The Libertine—Behind the Scenes

The journey which brought Stephen Jeffreys’ play THE LIBERTINE to the screen was never an easy one. Many years in development—producer John Malkovich first offered Johnny Depp the role of the scandalous Lord Rochester in the mid 90s—THE LIBERTINE was scheduled to begin filming in March 2004. Then calamity struck. Overnight and without warning, the tax laws which governed British film financing were changed; THE LIBERTINE’s producers suddenly found that one-third of their budget had evaporated.

The caprice of Inland Revenue could have spelled doom for the film, as it did for many other British movies, but with the ensemble’s dedication, financial sacrifice, a lot of improvisation, and a timely offer from the Isle of Man, THE LIBERTINE defied the odds. Under Laurence Dunmore’s direction, filming began in Wales on March 3, 2004 and continued at locations in Wales and England through the end of March; then, after a brief hiatus, production shifted to Island Studios on the Isle of Man for the last weeks of the 45-day shoot. Principal photography wrapped by the end of April 2004.

Our collection of photographs celebrates the defiant spirit of THE LIBERTINE and its loyal company--a production modest only in budget, but never in vision or daring. Thierry Valletoux traveled with the production in its early days; his stunning black-and-white photographs in the French magazine STUDIO gave us our first, unforgettable glimpse of Johnny Depp as John Wilmot. Brigitte Lacombe’s photographs, many of which appeared in the London Times, show an energetic cast thoroughly enjoying their work. Other behind-the-scenes photographs were snapped by paparazzi; we also include a few screencaps from the Brownlee Brothers’ documentary “Capturing the Libertine.” The resulting gallery is an eclectic mixture of serious portraits and backstage shenanigans, including such charming anachronisms as my Lord Rochester, in full costume and curly wig, holding a plastic coffee mug.

The Zone thanks sleepy, In-too-Depp, Hiro3, bonnie, and Part-Time Poet for donating their scans and screencaps to this gallery. The more time passes, the more we recognize the extraordinary work done by THE LIBERTINE’s cast and crew to bring this film into being. We dedicate this behind-the-scenes gallery to every artist who worked on THE LIBERTINE: no matter the odds against you, you never gave up your dream. We are so grateful for that!

--Part-Time Poet






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