Actor Johnny Depp is continuing his run at the top by signing up to play a notoriously debauched 17th century gentleman in The Libertine.

The star, who made the successful jump from independent films to Hollywood blockbusters with last year's (03) Pirates Of The Caribbean: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL, will join acclaimed actors John Malkovich and Samantha Morton.

Depp will play the real-life JOHN WILMOT, EARL OF ROCHESTER - a playwright, poet, womaniser and pornographer, and considered the greatest scoundrel in the court of CHARLES II.

According to 18th century writer SAMUEL JOHNSON, Wilmot "lived worthless and useless and blazed out his youth and health in lavish voluptuousness". He died from syphilis aged just 33.

The script, adapted by STEPHEN JEFFRIES from his own play, has taken eight years to get funding - and is already expected to face a battle with American censors over its graphic content.

09/01/2004 19:34