LE FIGARO, FRANCE 24, LIBERATION (France), DAILY TELEGRAPH (UK)
PARIS– French acting legend Gérard Depardieu has come under criticism for reportedly declaring permanent residency in Belgium to duck out on France's high taxes on the rich.
Left-wing newspaper Libération took a shot at the 63-year-old following confirmation that the actor has taken up residence in Nechin, a tiny town just a few miles across the border in Belgium, to flee the new 75% French tax on the wealthiest.
"The Manneken fisc (alluding to Brussels Manneken Pis statue – Fisc is the French tax agency). For ages, he [Depardieu] has only been interested in money."
The now XXL Depardieu became a French cinema icon in 1974 after appearing (much more slimly) in the ramshackle roadmovie Les Valseuses directed by Bertrand Blier.
He received the Golden Globe for Best Actor in 1991 for Green Card and starred in several hit movies including Cyrano de Bergerac and Astérix & Obélix.
In 2008, he was France's best paid actor with estimated revenues of 3.54 million euros, reports Le Figaro. He is also the owner of several restaurants, vineyards and shops in Paris.
During the 2012 presidential election, Depardieu backed right wing President Sarkozy after claiming to be a Socialist and Communist supporter for many years. He addressed voters at a Sarkozy rally.
But more than his money or politics, or even acting skills, what has made Depardieu so well-known is his outspoken, outrageous and free-wheeling persona. His notorious alcohol and cigarette consumption as well as his lack political correctness have made him one of France's most famous characters abroad.
Booze and sandwiches
On November 30, The actor was arrested for driving his scooter drunk and falling in the streets of Paris. The actor was found to have 1.8 grams per litre of alcohol in his blood, far beyond the legal limit for driving in France, which is 0.5 grams. The police had to give him sandwiches and water to sober him up.
This past summer, he was accused of punching a motorist whom he said was driving dangerously.
Kampai, Monsieur President!
It was not the first time Depardieu got rough 'n tumble. The co-president of the Saké Drinkers Association headbutted a photographer in Florence, Italy, in 2005, knocking out the paparazzo.
His most memorable public display took place in the summer of 2011 when he outraged fellow passengers by urinating in the aisle of an Air France flight as it prepared to take off, forcing the plane to return to its parking spot.
Depardieu, who appeared drunk onboard, insisted to be allowed to use the lavatory during takeoff. "I need to piss, I need to piss," urged the actor when passengers were required to remain seated.
French actor Edouard Baer, his travel companion on the plane, claims he gave his pal an empty bottle to pee but the bottle quickly overflowed. Depardieu then decided to finish on the floor.
"I offered to clean the mess," he later said in his defense, after he was removed from the flight and placed in another airplane.
He also blamed a dodgy prostate for the humiliating event.
His entourage said the actor, who said he could drink up to six bottles of wine a day, was "stone cold sober" when the incident occurred, reports the Daily Telegraph.
Depardieu has also made himself famous for lending legitimacy to the autocratic regimes of Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov and Chechen ruler Ramzan Kadyrov.
He has collaborated with Karimov's daughter, Gulnara, on a duet and has agreed to star in a planned Uzbek serial on the Silk Road which has been penned by her, reports France 24.
Source: Twitpic - @hgillijns