French actor Gerard Depardieu has been charged with rape and sexual assault allegedly committed in 2018 against an actress in her 20s.
The 72-year-old is alleged to have repeatedly attacked the young woman – who cannot be named for legal reasons – over a number of days in August 2018.
It follows a series of #MeToo complaints against powerful men in the Paris arts establishment who are said to have raped or otherwise abused young women working as models and actresses.
Depardieu’s alleged victim is said to have been involved in play rehearsals in the French capital at the time of the rapes.
Depardieu – who made his names in Hollywood films such as Green Card and Cyrano de Bergerac –allegedly invited her back to his Paris mansion to ‘help her with her career’.
A first probe of the rape accusations against Depardieu was dropped for lack of evidence but later reopened, leading to criminal charges filed in December, a judicial source told AFP on Tuesday.
The French actor was initially accused of assaulting and raping an actress in her 20s at his Paris home in August 2018.
French actor Gerard Depardieu has been charged with rape and sexual assault allegedly committed in 2018 against an actress in her 20s
Gerard Depardieu with his partner Clementine Igou at a film premier in May 2007
Depardieu pictured in the 1998 American action film ‘The Man In The Iron Mask’
A probe into the allegations was dropped in 2019 but the actress subsequently relaunched proceedings, Paris prosecutors said last year.
Depardieu’s lawyer, Herve Temime, told AFP that the actor, who is free but under judicial supervision, ‘completely rejects the accusations’.
According to a source close to the case, Depardieu is a friend of the actress’s family.
Some reports have suggested Depardieu and the actress were rehearsing a scene of a theatre play, but the source said ‘there was nothing professional about the encounter’.
The actor’s lawyer, Hervé Temime said his client was now free on bail, and was ‘sorry that this information has been made public.’
The woman’s lawyer, Elodie Tuaillon-Hibon, said that she hoped her client’s ‘private sphere will be respected’ as the case unfolds.
Ms Tuaillon-Hibon said her client ‘requested privacy’ and would remain anonymous, in line with her legal fight.
She said her client had been able to ‘automatically reopen the case’, despite it being closed originally. There was no immediate indication as to what new evidence had come to light.
Described as a controversial and larger-than-life character, Depardieu became the face of French cinema due to roles in films such as such as Cyrano de Bergerac, Jean de Florette and Camille Claudel.
He has also had a successful international career, having made more than 180 films, working among others with Peter Weir in Green Card and with Ridley Scott in 1492.
He has also acted in Cyrano de Bergerac in 1990, The Man in the Iron Mask in 1998, and Life of Pi in 2012.
The preliminary investigation was opened on August 27, 2018 after the young woman filed a complaint near the southern city of Aix-en-Provence for rape and sexual aggression against the star.
The French actor was initially accused of assaulting and raping an actress in her 20s at his Paris home in August 2018
Depardieu with French actress Isabelle Huppert as they pose during the photocall for ‘Valley of Love’ at the 68th annual Cannes Film Festival, in Cannes, France in 2015
It was then passed on to officers in Paris but the probe was dropped after nine months in early 2019 after investigators failed to gather enough proof to proceed to formal charges.
At the time, Depardieu’s lawyer, Herve Temime, said the actor ‘absolutely denies any rape, any sexual assault, any crime’ and dismissed the complaint as ‘groundless.’
The young woman relaunched proceedings by acting as an ‘injured party’ – which under French law almost always leads to a case being examined by an investigating magistrate.
Depardieu’s made his name in the 1974 film ‘Going Places’ after which he enjoyed a meteoric rise, demonstrating talent and allure in wide-ranging roles in classics, dramas and comedies alike.
In 2013 Depardieu sparked a huge outcry by leaving France and taking Russian nationality in protest at a proposed tax hike on the rich in his homeland.
Depardieu’s made his name in the 1974 film ‘Going Places’ after which he enjoyed a meteoric rise, demonstrating talent and allure in wide-ranging roles in classics, dramas and comedies alike
Russian President Vladimir Putin treated him to a dinner to present him with his new citizenship and Depardieu was subsequently full of praise in an interview to Komsomolskaya Pravda daily.
The French actor’s romantic history has been turbulent with him divorcing his first wife actress Elisabeth Guignot in 1996.
