Johnny Depp is stepping away from his acting career–one that has been 40 years in the making.
It’s been almost a year since Johnny Depp first celebrated his victory in the defamation trial against his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard, who wrote an opinion piece for The Washington Post in 2018, attempting to suggest that Depp was guilty of acts of domestic abuse and domestic violence against her. Following six grueling weeks of testimony–much of which fell under the category of graphic, at best–the jury found that Depp had proven every claim made in his suit against Heard, while Heard was found to have only proven one of her claims (and even that was a stretch).
Even before the trial wrapped up, Depp was already in Europe, touring with his friend and fellow musician, Jeff Beck. Over the last year, Depp has worked on several projects, most of which have placed him in the role of actor. In the summer of 2022, Depp signed a new contract with Dior to continue serving as the face of the popular men’s fragrance, Sauvage. And the famed actor has even spent time painting unique portraits of people he admires. Both series of his paintings have literally sold like hotcakes. And he also plays the role of King Louis XV in the French film La Favorite.
Earlier this year, he left his home in Los Angeles and the lure of Hollywood for good and is reportedly living the good life in the English countryside.
Recently, however, Depp has decided to walk away from his acting career and pursue something he has only attempted once in his life–and that was more than 25 years ago. According to The Guardian, Depp’s newest project, titled Modi, places the beloved actor in the role of director rather than star actor. Over his entire Hollywood career, it’s only the second time Depp has attempted such a project.
Johnny Depp is known for his charismatic approach to fully embodying the characters he plays–some of them uber-eccentric characters like those in Depp’s projects with Tim Burton. He has long been the go-to actor for roles that need help in taking on a life of their own, and he’s praised for his ability to play a different type of character in every film he makes. Over the years, he’s played everything from a teenager in Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and cult filmmaker Ed Wood in 1994 to a murderous barber in Sweeney Todd (2007) and the Big Bad Wolf in Disney’s Into the Woods (2014).
In his top ten highest-grossing films alone, Depp plays kidnapper Edward Ratchett in Murder on the Orient Express (2017), Tarrant Hightopp (The Mad Hatter) in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland (2010) and in Disney’s Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016), an alcoholic pirate with an extensive vocabulary named Captain Jack Sparrow in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise (2003 to 2017), and the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald in the Harry Potter spinoff, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018).
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Depp’s directorial resume, however, includes only one entry. In 1997, the Edward Scissorhands alum sat in the director’s seat for the feature film The Brave, which tells the story of an American Indian who is recently released from jail and offered the chance to star in a film that will net him the money he so desperately needs for his family but that comes at a great cost. Now Depp is sitting in that seat again, this time for a biopic titled Modi.
The upcoming film “follows a chaotic series of events through the streets and bars of war-torn Paris in 1916” and tells the story of Amedeo Clemente Modigliani, an Italian painter and sculptor who worked mainly in France. In the film, the French painter is “on the run from the police [and his] desire to end his career and leave the city is dismissed by fellow Bohemians: French artist Maurice Utrillo, the Belarusian-born Chaïm Soutine, and English muse Beatrice Hastings.” The biopic sees Modi asking for advice from his Polish art dealer and friend named Léopold Zborowski, “but the chaos reaches a crescendo when he’s faced with a collector who could change his life.”
This week, Depp confirmed that Al Pacino has accepted the role of real-life art collector Maurice Gangnat in the film. Additionally, Italian actor Riccardo Scamarcio has been cast as Modigliani, and French actor Pierre Niney will play fellow artist Maurice Utrillo.
Filming for the new project is scheduled to begin in the fall near Budapest, Hungary, but no release date has been announced at this time.