First Look images of Johnny Depp in Levitas’ Minamata come into focus

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

HanWay Films has released a first look image of Johnny Depp as renowned war photographer W. Eugene Smith for the upcoming drama MINAMATA. Based on the book Minamata: The Story of the Poisoning of a City, and of the People Who Chose to Carry the Burden of Courage by Aileen Mioko Smith and W. Eugene Smith, MINAMATA is set to be helmed by Andrew Levitas (LULLABY, THE WHITE CROW), who will direct from a screenplay penned by David Kessler.

Billed as a redemptive thriller, MINAMATA aims to share a real-life David versus Goliath story,  that pits Smith against a powerful corporation responsible for poisoning the people of Minamata, Japan in 1971. Minamata is an extremely moving story of how one man's powerful photograph impacted the world to take action.

With the glory days of World War II far behind him Smith (Depp) has become a recluse, disconnected from society and his career. But an old friend and a commission from “Life Magazine” editor (Nighy) convinces him to journey back to Japan to expose a big story: the devastating annihilation of a coastal community, victims of corporate greed and complicit local police and government. Armed with only his trusted camera, Smith must gain the trust of this struggling community and find the images that will bring the story to the World.

The victims’ case against the corporation responsible for this environmental disaster represents one of the biggest payouts of all time, with present day sufferers of Minamata disease still in court today seeking compensation. Production has spent time in Minamata meeting some of the victims and their families and the film is being made with their support. (via the official press release for MINAMATA)

You can see the new photo of Depp as W. Eugene Smith below:

Also included in the promotional materials was a photo of W. Eugene Smith himself:

While Depp's transformation into Smith might not be as uncanny as say, Christian Bale's look as Dick Cheney for Adam McKay's VICE, the Fantastic Beasts actor does bear something of a resemblance to the late American photographer, does he not?

Joining Depp for the drama are Bill Nighy (LOVE ACTUALLY, PRIDE), Hiroyuki Sanada (SUNSHINE, RAILWAY MAN), Tadanobu Asano (THOR: RAGNAROK, MONGOL), Jun Kunimura (KILL BILL: VOL. 1, ICHI THE KILLER) and Ryo Kase (RESTLESS, LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA), among others.

Director Andrew Levitas said of the film, “I am thrilled to be working with such a talented and dedicated team on the story behind one of the most devastating and relatively unknown catastrophes of the past 100 years. Told through the eyes of the extraordinary W. Eugene Smith, widely regarded as one of the most passionate, ground-breaking and uncompromising photojournalists of the 20th century. In his bid to bring the world’s attention to atrocities including the bloodiest conflict in human history, World War II and the horrors of Minamata he put his own life at risk to bring the truth out in his work and capture some of the most poignant images ever taken. Every one of the cast and crew is determined to make the people of Minamata’s voices heard as we begin shooting this film.”

Developed by Depp’s production entity Infinitum Nihil, Depp will also produce along with Infinitum Nihil’s Sam Sarkar, Levitas under his Metalwork Pictures banner and Academy Award nominee Gabrielle Tana. Meanwhile, Jason Forman, Stephen Deuters, Peter Watson, Phil Hunt, Compton Ross, Gabrielle Stewart, Stephen Spence, Peter Touche, Norman Merry and Peter Hampden will executive produce.

Source: HanWay Films

About the Author

Born and raised in New York, then immigrated to Canada, Steve Seigh has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. He started with Ink & Pixel, a column celebrating the magic and evolution of animation, before launching the companion YouTube series Animation Movies Revisited. He's also the host of the Talking Comics Podcast, a personality-driven audio show focusing on comic books, film, music, and more. You'll rarely catch him without headphones on his head and pancakes on his breath.