First off, I don’t buy it: The bizarre claim made by French luné-toon Gérard Depardieu about drinking fourteen bottles of wine a day has been greeted with a combination of awe, back-slapping, high-fiving, hero worship and a little bit of bemused head-shaking, but not with the only appropriate reaction:
That Depardieu is psychotic is not in question: The publicity hawg superstar of such recent blockbusters as Zaitsev+1 and Sport bez granits and such timeless classics as Get Out Your Handkerchiefs and Je t’aime… moi non plus (none of which received so much as a baby toe’s-up from Siskell or Ebert) lost his tenuous grip on reality two years ago when he sought—and gained—Russian citizenship.
Showing up in Moscow worked out about as well for him as it did for his compatriot Napoleon, and he has been roundly mocked for his unwavering support of puny, punk, pink-pated, pusillanimous Putin. Prior to that, he’d moved just across the border to Belgium to avoid paying wealth tax because the French government levies 75% on personal income over a million euros. But before Depardieu’s tax dodge makes you nod with quick-witted civil disobedient approval, consider that the Flemish tax rate is 50%; had he moved to Andorra, which is just as close to France, he’d have paid under 10%.
Although it must be said—somewhere among these chic zip code changes he must have moved to London and converted his body to £.
In any case, as someone who knows even less about cinema than I do about wine—but still wear my credential-free critic’s badge proudly—I must say that the charm of this Yukon Gold-schnozzed beached whale-a-rilla totally eludes me. In every English-language film I’ve seen him in (Green Card, Hamlet, Ang Lee’s Life of Pi) his accent sounded ludicrous and his acting looked painful and forced. Maybe he does better in the langue maternelle—dunno, I don’t speak it—but from what I’ve seen, he ain’t no Jean-Paul Belmondo. Now, granted, he’s not the first hallowed, aging, self-obsessed actor to let himself go in terms of physique and psyche, but at least Brando could claim Apocalypse Now on his late-life resume.
Playing a cartoon character in Astérix—France’s answer to Scooby-Doo 2—just doesn’t cut it.
But that’s just my IMHO IMDb take, and on a subject where my expertise is probably a french fry or two short of a Happy Meal. The thrust of this piece, of course is the half-baked claim of a fully-baked flake with a double-baked potato for a nose.
And when it comes to the brobdingnagian consumption of ethanol—alas—I have a shelf-full of Oscars.
Before my ‘Check Liver’ light came on a few years ago, I drank with the sort of abandon usually reserved for abandoned men inside abandoned buildings—a fifth of vodka a day, or its equivalent, was more my norm than my exception. That’s a statistic of which I’m not particularly proud, and in fact, having undergone a non-voluntary blood test in an ER ordered by some cop (not driving related, I promise) a number of years ago, I came out with a score so high that the attending physician re-checked my vitals to make sure I wasn’t dead. Despite the buzz, I recall the whole occasion with dreadful, crystal clarity, including the bottle of wine I opened within ten minutes of getting out of the hospital. That’s some pretty shameful, outta-control shit; I know.
In any case, that kind of lifestyle does not tend to lend itself to productivity, longevity or conviviality and I kept it up as long as I could live with myself, and once I grokked that in the best of scenarios I wouldn’t be living with myself for long, I stopped.
Now, I may not weigh as much as Jerry Depardieu, and neither may my Ford 150 with an extended cab full of abandoned men, but the idea that anyone actually drinks 14 bottles of wine in one day—let alone every day—defies reason.
And his insistence that he remains a functional lush nonetheless is the sort of delusion that pretty much pervades the conversations of most final-stage alcoholics.
Instead of calling him out on it, however, the prevailing attitude I’ve seen so far has been, for the most part, people claiming to be impressed.
Ha! Let’s look at the science, then. Figure at a modest 12% alcohol-by-volume, a bottle of wine contains a little over three ounces of pure, undiluted ethanol. Since even a Bo and Luke still can’t produce moonshine that pure, nobody—not even hardcore career drunks—drinks undiluted booze. At eighty proof, as most liquor is sold, the amount of ethanol in a bottle of wine equates to four-and-a-half shots.
A fifth of booze contains about seventeen 1½ oz shots; so, if Mr. Potato Nose is drinking fourteen bottles of wine per day, he is downing the equivalent of… wait for it… nearly four bottles of standard-strength liquor a day, every day, and not getting noticeably drunk. Or pronounceably dead.
And, please note that this does not even take into consideration that at around 123 calories per glass of wine, that’s over 8600 calories per day, and before Happy Meals.
Sorry, kids; I call bullshit.
But, hey; the art of acting is the not only the art of bullshitting, but (to do it credibly) the art of believing your own bullshit.
Maybe Gérard Depardieu does exactly that. Now, what’s your excuse?
Although the callboards at most equity gigs post rules prohibiting the use of alcohol on the set, I suppose if I can sober up, so can Russia’s favorite citizen, Mr. Spudnik. In fact, I’m recommending him for a role in the next Mystery, Inc. sequel, Scooby Depardieu 3: Curse Of The Potato-Nosed Monster.
I’m thinking that underneath the monster mask we’re gonna find a fat, fuddled, fustian French fibster.