Gerard Depardieu: Russian needs a leader like Putin

Gérard Depardieu file photo

(Interfax – MOSCOW, June 29, 2013) Prominent French actor Gerard Depardieu, who recently became a citizen of Russia, believes Russia needs such a leader as President Vladimir Putin.

“Putin and I are friends. He is a very strong personality, and Russia needs exactly such kind of leader now,” Depardieu said at a press conference on Saturday following the press screening of the film Rasputin, in which he plays the lead role.

Depardieu said Putin had read the script. “I gave him the script to read and asked him whether it did not distort Russian history. Putin approved of this script, and this opened the doors to Tsarskoye Selo and Yusupov Palace for us,” he said.

Depardieu said the Russian soul was the most appealing thing in Grigory Rasputin to him. “When I was young, I read a lot of Dostoevsky, Akhmatova, and Mayakovsky, and I found the mystery of a Russian soul in Russian writers, which was always appealing to me. This is what I found very interesting in Rasputin – I mean the zeal and mystery of a Russian soul,” Depardieu said.

Talking about his work in the film, Depardieu said Grigory Rasputin’s profession was somewhat familiar to him. “My grandmother was a faith healer, and I remember lines of people in the grandmother’s corridor, who had given up the hope to be helped by traditional medicine. I also knew Metropolitan Tikhon, who was able to heal merely by looking at you, and so healing is somewhat familiar to me,” he said.

Depardieu believes there is some of Rasputin in everyone. “After all, who is Rasputin? This is life energy, this is vitality, which lives in each of us. In this sense, we all are Rasputins to some extent. This is just as eternal a character as, for instance, Quasimodo from The Hunchback of Notre-Dame,” Depardieu said.

The film Rasputin was shot for French television in 2011 and was reedited and somewhat amended for the Russian audience in 2013. The author of the Russian version is filmmaker Irakly Kvirikadze.

Depardieu believes the French version was more lyrical. “The version of Rasputin that was shown on French television is a more lyrical film than the Russian version. The Russian version is more pragmatic, with the voice over explaining to us what is happening all the time,” he said.

Rasputin is to close the 35th Moscow International Film Festival at Rossiya Theater, formerly known as Pushkinsky Cinema, on Saturday evening.

Depardieu reiterated once again at the press conference that, by acquiring Russian citizenship, he did not cease to be a Frenchman. “You can’t change your ethnicity anyway, you can only change the country you live in and your passport. And when the world was laughing at me after I got the Russian passport, I told everybody: laugh all you want, but look: France’s unemployment rate is 12%. Is there anything of the sort in Russia?”