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Paris - France's best-known film star Gerard Depardieu insisted on Wednesday he had been trying to urinate discreetly into a bottle when he splashed a plane's carpet and caused a flight delay, friends said.
Earlier, Air France-KLM subsidiary CityJet said the actor had been escorted off a Paris to Dublin service on Tuesday after he relieved himself on the floor of the cabin as it was taxiing towards the runway for take-off.
One fellow passenger, interviewed on French radio, alleged the 62-year-old bon vivant appeared to have been drinking and had stood to urinate openly after being told he could not use the toilet until after take-off.
But friends of the "mortified" star, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, said he had told them he was "absolutely not drunk" but had been caught short and forced to pee into an empty bottle as privately as possible.
They confirmed the witness' account that the stewardess had asked him to wait 15 minutes before the toilets would be opened, and he had agreed, but said that the flight had then been delayed a further 20 minutes.
A flying companion, fellow actor Edouard Baer, had therefore offered him an empty bottle to ease himself.
When some urine spilled on the floor, Depardieu was mortified and offered to clean it up himself, but the crew decided to turn round and taxi back to the terminal and have him escorted off the jet by ground crew, they explained.
"No charges were brought and no fine was imposed, and he had the impression that his position about the misunderstanding and the inflexible attitude of the stewardess had been understood by those he spoke to," one added.
The source added Depardieu had been able to take the next flight to Dublin, where he was to join the crew of the next movie adaptation of the Asterix comic books, in which he plays the warrior's huge sidekick Obelix.
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