Violence, alcohol, melancholy: Charlotte Gainsbourg’s “burning memories” of her parents

On March 2, 2021, it will be 30 years since Serge Gainsbourg bowed out. By this time, her daughter, Charlotte, was turning 20. On the occasion of the anniversary of the dandy’s death, the latter mentioned in the columns of Télérama who was his father. In the eyes of the public, he is a talented artist, a poet, but also a sulphurous, even controversial character. Asked about her awareness of this facet of her father, Charlotte Gainsbourg explains that she was not shocked by his exits from the road. “I was in total admiration,” she says. “In fact, I was only bothered by the reactions my father sometimes elicited, never by the blackness of his words or the subjects he brought up. I never experienced his misogyny.” What pained the actress, it is especially the self-destructive behavior of Serge Gainsbourg. “I was rather upset by alcohol, by the states he was getting into. I felt he was hurting himself,” she recalls. “He was clinging to me to get in the cabs, I didn’t understand where he wanted to go, what he was looking for. It was painful to accept that he was burned.”

“With my mother, they got on pretty well together”

Charlotte Gainsbourg also mentions alcohol as a mania that is very present in her family. “They drank a lot,” she says of Serge Gainsbourg and his mother, Jane Birkin. But the actress specifies that this tended to temper her father: “The alcohol did not make him violent, rather soft, on the contrary. A little tearful.” A softened behavior which contrasted completely with the usual character, rather attracted by “the drama” and “the passion”, as described it Charlotte. “Her relations were far from being appeased. Rather full-bodied. With my mother, they got on quite a bit, I have stinging memories, and she was not left out.” A violence that continued long after the end of their story. “Even after their separation, when he came to see us at her place, the plates were flying,” recalls Charlotte Gainsbourg.

Charlotte Gainsbourg and Serge Gainsbourg © RINDOFF-PATERSON

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