Gérard Depardieu was born in Châteauroux, France. As a twelve-year-old, he left his parents’ home and went to Paris, where four years later he was accepted into the Atelier, the theater school of Charles Dullin. He completed his education at the Cours d’art dramatique with Jean-Laurent Cochet and began his career as a member of the Café de la Gare theatrical troupe. Depardieu’s first films followed in the 1960s, prior to his breakthrough in Bertrand Blier’s Les valseuses in 1974.
Depardieu subsequently worked with the prominent advocates of the Nouvelle Vague—Jean-Luc Godard, Alain Resnais, and François Truffaut, and also with directors such as Maurice Pialat, André Téchiné, Alain Corneau, Claude Miller, Marguerite Duras, Claude Zidi, and Francis Veber. One of his greatest successes occurred in 1990, when he took on the title role in Jean-Paul Rappeneau’s adaptation of Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac. Since that time, Depardieu also has broadened his range to embrace English-language films. Other major highlights of his film career include Corneau’s Tous les matins du monde (1991), Ridley Scott’s 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992), Claude Berri’s Germinal (1993), Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet (1996), and Roland Joffé’s Vatel (2000). In addition, he has appeared in two widely viewed television films, taking the title role in Le comte de Monte-Cristo after Alexandre Dumas (1998) and that of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables after Victor Hugo (2000). He scored a great public success as Obelix in three film adaptations of the comics by Albert Uderzo and René Goscinny. In recent years, he appeared in Ang Lee’s Life of Pi (2012), as well as in the lead role in Abel Ferrara’s Welcome to New York (2014) and with Isabelle Huppert in Guillaume Nicloux’s Valley of Love (2015), an Official Selection of the Cannes Film Festival.
In 1984, Depardieu made his directorial debut with a film adaptation of Molière’s Tartuffe, in which he also played the title role. He deeply admires St. Augustine, and on February 11, 2003, gave the first public reading of the Confessions of St. Augustine at the cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris.
In the realm of classical music, Depardieu has appeared as the narrator in Stravinsky’s Oedipus rex at the Teatro San Carlo of Naples and Kodály’s Háry János at the Opéra National of Montpellier in France, both directed by Jean-Paul Scarpitta; at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées of Paris; and at the Salzburg Festival in Berlioz’s Lélio ou le retour à la vie and Prokofiev’s Ivan the Terrible, both conducted by Riccardo Muti.
Gérard Depardieu’s first autobiography, Lettres volées, was published in 1988, and he published a second, Ca s'est fait comme ça, in 2014.