“I survived the knitting needles.”
This is the shocking proclamation of French film star Gerard Depardieu who shares that he was unwanted by his parents in his new book Innocent. The 68-year-old has acted in 170 films and is best known for his roles in Cyrano de Bergerac (1990), alongside Robert De Niro in the historical epic 1900 (1976) and, more recently, playing Obélix in the four live-action Astérix films (2002-2012).
“Since I wasn’t wanted by my parents, since they made sure I knew I was an accident in my mother’s womb, that I had survived the knitting needles, I was always very happy to be there, I always lived as someone who wanted to be a gift to others,” Depardieu writes.
He is one of five children born to Anne Jeanne Josèphe and René Maxime Lionel Depardieu, a metal worker and volunteer fireman. Depardieu was born in Châteauroux, Indre, France, and left school at the age of 13 for a job at a printworks before getting involved in petty crime. At 16, he moved to Paris where his acting career began in earnest.
“I’m a bit like the cat that one wants to drown but which got out of the bag and found itself alone on a bank,” he writes.
“I could’ve become a wild cat, but I took advantage of that infinite freedom to open my eyes wide and observe my surroundings.”
And aren’t we glad he did? Depardieu is walking, breathing, talking, writing and laughing-out-loud proof that life is valuable despite the circumstances of conception, of pregnancy, of birth and even of childhood. Sure, his parents may not have wanted him, but the film industry has loved him (mostly… we’re aware of the scandals!) and his four children, Guillaume (deceased), Julie, Roxanne and Jean are, in a sense, his own response to the knitting needles; knitting a family lineage.