"Rum Diary," adapted and directed by Bruce Robinson, focuses on Paul Kemp (Depp), a journalist drinking himself into oblivion in 1950s Puerto Rico. Heard will play Chenault, girlfriend of one of Kemp's journalistic colleagues, who sets off a love triangle.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the role drew the interest of an assortment of A-list actresses, including Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley. But the bigger names were scared away by the extensive nudity said to be attached to the role.
Heard was unlikely to be swayed by those concerns. While the actress' "The Informers" was torn to shreds by critics at the Sundance Film Festival, there was far greater appreciation for Heard's lack of modesty in a role that's more frequently nude than clothed.
The young actress has been seen in more clothing in "Pineapple Express" and in The CW's short-lived summer soap "Hidden Palms."
"Rum Diary" appears set to be Depp's next film role, beginning production in March. Sanderson, the third corner of the love triangle, is not yet cast.