Melissa George tells of night of terror
EXCLUSIVE: Actors can fake many things. But you can't fake a bloody lump on the forehead or a bruised body shivering in fear to the point where you bleed and urinate in an Uber as you tell the driver to "please go … just go."
On the morning of September 7, Melissa George claims she staggered out of her penthouse apartment and crumpled on the ground in one of the most up-market districts of Paris, just 150m from the Madeleine Church.
Owais Atique - a Pakistani-Frenchman - answered the Uber call at 2.24am and almost drove away when he saw her.
He thought she was another drunk until he saw the red blood stains on her white blouse.
George - one of Australia's best acting exports - was delirious and collapsed on the ground.
Allegations about that harrowing night will air tonight in a tell-all television interview on Seven's Sunday Night.
Atique told the program he helped her into his Audi. Her blood smeared across the window and door handle.
He said he kept his car spotless and always wore a suit when he worked but at that moment he didn't care where the blood went.
She allegedly said: "He hit me".
The man she was accusing was Jean David Blanc, the wealthy 48-year-old French entrepreneur she met at a BAFTA after-party in 2011 and who is the father of her two children, Raphael and Solal.
Pennells meets Atique outside his father's Pakistani restaurant in inner-city Paris and he is still shaken as he remembers the night.
"She was crying - just crying - and saying 'I am scared, I am scared, please go ... he will find me, I'm scared'," Owais tells Sunday Night.
"'I have my two babies in the apartment'.
"I say to her 'stay here, I will go'.
"She said 'no, my boys are with my babysitters ... I want to go to the police station'."
He points to his head: "She was bleeding here, (she alleged) he took my head and ...'".
That night, Melissa told him what had happened but Atique struggles to explain in his broken English. So he demonstrates by grabbing an invisible head with his hands and banging it against his car door.
"She was in a lot of pain," he said.
"It's horrible. I was crying too.
"I am young. I am just 22 years (and) for me it's the first time I see a person in pain and crying."
Atique wanted to take Melissa to hospital but she said she wanted to go to a police station.
When he took her there, she vomited. Jean David Blanc was arrested the next morning.
Two weeks later, Owais received a phone call.
"I'm Melissa George. I was crying in your car and you went with me to the police station," she said. She visited him at his father's restaurant and thanked him.
"She's a very nice person," he said.
"I didn't know who she was when it happened. She was just a normal customer.
"I don't watch English TV or movies."
Melissa George has stayed silent for the past six months as the assault and custody battle has played out in the French courts - where they were both convicted over the altercation - and international tabloids.
Jean-David is appealing his conviction and has denied attacking her. He has accused her of trying to kidnap their children when she boarded a private plane with them a week after the fight.
She has previously denied being aware that Jean-David had obtained a no-fly order before attempting to leave France with their children.
Through his lawyer, Jacqueline Laffont, who spoke to News Corp Australia, Jean-David previously accused Ms George of exaggerating the injuries she received during the altercation, and claims he acted in self-defence after she became "hysterical.'' Subs: do not remove
In Paris last week, a desperate and emotional Melissa George was ready to tell her story.
"I want to get home," she said.
Did Paris feel like home any more?
"I have two kids that were born here so yeah, it is home but it is not, Australia is home.
"I work in America, my kids are a third Australian, a third American and a third French so we're part of all these countries, and to be blocked here with no way out, no family, no ability to work, no visa, no insurance, no help, no support from the father, no nothing. Zero." In the living room of an apartment in which a friend is letting her stay, Sunday Night producers arrange two chairs opposite each other.
Her boys' fluffy toys are scattered in the room next door but Raphael and Solal are not home.
It is the first week of a custody arrangement ordered by a French judge in which the children will spend every second week with her. This week, they are with Jean-David.
Without an agent involved, without PR, without any conditions, George has agreed to talk about September 7.
The night she collapsed in a bloody heap opposite The Madeleine Church.
The night an Uber driver named Owais Atique almost drove away and left her there. The night everything changed.
She smiles and says she's nervous.
The camera rolls. For her, it is not only risky, but deeply personal.
Pennells asks her: "At 3am on September 7, you walked into a police station and said you'd been assaulted. What happened?"
She takes a deep breath and tells her side of the story.
* Steve Pennells is a senior reporter with Seven. Melissa George airs 9pm, Sunday March 19 on Seven's Sunday Night.
Legal note: Both Mr Blanc and Ms George have been convicted by the courts after the explosive September 7 row and physical altercation at their apartment.
Mr Blanc, with scratches on his face and torso, spent two nights in custody after Ms George presented at police with her injuries.
The case first went to court in October.
It was finalised only last month, and the courts fined both of them, after finding they had each attacked the other.
The judgement handed down in the Palais de Justice in central Paris stated Ms George's injuries would merit 11 days off work, under French law, while Mr Blanc's injuries would merit one day off work.
He received a one-month suspended jail term and was ordered to pay 1000 euros ($AUS1400) in compensation to Ms George.
Ms George was not sentenced to any jail term but received a 5000 euro (AUS$7000) fine, which was suspended and she was ordered to pay a token one euro (AUS$1.40) compensation to Mr Blanc.
Mr Blanc is also appealing his conviction.
Ms Laffont, whose previous clients include former president Nicolas Sarkozy, told News Corp that Mr Blanc had only acted in self-defence after Ms George attacked him.
"Mr Blanc has said since the start that he was forced to defend himself against Ms George's scratching and attacks,'' she said.
"Even the prosecutor said that he believed that 11 days was a bit much. She was hardly back home again (the night of the altercation) when she was filmed smiling."