‘Rasputin’ Premieres in Moscow Without Star Gerard Depardieu

Alexei Timofeyev

The star with a Russian passport, who is shooting a soccer film project and is about to open a wine bar, didn't show up for the launch of the reworked France-Russia co-production.

MOSCOW – The Russian version of the long-awaited France-Russia co-production Rasputin, starring Gerard Depardieu, premiered in Moscow on Wednesday. However, the French actor, who got Russian citizenship earlier this year, didn’t show up for the premiere.

The movie centers on Grigori Rasputin, a peasant mystic who had a lot of influence on Russia’s last czar, Nikolai II.

The film was initially made for French television and directed by Josee Dayan. However, Russian network Rossiya 1, which co-produced the film, judged it to be too long and slow and decided to turn it into a feature for Russian theaters.

Veteran director and screenwriter Irakli Kvirikadze was brought in to work on the Russian version, which was substantially re-edited and redubbed and new music was used.

“The process was very productive, and we saw the film change,” Kvirikadze was quoted as saying by Russian wire service RIA Novosti. “I believe that it became better, more energetic.”

Kvirikadze also praised Depardieu’s performance, adding that the French actor had wanted to play Rasputin for many years.

But Depardieu didn’t show up in Moscow for the premiere.

The actor, who has been filming a soccer project in France, spent Friday in his newly adopted country of Belgium, opening the Condroz-Huy car rally and cheering on his friend, Corsican driver Loic Mattei.

Next week, he is scheduled to open the first of a planned 20 wine bars and specialty shops. The first location will open in the village of Estiampuis, Belgium, where Depardieu bought a house for tax reasons. The bars, called "Cave Depardieu" ("Depardieu’s Cellar"), will offer bottles by fellow celebrities, including director Francis Ford Coppola, Amour star Jean-Louis Trintignant and Angelina Jolie's and Brad Pitt’s Chateau Miraval.

In addition to Depardieu, Rasputin features French actress Fanny Ardant and several Russian stars, including Vladimir Mashkov, Konstantin Khabensky, Kseniya Rappoport and Danila Kozlovsky.

Rhonda Richford in Paris contributed to this report.