In the pantheon of international movie stars, perhaps no actor was less prepared for the rigors of fame than Brigitte Bardot.
Originally pursuing a career as a ballerina—look at her movies, BB’s posture is a plum line—Bardot was discovered by director Roger Vadim when she was a restless, 15 year-old school girl.
Looking at Bardot’s life and career—her films are overwhelmingly mediocre—you can’t tear your eyes away from the hypnotic girl/woman, it quickly becomes apparent that BB was not interested in fame. She never craved the love and adulation that is the drug of choice for needy actors.
Bardot acted because it was better than being a shop girl; and sky-high movie salaries paid the endless bills for her true passion: animal rescue.
If you were one of Bardot’s husbands or lovers lovers you shared a bedroom with the dazzling but moody Bardot—she attempted suicide multiple times—a dozen flea infested cats, scores of mangy dogs, lizards, snakes, goats, and if you were really lucky a braying donkey. The Bardot boudoir was a symphony of silk, lace and animal droppings.
Bardot hated her loss of privacy. Stardom was a torture chamber. She attacked photographers with flying fists, and treated journalists as if they carried the plague. Bardot was one of the few movie stars who did nothing to cultivate her fan base.
In fact, one gets the impression that Bardot held her fans in contempt.
And this story, related by Roger Vadim, Bardot’s director and first husband, goes a long way towards explaining Bardot’s horror of celebrity.
Brigitte asked me to go for a walk with her so that she could avoid ten or so boys and girls who were waiting for her in the hall of the hotel. We left by the service door. About a kilometer out on the highway they caught up with us. Brigitte was annoyed and refused to talk to them or sign autographs. When they insisted, she screamed, “I want peace. Is that too much to ask?”
They became openly aggressive. One boy caught hold of her blouse, and I had to push him away. Others threw snowballs in her face. She began crying and running. They ran after her.
On the side of the road there was a road-repair cabin with a padlock that hadn’t been fastened. Brigitte ran into the cabin. I joined her and managed to block the door. Hoping that they had left, I went to open the door. But it had been locked from the outside with the padlock.
Suddenly, thick smoke poured into the cabin. They had found some twigs and had set fire to the wooden cabin. In seconds the flames rose to the roof. We could hardly breathe and the heat was becoming unbearable. I heard a girl scream, “Open the door! Open the door!” And a boy shouted, “We don’t have the key.” They had closed the padlock without thinking that they wouldn’t be able to open it.
With a pick ax I found among other tools, it wasn’t difficult to break down the door. We rushed out into the fresh air, coughing, our eyes and throat burning.
A few seconds later the cabin went up in flames. The youths ran off in a panic, realizing rather belatedly the seriousness of what they had done.
Bardot, Deneuve, Fonda by Roger Vadim