March 13, 2004

Casting Call

He had very early an inclination to intemperance, which he totally subdued in his travels; but when he became a courtier, he unhappily addicted himself to dissolute and vitious company, by which his principles were corrupted and his manners depraved. He lost all sense of religious restraint; and, finding it not convenient to admit the authority of laws which he was resolved not to obey, sheltered his wickedness behind infidelity.

-- Samuel Johnson, "The Life of Rochester"

Johnny Depp is filming The Libertine, in which he plays the lead role as the Earl of Rochester. Works for me.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at March 13, 2004 07:42 PM

This play didn't do much for either me or the audience when I saw it at Steppenwolf in the mid-90s, although maybe Chicago-style blood-and-guts acting just wasn't compatible with the language. As I recall, the playwright turns Rochester into a Byronic hero at the end, which somehow doesn't seem quite appropriate.

On the other hand, Depp will certainly be sexier than John Malkovich.

Posted by: Miriam at March 13, 2004 10:03 PM

I thought Depp deserved actor of the year last year. He really is one othe most talented comic actors of our time.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at March 15, 2004 11:58 AM

Malkovitch will apparently be in the film, playing Charles II. He may well steal it.

One wonders to what extent the script will borrow from Rochester's poetry. Will they include, for example, this scene:

Nor shall our love-fits, Chloris, be forgot
When each the well-looked linkboy strove t'enjoy
And the best kiss was the deciding lot
Whether the boy f***'d you, or I the boy.

from The Disabled Debauchee. De Sola Pinto prints a shorter version of the poem, which omits this stanza, but both Vieth and Walker include it.

Posted by: jam at March 15, 2004 06:21 PM

The stage version had some of Rochester's bawdy verse (although, as a fellow grad student pointed out to me later, the playwright included some stuff of doubtful attribution). Plenty of bawdy staging, however, both hetero and homo.

My Norton anthology is in my office, but I seem to recall that it prints a somewhat cleaned-up version of "The Disabled Debauchee" (the verb is "enjoy'd," I think).

Posted by: Miriam at March 15, 2004 09:43 PM

Depp is fine, but contemplating the relative merits of Restoration comedy and contemporary Hollywood screenplays is never a happy chore. Why not just film "The Man of Mode" with some nude scenes?

Posted by: Ray at March 19, 2004 07:48 PM