PARIS: Gerard Depardieu (pictured) spurned a Paris drink driving court appearance yesterday and instead went to Montenegro to prepare a film in which the larger-than-life French star will play Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
The no-show means the hulking actor, embroiled in a bitter tax row that saw him take Russian nationality and angrily vow to quit France, will now be tried by a criminal court and could get up to two years in jail.
The Cyrano de Bergerac, Green Card and Asterix & Obelix star, who has already pleaded guilty to driving his scooter while intoxicated, could not attend court because he was in Montenegro, his lawyer Eric de Caumont told reporters.
The 64-year-old was in the Balkan nation to meet producers of the film in which he will play the disgraced ex-IMF boss Strauss-Kahn. A police official there said that rumours he was seeking Montenegran citizenship were false. Depardieu has said he wants the role because he did not like Strauss-Kahn, who was tipped to be the next French president until a sordid US sex scandal ended his career, because he was “like all French people, a little arrogant”.
The actor, whose highly-publicised flight into tax exile has embarrassed President Francois Hollande, was arrested in Paris in November after falling off a scooter he was riding while three times over the legal alcohol limit.
If he had turned up yesterday in court he would have escaped with a small fine and penalty points on his licence. Now the rotund actor, whose many previous exploits include urinating in a bottle on a plane, faces criminal proceedings.
Depardieu hit the headlines in December when he bought a house just over the border in Belgium after accusing the French Socialist government of punishing “success, creativity and talent” with allegedly excessive taxes. That prompted Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to brand his move as “shabby and unpatriotic” — which in turn prompted the actor to threaten to give up his French citizenship.
The saga became ever more farcical when Russian President Vladimir Putin, eyeing a potential propaganda coup, offered the star of dozens of films Russian nationality.
Depardieu leapt at the chance, travelling last weekend to get his new passport and for some hugs and a meal with the Russian strongman in his sumptuous dacha in the Black Sea resort
of Sochi. AFP