The couple married in 1970 and share two children, Guillaume and Julie.
His son Guillaume died in 2008, aged 37.
While separated from Guignot, he had a daughter named Roxanne, with model Karine Silla in 1992.
Depardieu dated Carole Bouquet from 1997 until 2005. Ms Bouquet is also a successful French actress who plaid Melina Havelock in the 1981 James Bond film For Your Eyes Only.
Most recently, he ha been linked to Clémentine Igou, a r 41-year-old Harvard University graduate.
The pair met in Italy 2004 and were reportedly attracted to each other due to their mutual love of wine.
The couple have lived together since 2005 and have a 30-year age gap.
As well as he romantic life, the actor has been in the headlines for his public row over tax arrangements in France and his decision to become a Russian resident.
The Cyrano de Bergerac star took Belgian residence after a bitter dispute with the French government over high rates of tax.
Described as a controversial and larger-than-life character, Depardieu (attending the opening of the Beiteddine International Art Festival in 2019) became the face of French cinema due to roles in films such as Cyrano de Bergerac, Jean de Florette and Camille Claudel
He later became a Russian citizen in 2013 after befriending President Vladimir Putin.
The Green Card star caused controversy at the time after slamming his home country.
He described France as a place ‘populated by foreigners and imbeciles making wine and stinky cheese’.
While in 2014, he was accused of throwing water over revellers beneath his Italian flat after being annoyed by their noise.
And in 2011 he had to apologise for urinating into a bottle on a flight from Paris to Dublin after being told by the flight crew that he would have to wait at least 15 minutes until he could use the onboard lavatories.
The actor was fined in 2013 after falling off his scooter while driving drunk in Paris.
He failed to turn up at the hearing at which he was fined €4,000 and had his licence suspended for six months.
Depardieu has also never been afraid of taking a swipe at the film industry, slamming the Oscars in 2016.
He said: ‘Cinema doesn’t exist any more. There is a world of entertainment and people, terrorised by the Americans, don’t know any more which language to speak.’
The Cyrano de Bergerac star took Belgian residence after a bitter dispute with the French government over high rates of tax, and later became a Russian citizen
‘There are 10 stars and they are all American. Their films are crammed with special effects… and the rest of the world of cinema is struggling to exist.’
In 2014, Depardieu claimed he sometimes drinks up to 14 bottles of wine per day.
He told French magazine So Film: ‘I can’t drink like a normal person. I can absorb 12, 13, 14 bottles per day.
‘In the morning, it starts at home with champagne or red wine before 10am, then again champagne.’
Gerard said he breaks up the wine intake with a little aniseed liqueur pastis.
However, his behaviour was condemned at the time by French mental health expert Professor Michel Lejoyeux, who blasted French attitudes to the heavy consumption of alcohol, and the media’s admiration of his alcohol intake.
He said: ‘We smile about heavy users, calling them ‘bon vivants’, while non-consumption is not allowed. In society, it is the one who does not drink who will feel guilty.
‘A consumption of 14 bottles a day is beyond all data, all thresholds and health references of the World Health Organization.
‘This is proof of the positive vision we have of alcohol poisoning.’
Previously Depardieu made headlines after he was banned from an Air France flight for urinating in the aisle as it prepared to take off, forcing the plane to turn back to its parking spot.
A passenger on the flight said Depardieu appeared to be drunk and insisted he be allowed to use the bathroom during takeoff, when passengers must remain seated.
The case follows French film director Luc Besson in January being classed as an ‘assisted witness’ in a court case over allegations that he raped an actress.
The case is the second brought against the ‘Fifth Element’ director by the Dutch-Belgian actress Sand Van Roy, who has accused Besson, 60, of repeatedly raping her over a two-year period.
In France, assisted witness status indicates that a judge considers there is some evidence to suggest culpability, but not enough to charge the suspect.
Van Roy, who has renounced her anonymity, initially filed a rape claim against Besson in May 2018, a day after meeting him at the five-star Bristol Hotel in Paris.
Others who have been accused of rape include director Roman Polanski, who is also wanted in the United States for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977.
Big names in the world of Paris fashion who have been accused of rape include the former scout Jean-Luc Brunel, who was a friend of the late American convicted paedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.