Movie superstar Johnny Depp is in negotiations to star in new film based on the autobiography of a homeless drug addict.

THE LORD OF THE RINGS star Andy Serkis will direct the movie, which tells the tale of 62-year-old STEPHEN SMITH's amazing life.

Smith was locked in an asylum at 14 and molested by a doctor before becoming addicted to amphetamines.

He later became an apprentice to a master thief and was involved with the theft of jewels from movie legend Sophia Loren, as well as becoming involved with the notorious London gangsters the KRAY twins.

Smith - who escaped his addictions and is now a millionaire property developer - wants Depp to play him , and is confident of winning over the actor.

He says, "We are speaking to Johnny Depp's agents about him playing the lead role.

"He is a wild-card actor who takes parts he wants and not for money."

He adds of first-time director Serkis' involvement, "Andy is the blue-eyed boy of Hollywood and has the clout to get the film distributed across North America.

"I went for him because he is pedantic about detail. He will capture the authenticity and rawness of my life as a down-and-out."

The book - which has sold 1.2 million copies worldwide - was first set for the big screen in 1999 when Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz reportedly offered singer Robbie Williams $1.9 million (GBP1 million) to play Smith.

23/05/2005 13:52