Johnny Depp Has Cast Al Pacino as an Art Collector in an Upcoming Film on Amedeo Modigliani

It's a 'Donnie Brasco' reunion.

Actor Al Pacino visits the SiriusXM Studios on January 21, 2015 in New York City. Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM.

News has just dropped that Al Pacino will headline the cast of Johnny Depp’s sophomore directorial outing Modi, an ode to Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani, who will be played by Italian star Riccardo Scarmacio, of recent John Wick fame. 

Pacino, who starred alongside Depp in 1997’s Donnie Brasco and was announced as a co-producer for Modi last year, will play famed collector Maurice Gangnat. Yves Saint Laurent star Pierre Niney will play Modigliani’s friend, French artist Maurice Utrillo.

Al Pacino and Johnny Depp filming Donnie Brasco in New York, 1996. Photo: Lawrence Schwartzwald/Sygma via Getty Images.

The casting news arrives ahead of Depp’s controversial comeback in the coveted opening slot at Cannes Film Festival, where he will be promoting the historical romance Jeanne du Barry, his first role in three years following the Depp v. Heard defamation trial. The Modi team will be selling their project at Cannes before production begins in Budapest this Fall, marking Depp’s first directorial credit since The Brave 25 years ago (and save for several music videos he directed for musicians including his ex-wife Vanessa Paradis).

Modi isn’t a biopic. The screenplay based on Dennis McIntyre’s play, which transpires over just 48 hours. “On the run from the police, Modi’s desire to end his career and leave the city is dismissed by fellow Bohemians,” its synopsis read. “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.”

Amedeo Modigliani in his studio, 1910s. Private Collection. (Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

In real life, Modigliani moved from Venice to Paris in 1906, where he embedded with the city’s bohemian scene alongside Utrillo and the writer Beatrice Hastings, Modigliani’s early English muse. Modigliani painted his signature elongated portraits predominantly between 1916 and 1919, one year before dying from tuberculosis at 35.

Although some avant-garde aficionados like author Paul Alexandre patronized the artist during his lifetime, Modigliani’s work achieved renown only after his death, and went on to inspire the likes of artist Margaret Keene.

“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,” producer Barry Navidi told 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.”


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