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Johnny Depp has lined up his first film directing gig in 25 years, The Hollywood Reporter can reveal.
A quarter of a century after he directed both himself and Marlon Brando in 1997’s The Brave, his feature directorial debut, Depp is set to get behind the camera for Modigliani, about Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani, and will co-produce alongside Al Pacino and Barry Navidi.
Based on the play by Dennis McIntyre and adapted for the screen by Jerzy and Mary Kromolowski, the film will tell the story of the painter and sculptor in Paris in 1916. Long considered by himself a critical and commercial failure, Modigliani navigates a turbulent and eventful 48 hours that will become a turning point in his life, ultimately solidifying his reputation as an artistic legend. THR understands that production is set to start in Europe in the spring of 2023, with casting to be revealed shortly.
“The saga of Mr. Modigliani’s life is one that I’m incredibly honored, and truly humbled, to bring to the screen,” said Depp, who produces for IN.2, the European arm of his production company Infinitum Nihil. “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 the 59-year-old star of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise as he tries to make a career return following his recent, bruising defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard. In an op-ed for The Washington Post in 2018, she described her experiences with domestic abuse and, while not naming Depp, his legal team argued that it implied he was abusive over the course of their relationship, something he fiercely denied. The jury eventually found in his favor and awarded the actor $15 million (reduced to $10.35 million due to the state of Virginia’s statutory limits on punitive damages), while Heard, 36, won on one of her counterclaims and was awarded $2 million. Heard is now set to lodge an appeal and has revamped her legal team ahead of the move.
Alongside the Modigliani biopic, Depp is also playing King Louis XV in French director Maïwenn’s historical love story Jeanne du Barry, which started shooting in late July and is Depp’s first feature in three years.
The film also marks the next collaboration between Pacino and Navidi, who have previously worked together on features including The Merchant of Venice (2004), Wilde Salomé (2011) and Salomé (2013). Both produce alongside IN.2 and Depp.
“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,” said Navidi. “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.”
Said Pacino in a statement emailed to The Hollywood Reporter, “We’ve been involved with Depp on this project for a number of years. We start principal photography in the Spring 2023.”
Although he’s best known for his onscreen roles, Depp has produced 10 films, including 2011’s Hugo and, most recently, 2020’s Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds With Shane MacGowan.
Aug. 15, 3:40 p.m. Updated to include a statement from Al Pacino.
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