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2 April 2006   Articles No Comments

This is an an excerpt from the newly updated third edition of Mark Salisbury’s BURTON ON BURTON published by Faber. The book sells for $14.99 and is currently available at AmazonUk.

Johnny Depp explains his special relationship with Tim Burton

The Guardian – Many a moon has passed since the days of my brief brush with TV stardom, or whatever one might dare call it. I mostly think of them as the do-or-die years: picture, if you will, the confused young man hurtling dangerously towards the flash-in-the-pan at sound-breaking speed. Or, on a more positive note, forced education, with decent dividends in the short term. Either way, it was a scary time when so-called TV actors weren’t eagerly received into the fickle fold of film folk. Fortunately, I was more than determined – even desperate – to break away from my ascent/descent. The chances were nearly impossible, until the likes of John Waters and Tim Burton had enough courage and vision to give me a chance to attempt to build my own foundation on my own terms. Anyway, no time to digress… this has all been said before.

Many a moon has passed since the days of my brief brush with TV stardom, or whatever one might dare call it. I mostly think of them as the do-or-die years: picture, if you will, the confused young man hurtling dangerously towards the flash-in-the-pan at sound-breaking speed. Or, on a more positive note, forced education, with decent dividends in the short term. Either way, it was a scary time when so-called TV actors weren’t eagerly received into the fickle fold of film folk. Fortunately, I was more than determined – even desperate – to break away from my ascent/descent. The chances were nearly impossible, until the likes of John Waters and Tim Burton had enough courage and vision to give me a chance to attempt to build my own foundation on my own terms. Anyway, no time to digress… this has all been said before.

I sit here, hunched at the keyboard, banging away on a ratty old computer, which does not understand me at all, nor I it, especially with a zillion thoughts swirling through my skull on how to proceed with something as personal as my relationship with old pal Tim. He is, for me, exactly the same man I wrote about nearly 11 years ago, though all kinds of wonderfulness have flowered and showered the both of us, and caused radical changes in the men we were and the men we’ve become – or, at least, the men we’ve been revealed as.
Yeah, you see, Tim and I are dads. Wow. Who’d have ever thought it possible that our progeny would be swinging on swing-sets together, or sharing toy cars, toy monsters, even potentially exchanging chickenpox? This is a part of the ride I had never imagined.

Seeing Tim as proud Papa is enough to send me into an irrepressible weeping jag, because, as with almost everything, it’s in the eyes. Tim’s eyes have always shone: no question about it, there was always something luminous in those troubled/sad/weary peepers. But today, the eyes of old pal Tim are laser beams! Piercing, smiling, contented eyes, with all of the gravity of yesteryear, but bright with the hope of a spectacular future. This was not the case before. There was a man with, presumably, everything – or so it seemed from the outside. But there was also something incomplete and somehow consumed by an empty space. It is an odd place to be. Believe me… I know.

Watching Tim with his boy Billy is an enormous joy to behold. There is a visible bond that transcends words. I feel as if I’m watching Tim meet himself toddler-size, ready to right all wrongs and re-right all rights. I am looking at the Tim that has been waiting to shed the skin of the unfinished man that we all knew and loved, being reborn as the more complete radiant hilarity that exists full-blown today. It is a kind of miracle to witness, and I am privileged to be near it. The man I now know as a part of the trio of Tim, Helena and Billy is new and improved and completely complete. Anyway, that’s enough of that. I’ll step off the Kleenex box and get on with things, shall I? Onwards…

20 March 2006   Articles No Comments

Johnny Depp always has been known for his tendency to take on off-the-wall characters and dark, seemingly on-the-fringe parts in movies. But he’s also been in some seriously dramatic roles that have earned him a place among the Hollywood elite – whether he wants it or not – By Judianne Triglia.

His latest endeavor – “The Libertine” – is one of those dark “only Johnny Depp will do” kind of parts. He plays the Earl of Rochester in the 17th century famous for his debauchery and wicked ways. Hmmm . . . lets think this over . . . lots of sex and drinking and other evil deeds . . . sounds like a perfect role for Depp since women want him and men pretty much want to be him. Plus, who doesn’t like a little debauchery?

But before you hop to the movies, take a stroll through the duality of Depp from his beginnings in “A Nightmare on Elm Street” to his long-awaited “Pirates of the Caribbean” sequels.

