Two days ago it was a question; today it's a reality: Johnny Depp will indeed portray John Dillinger in Michael Mann's Public Enemies. According to Variety, the actor and director sealed the deal yesterday a few hours prior to Depp's appearance at the Sweeney Todd premiere. This is one of those rare situations in which something good came as a result of the writer's strike (not that it means the writer's strike is a good thing, of course), because Depp was only able to take this role after his Shantaram gig was postponed. Mann, too, has had other projects in his pipeline lately, including Empire with Will Smith, Frankie Machine with Robert De Niro, a Hollywood noir with Leonardo Dicaprio, Edwin A. Salt with Tom Cruise and one of two dueling biopics about ex-KGB Alexander Litvinenko (with the competing movie expected to star Depp, interestingly enough). None of those films have been reported as being passed over due to the strike, though.

Public Enemies was scripted by Mann himself, adapted from Bryan Burrough's book "Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34." In addition to Dillinger, the non-fiction tome goes into the stories of gangsters Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd, the Barker gang and Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. There's no indication, however, that the movie will be focusing on any story except Dillinger's. Maybe the others will show up in passing, while Dillinger features as the main concentration. With a star like Depp in the guy's shoes, it's hard to imagine him sharing the screen with anyone expected to be taken as significant as he. Then again, it is called Public Enemies plural ...

Mann and Depp are set to begin shooting in Chicago in March.