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9 September 2014   Articles No Comments

Kevin Smith’s Marijuanaissance: On ‘Tusk,’ ‘Falling Out’ with Ben Affleck, and 20 Years of ‘Clerks’

EXCERPT 09.09.14 by

The outspoken filmmaker sat down with Marlow Stern to discuss his wacky walrus horror film Tusk, his upcoming film with Johnny Depp starring their daughters, his love of weed, and more.

Any conversation with Kevin Smith, the loquacious filmmaker/geek god, tends to go to interesting places. The guy has no filter, and regularly regales colleges and podcast listeners with his industry yarns, from the hellish experience working with Bruce Willis on Cop Out to the living soap opera that was developing his script for the superhero flick Superman Lives, replete with a giant, killer spider (at the producer’s behest).

Following the disappointing box office for Red State, Smith said that his follow-up film, Clerks 3, would be his last. Later, he amended that statement to say that he’ll keep making movies, but only ones “I would/could ever make.” Which brings us to Tusk.

A couple of years back, on his comedy podcast SModcast, Smith and pal Scott Mosier discussed an ad for a man renting out a room in his house gratis—on the condition that the tenant dresses up like a walrus for a few hours a day. They had a field day with it, disassembling and reassembling it, until they landed on an idea: What if it was a horror film about a demented elderly seafarer who posts a misleading ad, lures a man to his cabin in the woods, and then attempts to transform him into a walrus. That, dear friends, is the plot to Tusk. Written and directed by Smith, the film stars Michael Parks as the seaman Howard Howe and Justin Long as Wallace Bryton, the poor podcaster who’s abducted. When he goes missing, Wallace’s girlfriend (Genesis Rodriguez) and pal (Hailey Joel Osment) team up with an eccentric Montreal private eye, Guy LaPointe (Johnny Depp), to track him down.

Tusk was shot in 19 days on a budget of $2.9 million, and made its world premiere at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, where The Daily Beast sat down with Smith to discuss the bizarre film, the 20th anniversary of Clerks, and much more.

I feel like my entire generation grew up smoking weed and watching Clerks and Mallrats.

See, that’s something I never did until fairly recently. It was [Seth] Rogen who turned me on to it. I’d smoked weed in the past, but treated it as a recreational, once-in-a-blue-moon thing. But Rogen was just so impressive and productive as a stoner, and the only stoners I’d known filled the stereotype, but this is a guy who works against the stereotype, since he’s always working on, like, nine things at once. He introduced me to the notion that there’s a whole community of productive stoners—not just in this business, but everywhere.

It’s a really mental wall, but once you concentrate and bust through that wall, you can be very productive.
Exactly. Some people are like, “I can’t imagine working stoned!” but for me, part of the fun is working through it, where it’s like, “OK, there’s something here but it’s clearing cobwebs and making me look at it from a new perspective.” It doesn’t give you any creative ideas, but it removes fear from any equation so you have no fear of what will happen.

Believe me, dude, when I say the joke of, “He’s got a wife, and she don’t like me,” there’s a seed of fuckin’ truth to it.
Johnny Depp has a pretty sizeable role in Tusk as the Montreal private eye Guy LaPointe. How did you two hook up?

It’s the girls. I met him because his daughter, Lily, and my daughter, Harley, are friends. I met him back in 2005 when Harley started in this school called the Hollywood Schoolhouse, so I’ve known him through school functions and he’s cool to talk to, and he’s a fuckin’ icon. I watched 21 Jump Street the first night it aired on Fox. We’d talk about the business but never, “Hey, do you want to play Silent Bob’s uncle?” because he was just in another stratosphere.

It wasn’t until Tusk with the Guy LaPointe part where, when I was done writing, I thought, “Who would be the ultimate Guy LaPointe?” because it was a gonzo project anyway that went from podcast to movie in six fuckin’ months. So, in that stoner frame of mind, I thought, “Johnny Depp would crush this.” It was the matter of just getting over the fear of texting him and going, “Hey man, I know you probably judge shit like this, but I have this great part in a fun movie and it’ll take two days.” And I told him that the only regret I had about making Red State was, because I had to turn it into a circus to self-distribute it, Michael Parks never got the due that I was hoping he would. I took all the focus away and some people were like, “Well, fuck Kevin and his movie.” So, I texted Johnny and said, “Look, I’m trying to make this flick for Parks to try and make up for the fact that I didn’t shine a light on him, and you could really help shine a light on him,” and he texted back, “I love Michael Parks.”

And you two are hooking up again with Yoga Hosers, starring Johnny and each of your daughters?

He fell in love with the Guy LaPointe character. He shot it in two days. After it was done, he was like, “I’ll play this character anytime.” But we shot our daughters in that convenience store sequence in two hours, and it was fuckin’ adorable. At the end of that sequence, Johnny was joking around and said, “We should just put them to work and retire.” I’m cutting that scene and watching it over and over, and I asked my wife why I loved the scene so much, and she said, “Kevin, it’s two people behind the fuckin’ counter at a convenience store. It’s where you started.” Plus, the performance was so natural and fuckin’ deadpan. So, first I asked my wife about writing a movie for the girls, and then I asked Vanessa [Paradis], Lily-Rose’s mom, and she said, “Kevin, if you want to do it, do it.” And then I did it and gave her the script, and she was like, “Oh wow, you weren’t kidding.” We’re at the end of Week 3 of shooting and by the end of the first week, they were really fuckin’ good and making instinctive choices. I thought it would be like directing Jason Mewes on Clerks where I’d go over and have to say, “No, do it like this,” and it was a puppeteering job, but they’re standing on their own.


