Al Pacino Cast in Biopic Directed by Johnny Depp About Italian Jewish Artist Modigliani
by Shiryn Ghermezian
The first round of casting has been revealed for a biopic directed by Johnny Depp about one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, Italian Sephardic Jew Amedeo Modigliani.
Modi, which will be Depp’s first directorial project in 25 years, will star Italian actor Riccardo Scamarcio (John Wick Chapter 2) in the title role alongside Cesar Award winner Pierre Niney (Yves Saint Laurent) and acclaimed award-winning actor Al Pacino (The Godfather), according to Deadline. The publication added that filming is expected to start in Budapest in the fall and additional casting will also take place.
Born into an Italian Jewish family in Livorno, Modigliani (1884–1920) began his short but prolific 14-year artistic career as a painter and sculptor in Paris at the start of the 20th century. He died at the age of 35 from tuberculosis. The biopic, based on a play by Dennis McIntyre and adapted for the screen by Jerzy and Mary Kromolowski, will focus on 48 hours that altered his life during his time in Paris.
“His desire to prematurely end his career and leave the city is dismissed by fellow bohemians: French artist Maurice Utrillo, the Belarusian-born Chaim Soutine and his English muse and lover, Beatrice Hastings,” according to a description of the film by Deadline. “Modi seeks advice from his Polish art dealer and friend Leopold Zborowski, but the chaos reaches a crescendo when he’s faced with a collector who could change his life.”
Niney will play Utrillo and Pacino will take on the role of real-life international art collector Gangnat. Depp is co-producing the film with Barry Navidi and Pacino, who he starred with in the 1997 crime flick Donnie Brasco. Navidi has collaborated with Pacino on three films in the past: The Merchant Of Venice (2004), Wilde Salomé (2011) and Salomé (2013).
“This is a snapshot of Modigliani’s life that gives us insight into his struggle as an artist suffering from lack of recognition, and a project Al and I have pursued for many years,” said Navidi, as reported by Deadline. “Our incredible cast, coupled with the vision, wit and sensitivity I know Johnny will bring behind the camera, will make this a dream come true.”
Depp previously directed only one other feature film, 1997’s The Brave, in which he starred alongside Marlon Brando.
When Modi was first announced last year, Depp said he felt “incredibly honored and truly humbled” to make a film about the artist’s life. “It was a life of great hardship, but eventual triumph — a universally human story all viewers can identify with,” he added.