all I know Gérard en Farsi.
Personally, I like Gérard. No one will mistake him for Maurice Chevalier and start singing "Sank 'eaven fur leetle gurls." Looks-wise, he’s no Alain Delon, though he might give Jean-Paul Belmondo a run for his Euro.  He has become, somehow, so quintessentially French that the whole image of the average Frenchman has changed from the baguette-carrying, beret-wearing, and Gauloise-smoking rotund little guy to the frighteningly overweight cro-magnon-lout-in-a-cheap-leather-jacket-who-likes-to-punch-people. I think this is a positive development. Enough of Pepé Le Pew, I say.

I like Gérard as an actor, too. He mumbles like Brando, postures like Newman and has the kind of grin that made Cruise famous. Also, he's pretty wide-ranging—from Cyrano de Bergerac to Georges in Green Card, and I suspect his nose needs its own visa when they both travel.

Gérard and I share a few similarities.

  • He was in Les Miserables. I have read the book.
  • He was born in France in 1948. I was born in France two years earlier.
  • We are both males.
  • He starred in Green Card. I had a Green Card.
  • He owns an island in the South Pacific. I own some worthless snake-infested land in South Virginia.
  • He speaks English. I do too, and better than he does.
  • He likes saucisson, smelly cheeses, and boudin. I do too.
  • He once spent $5,000 in a trendy New York club.  I once got lost in New York.
  • He's gained a lot of weight. So have I (but to be fair, he has gained way more than I have.)
  • He smokes Gauloise cigarettes. I stopped smoking Gauloise cigarettes 13 years ago.
  • He once drank a $1,000 bottle of Scotch whiskey in three hours. I once drank a $5 plastic liter-and-a-half of Popov vodka (from New Jersey) in an evening.
  • We both have large jaws. I got mine from my grandmother. I don't know about Gérard.
  • His mother told Depardieu that she had tried to abort him with knitting needles. My mother almost aborted me when she fell off her bicycle at seven months pregnant.
  • We both like Johnny Haliday a lot.
  • We both wish we could have starred opposite Catherine Deneuve (actually, Gerard did, but it was in Potiche, possibly the worst French movie ever made. And I include Last Year in Marienbad in that statement.)
  • He studied dancing under Jean-Laurent Cochet. I have danced once in the last 15 years.
  • He is scheduled to play disgraced International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss Kahn. I worked at the World Bank, which is across the street from the IMF.
  • He peed in the aisle of an airplane when the bathroom was occupied.
  • I.... No, I never did anything like that.

But anyway, Gérard and me, we're almost twins.

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