Johnny Depp to direct film about celebrated Italian painter Amedeo Modigliani

Film about the artist who died aged 35 will be Depp’s first directing credit for a quarter of a century and he will produce the film alongside actor Al Pacino

Johnny Depp is to direct a biopic of Amedeo Modigliani, the celebrated Italian painter who died in poverty in 1920 but who subsequently became renowned for his pictures of nudes with elongated faces and limbs.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Depp will also produce the film alongside actor Al Pacino, who tried and failed to get a Modigliani biopic directed by Martin Scorsese off the ground in the 1980s. No casting details have been announced, but as Modigliani died at the age of 35 it is unlikely either actor will play the artist.

The film will be adapted from Dennis McIntyre’s play Modigliani, which premiered in 1979: it is set in 1916 during a crisis-ridden period in the artist’s life and features fellow artists Maurice Utrillo and Chaïm Soutine, as well as poet Beatrice Hastings who was Modigliani’s lover (and model) at the time. It will be Depp’s second feature as director, 25 years after his 1995 western The Brave, in which he starred opposite Marlon Brando.

Depp said: “The saga of Mr Modigliani’s life is one that I’m incredibly honoured, and truly humbled, to bring to the screen … It was a life of great hardship, but eventual triumph – a universally human story all viewers can identify with.”

The film is being produced by the European arm of Depp’s production company Infinitum Nihil, and follows Depp’s casting as Louis XV in Jeanne du Barry, a biopic of the 18th-century “chief royal mistress” directed by Maïwenn, as Depp seeks to return to film work after the conclusion of the the defamation case between him and former wife Amber Heard.

Depp recently filed an appeal against the trial verdict, in which he won on three counts (and was awarded over $10m in damages) while Heard won on one count (with $2m in damages). Heard has also filed an appeal against the verdict.


Andrew Pulver

The GuardianTramp

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