Nature calls -- Gerard barrels into Wicklow wild
Now actor really can let it all hang out -- as Obelix, writes Kevin Keane
THIS time, he had the whole of Co Wicklow to answer his call of nature. How French film star Gerard Depardieu must have wished for such an expanse on the CityJet plane in Paris the other night when he had to resort to a plastic bottle.
Yesterday the famous 62-year-old -- now even more famous after his starring role in "Je veux pisser!" (with English subtitles) -- was hard at work as the character Obelix in Co Wicklow on the set of his latest film ('Asterix et Obelix').
There were, however, echoes of the surreal as he lugged a huge barrel of "magic potion" about the Wicklow countryside.
Dressed in a pair of oversized white-and-blue striped trousers, long plaited pigtails and a silver helmet, Depardieu toiled for hours in front of the cameras in the grounds of Clogohue House.
But there were no fears for the consequences of being caught short this time, as the dense woods of the Luggala Valley offered ample cover for anyone desperate to 'spend a penny'.
There was tight security around the set -- understandable in the wake of Tuesday's night's incident in which he cried, "je veux pisser!" or 'I want to pee' to the crew of the plane shortly before it was due to take off.
Suffering from the consequences of reportedly drinking a full bottle of water before getting on the plane, the actor eventually took matters in to his own hands through the use of an empty plastic bottle.
With so much unflattering attention arising out of the incident, it was perhaps unsurprising that access to the huge private estate, where the French-language film 'Asterix et Obelix -- God Save Britannia' is being shot, was tightly controlled by a professional security firm.
Car registration plates were taken down, and hikers venturing in to the spectacular hills encircling the grounds were eyed suspiciously.
But from a rocky outcrop above the valley floor, the actor dressed up as his character Obelix could be seen laboriously acting out scene after scene with co-star Edouard Baer, as our pictures by Steve Humphreys show.
Every few hours a golf cart took Depardieu from the set to a large tent, surrounded by a cluster of catering and dressing-room wagons.
This distant view of the comings and goings of the star was as close as the public was going to get. Not that many of the tourists passing by realised what was going on.
Jean Pierre Messiaen told the Irish Independent that he wasn't aware that one of his country's most famous sons was so close by.
"That's normal, it's not surprising," was his response when told of Depardieu's scrape on a plane.
"He's a good actor but he has not a very good manner," Mr Messiaen, who had driven from Brittany for a holiday with his wife and four children, laughed.
"He is someone who eats a lot, drinks a lot, speaks loud, a bon-vivant," his wife Laure explained.
As well as shooting this week in the estate of Clogohue House, owned by millionaire arts-patron Garech de Brun, the crew for 'Asterix et Obelix' are to visit some of the most spectacular sites in the country.
Locations for the €50m film include Brittas Bay and Annamoe in Co Wicklow; Listoke Gardens in Drogheda, Co Louth; the Boyne in Slane, Co Meath and the Burren in Co Clare.
The film is the fourth instalment in a live action remake of the massively popular comic book series.
Depardieu (Obelix) and co-star Edouard Baer (Asterix) travel from Gaul (Roman occupied France around 50BC) to Britain to deliver a barrel of their village's 'magic potion' to the last remaining stronghold against the Romans.
Bilingual actor Catherine Deneuve stars as the Queen of Roman England in the blockbuster, which will be released in late 2012.