Depardieu to play 'Instinct' gangster

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PARIS -- Gerard Depardieu will add his famous face to the first installment of Jean-Francois Richet's two-film project about infamous gangster Jacques Mesrine, known in France as "the man with 1,000 faces."

"L'Instinct de Mort" (Death Instinct) and "L'Ennemi Public no.1" (Public Enemy No. 1), penned by Abdel Raouf Dafri and produced by Thomas Langmann's production company La Petite Reine, will highlight the murders and mysteries surrounding Mesrine, played by Vincent Cassel.

Depardieu will play Mesrine's fellow gangster and mentor in "Instinct," and familiar faces Marion Cotillard and Eva Green also are rumored to be attached to the €35 million-€40 million ($46.2 million-$52.8 million) budget venture.

The confirmed cast for "Enemy" includes Samuel Le Bihan, Olivier Gourmet, Jean-Pierre Cassel and Gilles Lellouche.

The project came close to being made four years ago with Barbet Schroeder at the helm and financing provided by UGC, but Cassel pulled out and the films were put on hold until Langmann took over and opted to produce under his La Petite Reine production banner.

Canal Plus and M6 Films are on board as co-producers with additional financial backing from France's Haute-Normandie region. The movies will be filmed in reverse order, with "Enemy" ready to begin its 15-week shoot in France on April 30 and "Instinct" to commence filming on Aug. 20 in France, Canada, Spain and Algeria.

Pathe will handle the films' French release and international sales, which already have begun at this year's markets.

Helmer Richet's most recent pic, "Assault on Precinct 13," attracted a large crowd in the U.S. with more than $20 million in boxoffice receipts during its early 2005 release.
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