Johnny's movies

Divine Rapture one of the biggest shames of Hollywood

Posted in Johnny Depp, movies by Anna Maria Polidori on November 22, 2014

When a production collapse leaving people in the s..t.  Story of an incredible sad adventure of a movie production



Divine Rapture had to be a successful and original movie.

It was 1995.

The movie had to be filmed in Ireland. Strong of the friendship with Johnny Depp, Don Juan was released in 1994, Marlon Brando recommended with great pleasure Johnny Depp and Debra Winger to the director of the movie.

Johnny was in one of the roles he loves the most in absolute: the one of the journalist.

This time the reporter was busy investigating potential religious miracles in Ireland a place as all we know, very catholic. The story: a lady dies but she is back to life while they’re celebrating her funeral becoming a sort of local “Saint Mary”.

Divine Rapture at first was born as a real black comedy but it became a “Hollywood Joke” of the destiny, the fatality and mainly, the powerful and devastating lack of money. This production, there is to say, devastated many people.

Actress Debra Winger the main character. Marlon Brando in the role of the priest of the little community.

John Hunt in the one of the local doctor.

Not a case there are these two important characters: the one of the doctor and the other one of the priest. Little communities in general love to curing the spirit and the health as well giving a lot of importance to the role of the doctor and the priest, characters seen at time as the most important ones of the place.

Shootings began mid-july 1995 and just for two weeks. People on the set felt a constant tension. Director Tom Eberhardt remembers that moments: “I’ve been there for two months”.

For filming the celebration of the mass were selected two churches in the county of spectacular Cork.
Local clergy didn’t give the permission to the production of filming because of the nature of the movie. Plans of the troupe were destroyed. Not only but the bishop said another strong: No! to the use of other two churches selected in a different area. Marlon Brando’s character ridiculed the clergy and the Irish catholic clergy wanted to avoid to being exposed at a ridiculous light.

The 450 citizens of Ballycotton a village located in the stunning County of Cork were electrified by the arrival in their little tiny village of Hollywood, a dimension completely unknown to them. Actors and the rest of cast and crew received a very good welcome. There is to add as well that of course the movie would have brought to them publicity, tourism and money.

Divine Rapture was written by American production designer Glenda Ganis. Producer Barry Navidi interested to this story. After reading the screenplay in 1989, Navidi searched for the sufficient money for the movie for other six years.

Marlon Brando appeared like a great luck for Navidi. Brando wanted to play the role of the priest.

The budget of the movie was of 12 millions of dollars, so not exactly what we would have called a blockbuster movie, but it seemed impossible to find this mountain of money.

Why? Navidi explained it to the Guardian in 2009: “It was a foreign movie. The American market didn’t understand the location. We had a small project, a small story, but big stars.”

CineFin decided of helping Navidi. It sounded that that company was ok although Navidi didn’t know yet that some of the people at the Cinefin were experiencing serious problems with US federal authorities.

Navidi wanted to see this movie realized and Divine Rapture became a reality. Ireland didn’t appear anymore like a distant mirage.

The little town of Ballycotton was quickly transformed in a 1950s location.

A resident of the village: “Everyone was happy”. They still didn’t obviously know what would have happened the next.

Tom Eberhardt, the director had made low budget indie films.
To him Brando was like a myth. Not anymore when the actor communicated him that he wanted to wear an orange wig. The director to The Guardian: “I stumbled in and must have been white as a sheet because they asked me if I was sick. I thought I could handle this guy, (Marlon Brando) but I wasn’t so sure.”

Debra Winger talked of the friendship between Johnny Depp and Marlon Brando: “They were definitely having a relationship that sometimes flowed over into the time in front of the camera. Johnny really looked up to Marlon and Marlon, of course, loved having an acolyte. I got the impression that the main reason Johnny had come was to work with Brando“. And I am sure that this one was his main reason being Marlon Brando an icon for Depp.

In the while panic started to become more real on the set because Cinefin still had to give some money to the production.

The first one to discover what was happening was the agent of Debra Winger: the address given to the agent by the company was just the one of a parking lot. Panic became a certainty.

Navidi to The Guardian: “I felt like I was pushed out of a plane without a parachute. We had no choice but to abandon production.”

Debra Winger felt real and strong compassionate feelings for everyone in the village. The actress explained to The Guardian five years ago: “I looked around at these people I had gotten to know. We used someone’s fishing boat every day. You don’t do this to people. I couldn’t stand the thought that this is what show business does. It was devastating for them. Not only had we not paid them for the rental of the houses and fishing boats, but they hadn’t made the money they would have made catching the fish.

Marlon Brando left as soon as possible Ireland. In total he had to receive 4 million of dollars. He received 1 million.

The investment in the village was of 4 millions of dollars but it was a catastrophe for most of people, restaurants, hotels involved with this production.

With the time villagers baptized ironically the entire story: “Divine Rupture”.

People lost money:

Local illustrator Brendan Ahern. He was hired as a lookalike of Marlon Brando. The only gratitude he received, was just the honor of shaking everyday the hand of Marlon Brando.

The story is not yet finished.

Marlon Brando the main star, when arrived lived at first a real Paradisiac situation. A mansion in that had to be paid theoretically 4.000 pounds per week by the production. Beautiful location, great house, Marlon Brando fell in love very soon for Ireland and said once enthusiastically: “I haven’t never been so happy. I am serious: how can I conquer my Irish citizenship?“.

Johnny Depp 10406537_296973293809654_7333082697670845881_nds  normal_venice_2004_photocall_026  johnny_depp_20  1 Johnny1had to work for a couple of days. As always when he appeared was photographed here and there and loved to spend time playing with his guitar and chatting with everyone in the village. Johnny in fact is a very social and loved man. Surrounded by hundreds of fans, he signed patiently a lot of autographs.


All the crew, when the production collapsed, including of course Johnny Depp were less lucky than Marlon Brando. Tom Eberhardt the director tried all his best until it appeared clear to everyone that the production needed to be closed that July after just two weeks of shootings. Seven years of work collapsed in a few days.



From the set. Thank you Lory


Producers in a statement said that the main blame was on the shoulders of the company sponsoring the movie. “We are, as all shocked by the situation and deeply saddened. We express our sincere gratitude to the residents of Ballycotton, who provided us with so much support, and we will do everything possible for compensating the effort and time of all of you “.

Sadly no money for hotels and catering. The crew occupied something like twenty rooms of the Hotel “Bay View” for a long time.

It was a great shame.

Paddy Egan provided transport to the troupe and said to the journalist of The Guardian five years ago his life after that experience changed forever.

He had lost £6,600 sterlins  with this production and later he moved his business in another town. He added to the Guardian: “I’d say some people wouldn’t talk about it because of the amount of money they lost. They’d be embarrassed. People in town were badly stung. I was lucky, but some were put out of business.

No one paid, someone started to complain: “We would have hoped in years and years of tourists thanks to this movie, because our corner of the world in great visibility.

In bad waters the owner where Marlon Brando stayed during the disgraceful production.

Marlon Brando paid the gardener, cook and two housewives.

Twenty minutes of film and Johnny Depp has never been paid.

Dear Johnny considering all, if I would be in you, I would return to that town completing the movie and eventually giving dignity to all these people ruined because of this movie 🙂 It would be great! What a dream it would be.




Anna Maria Polidori


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