The Publicist:

An amiable actor is a key part of the recipe for publicist bliss

An amiable actor is a key part of the recipe for publicist bliss

He's been described as a "force of nature," and I would have to agree. I've had the pleasure of working with a lot of interesting performers over the years, but Gerard Depardieu probably takes the cake.

He can bake one, too. A well-respected restaurateur and winemaker, his interest in food seems to have overtaken that of acting some time ago, so it took a role as a chef to bring him into his first American movie since 1990's Green Card.

He dislikes interviews about his character and the movie, so he was not the easiest to deal with from that perspective. For pure enjoyment to be around, however, he was delightful. It's a cliche, I know, but man, this guy lights up a room. Shuffling onto the set like a panhandler wondering how far inside the room he can get before someone tosses him out, he quickly has one corner of the room in stitches, then another. The production assistants keep a constant eye on him for fear he'll wander off on a moment's notice, perhaps to the kitchen or to flirt with the female extras. Or female cooks. Or female anythings. A bit of aging hasn't slowed him down in the least.

"He's all about food and sex and wine," describes a kitchen consultant who worked alongside him in the movie.

Nice work if you can get it.

I managed to get him to do a couple of quick TV interviews, but they almost always turned immediately to food, and away from acting. Didn't seem to matter. The media loved it anyway. And he was a dream with photo approvals. He took 30 seconds to glance at a few contact sheets before lauding the photographer for being excellent at his craft and saying, "No need to show me any more."

Depardieu has a cookbook that just came out, and some of the recipes are served in his restaurant in Paris, called La Fontaine. Utterly helpless in the kitchen, I decided to sample his culinary offerings in person. Springtime in Paris? Oh, yeah.

I used to do a little PR for restaurants before I fell into the movie biz, and I would have loved to represent La Fontaine. The pot au feu I had for lunch was superb, and my girlfriend's monkfish was even better. Didn't come cheap, though - $125, excluding tip and wine. I guess I'll be eating at the In' N' Out burger for a while to balance it out, but it was worth the sacrifice. Kind of like watching the man himself perform on set. Delicious.

Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer

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