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France’s Depardieu to play Stalin in new movie

Vasily Maximov, AFP | Gérard Depardieu (right) is set to play Josef Stalin in a film directed by fellow French actress Fanny Ardant (left).

French actor Gérard Depardieu’s love affair with Russia is set for a new twist as he prepares to play Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in a forthcoming movie, his press representative has confirmed.


Depardieu, who was made a Russian citizen by Kremlin strongman Vladimir Putin, will feature in a screen adaptation of a 2013 novel called "Le Divan de Staline" (Stalin's Sofa), the representative said, confirming a story in The Hollywood Reporter.

The novel, written by Jean-Daniel Baltassat, is set in the Soviet Union of the 1950s, centering on a young artist who is commissioned to create a monument to Stalin but faces scrutiny by the KGB, the Reporter said.

The movie business journal said the film would be directed by fellow French cinema icon Fanny Ardant, who has played alongside Depardieu in numerous movies.

It will be produced by a French-Portuguese company, Leopardo Filmes, while the Moscow-based studio Mosfilm will provide costumes and props.

Depardieu, 67, is one of France's most successful actors, winning huge praise for his roles in "Cyrano de Bergerac," "Les Miserables," "Jean de Florette" and other films. He is best known abroad for the romantic comedy "Green Card".

But he has repeatedly made headlines in his country of birth for stirring controversy and backing unpopular causes.

Russian citizenship

Depardieu was given Russian citizenship by presidential decree in 2013 after publicly criticising France's high taxes and taking up residence abroad.

He has since marketed a "Proud to be Russian" watch range and announced plans to open a Moscow restaurant called "Gérard" and launched an organic vodka brand.

In separate interviews this year, he has praised Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko – condemned for rights abuses by monitoring groups – as "a nice guy" and described Americans as "a people who have constantly destroyed others."

"They fought each other, destroyed the Indians, after that they perpetrated slavery, then there was the civil war. After that, they were the first to use the atomic bomb... No, I prefer being Russian," he was quoted as saying.

The larger-than-life actor has been involved in a number of Russian film projects, including a recent Rasputin biopic, in which he played Czarina Alexandra's notorious confidant.

Earlier this year, Depardieu said he was planning a film about French fighter aces who fought alongside Soviet pilots on the Eastern Front during World War II.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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