After a lengthy and highly publicised public domestic abuse and defamation trial against his ex-wife Amber Heard, Johnny Depp is returning to Hollywood, this time as a director.
The Hollywood Reporter has revealed that almost a quarter of a century after he directed 1997’s The Brave with Marlon Brando as his feature directorial debut, Depp is once again going behind the camera for Modigliani, based on Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani which will be co-produced by The Godfather star Al Pacino and Barry Navidi.
The upcoming project is based on a play by Dennis McIntyre and adapted for the screen by Jerzy and Mary Kromolowski. The film will narrate the story of the painter and sculptor in 1916. Long considered by himself a critical and commercial failure, the film will see the artist navigate through a challenging 48 hours that will become a turning point in his life, ultimately redefining him as an artistic legend. According to THR production is set to begin in Europe next spring with the official cast announcement to be revealed shortly.
“The saga of Mr. Modigliani’s life is one that I’m incredibly honoured, and truly humbled, to bring to the screen,” Depp told the publication. “It was a life of great hardship, but eventual triumph — a universally human story all viewers can identify with.”
Modigliani marks another European project for Depp as he tries to revive his career after his bruising defamation trial against Heard. The 59-year-old actor, known for his role as Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, won a $50 million case against his former wife earlier this year.
The biopic is not the only project in the pipeline for Depp. He will be playing King Louis XV in French director Maïwenn’s historical love story that just begun shooting last month. This will be the Tourist actor’s first feature in three years.
His directorial film marks as another collaborative moment for Pacino and Navidi who have worked together on films like The Merchant of Venice, Wilde Salomé and Salomé.
Navidi told THR, “this project has been very close to Al’s heart. Al introduced me to the play Modigliani many years ago and I instantly fell in love with it. This is a slice of Modi’s life and not a bio. It’s been a dream of mine to work with Johnny again — he’s a true artist with an amazing vision to bring this great story to the screen.”
Pacino in an email to the publication revealed, “we’ve been involved with Depp on this project for a number of years. We start principal photography in the spring 2023.”
Depp has produced 10 films, including 2011’s hit Hugo and most recently 2020’s Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds With Shane MacGowan. He has also produced Dark Shadows, a Tim Burton directorial, Minamata, Mortdecai and The Rum Diary starring Heard.