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French icon plans to quit

Paris, Oct. 31: The film career of Gerard Depardieu, Frances greatest screen actor and most ungainly sex symbol, is over, the star was reported to have announced yesterday.

The oversized icon, who has a legendary love of wine and food, told the cast and crew of his film, Michou dAuber, which finished shooting on Friday, that it will be his last.

Depardieu, 57, a workaholic who notched up five films in the last five months, said he was happy with his latest performance and wanted to throw in the acting towel in style, Le Parisien reported.

To a stunned cast during a scene change, Depardieu claimed to have had his fill of cinema. I have nothing to lose. I have been in 170 films, I have nothing left to prove. Im not going to hang on like an imbecile, he said. Im stopping shooting. Im leaving it behind and Im not even drunk, for once.

Depardieu did not say how he intended to extricate himself from a contract to play Obelix in Asterix at the Olympic Games, due to begin shooting next year.

One possible reason for his decision to relinquish the lead in French cinema is the number of flops he has notched up in recently. Critics argue that his best work was done between the late 1970s and early 1990s, with international hits like Cyrano de Bergerac, Green Card and Jean de Florette.

Another is his health. Depardieu had a quintuple bypass operation in 2000.

But it may simply stem from his desire to shock. He did that last month in an interview to promote the English version of his cookbook with chat show host Jonathan Ross.

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