How France’s Most Beloved Actor Ended Up At War With Hollande’s Socialist Government

gerard depardieu

[credit provider=”France24″ url=””]

Gérard Dépardieu has won every acting award ever invented in France. He was nominated for an Oscar in 1990. He’s also dated nearly every famous French actress that came along between 1970 and 1990.And now he’s left the country, claiming taxes are too high.

In September, President Francois Hollande proposed a new 75 per cent levy on all earnings over 1 million euros.

Last week, Dépardieu — a wealthy man — announced he had purchased a house in a small Belgian town just over the French border in a bid to escape the tax.

Learning of the news, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called the move “petty.” In response, Dépardieu wrote an open letter to Ayrault denouncing the government’s own “petty” treatment of him, and saying he would be giving up his French passport.

“I’m leaving because you now believe success, creativity, talent — really, anything that makes one unique — should be punished.”

According to Libération, he later joked he had received a Russian passport from Vladmir Putin. (Dépardieu has appeared in a number of ads for Russian firms.)

Many French aren’t seeing the punchline. Fellow actor Philippe Torrenton this week composed a “savage” response to Dépardieu’s attitude. “The problem, Gérard, is that your roadtrips always end up in the same ditch — you only think of yourself, your cash, your dictator frends…”

According to a new poll, 56% of France disapproves of Dépardieu’s actions — although just 28 per cent of those identifying as right-leaning do. Far-right sympathizer and fellow screen legend Bridgette Bardot recently voiced her solidarity with Dépardieu’s decision.

It’s too early to say how the saga will end. The 75 per cent levy has actually not gone into force, but most think it’s a foregone conclusion. Nor is Dépardieu the only French one-percenter to break out of the Hexagon. LVMH boss Bernard Arnault also recently switched his address to Belgium, although he swore he would fulfil his fiscal obligations to the republic.  

Meanwhile, you can catch Dépardieu in Ang Lee’s new film “Life of Pi” now in theatres.