Johnny Depp eyes Pancho Villa role (Variety)

ROME -- Serbian helmer Emir Kusturica is in advanced negotiations for Johnny Depp to star as Mexican revolutionary hero Pancho Villa in his upcoming biopic titled “Seven Friends of Pancho Villa and the Woman With Six Fingers.”

Kusturica, recently a guest of Italy’s Turin Film Festival, said the script, written with regular collaborator Gordan Mihic (“Time of the Gypsies,” “Black Cat, White Cat”), is completed, although lensing is not set to start until 2011, due to Depp’s prior commitments.

Salma Hayek is also in advanced talks to co-star in the pic.

The Spanish-language biopic is to be shot partly in Mexico, where Villa -- an early 20th-century bandit who became a guerilla fighter and a hero to the poor -- is an iconic historical figure. Depp will act in Spanish, Kusturica said.

Depp and Kusturica collaborated previously on “Arizona Dream” in 1993.

The script is based on the biographical novel “The Friends of Pancho Villa,” in which author James Carlos Blake recounts how Villa and his compadres had a great time fighting and robbing the rich, but also dancing, partying and making love.

The biopic is being set up by French shingle Fidelite, which also produced Kusturica’s “Maradona” docu.

Villa has previously been portrayed many times on screen by thesps such as Antonio Banderas, Telly Savalas and even Villa himself in the 1914 pic “The Life of General Villa,” which was produced by D.W. Griffith.

Prior to “Pancho Villa,” Kusturica is planning to shoot a black comedy titled “Cool Water,” set amid the MidEast conflict, about a Palestinian stripper working in Germany who returns to her homeland to bury her dead father. “Cool Water” is being produced by German indie Brave New Work.

Michael Fleming in New York contributed to this report.

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