Australia’s deputy PM Barnaby Joyce said that he is “pulling strings” in Johnny Depp’s head after the actor called him an “inbred tomato”.
Depp made the tomato comments to talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel.
It comes after Depp and wife Amber Heard were forced to issue an unusual video apology after she illegally brought two dogs into Australia.
Ms Heard avoided a conviction after appearing in an Australian court last month.
Depp told Kimmel the “inbred tomato” comment was not a criticism, but said without explaining further that he was afraid the politician might “explode”.
Asked whether he had watched the video apology – which was later mocked by Mr Joyce – Depp said “no, because I didn’t want to kill myself”.
Mr Joyce responded to the actor’s comments by saying: “I’m turning into Johnny Depp’s Hannibal Lecter”.
“I’m inside his head, I’m pulling little strings, pulling little levers,” Mr Joyce told the BBC through a spokesman.
“Long after I’d forgotten about Mr Depp he’s remembering me.
“The Australian people know we did the right thing.”
When the dogs, named Pistol and Boo, where discovered last year Mr Joyce – who was then Australia’s agriculture minister – said they should “bugger off back to the United States”.
He also said they could be killed.
The dogs were quickly taken out of the country and Ms Heard vowed never to return to Australia.
Australia’s tough quarantine laws are designed to keep disease at bay. Dogs entering from the US must spend 10 days in quarantine.
Australia’s quarantine laws
- Live animals and plants, plant material, animal products and some food from overseas cannot be brought into the country without government permission because they can introduce some of the world’s most serious pests and diseases.
- Those who flout the rules face fines of more than A$66,000 ($51,000; £36,000) and risk 10 years jail.
- As an example of how serious it can be, in 1995 a 500km (310-mile) by 200km quarantine zone was established in northern Queensland just to control foreign fruit fly maggots.