Australia's deputy PM 'pulling strings' in Depp's head like 'Hannibal Lecter'

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Media captionJohnny Depp and his wife Amber Heard expressed remorse in a video message made public by the Australian Department of Agriculture

Australia's Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce has said that he is "pulling strings" in Johnny Depp's head, like film villain Hannibal Lecter.

It comes after the actor said on a US television show that Mr Joyce looks "somehow inbred with a tomato".

It is the latest war of words between the pair after a row over the star's dogs entering the country.

Mr Joyce said although he had now moved on from the dispute, he was still "inside [Depp's] head".

"I'm turning into Johnny Depp's Hannibal Lecter," he told reporters, referencing the manipulative serial killer from Silence of the Lambs.

"I'm inside his head, I'm pulling little strings, pulling little levers. Long after I've forgotten about Mr Depp, he's remembering me."

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Image caption Barnaby Joyce made headlines around the world after threatening to kill Johnny Depp's dogs

The animosity started in 2015, when Mr Joyce threatened to kill Yorkshire terriers Pistol and Boo, which were illegally brought into Australia by Depp's wife Amber Heard.

This kicked off a strange series of events that culminated with Heard attending an Australian court in April to plead guilty to a charge of falsifying documents.

More serious charges against Heard were dropped - she avoided a conviction and the case appeared to be settled. The couple then issued a video apology.

But Depp breathed new life into the saga when he made the "inbred tomato" comment on US comedian Jimmy Kimmel's talk show on Tuesday.

"It's not a criticism [of Mr Joyce]. I'm just saying, I was a little worried… he might explode," Depp said.

He also referred to Mr Joyce as "Barnaby Jones", the fictional US TV detective.

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Image caption A huge media contingent was on hand when Mr Depp and Ms Heard arrived at Southport Magistrate's Court last month

Unscripted absurdity

If you are still confused by the case, here is a timeline of events so far:

April 2015: Heard arrives in Australia on private jet with dogs Pistol and Boo. Depp is filming the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie on the Gold Coast. Pistol and Boo are not declared to immigration officers.

May 2015: A dog grooming salon posts pictures of Pistol and Boo on social media, alerting authorities to their presence. Barnaby Joyce, who is agriculture minister at the time, threatens to have the dogs euthanised within 50 hours if they weren't removed. Pistol and Boo are flown home to Los Angeles on a private jet.

July 2015: Heard is charged with failing to declare the dogs.

September 2015: Depp says at the Venice Film Festival that he killed and ate Pistol and Boo under the orders of a "sweaty, big-gutted man from Australia". He also says during an interview with Jimmy Kimmel that he will fly back to Australia and "assault that man" if Heard is jailed.

February 2016: Depp jokes that Mr Joyce has invited him to stay on his couch next time he is in Australia.

April 2016: Heard and Depp attend court in Queensland. Heard is let off with a good behaviour bond. They also make an apology video promoting the importance of Australia quarantine regime, which is widely seen as stilted and surreal. Mr Joyce makes fun of the video, saying Depp looks as though he is "auditioning for The Godfather".

May 2016: Depp says Joyce looks "somehow inbred with a tomato". Joyce says he is pulling strings in Depp's mind like Hannibal Lecter.

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