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November 23, 2005   Articles No Comments

Everyone in Hollywood must face the same devilish question of compromise at some point. Many, in exchange for fame, fortune and a good table at Ashton Kutcher’s restaurant, will happily trade in their artistic aspirations for a big-budget, roman-numeral-bearing remake co-starring Tom Arnold as the zany neighbor next door. Others, meanwhile, cling so tightly to their anti-commercial virtues that they boast about their new John Sayles movie opening soon in one theater as their tears fall into the mac-and-cheese dinner they’ve prepared in their studio apartment. – Larry Carroll

Remarkably, Johnny Depp has successfully straddled this line for more than two decades, earning himself an audience filled with equal numbers of shrieking “Pirates” fanatics and turtleneck-clad film students joyously reciting “Dead Man” dialogue. It seems like part of his master plan, then, that the Kentucky-born actor would spend November simultaneously shooting the world’s most high-profile sequels, debuting a controversial unrated art film and receiving a career tribute at age 42.

“I’d do it over exactly the same way if I had to do it over,” Depp grinned through gold-capped teeth at the recent premiere of his bawdy drama “The Libertine.” “I wouldn’t do anything over.” To Depp, that credo now includes “The Libertine,” a sexy 17th-century biopic that the ratings board attempted to slap with an NC-17.

“I can just say that getting the film made [was tough], but you feel that about every movie you make,” said Depp, who stars as real-life poet John Wilmot.

“[Depp] has been involved with the project for about 10 years,” first-time director Laurence Dunmore marveled of his leading man. When he actually came to perform the role, it was obvious that he was born to play him.”

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