Catherine Deneuve has defended fellow movie star Gerard Depardieu over his move to Belgium.
In an open letter Catherine Deneuve voiced fury that another actor, Philippe Torreton, had attacked Gerard Depardieu for leaving France “with a load of dosh”.
Catherine Deneuve said “he [Gerard Depardieu] is a great actor and you’re just expressing your resentment”. She starred with Gerard Depardieu in several classic French films.
Gerard Depardieu has criticized the Socialist government for its new 75% wealth tax.
Next year, the top rate of income tax in France is due to become 75% on earnings above 1 million euros ($1.3 million). Belgium’s highest tax rate is currently 50%.
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has condemned Gerard Depardieu’s decision as “shabby”.
Catherine Deneuve has defended fellow movie star Gerard Depardieu over his move to Belgium
In her letter, headlined “Monsieur Torreton…” in the left-wing daily Liberation, Catherine Deneuve accused Philippe Torreton of “pettiness”.
“To take aim at his physique! His talent! This <<mess>>you speak of – what right do you have, what democratic motive do you claim as grounds for your dirty condemnation?”
Gerard Depardieu, 63, announced earlier this month that he was moving just over the French border to the small Belgian town of Nechin.
Catherine Deneuve starred with him in some landmarks of French cinema, including The Last Metro and, more recently, the Franco-Belgian comedy, Potiche.
On Wednesday another star of French cinema, Brigitte Bardot, also defended Gerard Depardieu, saying he was the victim of “unfair vilification”.
“Even if he is a fan of bullfighting, that does not prevent him being an exceptional actor who represents France with a unique fame and popularity,” said Brigitte Bardot, a campaigner for animal rights.
On Thursday the row spread to Russia where President Vladimir Putin addressed the actor’s move abroad during his marathon annual news conference.
Vladimir Putin told a big live audience: “I’m sure the French authorities did not want to offend Mr. Depardieu. But if he’d like to have a Russian passport, consider it settled.”
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has described the decision of Gerard Depardieu to move to Belgium to avoid higher taxes as “shabby”.
Jean-Marc Ayrault suggested that Gerard Depardieu’s move to the small town of Nechin, just over the border from the French city of Lille, was unpatriotic at a time of cutbacks.
Nechin’s mayor revealed this week that Gerard Depardieu, 63, had taken up home there.
Some of France’s wealthiest citizens are feeling victimized by the Socialist government.
There is a general disgruntlement in business circles over the tax rates. Luxury goods magnate Bernard Arnault made headlines three months ago when he announced plans to relocate to Belgium, denying it was for tax reasons.
However, Gerard Depardieu’s departure is seen as less damaging to the government as his political views are known to be on the right and he is regarded as a rather grumpy, temperamental character.
Belgian residents do not pay wealth tax, which in France applies to individuals with assets above 1.3 million euros ($1.7 million), starting at a rate of 0.25%. Nor do they pay capital gains tax on share sales.
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault suggested that Gerard Depardieu’s move to Belgium, just over the border from the French city of Lille, was unpatriotic at a time of cutbacks
Next year, the top rate of income tax in France is due to become 75% on earnings above 1 million euros. It is currently 50% in Belgium.
Speaking on the France 2 TV channel, Jean-Marc Ayrault said: “I find this quite shabby… All that just to avoid paying tax.”
Gerard Depardieu was a “great star” whom “everyone loves as an artiste”, he added.
However, according to the prime minister: “Paying a tax is an act of solidarity, a patriotic act.”
French conservative opposition politician Jean-Francois Cope said the departure of Gerard Depardieu was “distressing for the country and its image”.
“You don’t see leading business figures or huge stars moving out of Belgium, Britain, Germany or Italy,” he added.
Gerard Depardieu is celebrated for such cinema roles as Cyrano de Bergerac and Obelix in the Asterix series, and can command 2 million euros per film.
The mayor of Nechin, Daniel Senesael, said the actor had other reasons for moving to his area, which is already home to some 2,800 French citizens including the Mulliez family, owners of French hypermarket chain Auchan and the Decathlon sports stores.
“I think he wanted to enjoy the atmosphere in Belgium, our identity, the rural, bucolic setting,” he told RTL radio.
However, it is quite obvious that the main reason for the move is for tax reasons.
It appears Gerard Depardieu’s new home is an old customs officer’s house, showing just how close it is to the border.