Gerard Depardieu says he is ready to die for Russia

French-born actor Gerard Depardieu has said he is prepared to die for his adoptive homeland of Russia, but wouldn't want to die in "today's France".

Depardieu has been a vocal critic of the French government's taxation programme, arguing that the 75% annual tax rate on incomes over €1m punishes "success, creation and talent". In 2012 he moved to Belgium, where the tax rate was lower and then accepted a Russian citizenship in 2013, renouncing his French citizenship.

According to French celebrity magazine Voici the actor has now fired back at critics of his new allegiance to Moscow, telling the June issue of Vanity Fair that he has never felt French and "did not share the values [he] was raised with". Instead, Depardieu had much kinder words for his new homeland.

"I am prepared to die for Russia because the people there are strong. I absolutely do not want to die in the France of today like an idiot," Depardieu said.

In a particularly morbid interview Depardieu, 66, then added he often went to bed, thinking about "falling asleep forever", after being asked about his relationship with death. "I have experienced everything," he said, "This is something that not many people can say, [but] I can die now."

Since gaining Russian citizenship, the critically acclaimed leading man of French cinema staples such as Cyrano de Bergerac and the Last Metro, has appeared on Russian sitcom Zaitsev+1 and embraced other projects in Russia including the launch of a £10,000 luxury watch line entitled Proud to be Russian.

While at the Cannes film festival last week, Depardieu claimed he knew Russian president Vladimir Putin well and claimed he "liked him a lot," but refused to be pulled into a discussion about the conflict in Ukraine.

The Châteauroux-born actor has recently been linked to a French-language remake of Netflix's House of Cards, according to French broadcaster Europe 1. The project is reportedly planned to shoot in France and Depardieu is slated to star in a remake of the US show which currently stars Kevin Spacey as a fictional US president.