This is a story of a movie star performing an offscreen impersonation of a painter unaware that he is performing. The actor is Johnny Depp and the picture in question is a portrait he made of himself now on sale in a “limited-edition” silk screen edition at the Castle Fine Art Gallery in London.

Netflix doesn’t belong in this story

To focus on this painting, you’ll need to take zero notice of the three-part Netflix documentary about the Depp v. Heard courtroom drama now on air. My commentary is about his self-portrait, not the trial.

Depp’s painting of himself put me in mind of the one-note score played during the opening credits of the film "Frida" – a single sound repeated over and over like a warning gong in a grade school fire drill.

But that sense of repetition doesn’t come from Depp picturing himself on canvas again and again as Kahlo did. Instead, the air of reiteration comes from his unfluctuating facial expression seen in publicity photos of him throughout his career – sulky, sullen, self-pitying. Not even Kahlo looked that way, and she had obvious reasons.

Given that Depp’s self-portrait has the look of so many of his past publicity photos, it’s not surprising to learn from Art News magazine that he based his painting on a picture that photographer Jean-Baptiste Mondino snapped of him at a Christian Dior Perfume photoshoot in 2015.

Yet, in a video that Depp made about making his self-portrait, he didn’t mention the Dior photoshoot.

Instead, he described how he "would sit with a mirror and just sketch myself and I would do that for a while...Different days, different light, different angles."

The actor also contends that he made the painting of himself “at a time that was...a bit dark” (referring to the defamation trial against his ex-wife Amanda Heard).

He said he used the self-portrait as “a means of creative healing.”

Why does that face looks so familiar?

Why, then, does his facial expression in the self-portrait, resemble so many photos taken long before the trial: at the 2020 Berlin International Film Festival, the 2009 Paris premiere of “Public Enemy,” the 2013 Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the 1990 movie “Cry Baby,” to name a few.

Of course, the manager of Castle Find Art Gallery in London art gallery, Ian Weatherby-Blythe, who selling the "limited edition silk screens" of Depp’s self-portrait for $1,950 a piece, loves the image: “I think this is the most personal piece he’s ever done.”

Weatheby-Blythe went on: "When you look at the eyes, there’s something very meaningful behind the eyes, there’s something, you know, quite sad." Sad is the look of the little girl in Rembrandt’s “The Girl With The Broom” who is pictured taking a break from her drudgery for a drink of water. It’s hard to picture Depp even with a broom in his hand.

Depp is also expected to sign each of the prints from his “limited edition” self-portrait. But here’s the thing.

The number of prints is not known. Is it 50? 100? Even if it’s only 25, he’s in for writer’s cramp.

No worries. Weatherby-Blythe said: “He wants to give the opportunity to as many people as possible to buy his art, and also he wants to try to raise as much money as he can for Mental Health America.” Reportedly, that comes to $200 from each sale.

For Depp, who once admitted to spending $30,000 a month on wine, the cut for charity seems more like a gratuity for his wine steward.