Johnny Depp to Direct Feature Film Modigliani

After securing his first acting role in three years in the upcoming French film Jeanne du Barry, embattled star Johnny Depp will end his 25-year hiatus as a director with the feature film Modigliani. Depp will direct the feature about Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani and co-produce with his Donnie Brasco co-star Al Pacino, THR reports. The biographical drama is Depp's first directorial effort since 1997's The Brave, which Depp also co-wrote and starred in opposite Marlon Brando. Also on board Modigliani is co-producer Barry Navidi, who backed the Pacino-starring The Merchant Of Venice (2004), Wilde Salomé (2011), and Salomé (2013).

Reads the synopsis for the Depp-directed Modigliani: "The Italian-born painter and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani, considered a commercial failure, navigates a turbulent and eventful 48 hours that will become a turning point in his life, solidifying his reputation as an artistic legend." 

It's unclear whether Depp will also play the artist, who was the subject of a 2004 biopic starring Andy Garcia.

"The saga of Mr. Modigliani's life is one that I'm incredibly honored, and truly humbled, to bring to the screen," said Depp. "It was a life of great hardship, but eventual triumph — a universally human story all viewers can identify with."

In 2009, Depp directed the music video short film Unloveable, starring Lily Robinson and Stephen Graham; the actor has also helmed multiple music videos for ex-wife Vanessa Paradis. Depp is producing Modigliani via IN.2, the European arm of his production company Infinitum Nihil, behind such Depp-led films as The Rum DiaryDark ShadowsMortdecaiBlack Mass, and Minimata, Depp's most recent acting credit. 

Modigliani, which is expected to start production in Europe in spring 2023, is based on the play by Dennis McIntyre and adapted for the screen by Jerzy and Mary Kromolowski (The Pledge, In the Electric Mist). 

"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," Navidi said in a statement. "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." Depp and Navidi previously collaborated on the 1995 unfinished film Divine Rapture.

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Along with Modigliani, Depp is portraying King Louis XV in French director Maïwenn's historical romance Jeanne du Barry. That film will mark the Pirates of the Caribbean star's first feature film since his defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard, which reached a verdict in June