Depardieu attack angers Deneuve

Actor says he no longer wants to be French as PM describes his move to Belgium as 'pathetic'

The star has spoken out against “bitter” remarks from another actor about Depardieu’s departure for Belgium

FILM star Catherine Deneuve has expressed “anger” and “disappointment” over virulent criticisms another actor made of tax exile Gérard Depardieu.

She was responding in an opinion piece in Libération after Philippe Torreton, in the same paper, addressed Depardieu in a tone of hectoring familiarity (with the informal tu), accusing him of “deserting the ship in the middle of a storm” for “sunnier [financial] climes for rich people like you”.

Torreton said: “Did you think people were going to approve of it? What were you expecting? A medal?” before descending into more personal remarks including accusing the actor of only being interested in himself and “dictator mates”.

He added: “We’ll get by without you to make this country a place where one can still, despite the financial crisis, make films and put on shows thanks to grants obtained by taxation... a country which you are leaving just when we need all your support. Goodbye.”

Deneuve said Torreton had made “cut-and-dried judgments” and was “agitated by petty meanness”.

He had also made some unjustifiable remarks about Depardieu’s physique and talent, she said. “The man has his sombre side,” she said [referring to various embarrassing incidents and legal problems] but he is a towering actor and you are only expressing your bitterness.”

“What would you have done in 1789? I’m still trembling over it,” she said, probably referring to the assassinations of French aristocrats by the revolutionaries.

The spat came as Russian premier Vladimir Putin offered a Russian passport to Depardieu. “If Gérard wants a residence permit or a Russian passport it’s a done deal,” he said.

Le Figaro noted that 40% of people in a survey it commissioned said they could “understand” Depardieu’s decision to live in Belgium where he will pay less tax.

Only 35% said they felt “shocked” by it, with more left-wing voters saying so then right-wing ones, and more people in older age groups than younger ones.

Pollsters Ifop said the results suggested that “elderly people have a more exacting notion of people’s rights and responsibilities towards their country”.

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GERARD Depardieu has handed back his passport and social security card and told the government he no longer wants to be French.

The 63-year-old actor described himself as a “true European” and “citizen of the world” in a letter addressed to the prime minister and president and published yesterday in the French newspaper Journal du Dimanche.

He wrote the letter after Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault described his decision to move to Belgium for tax reasons as “pathetic”.

Depardieu said he was leaving after paying 85% tax on his revenues for 2012. He added that in his 45 years of working in France he had paid around €145 million in tax.

He said was handing back his social security card which had never been used.

“All those who have left France have not been attacked as I have,” he wrote, saying his reasons for leaving were numerous and personal.

The actor put his €50 million Parisian property on the market over one week ago and has bought a house in Belgium.

His letter also made reference to the “pathetic” and “relentless prosecution” of his son, who was jailed for three years for possession of heroin, “while others escaped jail for much worse crimes”.

“I don't throw stones at all those who have cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes or drink too much, or those who fall asleep on their scooter: I'm one of them, as your dear media likes so much to repeat,” he said.

President Hollande said during a visit to Brussels last Friday that the government would look again at fiscal arrangements between France and Belgium.

“Everyone must have an ethical stance, regardless of the type of work they carry out,” said the president.

He joked that Depardieu should be wary as the mayor of Néchin, where they actor is due to move, is a fellow socialist.

The village, in the commune of Estaimpuis, is known for having several rich French tax exiles staying there, including the Auchan-owning Mulliez family. The village is just one kilometre from the border with France and more than one in four residents is French.

Depardieu is thought to have paid around €200,000 for his new homes that includes a pool.

In legal terms, the actor cannot renounce his French nationality but must follow the procedures needed to change to Belgian nationality (or any other country).

Photo: Georges Biard/Wikimedia

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