Guillaume Depardieu, the only son of the actor Gérard Depardieu, died of pneumonia yesterday at the age of 37. M. Depardieu's health had never fully recovered from a life of drug addiction, a road crash and a hospital infection which forced the amputation of his right leg five years ago.
Also an actor, he had a combative relationship with his father but the pair had recently been reconciled.
However, in an autobiographical book four years ago, Guillaume accused his father of being a money-obsessed alcoholic who was largely absent from his childhood. He revealed that he had been a male prostitute and gigolo as part of a teenage revolt against his father's famous name. The younger M. Depardieu also served two jail sentences for theft and drugs offences as a youth.
After a motorcycle crash in 1995, he had a series of operations, one of which led to a hospital infection. After further operations – 17 in all – the leg was finally amputated in 2003. Guillaume Depardieu's health was never the same again. According to a statement from his father's agent, he died yesterday after what was described as a "lightning quick" bout of pneumonia after contracting a virus.
Guillaume, born in 1971, was the son from Gérard Depardieu's first marriage to the actress Elisabeth Guignot. Despite his turbulent youth, he went on to make 20 films including several with his father. His career peaked in 1996 when he won a César – the French Oscar – as best newcomer in Les Apprentis. He has had modest parts in two new films which have just appeared in French cinemas, Versailles and De la guerre.
When he wrote his autobiography, Tout Donner (Giving Everything), he sent a copy of his book to his father in 2004. in an interview with Paris Match at the time, he said: "He telephoned me and he said he had flicked through it and found it shameless. Well, if he thinks I'm shameless, I sometimes find him indecent."
In the book, Guillaume said of his father: "I love him and I detest him for the same reasons. For his impotence. For his way of fleeing life, and existence, and fighting against it at the same time. He is stupid. He is hopeless. He surrounds himself too much with people who bring him nothing."
In previous outbursts, he has criticised France's most successful film actor for neglecting him as a child and for throwing away his talent on poor movies, in pursuit of easy money.
The younger Depardieu also revealed that, at the age of 15, he accepted money for sex with a man, after missing a train and finding himself penniless.