Australian politician claims he is Johnny Depp's 'Hannibal Lecter' as their war of words continues


The Australian politician locked in a bizarre war of words with Johnny Depp has boasted that he got into the Hollywood star's head like fictional serial killer Hannibal Lecter.

Barnaby Joyce was hitting back after Johnny quipped that the ruddy-faced deputy prime minister appeared to be "inbred with a tomato".

The exchange on Wednesday is the latest salvo in the dispute which began a year ago when Joyce, who is also agriculture minister, threatened to have Johnny's pet dogs, Boo and Pistol, put down.

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard

The 52-year-old actor's wife Amber Heard pleaded guilty in a court last month to falsifying documents to conceal the pets when she arrived by private jet to join her husband on the set of the fifth film in the Pirates Of The Caribbean series.

Johnny ridiculed Joyce this week on US television, telling talk show host Jimmy Kimmel: "He looks somehow inbred with a tomato.

"It's not a criticism. No, I was a little worried. He might explode."

Sir Anthony Hopkins in Hannibal

Mr Joyce replied by thanking Johnny for the publicity he gave Australia's tough biosecurity laws through the case that was widely lampooned as a "war on terrier".

The minister, who is campaigning ahead of July 2 elections, said he had moved on from his dispute with Johnny.

"I'm inside his head, I'm pulling little strings and pulling little levers. Long after I've forgotten about Mr Depp, he's remembering me," he told reporters in his home town of Tamworth.

"I'm turning into his Hannibal Lecter," he added, referring to the brilliant but dangerously manipulative character best known from the Academy Award-winning film Silence Of The Lambs.

Johnny and Amber recorded a 40-second videotaped apology as part of a deal with prosecutors that allowed Amber to avoid a conviction.

The couple's delivery in the video was oddly wooden, and Joyce said he could have directed it better himself, and that it looked like Johnny was auditioning for The Godfather.

Johnny himself told Jimmy Kimmel he had not watched the video: "No, because I didn't want to kill myself."

The actor had poked fun at the quarantine drama during a press conference in Venice last year where he was asked if he planned to take the dogs for a gondola ride.

"No," he replied. "I killed my dogs and ate them, under direct orders from some kind of, I don't know, sweaty, big-gutted man from Australia."