As people around the world grappled with the death of Anthony Bourdain on Friday, one voice rose above the rest. Asia Argento's statement about Bourdain's death celebrated her partner's "fearless spirit" and all of the lives that he touched.
"Anthony gave all of himself in everything he did," the Italian actress wrote. "His brilliant, fearless spirit touched and inspired so many, and his generosity knew no bounds. He was my love, my rock, my protector. I am beyond devastated. My thoughts are with his family. I would ask that you respect their privacy and mine."
The couple had been dating for over a year — Page Six confirmed their involvement in February 2017. They'd met shortly before that when Argento appeared on an episode that Bourdain was filming in Rome for his show Parts Unknown. He had separated from his wife Ottavia Busia the previous fall.
Of their meeting, Bourdain recently explained how they connected. "I'd initially reached out to her because of my admiration for her last directorial effort, Incompresa — and because of her fascinating Twitter feed, filled with iconoclastic references to films, music, books and artists I'd thought only I'd ever heard of," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "That turned out to be one of the better decisions of my life."
Their romance has seemed something of a fairytale from the outside. Bourdain visited Argento whenever he could between shooting Parts Unknown and juggling his family (he is survived by his 11-year-old daughter, Ariane). When they were together, photographers often captured photos of the couple holding hands and kissing. They seemed happy to have their relationship visible, often documenting it on social media. Last year Argento shared a photo on Instagram of them cuddling with the caption: "Perfect moment."
Bourdain supported Argento when she came forward as one of the first women to publicly accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. Days after The New York Times' initial exposé of the Hollywood mogul was published, Argento was one of 13 women who shared their stories in The New Yorker as part of a second wave of allegations. Argento said that Weinstein raped her in his hotel room when she was 21 years old. (Weinstein has denied all allegations of non-consenual sex.)
Bourdain immediately tweeted his support for Argento when the story came out. "I am proud and honored to know you," he wrote. "You just did the hardest thing in the world."
He spoke again about her courage to IndieWire earlier this month, reflecting on remarks Argento had given at the Cannes Film Festival that condemned those who had enabled Weinstein's behavior. The magazine noted that Bourdain "beamed" when talking about her speech.
"I was so proud of her," he said. "It was absolutely fearless to walk right into the lion's den and say what she said, the way she said it. It was an incredibly powerful moment, I thought. I am honored to know someone who has the strength and fearlessness to do something like that."
Argento is also a director, and she recently directed the Hong Kong episode of Parts Unknown, which premiered on Sunday and was the last episode to go live before Bourdain's death.
Reflecting on his time with the actress after they filmed the Rome episode together, Bourdain wrote that she was "truly magnificent." He wrote fondly of how, "if you ask Asia a question, you are going to get an answer — and she doesn't care if it reflects badly on you — or on herself. She's going to give it to you straight." He also noted that the show they'd done together was probably "the most beautiful we've ever made."
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