How do you say “can’t we all just get along?” in French? The infamous expression would fit perfectly. A week ago we ran the letter that French actor Gérard Depardieu had published in a French daily in response to that country’s prime minister calling him “pathetic” for emigrating to Belgium over the excessively high tax rate which was imposed on his revenues. Depardieu, who’s been a well-loved actor in France for over forty years, has diversified his holdings considerably acquiring land, buildings and vineyards. He’s made a viable contribution to his country only to face a tax rate of 85% of his income. He recently emigrated to Belgium to avoid this, and who can blame him for leaving? And yet, he inexplicably also gave up his French citizenship in the process.
Personal choice has turned into political statement, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Since his Belgian move, the controversy surrounding Depardieu’s “exil fiscal” has riled up the entertainment establishment. Thanks to the controversy Depardieu now knows exactly who’s a friend and who’s not.
There are those who condemn him, like popular singer Michel Sardou and actress Line Renaud.
Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve (pictured with Depardieu) and Fabrice Luchini have all affirmed their support of the “Green Card” actor. The latter also said, “Before you attack Depardieu you need to have a solid filmography.” Strangely enough, Vladimir Putin spoke publicly, too, commenting, “a Russian passport for Depardieu? O.K.”
Philippe Torreton, who himself is an actor, went so far as publish an op-ed in the leftist French daily Libération and did not mince his words, accusing him of leaving France at a bad economic time and acting selfishly, adding, we’ll get on fine without you.
I’m guessing these two aren’t going to share the marquee anytime soon.
France’s most famous humorist, Jamel Debbouze, said of Torreton’s machete op-ed, “doesn’t he have anything else to do? There are people who are truly hurting out there.”
Omar Sy, who co-starred in France’s biggest B.O. success “Les Intouchables” which will soon be remade into a U.S. version by Weinstein company nobly (or indifferently) said: “I do not want to judge others, everyone does as he pleases.”
Gérard Jugnot, a comedic actor and a close friend of Depardieu’s, said somewhat ominously, “he is not the only one” to leave France.
And François Hollande, in his usual manner of studied vacantness said, “as for myself, rather than to accuse this or that person, I want to acknowledge those who have a lot but who accept to pay their taxes here, to work here, to put others to work in France and to serve their country.”
Words to live by, indeed.