The actor, who was indicted for rape in 2021, has been at the heart of a media storm in France in recent weeks following the broadcast of a France Télévisions documentary probing multiple historic accusations of sexual misconduct against the actor.
Silla, who is the sister of Luc Besson’s wife Virginie Besson-Silla and is now married to actor Vincent Perez, told celebrity magazine Paris Match that she felt compelled to break her silence over the treatment of Depardieu.
“I thought long and hard before speaking out because, as we know, it is difficult for a surgeon to operate on his own child or for a judge to conduct a fair trial if the accused is a member of his family,” she said.
“Gérard Depardieu is a man I have loved for thirty-five years and above all the father of my daughter. So, is it possible to separate the artist from his work, the writer from her feelings? I don’t think so, but I will still try to remain as lucid as possible as the subjects mentioned are close to my heart.”
Silla hit out at the media backlash against Depardieu since the broadcast of the episode of investigative show Complément d’enquête entitled ‘The Fall of an Ogre’ on December 7.
“Everyone is talking, signaling, shouting. But who, among these thousands of people, knows him, has even met him? It’s as if because he’s a public figure, he no longer has the right to his private life, too bad for his children, who are collateral damage!”
She suggested that amid the media brouhaha people were mixing Depardieu’s case with those of Harvey Weinstein, Bertrand Cantet, the singer who was found guilty of beating actress partner Marie Trintignant to death in 2003;, writer Gabriel Matzneff, who has been accused of under-age rape, or serial killer Guy Georges.
“Even Guy Georges, the rapist from eastern Paris, was entitled to a fair trial!,” she said.
Silla said Depardieu had the right to the principle of presumption of innocence as the official rape charge, lodged by actress Charlotte Arnould in 2020, made its way through the courts.
“It’s up to justice to decide and, even if some think that justice is not fair, it has the merit of working and knowing the case files. What I can testify, like all the women who have been romantically intimate with him, is that Gérard is not a sexual predator.”
She acknowledged that Depardieu’s sense of humor could be “ribald’ and “crude’ but said his words were not proof of actions.
Silla’s defense of Depardieu came just days after the French judiciary dismissed a sexual assault complaint filed against Depardieu by French actress Hélène Darras, related to an incident on the set of 2007 film Disco, due to the local statute of limitations.
In an interview in Complément d’enquête exposé, Darras recounted how Depardieu hounded her on the set when she was a 26-year-old novice actress, treating her like “a piece of meat” and running his hands over “hips and buttocks”.
Silla responded to accounts of Depardieu’s misbehavior on set towards younger female extras, suggesting the other professionals has encouraged his conduct.
“The complainants of his inappropriate behavior almost all say the same thing: it happened in front of the crew and people said nothing, except: ‘It’s just Gérard.’ But the rest of the sentence is missing: ‘…and it’s them’, those who encouraged him, laughing heartily. He put on a show to amuse the gallery, turning his head from left to right to see if they laughed, and they laughed and clapped.”
Silla also tackled Complément d’enquête footage, in which Depardieu appears to watch a young girl horse-riding while on a trip to North Koran and be heard suggesting that if the horse breaks into a gallop, she will have an organism.
She suggested Depardieu had been a victim of the way the footage had been cut and challenged a bailiff report verifying its authenticity.
“He is always respectful with children and keeps his distance when he speaks to them so as not to invade their space. Never, as this incriminating show has tried to portray, would he sexualize a child,” she said.
“They [France Télévisions] have stood by this extract, justifying it with the help of a bailiff. I don’t know how, in 24 hours, a judge can order the delivery of the rushes, and that they can be delivered, viewed and that a bailiff can confirm that the editing respects the reality of the situation.”