France loves me because I'm a drunken rebel – Depardieu
GERARD Depardieu has claimed that he was on the way to owning "seven passports" but that the French still loved him because he had the image they admired of a "rebel who shakes things up and is sometimes drunk".
In his first major interview with the French press since his heated row with the Socialist government over a "supertax" on the rich, Depardieu (64) claimed yesterday he was on course to having "seven passports from several countries I love" – once his latest request for Algerian nationality was granted.
"It would avoid me having to ask for visas," said the actor, who will soon play disgraced IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in the film 'Welcome To New York'.
Depardieu controversially moved to Belgium late last year to avoid paying a planned 75pc tax on millionaire earners in France – a decision derided as "pathetic" by Jean-Marc Ayrault, the French prime minister. He was then granted Russian nationality, taking up residence at 1 Democracy Street in Saransk, capital of the republic of Mordovia, notorious for its gulags.
Despite this, he said his dispute with the French government was "over", and that the majority of French people still loved him. The actor is facing a €4,500 fine and maximum two-year prison term at a ruling next Friday for falling off his scooter in Paris while inebriated.
"I'm sometimes drunk, but my drunkenness is part of my larger-than-life (persona). It's this hooligan spirit that (Russian president Vladimir) Putin really likes," Depardieu added. (© Daily Telegraph, London)