Gerard Depardieu received his only Oscar nomination so far for portraying the titular character of Cyrano De Bergerac.
Cyrano is one of the handful of characters to have more than one actor nominated for playing them. Cyrano was first played in a nominated and winning role by Jose Ferrer, who after seeing Depardieu's performance, I am starting to admire even more, and perhaps I am even thinking of changing by 1950 Actor vote to him. Comparing the two performances from Ferrer and Depardieu, shows some obvious problems with Depardieu's performance. In my review of Ferrer's performance I stated that being very theatrical was probably the best way to portray Cyrano, now I feel that I really did not need to write probably, since Jose's theatricality works far better than what Depardieu does with Cyrano.
Depardieu underplays the part which is all wrong for Cyrano. In his opening scene where he attacks the performer on the stage, Depardieu seems frankly far too quiet when he announces himself. He does not seem like the domineering person, that you can't help but pay attention to instead it is quite easy to ignore him if it were not for the fact that he was screaming. Depardieu's opening monologue and heroics pales in comparison to Ferrer's. Ferrer held the screen without question in that scene in the 1950 version, Depardieu on the other hand does not seem like a large than life romantic hero, but rather some jerk throwing a temper tantrum for some reason, which does not work at all.
I really felt Depardieu's whole performance had this problem. He just does not seem Cyrano material, he is not romantic enough, poetic enough, or heroic enough. In his romantic scenes with Roxanne he actually seems to suggest his love for her too much, but then in his scenes where he helps her suitor secretly woo her he does not seem nearly romantic enough. Cyrano needs to be larger than life with his dueling, poetry, and heroics. Depardieu never gets larger than life though, and his method of underplaying Cyrano just doesn't work well for the character. I appreciate that he tried a different approach than Ferrer, but unfortuantely his approach just doesn't work for the character. Depardieu's performance is not bad really, he technically is fine enough I suppose, just not impressive enough for Cyrano.