Johnny Depp and Cillian Murphy wine and dine in Westmeath
HE doesn't eat much but Hollywood superstar Johnny Depp still made time to sit down to Sunday lunch in a small village in Co Westmeath.
The Chocolat actor joined Cillian Murphy on a flying visit to acclaimed writer JP Donleavy in the village of Multyfarnham yesterday, before returning to London for filming of his new movie.
They were amongst a group of nine, including New York film director Bob Mitchell, who visited the elderly writer.
Locals speculated that the Hollywood group were there to discuss proposals to bring Donleavy's novel The Ginger Man - considered one of the top 100 books of the 20th century - to the big screen.
Set in Dublin in post-war 1947, The Ginger Man follows the often racy misadventures of Sebastian Dangerfield, a young American living in Dublin with his English wife and infant daughter and studying law at Trinity College.
The group took in lunch at the award-winning Weirs Bar & Restaurant, when Depp charmed Sunday lunch patrons with his non-starry affability.
“He was beautiful,” said Una Weir, co-owner, hastening to add that she did not mean his looks but his personality and general demeanour.
“He was a gentleman - so gentle and kind. He was so nice to all the children who all wanted his autograph because of Willie Wonka.”
“He gave them hugs - he was a lovely guy,” she said, adding that he had also tipped the staff well.
Declining to say what he had eaten, she merely said he had had a pint of Guinness and a small meal.
“He's so skinny, you can see he doesn't eat much,” she said, however the rest of the party had full lunches and had paid the bill before sitting back to chat for two hours.
“When they left, they posed for photographs and everyone wanted his autograph,” said Una.
Depp's Ginger Man film project has been a long time in train but it finally seems to be taking off.
In 2005 there were discussions with Depp about starring in a film based on the novel, with rumours that Shane McGowan had been lined up for a role.
The following year, it seemed progress was being made however when Pirates of the Caribbean came along, Depp's focus shifted .
Depp met with Donleavy again in 2008 and in 2009, Donleavy was still hopeful that Depp would start the project in earnest.
Yesterday's meeting seems to cement the proposal.
Donleavy wrote a stage adaptation of the novel in 1955 which opened in London in 1959 starring Richard Harris. A run in Dublin closed after three nights as it was deemed “offensive” by Irish critics and following protests by the Catholic church.