"Johnny fell in love with Eric J's artwork:" Barry Levine talks about Johnny Depp and REX MUNDI

In an interview with David Elliott published on Newsarama.com, producer Barry Levine talks about how he got Johnny Depp intrigued with the REX MUNDI graphic novels and interested in playing the protagonist, Julien Sauniere. “I met Arvid Nelson and Eric J at Comic-Con four years ago as an independent producer and fell in love with the concept, the writing and the artwork,” Levine explains. “I spent a year trying to get studios interested in it. They all said the same thing. Too dark, too ambitious, and too hard to sell. But I have a tattoo on my arm that says, ‘Who does not hope to win has already lost.'”

Levine eventually got the project to Tracey Jacobs, who sent it over to Infinitum Nihil, Johnny Depp’s production company. “Johnny read the comics, he had already been researching that time period and characters,” Levine reports. “Once we had established that relationship, we worked very closely with Sam Sarkar, who runs development for Johnny. When we sat down with Johnny, he fell in love with Eric J’s artwork and that pulled him into the story.” A small sample of the REX MUNDI artwork appears at left; we think that, apart from his blue eyes, Julien Sauniere bears a very strong resemblance to Johnny Depp.

The next step in bringing REX MUNDI to the screen was developing a screenplay. “Once we had Johnny interested in this as a project for him to star in, Jon Levin at CAA suggested a meeting with Jim Uhls [who wrote FIGHT CLUB],” says Levine. “Johnny, Sam and Jim had several conversations that resulted in Jim coming onboard as the screenwriter.”

The Zone thanks sleepy for the REX MUNDI news and dharma_bum for the artwork; you can read the full interview with Barry Levine HERE. There is also an interesting discussion of REX MUNDI on the Zone’s News & Views forum; many of us are rapidly falling in love with this project!