Johnny Depp has signed on to join Mark Rylance and Robert Pattinson in the indie movie Waiting for the Barbarians. That’s the next project from Ciro Guerra, the Colombian filmmaker behind the black-and-white gem Embrace of the Serpent.
The film is based on the allegorical novel by J.M. Coetzee and follows a British magistrate (Rylance) in a small colonial town who begins to question his loyalty to the Empire as he attempts to ignore an inevitable war with the so-called “barbarians.” No word on who Depp (or Pattinson) is playing, but this is an intriguing project for the actor, who has shied away from this kind of serious drama of late, sticking to commercial fare like Fantastic Beasts, Murder on the Orient Express and a pair of Disney franchises (Pirates of the Caribbean, Alice in Wonderland) instead.
The project will be the first under Depp’s new partnership with Andrea Iervolino, who will produce Barbarians via his new blockchain platform TaTaTu. Iervolino and Monika Bacardi‘s AMBI Media Group will also produce alongside Michael Fitzgerald and Olga Segura. Production will begin later this month in Morocco.
In typical press release fashion, Depp and Iervolino exchanged beauty quotes complimenting one another for being such deep original thinkers, but here’s the thing… Iervolino has yet to produce a breakout hit (he’s the producer developing an ill-advised remake of Memento), while Depp’s Infinitum Nihil shingle has acquired lots of interesting material, but ever since The Rum Diary flopped, it has struggled to get those intriguing projects off the ground. I’m rooting for Iervolino, but I’m not sure this partnership will work out as well as he hopes, though I certainly understand teaming up with Depp while he has the opportunity and the actor is at a low point in his career.
It’s hard to knock Depp for putting his faith in Iervolino though, since Guerra is exactly the kind of filmmaker Depp should be working with. Whereas once upon a time Pattinson was taking his cues from Depp, it now seems as if Depp is taking a page from Pattinson’s playbook, which has seen him working with a series of international auteurs, from Claire Denis and Werner Herzog to David Michôd and Anton Corbijn. If Depp keeps working with thoughtful directors like that quartet, he may be able to resuscitate his reputation, and a certain Harry Potter spinoff can’t hurt either.
Depp next stars in the title character in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, which is set to cast a spell on the box office starting Nov. 16. Depp also stars in Richard Says Goodbye, which didn’t earn great reviews out of the Zurich Film Festival, while his LA-set crime drama City of Lies has also been indefinitely delayed. He’s represented by CAA.