As Emir Kusturica readies to finally shoot his Pancho Villa picture The Seven Friends of Pancho Villa and the Woman With Seven Fingers, it seems one of his stars has fallen by the wayside. While Salma Hayek remains attached, Johnny Depp has reportedly wandered off of the project.
The film’s screenplay is based upon James Carlos Blake’s fact-and-legend blending The Friends of Pancho Villa, a book which carries the following blurb:
Killers of men and lovers of life, they fought for freedom. For the Revolucion. For Villa. In return, they received a soldier’s highest honor. They shared life–and death–with the mightiest hero in all of Mexico.
Of course, we all know that Depp is pretty much wall-to-wall with studio pictures for the next several years, so I’m not too surprised to hear of this development at all. Not surprised, but a little disappointed.
And it’s fair to say my disappointment is in Depp more than in the state he’s left the film. Blic Online report that either Gael Garcia Bernal or Benicio Del Toro will be stepping up to fill in the gap, and they’re both great, so that’s all good. Note that both actors have previously played Che Guevera, so they’ve earned their “revolutionary leader” stripes already.
The site report that Kusturica will be meeting both actors soon:
Kusturica will soon meet the two actors in Cuba, after which he will come to a final decision as to who gets to be Villa in his new production.
The film will be an epic that Kusturica himself has allegedly already compared to Sergio Leone and Sam Peckinpah. As a fan of Kusturica, Peckinpah, Leone, Bernal, Del Toro and Hayek, I’m feeling very keen on this one.
Footnote: both Del Toro and Bernal have also been linked to Scorsese’s Silence.