His off-screen life may have been full of tumultuous relationships and scandal, but controversial French film icon Alain Delon says his successful career was “due to women and for women” in a new book about his life.
The 87-year-old has never published an autobiography, so “Amours et Memoires” (Loves and Memories), out May 5 in France, may come closest, featuring a long preface by the actor and interviews with friends and co-stars such as Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren and Jane Birkin.
The book dissects the films that made Delon the epitome of brooding cool, including 1960s classics such as “Purple Noon” and “The Samurai”.
For this, he thanks the many women in his life, such as Romy Schneider, with whom he starred in “The Swimming Pool” and had a stormy, on-off relationship, and his wife from 1964 to 1969, Nathalie Delon, who had to share him with many other women.
“I had never dreamed of being an actor. I started acting and continued to act due to women and for women,” Delon writes.
“Love has always pushed me to go further,” he adds.
He also praises filmmakers who “trained and refined me”, such as Luchino Visconti, who directed him in “The Leopard” (1963) and Joseph Losey for “Mr Klein” (1976).
Much less space is given to the more controversial segments of his life, such as the child he reportedly fathered with singer Nico and refused to acknowledge, the allegations of violence against women and his own children, links to the criminal underworld and support for the far-right National Front.
In a letter printed in the book, Bardot describes him as having “the majesty of a lion… the mystery of a black panther… the teeth of a wolf”.
Not one to shy away from melodrama, Delon concludes his preface by saying: “If I should die tommorow, may God make it from love… I want people to say of me: ‘He suffered often, he sometimes made mistakes, but he loved.'”