Brigitte Bardot struggled with depression and repeatedly attempted suicide

Cinema’s enduring sex symbol led a troubled life as she contended with her rising fame

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Brigitte Bardot may be known as an eternal cinema icon, but she secretly battled depression and attempted suicide on numerous occasions.

Her biographer, Jeffrey Robinson, who wrote Brigitte Bardot: Two Lives in 1994, claims that she struggled with the fame that saw her become an internationally-renowned sex symbol.

"She was a very confused, lonely person in the midst of overwhelming celebrity," Robinson told Closer Weekly.

"[She was a] woman who suffered severe depression but never learned how to deal with it."

Robinson credits director Roger Vadim for having kick-started Bardot’s career, taking her to Cannes Film Festival where she first became noticed by the film world.

The actress was 18 when they got married in 1952, divorcing five years later.

"He taught her how to be Brigitte, the sex symbol," said Robinson.

Her film credits include And God Created Woman, Contempt and Une Parisienne.

Bardot – who has previously spoken of being on "the brink of suicide several times" – has since become an animal rights activist, retiring from film in 1973, aged 38.

Now 80, she established the Brigitte Bardot Foundation in 1986, which aims to protect and care for animals.

She is famously outspoken and passionate about the subject of animal rights, once threatening to leave France unless the country stopped the scheduled euthanasia of two sick circus elephants. She won the fight.

She has been wed four times, marrying current husband Bernard d'Ormale in 1992.

"I don’t think there’s room in her heart for humans," Robinson says of Brigitte. "That space is filled with animals. They love her unconditionally."

Robinson believes that Bardot has finally learned to accept herself.

"When you’re the most beautiful woman in the world, you’re not going to stay that way," Robinson said. "When she looks in the mirror, she’s found peace with the 80-year-old woman she sees."