It was a fairytale romance for the Grey’s Anatomy star Melissa George and her dashing French lover. But it has ended in “hell”, with convictions for assault, a bitter custody battle and an alleged kidnap plot to spirit the couple’s two small children out of France in a borrowed private jet.
And Ms George, who also starred in The Good Wife, claims that her career is on the rocks because her ex-partner refuses to let her leave the country with the children to film abroad.
The 40-year-old Australian actress met entrepreneur Jean-David Blanc at a Bafta awards party in London in 2012 and the pair quickly became a couple, producing two sons, Raphael, now three, and Solal, now one.
But the relationship came to an abrupt end last September 7 when, at 3am, Ms George turned up at a Parisian police station with injuries to her face and pressed assault charges against her partner.
Mr Blanc, a multi-talented internet entrepreneur, film producer, writer and jazz musician, spent the next 48 hours in police custody.
A lengthy and ongoing legal battle began, as counter-accusations flew over who started the fight in their penthouse apartment on Place de la Madeleine, and who should now get custody of the children.
“It was a love story and then it turned to hell," Christophe Ayela, Ms George’s lawyer, told the Telegraph.
The first court battle - over the alleged assault - ended last month when a judge convicted both parties of assault, ordering Mr Blanc, 48, to pay his former partner 1,000 euros in damages and ordering her to pay him one euro in damages and imposing a 5,000 euro suspended fine.
The judge said it was impossible to determine who sparked the fight but that it was clear that, even if Ms George’s injuries - bruising, swelling and redness - were more serious than the scratches Mr Blanc suffered, both had acted violently.
Both parties are appealing the verdict.
It was a love story and then it turned to hell
The second legal battle is in the family courts, which have ordered that the parents get joint custody of the boys and the children spend alternate weeks with their mother and father.
Neither parent may take their children out of the country without the written permission of the other.
When Ms George tried to leave for the United States six days after the assault last September, border police led her and the children off the private plane lent to her by Russian friends as they were about to take off from Le Bourget, a small airport near Paris Charles de Gaulle.
Mr Blanc has pressed charges for attempted kidnap, his lawyer Jacqueline Laffont said.
“It is true and proven that Ms George, the two children and their dog were intercepted by the border police while they were about to take off in a private plane from Le Bourget destined for Los Angeles and Canada,” she told the Telegraph.
Ms George declined to comment when contacted, but her lawyer denied any plot to sneak the children out of France, saying that he can prove the flight had been planned well before the assault took place.
“There was no kidnapping attempt. Ms George did not know that there was a legal travel ban placed on the children,” Mr Ayela told the Telegraph, adding that previously she had frequently travelled to the US with her sons.
The lawyer also said the custody arrangement made it impossible for Ms George to work as her acting roles were mostly filmed abroad. “How can she be back in France every second week if she works abroad? It’s a ridiculous decision,’’ he said, noting that if she did travel abroad to work without the kids this would be used against her by Mr Blanc.
Mr Ayela accused Mr Blanc of refusing to pay any allowance to his ex-partner for the upkeep of the children, but this was flatly denied by the businessman’s lawyer.
Ms George’s acting career began in Australia where she played Angel Parrish for several years on the soap opera Home and Away before starting work on major US films, including Mulholland Drive in 2001. She is also well known for her roles in television series such as Friends, Grey’s Anatomy, and more recently Hunted, and The Good Wife.