“A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984)
He played: Glen Lantz – killed by Freddie for falling asleep while watching TV.
Why we care: Anyone killed by Freddie who “lives” to have a movie career gets a thumbs up. He even reappeared as another character in “Elm Street 6.”

This is an article excerpt. To view the article in full, please visit the azstarnet.com website.

3 February 2006   Articles No Comments

Johnny Depp is coming to Walt Disney World’s Pirates of the Caribbean — or at least his likeness is coming – by Scott Powers of the Orlando Sentinel

Disney will make changes this spring in the mainstay Pirates ride at both Magic Kingdom and Disneyland — adding characters from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and updating some of the special effects.

To do so, Disney will close both rides in early March for four months. The attractions will reopen just in time for the release of the sequel movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, in late June in California and July 7 at Walt Disney World.

The movie character Capt. Jack Sparrow, portrayed by Depp, will be mixed in with the 120 robotic performers in the ride. Barbossa, Sparrow’s nemesis in the first movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, also will appear. So will a ghostly figure from the new movie, Davy Jones.

“We’re adding some new characters and some exciting new special effects to really make it more familiar to today’s generation of kids who grew up seeing the movie or the DVD before they came to the theme parks,” said Eric Jacobson, senior vice president of creative development for Walt Disney Imagineering.

But cautious that many Disney fans react negatively anytime old standards are changed, Jacobson added, “It’s still the classic ride it always was. We’re just adding more.”

This is an article excerpt. To view the article in full, please click on the link above.

3 January 2006   Articles No Comments

Johnny Depp has turned his back on the hellraising days when he trashed hotel rooms and dated Kate Moss – By Alexa Baracaia, Evening Standard.

Yet despite swapping parties for the quiet life, Depp remains the most fascinating Hollywood star. The 42-year-old heart-throb has topped a list of the most popular film icons of 2005, according to online movie database www.imdb.com

His name received the most hits among the tens of thousands of actors covered by the website.

It is the second year in a row that Depp, who lives in rural France with wife Vanessa Paradis and children Jack and Lily-Rose, has made it to number one on IMDB’s “star-o-meter” list.

He began 2005 with an Oscar nomination for Finding Neverland, before enthralling millions with his idiosyncratic interpretation of Willy Wonka in Charlie And The Chocolate Factory.

He also lent his voice to another Tim Burton movie, Corpse Bride, and began filming back-to-back sequels for Pirates Of The Caribbean.

Depp says shunning the limelight and settling down has “done wonders for my relationship with Hollywood”.

He says: “I don’t know who’s famous. I don’t know who’s not famous. So, I come in just completely ignorant of all of it and it feels really good. Because then I don’t have to think about anything but my work.”

1 January 2006   Articles No Comments

NuVein Magazine’s January issue has an extraordinary article about make-up artist Ve Neill called The Many Faces of Fantasy written by Scott Essman. Neill, who specializes in prosthetic makeups and unique character and beauty makeups, has been doing landmark makeup for films such as The Lost Boys, Beetlejuice, Dick Tracy, Ed Wood, Batman Forever, Cobb, Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns, and Mrs. Doubtfire for over 20 years and has won 3 Academy Awards (Beetlejuice, Ed Wood, & Mrs. Doubtfire).

In a short excerpt from the article, here’s what Ve Neill had so say about working with Johnny on the film Edward Scissorhands…

“I think Johnny Depp really had a great deal to do with bringing that character to life. He really brought some heart and soul to it. It could have been on anybody and somebody else might have done it completely differently, but he was really great in that role. Even though Johnny spoke very little, he could really sell that empathetic character. It was really neat project to work on. Ultimately, Tim Burton designed the character, so Stan Winston and I just brought it to life. Stan had designed the makeup and I remember the first test we did. I think we basically used the forehead piece that was designed and then he had sheets of different types of scars. I just started putting scars into different areas. We just moved scars around and then of course there was the one that went through his lip which I actually put on with scar material, so it had to be constructed every day. Matthew Mungle, who was my assistant, took the vacuum form pieces of Johnny’s face and he made a stencil so everyday we knew exactly where to put the little scars – we had them all numbered.

