Gerard Depardieu poses during a photocall for the second season of the French TV show "Marseille" in southern France. File / AFP
The 74-year-old actor, long a star in France whose 1990 film "Green Card" turned him into a Hollywood celebrity, was already facing a charge of raping a French actress. Depardieu has, through his lawyers, categorically denied any wrongdoing.
The Mediapart investigative website reported on Tuesday that 13 other women had come forward to accuse Depardieu of molesting them on the set of 11 films or series that came out between 2004 and 2022, or in locations off set.
Contacted by AFP, the prosECutor's office on Wednesday said it had not received any new complaints but that their investigation was ongoing into accusations he had raped French actress Charlotte Arnould in 2018.
The new accusations range from "a hand in underwear, on the crotch, on the buttocks or on the breasts" to "obscene sexual remarks" and "insistent grunts," Mediapart reported.
Even when the alleged abuse happened on set in front of witnesses, when women complained, crews often laughed it off, saying it was just the actor's way, the investigative website reported.
Arnould filed her complaint in the summer of 2018 when she was 22, saying she had been raped twice by Depardieu in his Paris mansion a few days earlier.
The actor — a friend of Arnould's family who had known her since she was a child — was charged in December 2020 but not jailed.
He has dismissed the charges as "baseless," and unsuccessfully tried to have them dropped last year. None of the 13 women have filed official complaints, Mediapart said, but three have given testimony to the judiciary.
One of them, who asked to remain anonymous, said she did so "to help Charlotte Arnould" and break the silence on such incidents in the filmmaking sector.
She told Mediapart she was an extra on 2015 film "Big House" when Depardieu suddenly slipped his hand into her dress and she "felt his fingers trying to... reach my knickers."
After the 24-year-old pushed it back, "he became aggressive. He tried to get past my underwear... I understood he was no longer acting. If I hadn't stopped him, he would have succeeded," she said.
'I needed to work'
Another woman, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said Depardieu repeatedly tried to grope her when she was working on set with him on the 2007 Edith Piaf biopic "La Vie en Rose."
She said she was constantly having to brush him off but did not openly confront him as she feared losing her job.
"I needed to work, to eat, so I kept quiet," said the former actress, who was 39 at the time.
In 1991, Time magazine asked Depardieu about a 1978 interview in Film Comment magazine in which he described his rough childhood and was quoted as saying "I had plenty of rapes, too many to count".
Asked if he had participated in the rapes, he told Time that he had. "But it was absolutely normal in those circumstances," the actor said.
Depardieu later denied making the remarks and threatened to sue the magazine, but Time refused to retract the passage, saying the interview had been recorded on tape.
As well as countless French films, Depardieu has also acted in global productions, including Kenneth Branagh's "Hamlet", Ang Lee's "Life of Pi" and Netflix's "Marseille" series.
In a tearful Senate address, Lidia Thorpe said she had been subjected to "sexual comments," cornered in a stairwell, "inappropriately touched" and "propositioned" by "powerful men." Parliament, she said, "is not a safe place for women."
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