France's Depardieu to tread boards again

French actor Gerard Depardieu is to make a return to the stage in a "Love Letters", a play favoured by busy stars with little time to learn their lines.

Elizabeth Taylor, Mel Gibson, Kathleen Turner, Sigourney Weaver and Christopher Walken are among the big names who have previously taken on the roles of characters Andrew Makepeace Ladd III and Melissa Gardner.

The play by American playrwight A. R. Gurney explores the couple's decades-long relationship through their letters to each other.

The letters are read on stage, removing the need for actors to memorise their lines.

Robert Wagner appeared in the play with his wife Jill St. John and later his "Hart to Hart" co-star Stefanie Powers.

"Dallas" on screen couple Larry Hagman and Linda Gray have also been cast in the roles.

Depardieu, 64, will appear in eight performances of the play alongside French actress Anouk Aimee at Paris's Antoine Theatre from January 4-11.

Aimee, who is 81, has played the role of Melissa opposite a string of other actors including Alain Delon.

Hailed as one of the greatest actors of his generation, Depardieu has starred in films including "Green Card", "Cyrano de Bergerac" and the "Asterix & Obelix" series.

But in recent years he has become as famed for his off-screen behaviour as for his acting talents.

The star announced in November last year that he was moving abroad after President Francois Hollande's Socialist government sought to impose a 75-percent tax rate on annual incomes over one million euros.

Last week Depardieu failed to turn up in court in Paris for an appeal hearing after he was fined in June for drink driving.

The actor was arrested in November 2012 after falling off his scooter while more than three times over the legal alcohol limit.