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By Alex Johnson

Johnny Depp and Australia's deputy prime minister again squared off Tuesday over Australia's threat to prosecute Depp for smuggling his pet Yorkshire terriers into the country.

Depp and his wife, Amber Heard, formally apologized last month for violating Australia's biosecurity laws by failing to register and quarantine the two dogs when they traveled there last year.

Their obviously reluctantly issued apology, which the government posted on YouTube, was widely likened to a "hostage video."

That set off a war of words between Depp and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, who said Depp looked like he was "auditioning for 'The Godfather.'"

Round Two came Tuesday. In an appearance on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live," Depp — struggling to restrain a smirk — agreed with Kimmel that it might have been his "greatest performance ever."

Unable to stop himself, Depp finally broke out laughing and questioned why the Australian government spent taxpayer dollars "to globally chase down a couple of teacup Yorkies."

As for Joyce himself, Depp said: "He looks somehow, like, inbred with a tomato."

"It's not a criticism," Depp said. "I'm just saying I was a little worried he might explode."

To which Joyce rejoiced at a news conference Tuesday (Wednesday morning in Australia): "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," Joyce said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. "I'm turning into his Hannibal Lecter."

Joyce then reminded listeners that at the heart of the dispute lay a serious issue.

"The Australian people know we did the right thing," he said. "We can't have rabies coming into the country. Who does the fellow think he was?"