Edward was supposed to real innocent, so I gave him a look almost like a clown makeup. One of my favorite colors has a real pale kind of a slightly grayish, yellow cast to it, Tuttle Shibui – that was the basic foundation. Around his eyes were charcoal and purple. On that character, I would change the configuration of the darkness around his eyes depending on the scene. It is real subtle, but you can sort of tell if you took stills of it and put them next to each other. At the end of the picture when he kills Anthony Michael Hall, I painted Edward’s eyes. All of the lead characters in Tim’s films have the Tim Burton look because that is the way he draws all of his characters: with pale faces and black circles around the eyes. Tim loves that; it is his signature.”

This is an article excerpt. To view the article in full, please click on the hyperlink above.

27 November 2005   Articles No Comments

In The Libertine Rosamund plays wife and nursemaid to Johnny Depp’s syphilitic Earl of Rochester by Liese Spencer for Scotsman.com.

…Pike went to Oxford to study literature, it wasn’t to get a degree under her belt, she says, but to taste more of that backstage magic. “I knew that they put on loads of plays, and I knew that it would be a great opportunity to go around and do things without anyone seeing, to practise.”

One of the authors she read at Oxford was the Earl of Rochester, an alumnus of her college, Wadham, and the debauched model for Johnny Depp’s character in The Libertine. As his screen wife, Pike only gets one retrospective love scene with him, because he has long become bored with her and moved on to other things. Like the rest of the film, however, it’s quite a raunchy one, with the two of them smartly dressed in a moving carriage, Depp’s hand up her skirt, while she murmurs obscene encouragement. “We all dream about making love with Johnny Depp!” she laughs. “But that scene was funny because the carriage was so bumpy. It was tiny and the director was doing the camerawork in there with us. So his camera was bobbing away… Still, it’s a brilliant example of how things are much sexier if you don’t see them. It’s more sexy than making love in a bed would have been. We don’t even kiss, and it’s so erotic.

“I mean, Rochester did it every which way he could. Boys, girls, pineapples, the lot. He was a terrible husband but the relationship between them is very real because she’s not quite the long-suffering wife that you initially think she is. Her decision to let him stray is a sign of strength because she understands that man. She loves him but she knows that no woman can hold him down. So, to stand a chance of living with him, you live under those terms. He will go off and sleep with other people.”

Acting opposite Depp was fantastic, she says. “He’s so brilliant to work with, so exciting, you believe in him so much as a character. It made my job very easy.”

Off-camera, he was no less appealing. “He’s like the coolest kid in school. You want to be in his gang. His whole lifestyle is kind of wonderful. He travels with this big group of people. He’s like a gypsy. His caravan is always filled with his friends, playing guitar and painting. You want to be in the band. The guys who look after the trailers were like, ‘How do we clean in there?’ because he covered it with drapes and candles, just covered every available surface.”

This is an article excerpt. To view the article in full, please visit the link above.

23 November 2005   Articles No Comments

Everyone in Hollywood must face the same devilish question of compromise at some point. Many, in exchange for fame, fortune and a good table at Ashton Kutcher’s restaurant, will happily trade in their artistic aspirations for a big-budget, roman-numeral-bearing remake co-starring Tom Arnold as the zany neighbor next door. Others, meanwhile, cling so tightly to their anti-commercial virtues that they boast about their new John Sayles movie opening soon in one theater as their tears fall into the mac-and-cheese dinner they’ve prepared in their studio apartment. – Larry Carroll

Remarkably, Johnny Depp has successfully straddled this line for more than two decades, earning himself an audience filled with equal numbers of shrieking “Pirates” fanatics and turtleneck-clad film students joyously reciting “Dead Man” dialogue. It seems like part of his master plan, then, that the Kentucky-born actor would spend November simultaneously shooting the world’s most high-profile sequels, debuting a controversial unrated art film and receiving a career tribute at age 42.

“I’d do it over exactly the same way if I had to do it over,” Depp grinned through gold-capped teeth at the recent premiere of his bawdy drama “The Libertine.” “I wouldn’t do anything over.” To Depp, that credo now includes “The Libertine,” a sexy 17th-century biopic that the ratings board attempted to slap with an NC-17.

“I can just say that getting the film made [was tough], but you feel that about every movie you make,” said Depp, who stars as real-life poet John Wilmot.

“[Depp] has been involved with the project for about 10 years,” first-time director Laurence Dunmore marveled of his leading man. When he actually came to perform the role, it was obvious that he was born to play him.”

