Actor Gérard Depardieu accused of rape

"The Paris public prosecutor's office is making a preliminary investigation on counts of rape and sexual assault", the spokesman said.

Argento has denied claims she slept with a 17-year-old co-star in a California hotel room in 2013.

The unnamed actress made her statement to police in Lambesc, southern France, after which the case was passed to prosecutors in the capital.

Depardieu, he added, was "shaken" by the allegations.

Hervé Temime, a lawyer for the actor, is sure of Depardieu's innocence.

Le Parisien reports the actress told police she had been assaulted by the actor twice this month at Depardieu's home in Paris.

Depardieu (69), who is one of France's most prolific and prominent actors, has been in almost 170 movies and gained worldwide recognition in 1990 with his starring role in the English language comedy Green Card in which he starred with Andie MacDowell. He has agreed to cooperate with the investigation, according to his lawyer. "But we are also clear-eyed enough not to confuse an awkward attempt to pick someone up with a sexual attack", the letter continued, CBS News reports.

The actress was "devastated" by the alleged attack, her agent said to BFM-TV. He has more than 200 credits to his name and recently starred in Netflix's French political series Marseille.

His first big hit in France was Les Valseuses, (Going Places), Bertrand Blier's classic farce about two wandering thugs.