Anthony Bourdain’s ‘addiction’ to Asia Argento overtook last year of his life, new documentary shows – The Mercury News

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“Road Runner,” the new documentary about celebrity chef, author and world-traveling CNN host Anthony Bourdain, “stops just short” of blaming his girlfriend Asia Argento for his 2018 suicide, according to previews of the film.

But the film suggests that Bourdain became “addicted” to Argento, an Italian actress and filmmaker, in the same way “he was hooked on heroin earlier in his life,” said Daily Beast writer Matt Wilstein. The implication from “Road Runner” is that “he would do anything for her,” including in ways that potentially hurt him personally and professionally, according to Wilstein.

Bourdain, 61, died by suicide on June 8, 2018 in France, where he was filming an episode of his beloved, Emmy-winning CNN series “Parts Unknown.” The series made Bourdain a global icon for the way he engagingly and thoughtfully explored the cultures and cuisines of lesser-known parts of the world.

Bourdain and Argento, then 42, had begun dating two years earlier. Their relationship made headlines after she joined Rose McGowan in becoming one of the first actresses in October 2017 to come forward and publicly accuse producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault.

Argento’s disclosure inspired Bourdain to join her activism on behalf of sexual assault survivors and to become one of the leading male voices supporting the #MeToo movement.

The “Kitchen Confidential” author called out stars and industry figures who collaborated with Weinstein over the years but who had yet to speak out about his alleged misconduct. He also publicly turned his attention to sexual misconduct in his own restaurant industry, and reflected on his own “macho” bad-boy chef’s personal life, as he told Slate at the time.

But it later emerged that both Bourdain and Argento were apparently hiding their own #MeToo-related secret. Two months after Bourdain’s death, the New York Times reported that Argento had been accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old boy in a hotel room in California in 2013. She was 37 at the time, and the boy was actor Jimmy Bennett, whom Argento had cast at age 7 in a 2004 film she directed.

Following the Times report, Argento issued a statement, denying she ever had an inappropriate sexual relationship with Bennett. But she also admitted that Bourdain, afraid of “negative publicity,” personally paid out $380,000 to Bennett, whom she described as “this dangerous” person to make him leave them alone.

It’s not clear from the previews of “Road Runner” how much the film deals with the sexual assault allegations against Argento. She also wasn’t interviewed for the film. “Road Runner” opens in theaters this Friday.

The film’s director Morgan Neville told the Wall Street Journal: ‘I’m not saying (Argento) caused his suicide. Suicide is a private and I think selfish act.”

Neville said he was trying to “paint a picture” of the the different factors in Bourdain’s life at the time of his death. “There were many of them,” he explained, including in the way he had become “much more manic and much more depressive.”

But the film also addresses Argento as one of those “factors,” according to the Daily Beast. Bourdain’s musician friend Josh Homme said that Bourdain was actively searching for something “feral and wild” when he began dating Argento. The chef’s close friend Alison Mosshart, who fronts the band The Kills, revealed that Bourdain told her in an email that he knew his relationship with Argento would “end very, very badly.”

“The people in his life could see that he was falling in love and developing what seemed to be a singular focus on the Italian actress,” Wilstein added.

“Road Runner” shows that Bourdain believed that he had destroyed his relationship with his ex-wife and daughter. He also started talking about wanting to quit “Parts Unknown.” “It seems Bourdain was burning bridges left and right during this time,” Wilstein wrote.

One way Bourdain was apparently burning those bridges was by involving Argento in the production of “Parts Unknown.” He hired her to direct the show’s Hong Kong episode, which upset his long-time crew and “upended” a process for the show that “they had been perfecting for years,” Wilstein wrote.

Five days before his death, Bourdain was in France filming another episode. That’s when he became “furious” over tabloid photos that implied Argento was cheating on him with a French reporter, according to the documentary.

Bourdain didn’t leave a note when he died, but his “Parts Unknown” producer mentioned in the documentary that his final Instagram story made reference to a 1970 Italian crime thriller, “Violent City.” The film opens with paparazzi photos of a woman cheating on her husband, according to Wilstein. “I mean, it’s all there,” the producer, Helen Cho, said.

Days after Bourdain’s death, Argento’s sister in #MeToo activism, Rose McGowan, defended Argento and rebuked speculation that she and Bourdain were having relationship troubles prior to his suicide. In a letter released to the media with Argento’s permission, McGowan claimed that Argento and Bourdain served as each other’s rocks during their individual struggles with depression and suicidal thinking.

“And through a lot of this last year, Asia did want the pain to stop,” McGowan continued. “Thankfully, she did the work to get help, so she could stay alive and live another day for her and her children. Anthony’s depression didn’t let him, he put down his armor, and that was very much his choice. His decision, not hers. His depression won.”

McGowan also addressed the tabloid photos that suggested that Argento was cheating on Bourdain with a French journalist. “Anthony and Asia had a free relationship, they loved without borders of traditional relationships, and they established the parameters of their relationship early on. Asia is a free bird, and so was Anthony,” McGowan said.

But two months later, McGowan and Argento had a falling out over Jimmy Bennett’s allegations. Argento’s attorney subsequently admitted that there had been a sexual encounter but claimed that Bennett was the aggressor who assaulted Argento, CNN reported. 

In January, Argento made news again by alleging that “Fast and Furious” director Rob Cohen drugged and raped her during the filming of the 2002 film “xXx,” Variety reported. A representative of Cohen denied Argento’s assault accusation as “absolutely false.”

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