Monsieur Gerard Depardieu, one of France’s most cherished thespians, is not the easiest man to get along with. In addition to his impressive cinematic resume, he’s also known for his bravado, fondness for wine and gluttony, making off-colour remarks, and frequently behaving as what one would at the very least deem ‘inappropriate’ (in 2010, he brazenly, and quite publicly, unleashed celebrity World War III by referring to the beloved Juliette Binoche as ‘nothing’, and seemed totally incredulous over her wide acclaim).
A variety of sources and biographies reference Depardieu’s difficult life, attributing his bad behaviour to a troubled past riddled with substance abuse and conduct best deemed ‘lecherous’. Of late, he’s been trying to mend his ways. The Daily Mail reports: “Recently, he briefly turned to God, or rather, the North African bishop St Augustine of Hippo, to calm his demons.”
Well, it looks like Bishop Hippo’s gentle admonishing has fallen on deaf ears — the man remains as draconic as ever and, as of Wednesday, embroiled his large personage in a scandal of terrific proportions. We’ve all heard (and probably experienced) the expression, ‘wetting the bed’. But wetting a plane? Now this is a big no-no by most in-flight standards.
So when CityJet staff refused to let Depardieu use the toilet while the plane was rolling forth on the tarmac, Depardieu wouldn’t have it any other way and took matters into his own hands. As the story goes, the 62-year -old actor decided to let loose in the first class aisle. Of course, the flight was delayed until the mess was cleaned and Depardieu was politely asked to leave. He later caught another flight to Dublin, this time incident-free.
Depardieu has issued an apology to his fellow passengers, blaming ‘prostate issues’. According to Reuters, Gerard’s friend Edouard Baer, travelling next to him, made the whole thing sound completely innocuous, claiming his friend had tried to use a water bottle to relieve himself: “It’s just that the bottle was too small. It’s true that it overflowed. It was very humiliating and awkward for him.”
Yet another passenger told French radio that Depardieu “appeared to be drunk and had urinated in the aisle during takeoff, when passengers must be seated”. Given his history of alcohol abuse and disregard for propriety, the latter version of the story comes off as more credible. And yes, Depardieu’s prostate troubles are unfortunate, but be that as it may, the actor could have at least made an attempt at constraining himself to his immediate person. In this instance, flight attendants would have probably apologised profusely and given him a nice change of pyjamas without delaying the flight for two hours and inconveniencing passengers with connecting flights.
We’re also left pondering the outcome of this whole scenario had it occurred on an American flight, the Americans being stricter about behaviour on board (they have air marshals for that sort of thing). Celebrity blogger Michael Kay of Dlisted summarises it beautifully: “The only thing that is keeping this almost perfect story from being absolutely perfect is that it didn’t go down in America. If it did, he would’ve been tackled, tasered, hog-tied and charged with terrorism….”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 24th, 2011.