Gérard Depardieu has made headlines for things other than his acting before, but his decision to move to Belgium has taken the media – and French political circles – by storm. Although it is unlikely to affect his career, the Oscar nominee, in a letter published in today’s Journal Du Dimanche, says he is returning his French passport after being called “pathetic” by French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. The new French government has imposed a controversial 75% income tax on individuals earning more than 1M euros and Depardieu recently purchased a property across the French border in Néchin, Belgium where taxes are lower. This prompted Ayrault to tell France 2 television last week, “I find it quite pathetic to go just over the border. All this in order to not pay taxes.” Depardieu has inqured about obtaining a Belgian passport, the mayor of Néchin said Sunday, which would normally allow him to continue working in France under European Union rules. The actor is France’s best paid and perhaps most prolific. For 2012 and 2013, there are at least 10 films on his dance card and he may play a French politician embroiled in a sex scandal for Abel Ferrara later this year. Depardieu’s colorful reponse to Ayrault is excerpted below:

“Pathetic, you said ‘pathetic’ ? Now that’s pathetic!… I have always paid my taxes whatever the rate under all of the governments in power… The historical films in which I have participated demonstrate my love for France… Unfortunately, I have nothing left to do here, but I will continue to love the French people and the audience with whom I have shared so many emotions!… I am giving you back my passport and my social security… We no longer have the same country. I am a true European, a citizen of the world as my father always taught me… I’ve paid 145M euros in taxes in 45 years, I employ 80 people… I am not here to complain or to boast but I refuse the word ‘pathetic.’ Who are you to judge me this way, I ask you M. Ayrault… I ask you, who are you? Despite my excesses, my appetite and my love of life, I am a free man, sir, and I am going to remain polite.”