French actor Gérard Depardieu has been accused of rape and sexual assault by a 22-year-old actress. The French public prosecutor has opened a preliminary investigation into the allegations after the unnamed actress made a complaint to police on Monday in Bouches-du-Rhône, southern France, over an assault alleged to have occurred at Depardieu’s home in Paris’s Left Bank earlier this month, according to BBC.
Depardieu's accuser is an actress and author who claims to have known the actor before the alleged crimes took place.
The actress was "devastated" by the alleged attacks, her agent was quoted as saying. Prosecutors in Aix-en-Provence reportedly referred the investigation to police and prosecutors in the French capital.
Depardieu’s lawyer Hervé Temime said the actor “absolutely” refuted any accusation of assault or rape. “I regret the public nature of this process which poses a major prejudice to Gérard Depardieu, whose innocence I am convinced will be recognized,” he said in a statement in which he also revealed that he had "a long meeting" with the famous French actor before being convinced of his innocence.
Depardieu, 69, is one of France’s biggest international stars and has made more than 180 films. He has worked with top directors including François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, while also playing popular characters such as Obelix in the Asterix films. He won best actor at Cannes for playing the title role in the 1990 film 'Cyrano de Bergerac' and was nominated for an Oscar for the same.
The same year, he also co-starred in Peter Weir's comedy 'Green Card', winning a Golden Globe Award and later went on to star in many big-budget Hollywood films as well, including Ridley Scott's '1492: Conquest of Paradise', Kenneth Branagh's 'Hamlet', Randall Wallace's 'The Man in the Iron Mask', and Ang Lee's Oscar-winning film 'Life of Pi'.
He is also a Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur, the highest French order for military and civil merits.
Depardieu sparked a huge outcry in 2013 by leaving France and taking Russian nationality over proposed tax hike on the rich in his country.
Russian President Vladimir Putin presented him with his new citizenship, and the actor and Depardieu was subsequently full of praise in an interview to Komsomolskaya Pravda daily.