Gerard Depardieu is a great actor. He is also, like many showbiz types, a political naif.
He had earned a fair amount of sympathy–and caused considerable embarrassment for France’s Socialist President Francois Hollande–when he announced that he would move to Belgium to avoid a punitive, 75 percent tax rate that Hollande was attempting to impose on income over a million euros. (The tax hike has been stopped, for the time being, by a court.) Now he has forfeited all sympathy–and made himself into a laughing stock–by embracing Vladimir Putin. Quite literally.
The Russian president offered Depardieu Russian citizenship and Depardieu jumped at the opportunity to embrace Putin and all he stands for. Depardieu even had the temerity to describe Russia as a “great democracy,” which will come as news to Freedom House (and the rest of the world), which officially rates Russia as “not free.” Indeed the artistic community has actually been rallying against Putin lately because he approved the ridiculous prison sentence for the girl rock band Pussy Riot on grounds of blasphemy.
By going over the line in his tax protest, Depardieu is causing a backlash in France and engendering sympathy for Hollande. In the future maybe he should stick to reading scriptwriters’ words.