22 November 2005   Articles No Comments

In the opening frame of The Libertine, Johnny Depp, all delicious cheekbones and tousled hair as the sexual omnivore the Earl of Rochester, begins by challenging his audience. “You will not like me.” But of course you do. – By Chrissy Illey, Evening Standard

We meet in a sterile hotel room in Beverly Hills. Depp is wearing a scraggy T-shirt and jeans, spiky hair and hornrimmed glasses – but still looks absolutely gorgeous.

“I definitely had a phase in my life when Rochester and I would have spent the night together,” says Depp. “He is a character I know in a lot of ways. “I recognised something that I had gone through. I quit drinking spirits because I wouldn’t stop. I would just keep going until a black screen came down where you can’t see anything any more and you don’t know if you’re around.”

Depp quit drinking, thinking it was “wasting time”, and in the same period he stopped doing drugs. “Trying to numb and medicate myself was never about recreation. It was existing without living …
“I would have made a dangerous mistake of trying to live it. Not necessarily going out and shagging everything that had a pulse, but drinking, and I would never have got through it. Ten years later, I have a solid foundation to stand on.”

Then, of course, there was the raging, destructive, on-off relationship with Kate Moss. He regularly trashed hotel rooms (when he wasn’t strewing them with flowers for Moss) before he left the model to settle down with the French singer Vanessa Paradis, who changed his life.

“I don’t think I was good for Kate.” said Depp. I’d read that he had taken an interest in her troubles, invited Pete Doherty out for lunch and warned him to “… lay off the drugs. Be nice to Kate.”

He reels back into the sofa. “Oy, oy, oy … Jesus. That never happened. I’ve never met him. I like him in that I like his music very much. I think he has a great talent and it seems to me that he and Kate could be great together because she’s a great girl. She’s got a great brain on her and I think she’s a good mummy.”

He is shocked at her treatment by newspapers. “Dragging her through the mud like that. “[Kate’s] growing up,” he adds. “We all are. Let her be. But I never took Pete Doherty aside and I never sent her a mirror, as has been written.

“They said I sent a mirror to the place where she was getting straight because it is supposed to be an old Indian custom: look in the mirror and find your own strength to abstain. But I would never have thought a mirror would be the right thing to send her. I feel so bad for her.”

He has not spoken to her directly. But his message to her? “Fuck ’em. They [the press] are trying to crucify her, and all that’s gonna do is give her more power. She should take that and run with it. Ultimately I know she’s very strong and very smart. She’ll be fine.”

After the split with Moss, he fell in love almost at first sight with French singer and Moss lookalike Vanessa Paradis, who quickly became pregnant with Lily Rose, now six, then Jack, now three. Fatherhood revolutionised Depp. “I helped give our daughter life, and she gave me life.”

He is a die-hard romantic and believes that Vanessa is The One. He’s fiercely loyal to her. “It’s amazing to be parents together, that’s the truth.” It is perhaps because of this fierce loyalty that he has never been in touch with Moss.

Depp and Paradis moved to France to bring up their children because he said LA was too violent. Has he become disenchanted after the recent riots and curfews that spread out from Paris? “It’s insane that setting cars on fire is the new strike. It takes a lot away. I’m sure it’ll clear up to a certain degree, but now we are based back in LA because I have work here. I went there [to France] to live because it seemed so simple. Now it’s anything but. I don’t know how they’ll recover from this.”

Perhaps he’d like to move to London, I venture. “I love London. There’s no shortage of comedy programmes – Johnny Vegas – restaurants and newspapers.” Are you still a fan of the Mirabelle? “Oh yes, where I got arrested” [in 1999 Depp was held in a police cell for four hours after he chased a photographer outside the restaurant with a piece of wood]. “I’m not sure they want me back, but they do have a terrific wine list and I do like a good claret.”

“You know the incident at the Mirabelle was because they [the paparazzi] wanted to get a photograph of Vanessa and me and her tummy. She was about to burst and I thought, I am not going to allow fatherhood to commence as a novelty. I was already protective of my kiddies.”

I ask him if he wants more children. “Oh yes. I’m pretty good at it,” he says twinkling.

