London - One of France's most famous and highly regarded actors, Gerard Depardieu, has revealed that he was a child prostitute, a petty thief and a grave robber.
The shocking confessions in his autobiography, It Happened Like That (Ca C'est Fait Comme Ca), have been picked up by media outlets such as the Daily Mail and USA Today.
Depardieu, 65, said that when he was 10, he looked like 15 and discovered that men found him attractive. He soon started sleeping with men for money. Sometimes, he beat up his customers and robbed them.
As quoted by USA Today, he said in the book: "I've known since I was very young that I please homosexuals.
At 20, the thug in me was alive and kicking. I would rip some of them off. I would beat up some bloke and leave with all his money."
He also picked pockets and dug up bodies in the cemetery to steal from the corpses. At the age of 16, he was thrown into jail for three weeks for car theft.
He grew up poor in Chateauroux, in central France. His father was a metal worker and his mother used to tell the young Depardieu that she tried to abort him using knitting needles.
The Daily Mail said he helped deliver his siblings because the family could not afford a midwife.
He said he was saved from a life in the streets by a gay theatre talent scout who paid for him to study French drama.
He became one of the biggest stars in French cinema and has acted in about 170 movies.
He won two Cesar Awards for Best Actor, the French equivalent of the Oscars, for The Last Metro (1980) and Cyrano De Bergerac (1990).
His fortune is estimated at US$200 million (S$255 million) and he became a Russian citizen last year to escape high taxes in France.
The self-described "rough-hewn peasant" is married to actress Elisabeth Guignot, who is from a rich family, and they had two children, Guillaume and Julie.
Guillaume, also an actor, was thrown into jail for theft and drugs. He died at the age of 37 of viral pneumonia in 2008.
In the book, Depardieu said that when his children complained about being associated with him, he told them: "What do you want? Change your name, for heaven's sake, if it bothers you."
He blamed his inability to tell his children that he loved them on his father, Dede, who was a man of few words.
"I know how to speak the words of others, but when it comes to my own, I am the son of Dede," quoted Daily Mail from the book.
In recent years, he has made headlines for crashing his motor cycle and urinating on a plane.
In the book, he also spoke of his friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying they have many things in common.
"We could have both become hoodlums," he wrote in the book, according to the Mail. "I think he immediately liked my hooligan side... Like with me, nobody would have bet a penny on him when he was 15."
The actor, who famously boasted that he drinks 14 bottles of wine a day, said in the book that he is not an alcoholic.
According to USA Today, he wrote: "I'm obsessed with the racket in my body, the beating of my heart, the gurgling of my intestines, my joints cracking.
It's become a phobia to the point that if I'm alone in a hotel, I must drink so as not to hear it, so as not to go mad from it. I can't get to sleep unless I am dead drunk."
This article was first published on Oct 8, 2014.
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