- Gerard Depardieu, 69, has been accused of raping a 22-year-old actress
- Incident is alleged to have taken place at his Parisian mansion on August 13
- The actor's lawyer says he 'absolutely' denies the allegations
A legendary French actor has been accused of raping and sexually assaulting a 22-year-old actress in Paris.
The claims were made about the seasoned film star Gerard Depardieu to the French authorities on Monday, according to radio reports.
The events are alleged to have taken place at Depardieu's Parisian home, a sprawling mansion in the 6th arrondissement of the city earlier this month.The 69-year-old star denies the allegations 'absolutely', his lawyer told AFP news agency.
A source said the Paris public prosecutor's office had opened a preliminary inquiry into allegations against Depardieu following a complaint lodged on Monday in southern Aix-en-Provence.
'I regret the public nature of this process which poses a major prejudice to Gerard Depardieu, whose innocence I am convinced will be recognised,' his lawyer Herve Termime added, calling for restraint on all sides.
Depardieu, 69, is France's biggest international star and has made more than 180 films.
Described as a controversial and larger-than-life character, he became the face of French cinema due to roles in films such as such as Cyrano de Bergerac for which won best actor at the Cannes film festival and was nominated for an Oscar.
He made his name in the 1974 film 'Going Places' after which he enjoyed a meteoric rise, demonstrating talent and allure in wide-ranging roles in classics, dramas and comedies alike.
In 2013 Depardieu sparked a huge outcry by leaving France and taking Russian nationality in protest at a proposed tax hike on the rich in his homeland.
Russian President Vladimir Putin treated him to a dinner to present him with his new citizenship and Depardieu was subsequently full of praise in an interview to Komsomolskaya Pravda daily.
The French actor's romantic history has been turbulent with him divorcing his first wife actress Elisabeth Guignot in 1996.
Depardieu then dated Carole Bouquet from 1997 until 2005. Ms Bouquet is also a successful French actress who plaid Melina Havelock in the 1981 James Bond film For Your Eyes Only.
As well as he romantic life, the actor has been in the headlines for his public row over tax arrangements in France and his decision to become a Russian resident.
The Cyrano de Bergerac star took Belgian residence after a bitter dispute with the French government over high rates of tax.
He later became a Russian citizen in 2013 after befriending President Vladimir Putin.
The Green Card star caused controversy at the time after slamming his home country.
He described France as a place 'populated by foreigners and imbeciles making wine and stinky cheese'.
While in 2014, he was accused of throwing water over revellers beneath his Italian flat after being annoyed by their noise.
And in 2011 he had to apologise for urinating into a bottle on a flight from Paris to Dublin after being told by the flight crew that he would have to wait at least 15 minutes until he could use the onboard lavatories.
The actor was fined in 2013 after falling off his scooter while driving drunk in Paris.
He failed to turn up at the hearing at which he was fined €4,000 and had his licence suspended for six months.
Depardieu has also never been afraid of taking a swipe at the film industry, slamming the Oscars in 2016.
He said: 'Cinema doesn't exist any more. There is a world of entertainment and people, terrorised by the Americans, don't know any more which language to speak.'
'There are 10 stars and they are all American. Their films are crammed with special effects... and the rest of the world of cinema is struggling to exist.'