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Vera Alentova: “Gerard Depardieu was paid as much as he requested”

Depardieu only had three days of shooting.  And it was a big burden for him.

Depardieu only had three days of shooting. And it was a big burden for him.

A photo: film frame

The picture was released in 2000 and became the last directorial work of Vladimir Menshov. Depardieu played not the main, but the plot-forming role – the Frenchman Bernard, who comes to Moscow at the invitation of the heroine’s husband, Vera Alentova. Bernard is accompanied by translator Andre (Anatoly Lobotsky). Andre falls in love with Sonya (Alentova) at first sight. Not immediately, but she reciprocates him.

Depardieu made an excellent impression on the entire film crew. Not because he is a world star and a French artist. But because, despite his stellar status, he behaved very democratically, although he flew from Prague on a private plane. It was a novelty for us back then.

Depardieu only had three days of shooting. And it was a big burden for him. But he worked honestly, without any stellar whims and concessions. According to Alentova, Gerard was paid as much as he requested. The money must be big.

Vera Alentova

Vera Alentova

A photo: Larisa KUDRYAVTSEVA/EG

“In communication, he turned out to be simple and charming, in work he was thoughtful and diligent,” recalls Vera Alentova.

After filming, he met several times with Alentova and Menshov. He flew to Moscow to promote wines from his vineyards to the Russian market. And he invited Alentova and Menshov to the tasting. They gladly came to the restaurant and wonderfully communicated with the French celebrity.

– At one of the meetings, Depardieu introduced us to a relative of his wife – in my opinion, then she was Carole Bouquet, – recalls Vera Alentova. – A relative was assigned to him as a watchman, because Depardieu became violent when drunk, and in order to exclude drunkenness, this relative did not leave Gerard a single step. By the end of the evening, the spy turned out to be completely “nobody”, and Gerard continued to communicate with us noisily and friendly and stood firmly on his feet.

But the most intriguing thing about this film was not the participation of the French star in it.

The film was about the love of two adults, not free people. Intimate scenes were indispensable. Alentova got nervous. It was new for artists of her generation. Anatoly Lobotsky, who played her French lover, was much younger than her. And neither the director, nor the cameraman, nor the actors could imagine how to shoot such scenes.

Alentova admitted that she had understudies in this film. But only in two frames: when her heroine Sonya gets out of bed. And the second is a shot of the massage, when Andre’s hand slides over Sonia’s stomach and thigh.

For some reason, Menshov did not want to declassify that Alentova had an understudy. And she was forbidden to confess. “Criticism fired me mercilessly, mostly of the ladies, which was somewhat puzzling. I considered it a well-known fact that Western actresses rarely agree to act naked: they select understudies for such scenes, and this is a normal practice: the role is still played by an actress “…

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