A tale of two Johns: Johnny Depp to take on role of John McAfee

It goes without saying that actor Johnny Depp has the reputation for playing characters that could kindly be described as “out there.”

Pioneering cocaine kingpin George Jung in “Blow.” Tonto in “The Lone Ranger.” Former Boston mob boss Whitey Bulger in “Black Mass.” Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” And a semi-fictional version of Thompson in “The Rum Diary.” And then there is what is Depp’s signature role as Captain Jack Sparrow, soon to be seen in “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” the fifth film in the crazily popular Disney series. Those are just a few of the roles Depp has thrown himself into over the years.

And now, it looks like Depp is going to take on the part of a tech industry legend. Why now? Maybe he’s just been waiting for the right role to come along to wade into the mind of what makes Silicon Valley’s biggest brains tick? Or, maybe Depp just decided to wait to play someone crazy?

Which could explain why Depp is about to put on the skin of John McAfee.

In 1987, McAfee founded McAfee Associates, the company which, it could be argued, gave birth to the network-software security industry. McAfee left his eponymously named company in 1994, and eventually sold off his McAfee stock. The software genius spent the next two-plus decades in different business ventures, told people not to use smartphones, offered to help unlock the iPhone used in the late-2015 San Bernardino shooting and ran for president as a Libertarian candidate in 2016.

But what everyone really wants to know about John McAfee is just went on when he moved to Belize. And that’s where Depp steps into the picture.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Depp is going to play the part of McAfee in an upcoming movie called “King of the Jungle.” The script is being adapted from a Wired magazine story from 2012, which detailed McAfee’s life at his compound in Belize. The Hollywood Reporter said that story, “John McAfee’s Last Stand,” described McAfee’s residence as “a Colonel Kurtz-like compound of guns, sex and madness.”

So, something for everyone, right?

Ah, but there’s also murder. In 2012, McAfee was a “person of interest” in the murder of one of his neighbors in Belize, but was never charged with the crime. McAfee would spend some time in jail in Guatemala for illegally entering the country, and now lives in Tennessee.

It won’t be the first time McAfee’s life has been a movie subject. In 2016, Showtime debuted the documentary “Gringo: The Dangerous Life of John McAfee,” which included interviews with several people who lived near and worked with McAfee in Belize. “Gringo,” which McAfee described as “fiction,” alleges McAfee was involved in two murders and the rape of a work colleague while in Belize.

Sounds like a full boatload of crazy. No wonder Depp would want to take on the role.

Photo: In this combination photo, actor Johnny Depp, left, appears at the premiere of “Alice Through the Looking Glass” on May 23, 2016, in Los Angeles. and anti-virus software founder John McAfee appears in the South Beach area of Miami Beach, Fla., on Dec 12, 2012. Depp is set to star in “King of the Jungle,” a dark comedy about McAfee, the eccentric inventor of McAfee Antivirus software. (Alan Diaz/AP, right, and Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)


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