Gerard Depardieu was a grave robber, ''thug'' and rent boy before finding fame.

The 65-year-old French actor discussed his impoverished upbringing in his new autobiography, 'Sa S'est Fait Comme Ça' or 'That's the Way it Was', and claimed he would wander the streets of his hometown Châteauroux from the age of 10, knowing he could pass for 15 and that gay men found him attractive.

He wrote: ''I've known since I was very young that I please homosexuals... I would ask them for money.''

At 16, he was jailed for three weeks for stealing a car and then moved to Paris, where he remained involved in criminal behaviour.

He admitted: ''At 20, the thug in me was alive and kicking.

''I would rip some of them off. I would beat up some bloke and leave with all his money.''

The 'Green Card' actor also admitted helping a man dig up newly-buried bodies in the cemetery and steal jewellery and shoes from them, and recalled picking the pockets of students taking part in anti-government protests in 1968 while they slept on the streets between rows with police.

Elsewhere in the book, Gerard recalled how his mother repeatedly attempted to induce a miscarriage while pregnant with him.

He wrote: ''I survived all the violence that my poor mother inflicted on herself with knitting needles and things.

''The third child that she didn't want, was me, Gerard. I survived.''

It was recently revealed the 'Cyrano de Bergerac' star drinks 14 bottles of wine a day and he puts his staggering alcohol intake down to a ''phobia'' of things going wrong with his body.

He explained: ''I'm obsessed with the racket in my body, the beating of my heart, the gurgling of my intestines, my joints cracking.

''It's become a phobia to the point that if I'm alone in a hotel I must drink so as not to hear it, so as not to go mad from it. I can't get to sleep unless I am dead drunk.''