Netflix is reportedly eyeing Gerard Depardieu to play a scheming politician who’s kind of like Kevin Spacey’s Francis Underwood in an original series that sounds kind of like House Of Cards. According to Deadline, the eight-episode series, Marseille, would be Netflix’s first French-language original production. Netflix’s European operations chief dismisses the report as “pure rumor mill,” possibly because the project has so far been wildly unpopular in France.
The project, created by noted French author and screenwriter Dan Franck, is being billed as a “French House Of Cards,” but the premise does sound different. While Spacey’s Underwood is a schemer who betrays his rivals (and allies) in order to ascend the ladder of national politics, Depardieu’s Robert Taro would be the long-time incumbent mayor of the titular French city who finds himself running against his own protégé. So although the rivalry between a pumpkin-headed veteran and his eager successor sounds more like the Leno/O’Brien brouhaha at The Tonight Show, it’s probably easier for reps to shorthand the project as “French House Of Cards,” especially if Depardieu intends to break the fourth wall, unwind with some first-person shooters on his Playstation, and screw around with ambitious young journalists. But don’t expect him to keep his cigarette habit a secret—this is France, after all.
Such a move would be a homecoming of sorts for Depardieu, currently Russia’s most famous movie star. After drunkenly crashing his scooter and skipping his hearing, Depardieu suddenly decided that France wanted to tax too much of his hard-earned fortune. Following a highly public dust-up, Depardieu fled into the open arms of Russia, a country well known for its laissez-faire approach to redistributing personal wealth. Depardieu, who has since become a Russian citizen, did return to France as a “visitor” last year to perform in a stage play, but returning to film a series would indicate that he would be spending much more time in his homeland. It’s not clear if such a longer-term move would require obtaining the correct documentation.