French actor Emmanuelle Béart, who is known for her roles in Mission: Impossible and 8 Women, has said she was a victim of incest as a child.
The star, 60, makes the claims in a new documentary that was screened in Paris on Tuesday (5 September), according to the Agence France Presse news agency. She did not identify her abuser.
The documentary, Such a Resounding Silence, includes accounts from four incest victims, as well as Béart’s. The actor, who said she was abused between the ages of 10 and 14, co-directed the film, which will air on France’s M6 channel later this month.
Béart rose to fame in France for her roles in Manon of the Spring (for which she won a César film award), A Heart in Winter and Nelly and Mr Arnaud.
On the global stage, she has played spy Claire Phelps in the original 1996 Mission: Impossible and chambermaid Louise in the French dark comedy 8 Women.
She also starred in the drama Vinyan alongside Rufus Sewell, about parents bereaved by the 2004 Thailand tsunami.
Documentary co-director Anastasia Mikova told reporters in Paris that Béart’s attacker was not her father, the famous singer and songwriter Guy Béart. She said Béart will not name the attacker as that is not the “approach” of the film.
Béart was not present at the screening, but in a video message shown to press, she said she had initially planned to share her own experience in the documentary. “But their honesty and their courage made me want to speak out, too,” she said.
In the documentary, she is heard saying: “Since my father, my mother and my friends didn’t notice anything, you could do this again, and you did, over four years.”
Béart was eventually “saved” by her grandmother, she said in the film: “If my grandmother had not intervened, if she had not put me in a train to go to live with my father when I was 15, I don’t know if I could have lived.”
She said she had often told people what had happened but nobody seemed to care. “I said it everywhere. There was no response. You go from person to person confessing a secret that devastates you and that does not mark people.”
According to Statista, in 2020, it was estimated that 6.7 million people in France (10 per cent of the population) had been subjected to incest during their lives, and 32 per cent of French people said they had incest victims in their circle.
Béart’s documentary aims to highlight the extent of incest in the country and what she called the “social silence” around it. The actor said that three-quarters of lawsuits involving incest allegations were dismissed by French justice and called the refusal to prosecute alleged attackers horrifying.
If you are a child and you need help because something has happened to you, you can call the NSPCC free of charge on 0800 1111. You can also call the NSPCC if you are an adult and you are worried about a child, on 0808 800 5000. The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (Napac) offers support for adults on 0808 801 0331.