21:45 GMT18 September 2020
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    The legendary film and theatre actor, known for his performances in dozens of French and Hollywood films, from Cyrano de Bergerac to the Asterix and Obelix series to The Man in the Iron Mask, was granted Russian citizenship in 2013, and has repeatedly spoken out in defense of Russia and its president.

    Gerard Depardieu has given his perspective on the current state of French politics, saying that although he fondly remembers his friendships with Francois Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac, he has less enthusiasm for current President Emmanuel Macron.

    “[Macron] phoned me two, three times when I was in Albania,” the actor recalled in an interview with Canal+. “But I said ‘no, I don’t want to meet. This isn’t my world…I didn’t vote in France, but I did in [the Russian elections in 2018], in the Russian Embassy.”

    “I was close to [Nicolas] Sarkozy because I more or less understood him,” the 71-year-old actor said, adding that he had a friendship with President Francois Mitterrand as well despite disagreeing with some of the socialist politician’s politics. “We had a bond,” Depardieu said. “I spent long nights in an apartment over there at Elysee Palace.”

    Skipping over President Francois Hollande, Depardieu also recalled that he was “very sympathetic” to President Jacque Chirac, and recalled an instance when he offered him some advice. “He told me ‘Gerard, I have a big problem: I’m not on television, I have a difficult time explaining myself’. So I told him ‘You know what – say that, saw what you just told me.”

    Asked about his affection for Russia, Depardieu admitted that despite having Russian citizenship, he doesn’t know the country “too well,” but noted that he “loves Russians, their literature, music, culture. But at the same time I know that this is a difficult country.”

    As for his friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the actor said that “yes, I laugh a lot with him. But it’s not like we see each other every 3-4 months…I know journalists think he’s a monster. That may be the case, but I never saw a monster before me. The Russian people are very happy. Okay, one can’t put it that way, but wherever I’ve been...of course there are some things that are unacceptable. But I haven’t seen them.”

    Scooter Incident

    The interview follows an incident in Paris on Friday in which police stopped Depardieu while he was driving a scooter in a state of inebriation. According to Le Point, after being cited and having his scooter confiscated, Depardieu reportedly told police that he no longer wants to be French and prefers Russia and Putin.

    Depardieu was granted Russian citizenship in 2013 after a tax row with the French government after then President Hollande moved to raise taxes on the wealthy to 75 percent. Since then, he has repeatedly spoke out in defence of Russia in the West, demanding in 2018 that Russian athletes be allowed to compete under their national flag at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, criticizing Europe’s subservience to US foreign policy, and getting banned from entering Ukraine due to his support for Russia in the wake of the Crimea crisis.

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