PARIS (Reuters) - French film star Gerard Depardieu’s son Guillaume, a 37 year-old actor who rebelled against his father and led an angst-ridden, tumultuous life, has died of pneumonia, his father’s agency said Monday.
The young actor won the French version of an Oscar, a Cesar, for “best new male talent” in 1996 for his role in Pierre Salvadori’s black comedy “Les Apprentis,” but he was also famous for his turbulent private life.
“He was very sensitive. That’s what gave him that slightly James Dean-style personality. A man tortured by his youth, by the relations he had with his father,” director Jean-Pierre Mocky, with whom he filmed in 1997, told RTL radio.
Tall with fine features and long blond hair, Guillaume Depardieu rebelled against his status as heir to one of France’s most famous acting dynasties, and suffered in the process.
He served his first prison sentence at the age of 17 and returned to jail when he was 22 for heroin trafficking. He later said he had been a male prostitute as part of a revolt against his father, whom he called a lying, money-worshipping drunk.
He badly injured his knee in a motorcycle accident in 1995, after which he caught a superbug in hospital and, after a series of unsuccessful operations, had part of one leg amputated.
“When you spend a year in hospital without seeing anything else, you are completely contaminated by physical pain, the mind is completely contaminated by physical pain. You are nothing any more. You don’t feel anything any more,” he told TF1 television in a 2003 interview.
He began his career in cinema playing his father’s character as a young man in the 1991 film “Tous les Matins du Monde” (All the Mornings of the World), and in one of his last roles was a homeless man — which he said he enjoyed because it showed that one could live free of society’s constraints.
Though he emerged from his father’s shadow in front of the camera, the relationship haunted him throughout his life.
He repeatedly criticized his father for neglecting him, and in a 2004 book he accused the world-famous actor of wasting his talent on unchallenging roles, and even of putting off his divorce for years for fear of how much it would cost him.
“I only found out that I was going to have a half-sister on the day of her birth. That tells you everything. Everything. I was always presented with faits accomplish. That was typical of how he behaved towards me,” he said in the book.
“I love him and I hate him for the same reasons. For his impotence. For his way of fleeing life, and existence, and fighting against it at the same time,” he said.
Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Louise Ireland