PARIS (AP) — French actor Gerard Depardieu will not show up at a Paris court Tuesday to face drunken driving charges because he has clashing professional commitments abroad, his lawyer said Tuesday.

Depardieu's lawyer Eric de Caumont said his client was not trying to dodge French justice, but is abroad "meeting the producers of a movie," whose filming in New York will begin in January.

Caumont suggested on BFM-TV that the movie in question will see Depardieu play the disgraced former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

The 64-year-old star of films such as "Green Card" and "Cyrano de Bergerac" was picked up last November by police after he fell off his scooter in northwest Paris.

The drunken driving hearing will now be deferred to a criminal court, and he could lose his driving license and could face up to two years in jail, Caumont said.

Depardieu has caused controversy in recent weeks for other reasons. On Saturday he received a Russian passport from President Vladimir Putin, after threatening to return his French passport after Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called him "pathetic" for deciding to move to tax-friendly Belgium.

In a much publicized letter in December, Depardieu also made reference to his headline-grabbing lifestyle: "I won't cast a stone at (people) who have cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes or too much alcohol or those who fall asleep on their scooter: I am one of them, as you dear media outlets like so much to repeat."

Back in 1998, Depardieu also crashed his motorcycle when his blood-alcohol limit was five times over the legal limit, escaping with leg and face injuries.

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Follow Thomas Adamson at http://Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP

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