The young actor broke into both film and television in the mid-1960s by playing character roles that somewhat reflected his disreputable past—parts with names like Le beatnik and Un hippie. In 1974, Depardieu was launched into popularity after starring in Bertrand Blier’s Going Places, about two loafers pillaging their way across France. He went on to appear alongside Bulle Ogier in Maîtresse and Isabelle Adjani in Barocco, and collaborated again with Blier for the 1979 Academy Award®-winner for Best Foreign Language Film, Get Out Your Handkerchiefs.
Throughout the following decades, Depardieu firmly established himself as France’s leading actor, earning a Cannes Film Festival acting award and an Oscar® nomination for Cyrano de Bergerac (1990), twice winning France’s César Award for Best Actor (The Last Metro, 1981; Cyrano de Bergerac) while garnering more than a dozen nominations, taking an acting award at the Venice Film Festival in 1985 for Police, and earning international notoriety for his prolific film work in both Europe and the United States.
In 2005, Depardieu announced his intention to retire. He has appeared nearly 20 films since then—including the acclaimed 2007 films, The Singer and La Vie en rose and is currently scheduled to perform in eight films in the next two years.
The hard-working actor has also maintained a broad mix of business interests throughout his career, including two Parisian restaurants, a vineyard in the Loire valley, Romanian textile and telecom outlets and Cuban oil wells. He has two children by his ex-wife Elisabeth Guignot, Julie and Guillaume Depardieu. The actor infamously cut off contact with Guillaume (who appeared alongside his father in Alain Corneau’s 1991 film Tous les matins du monde after Guillaume threatened him with a gun. For his part, Depardieu has not entirely shaken off his bad-boy demeanor. Guillaume died at aged 37 of pneumonia.