BRIGITTE BARDOT, the 71-year-old former film star turned animal rights campaigner, has admitted becoming a virtual recluse who shuns society and feels closer to her dogs than her husband.
In a rare interview granted in the run-up to this week's Berlin film festival, the ageing sex icon, now crippled by arthritis, said she rarely ventured out of doors and claimed that caring for animals had become almost her sole raison d'être.
Asked whether she was still interested in people, Bardot told the German Die Zeit newspaper: "I am not even interested in myself. What am I supposed to do? Get my nails done? I never go to the hairdresser or a restaurant. The whole society business gets on my nerves. It's all over."
Once considered a sex symbol rival to Marilyn Monroe, Bardot quit films in 1973 and has since devoted her life to caring for stray and maltreated animals through her Paris-based Brigitte Bardot Foundation. Her fourth husband, Bernard d'Ormale, 53, whom she married in 1993, is an executive member of Jean Marie Le Pen's far-right National Front Party.
She told Die Zeit that animals were all she needed and her dogs were closer than any person could be. Asked whether that included her husband, Bardot said: "You know what? I was always the man of my life."
France's long love affair with the actress who became known simply as ‘BB’ ended in 2003 with the publication of her book Un Cri dans Le Silence. It attacked Islam, homosexuals, the unemployed and illegal immigrants and called for a return of the guillotine.
Bardot ended up in court and was fined Euro 5,000 (£3,400) for inciting racial hatred. Yet last week, the actress who once shocked the French middle-classes with her libertine lifestyle, appeared unrepentant and said she had written it because she was "worried about France".
Apparently reluctant to discuss the subject again, she said: "I don't give a damn what people think about me".
This week's film festival is running a retrospective of Bardot films of the 1950s, such as And God Created Woman, which was directed by her first husband Roger Vadim and created her sex kitten image.