Johnny Depp has signed on the dotted line to play war photographer W. Eugene Smith in the independent drama ‘Minamata’.

Based on the book by Aileen Mioko Smith and W. Eugene Smith, the film will centre on Smith’s work as a photographer for Life magazine in exposing the poisoning of the people of Minamata, Japan. It will focus on Smith’s life after World War II when an old friend and a commission from Life Magazine editor Ralph Graves convinces him to journey back to Japan to expose a big story: the devastating annihilation of a coastal community through mercury poisoning.

Andrew Levitas will direct. The movie has been developed by Depp’s production entity Infinitum Nihil and is produced by Sam Sarkar, Bill Johnson and Andrew Levitas. Jason Forman and Stephen Deuters will executive produce.

Also in the news – Hans Zimmer joins original Top Gun composer, Harold Faltermeyer to create the score for the sequel

Working with Johnny to give voice to those who have been silently suffering is a responsibility we do not take lightly,” Levitas said.

Much like Eugene Smith in 1971, we could not feel more privileged or humbled to be tasked with the mission of bringing this incredible story to the world.”

Filming will commence in January in Japan followed by Serbia.

Depp will next be seen in the J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world in the Fantastic Beasts sequel, ‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’ as Gellert Grindelwald. This week it was also announced that he would star opposite Robert Pattinson and Mark Rylance in the adaptation of J.M. Coetzee’s novel ‘Waiting for Barbarians‘; again also developed and produced through his Infinitum Nihil production.