Northern Ireland news

The unlikely friendship of A lister Johnny Depp and Gerry Conlon

Gerry Conlon tried to persuade the Hollywood star to play him in `The Name of the Father'

HOLLYWOOD A list star Johnny Depp had an unexpectedly close friendship with Gerry Conlon of the Guildford Four which included holidaying in west Belfast and a road trip to Co Kerry to see Fungie the dolphin.

Depp said he would have "taken a bullet" for him in the foreword to a former IRA prisoner Richard O'Rawe's biography of Conlon who spent 15 years in prison after being wrongly convicted as an IRA bomber.

The pair met in the US in 1990, a year after Conlon had his conviction overturned and was released from prison and was trying to persuade the Hollywood star to play him in 'The Name of the Father'.

"I was already on the deck wiping away tears (as was he), when he gave the first details of his abduction and torture by the British authorities," Depp recounted.

Long-time friends Shane MacGowan and Johnny Depp backstage in Dublin

Depp said their friendship was sealed at a gig by the Pogues, where Depp described Conlon and his brother looking "just like the miscreant, unhinged maniacs I always tended to hang out with".

This month will see the release of documentary `Crock of Gold - A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan' which has been produced by Depp and already won the prestigious Special Jury Prize after its world premiere at the San Sebastian International Film Festival.

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