GROZNY, May 18 (RIA Novosti) – Filming of a thriller starring the legendary French actor Gerard Depardieu and the British actress Elizabeth Hurley began in Russia’s Chechen republic on Saturday, a representative of Chechnya’s Culture Ministry told RIA Novosti.
“Today the plan is to shoot the scenes featuring Elizabeth Hurley, who is already in [the Chechen capital of] Grozny. The main hero – Gerard Depardieu – will join the shooting at the beginning of next week,” the source said.
The movie, which is called “Biryuza” (Turqoise), is to be shot in Chechnya and in Moscow. On Saturday, a film crew had set up in the center of Grozny near the National Library.
Depardieu, who was recently given a Russian passport after publically criticizing the tax regime in his native France, will play a man whose son is killed and who comes to Russia to avenge him, meeting up with an old flame (played by Hurley) in Moscow and a Chechen friend along the way.
“Turquoise” will also feature actors from Chechnya’s Serlo youth theater, the Culture Ministry representative said.
The movie’s producer, Arnaud Frilley, previously made a film starring Depardieu about the infamous Russian mystic Grigory Rasputin.
Depardieu received fast-tracked Russian citizenship back in January, and collected his new passport at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He said he had renounced his French citizenship ahead of the government’s planned implementation of a 75 percent tax rate for annual earnings above $1.3 million. Russia has a single-band income tax of just 13 percent.
Depardieu is no stranger to Chechnya, a North Caucasus region that has been at the center of over two decades of violent conflict between Islamist separatists and forces loyal to Moscow. He visited Grozny last October for Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov's 36th birthday, when he said: “Glory to Chechnya! Glory to Kadyrov!"
When the actor visited the city again in February after receiving his Russian passport, he was given an elite five-room apartment in a Grozny skyscraper by Kadyrov.