Gerard Depardieu's Bizarre Path to Russian Citizenship

Gerard Depardieu Russia – H 2013

Gerard Depardieu Russia – H 2013

From the first tax fight to Vladimir Putin's open arms, how the French actor gave up Gaul for good.

This story first appeared in the Jan. 18 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

French actor Gerard Depardieu has given up Gaul for good. After an epic fight with his home country's government over a proposed tax increase of up to 75 percent on top earners, Depardieu, 64, threatened to move to Belgium. Now he's officially a Russian citizen and Vladimir Putin's new BFF. What happened? THR rounds up the highlights of his month in the international spotlight.

DEC. 7

Depardieu appears in Nechin, Belgium, where 27 percent of citizens are French "tax exiles," to register as a new resident.

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DEC. 13

Puts his 20-room, 20,000-square-foot Paris home up for sale for $65 million.

DEC. 18

Le Monde reports the actor has told friends that he has three countries that are willing to give him a passport.

JAN. 3

In an odd move, Putin signs a decree granting the Green Card star citizenship.

STORY: Russian President Vladimir Putin Grants Gerard Depardieu Citizenship

JAN. 4

Depardieu accepts Putin's offer with a letter calling the country "a great democracy."

JAN. 6

Russian TV airs video of Depardieu and Putin embracing at Putin's vacation home. The Kremlin confirms a passport is issued.

Later, Depardieu flies to snowy Saransk, Mordovia, where he is greeted with pancakes and traditional songs and shown waving his new passport. Governor Vladimir Volkov offers him a free apartment as well as the job of the region's culture minister.

JAN. 8

Depardieu is a no-show for a Paris court date stemming from a Nov. 29 arrest for drunken driving. The decision to skip the hearing and remain in Switzerland, where he was attending an event, means the actor's case moves to a criminal court, which could result in fines of up to $5,900 (€4,500) and two years in jail.