Depardieu: 'Misunderstanding' Over France
Veteran French actor Gerard Depardieu says the controversy over his quitting France was "a big misunderstanding" and that he loves his country.
In an interview released on the eve of his housewarming party in Belgium, the actor said: "I never left! I refuse to be shut in by borders, that's completely different."
Depardieu told Figaro Magazine: "I am a free man. I feel at home everywhere in Europe.
"This whole story is a big misunderstanding," he said, adding: "I love France as much as ever. It's my country."
Depardieu, 64, made global headlines late last year when he decided to take up residency in Belgium after the Socialist government sought to impose a 75% tax rate on annual incomes over one million euros (£859,000).
On Saturday he intends to celebrate moving into the house he bought in 2012 in the Belgian village of Nechin, near the border with France.
After buying the house, Depardieu was granted Russian citizenship by President Vladimir Putin. The decision stirred up controversy, as have his friendships with Putin and Chechnya's strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
But Depardieu has sought to play down the move, granting a series of interviews and returning to Paris to shoot a film in which he plays the creator of the FIFA World Cup, Jules Rimet.
But the actor still hit out in the interview at President Francois Hollande's Socialist government, saying: "I don't think we can pretend that everything is going well (in France).
"People can really feel the gap between what the politicians are saying and the reality of their daily lives. This rift will eventually burst into the open, maybe during the next elections."
Hailed as one of the greatest actors of his generation, Depardieu starred in films including Green Card, Cyrano de Bergerac, Jean de Florette and the Asterix & Obelix series. He also owns a number of businesses including vineyards.
But in recent years Depardieu has become as famed for his off-screen antics as for his acting talents.
He was fined earlier this year after falling off his scooter while driving drunk in Paris and in 2011 generated global headlines when he tried to urinate in a bottle aboard a plane as it prepared to take off from Paris for Dublin.