Johnny Depp eyes Pancho Villa role

Salma Hayek in talks to star in Kusturica pic

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 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. The Spanish-language biopic will be shot partly in Mexico.

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

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

Script is based on 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.

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

Villa has previously been played onscreen by 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 contributed to this report.)

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