Netflix's 'Marseille' Casts Gerard Depardieu in Lead Role

Gerard Depardieu Citizenship and Tax Controversy

French movie star Gerard Depardieu has in the past made headlines with his conservative political views and his decision to pee on an airplane. Just in time for the holiday season, he caused a political and media firestorm by moving to a border town in Belgium to avoid higher taxes. In France, the top rate of income tax is scheduled to rise to 75 percent in 2013. Some celebrities have opposed the higher tax on the rich promoted by president Francois Hollande. In an open letter, the Oscar-nominated actor later responded to criticism and threatened to hand back his French passport in protest.

The French 'House of Cards' is the streaming video giant's first-ever French original series.

Gerard Depardieu has been cast as the lead in Netflix's Marseille.

The upcoming French series that has been compared to House of Cards is the streaming video giant's first-ever French original series. It is set to launch in early 2016 after originally being eyed for late 2015.

Netflix made the casting official on Friday after reports earlier in the year had said the show was hoping to land Depardieu.

The series, which is being shot entirely in France, centers on Robert Taro (Depardieu), mayor of the city for 25 years, who in the coming elections will face the young upstart he chose as his heir. The young contender will be played by Benoit Magimel.

Geraldine Pailhas (Don Juan DeMarco) and Nadia Fares (The Crimson Rivers) are also playing lead roles in Marseille, Netflix said. Among the directors are Florent Emilio Siri (Hostage), Xavier Gens (Hitman) and Cedric Anger (Next Time I'll Aim for the Heart).

The series was created by Dan Franck, who wrote Carlos with Olivier Assayas and created the France 3 series La Vie devant elles, which won the top prize at this year's Serie Mania festival.

Twitter: @georgszalai