13 November 2005   Articles No Comments

From bad boy to contented dad, this latterday James Dean has reformed and settled down. But his choice of movie roles, now including a wild 17th century courtier, is as adventurous as ever

David Smith
Sunday November 13, 2005
The Observer

Death or nappies: this was the choice facing Johnny Depp. He could emulate his idol, James Dean, and smash himself up in a car, or ape his contemporary, River Phoenix, dead from a drug overdose outside Depp’s nightclub. Yet either fate would have been too cliched for someone unwilling to run with the pack. More daring, surely, to be a rebel with a cause: settle down, potter about the garden, change the kids’ nappies.

Before fatherhood, Depp ticked most of the bad-boy boxes, or was perceived to: the drinking and drug-taking and dropping out of high school; the rock’n’ roll ambition; the arrest for trashing a New York hotel suite with girlfriend Kate Moss; the ownership of Los Angeles’s notorious Viper Room (where Phoenix was hellraising the night he died in 1993); and the arrest for taking a plank of wood to the British paparazzi in January 1999.

But four months later, everything changed, because Hollywood icons are human, too: ‘Anything I’ve done up until 27 May 1999 was kind of an illusion, existing without living,’ Depp has said. ‘My daughter, the birth of my daughter, gave me life … you suddenly meet your reason to live; you meet the future. It was like my birth, in a way; I was born that day.’Guardian Unlimited

8 November 2005   Articles No Comments

Tennyson and Bronte loved his poetry. So why is the Earl of Rochester remembered only as a drunken lech?

Barry Didcock on the slow rehabilitation of a 17th century rake and libertine

HIS lyrics were peppered with obscenities and satirised peers and rivals alike. He scandalised polite society by partying hard with actresses and prostitutes and yet he has won many fans, among them feminist critic Germaine Greer. He was implicated in at least one murder, was an early practitioner of “dogging” and had a number of alter egos, including Dr Bendo. He could regularly be found quaffing claret in city nightspots and among his many affectations was a pet monkey. Predictably, he died young. And now Johnny Depp is going to play him in the movie biopic.

But this is no rapper with an itchy trigger finger, no rock star with a death wish. Instead it’s a description of John Wilmot, second Earl of Rochester, the most notorious rake and libertine of the 17th century. He was also a poet and playwright but despite being championed by Defoe, Voltaire and Tennyson, his verse had been all but excised from the canon of English literature when Graham Greene picked up the mantle in the early 1930s. Greene wrote a biography called Lord Rochester’s Monkey, but even it was deemed too fruity for his publishers, Heinemann, who feared prosecution under the obscenity laws. Only in 1974 did it finally see the light of day.

In a preface to that first 1974 edition Greene describes his book’s troubled genesis, stating (a little bitterly) that when he started the project Rochester was still viewed as a pornographic writer whose works were kept under lock and key in the British Library, ‘denoted there with donnish whimsicality by the Greek letter phi’. Moreover, he noted, the only modern biography was one published in German in 1927, while an English language edition of the poems destined for America in 1926 had been stopped at customs in New York. Every copy was destroyed.

Thirty years on, Germaine Greer is just one of many critics to have published books about Rochester, and his poetry is freely available. For Greer, he is one of a troika of great 17th century poets along with William Shakespeare and John Donne.

This month he gets another boost with the movie release of The Libertine, which stars Depp as Rochester and John Malkovich as his on-off drinking buddy, Charles II. Based on Stephen Jeffreys’s award-winning play and directed by Laurence Dunmore, it features Samantha Morton as Elizabeth Barry, the most famous of Rochester’s many mistresses, and Rosamunde Pike as Elizabeth Mallet, a woman the 18-year-old Rochester abducted and who later became his wife.

Depp, who viewed Rochester’s original manuscripts in the British Library in preparation for the part, is already being talked of as a credible Oscar contender . But the film has an 18 certificate and sticks, in language and content, closely to the spirit of the man who wrote poems about premature ejaculation (‘A touch from any part of her had done’t’ – and the next line’s even saucier) and once celebrated the pleasures of outdoor sex in a poem called A Ramble In St James’s Park. So, will America once more find Rochester too hot to handle?

“The puritanical New Christian lot will find the film incredibly offensive, but it will be great for Rochester’s ghost to be the subject of controversy again,” says Stephen Jeffreys, who adapted his play for the screen. “There’s a lot of nudity. It’s a sexy film. There’s one scene where Johnny Depp got so into it he kept adding more and more swear words. I conceived it as quite a profane script and it’s even more so in the performance.”