Depardieu skips court to set up Strauss-Kahn role

Tue Jan 8, 2013 3:09pm EST
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By Alexandria Sage

PARIS (Reuters) - French film star Gerard Depardieu skipped a court hearing on drink-driving charges on Tuesday as he pursued a headline-grabbing world tour that has seen him set up an alleged tax haven home in Belgium and pick up a passport in Russia.

The garrulous actor's lawyer said he had missed the hearing in Paris because he was now in Montenegro for meetings about a film in which he will play disgraced former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

He was not obliged to attend the pre-trial hearing, but the no-show means the case will turn into a full trial, guaranteeing another day in the spotlight for Depardieu, already caught up in a public row with French authorities over his tax status.

It could also lead to the 64-year-old star of "Cyrano de Bergerac" and "Asterix and Obelix" getting a tougher sentence if convicted - in theory up to two years in prison.

"Despite wanting to be there and meet the judges and in no way to escape justice, Gerard Depardieu absolutely could not be present," his lawyer Eric de Caumont told a scrum of reporters outside the Paris courtroom on Tuesday.

He said Depardieu was in Montenegro negotiating a deal for the film about Strauss-Kahn, who was seen as the next president of France until a U.S. sex scandal ended his career.

Depardieu also met Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, who suggested he might become a cultural ambassador for Montenegro.

Asked if that meant he planned to add Montenegrin citizenship to his growing list, Depardieu said: "I'm not collecting passports ...   Continued...

French actor Gerard Depardieu gestures during his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi January 5, 2013. REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Pool