23 June 2014   Articles News 1 Comment

Black Mass is facing a bit of rejection from the Boston community because they feel the movie might glorify Bulger, the famous convicted murderer and former organized crime figure, who is currently 84 years old.

Perhaps we would be amazed and delighted by the idea of Johnny Depp filming in our neighborhood but according to the Boston Globe, a local newspaper, a few people are quite disturbed because Black Mass is a movie based on Whitey Bulger, a man that is still alive and that damaged lots of families in that community.

“They’re filming this right next to all these people who lost loved ones to Whitey,” said Ivaska, who was born and raised in the neighborhood. “The fact that anyone glorifies anything to do with this guy is disgusting.”  The Boston Globe.

However crowds of natives and newcomers are following the film’s staff in order to get a glimpse of the cast, specially of Johnny.

Read more here.

1 April 2014   Articles No Comments


March 4th, 2014, Bruce Weber March 4th, 2014, Bruce Weber March 4th, 2014, Bruce Weber 

Photography BRUCE WEBER
Interview Magazine
April 2014

Even more than the other superstars of his generation (the Pitts, the Clooneys, the Cruises), Johnny Depp has built a personal mythos as complex and compelling as his career. In a sense, he’s managed to position himself as the beatnik troubadour of American cinema. After his early roles, as the cute boyfriend in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and the cute narc on the late-’80s cop show 21 Jump Street, Depp fought against his matinee-idol image. In his first headlining role, in John Waters’s cult greaser comedy Cry-Baby (1990), the actor sent up his own pinup status, playing a high school toughie with his tongue planted firmly in cheek. And, even as he became grist of young-Hollywood tabloid mill (dating the likes of actress Winona Ryder and model Kate Moss), there seemed to be another Depp hiding beyond the spotlight, an inquisitive artist who sought out his creative heroes, including Marlon Brando, the Beats, his good friend Hunter Thompson, and Thompson’s partner-in-crime, the artist Ralph Steadman (with whom Depp appears in this month’s For No Good Reason, a documentary about Steadman’s life and work).

With his star turn in Tim Burton’s eerie fantasy Edward Scissorhands (1990), Depp began putting together the menagerie of oddballs, outcasts, and misfits (Ed Wood [1994], Don Juan DeMarco [1995], Ichabod Crane in Sleepy Hollow [1999], Raoul Duke in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas [1998]) that would define his reputation as Hollywood’s unpredictable master of disguise. And, for much of the past 15 years, those complicated sideshow characters of Depp’s have been the main attraction in a series of CGI circuses (as Willy Wonka and the Mad Hatter in Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory [2005] and Alice in Wonderland [2010], respectively, and as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean series).

Now, aged 50, Depp may be reinventing himself yet again. Escaping the makeup trailer in this month’s techno-fable Transcendence, the actor plays a present-day artificial intelligence researcher whose mind is incorporated into a computer system—his character, in other words, disappears into a network of his own design. 

Or maybe Johnny is just the same old Johnny—the Johnny who, with his band the Kids had a dream come true by opening for Iggy Pop in the early ’80s. The actor and the musician then met again on the set of Cry-Baby and have been friends and collaborators ever since (Pop even scored the lone movie that Depp directed, the 1997 drama The Brave). Last February, Pop, who now lives in Florida, phoned Depp, who was at his home in Los Angeles, to talk about heroes, guitar solos, getting into character, and getting away from it all. 

IGGY POP: I’ve got this article that you wrote in 1999 called “Kerouac, Ginsberg, the Beats, and Other Bastards Who Ruined My Life.” In it, you mention being a teenager and daydreaming about drinking Boone’s Farm with the cute cheerleader. 

JOHNNY DEPP: Oh, yeah, man, Boone’s Farm was one of the early muses. Boone’s Farm and MD 20/20. [laughs]

POP: I’m glad to hear that. Boone’s Farm was a big favorite for the Stooges, and especially for me. But, of course, now you’re familiar with some of the better Bordeaux—Cheval Blanc and those. 

DEPP: It’s a ways from Boone’s Farm, for sure.

POP: You mention Ginsberg flirting with you. He visited me once but he didn’t flirt, so I’m kind of hurt. I think I was a little over-the-hill by that time. He just looked around my apartment and went, “How much did this cost?” [laughs]

DEPP: I met him when we were doing this documentary called The United States of Poetry in 1995—I was reading some Kerouac for the movie. Afterward, I offered to give him a ride home. They’d sent a limousine—back in those days it was a stretch limo—and Ginsberg got in and goes, “Wow, how much do you think this costs per hour?” [laughs] 

POP: I think, later on, he was a little obsessed with that stuff. But I understand. Those guys were the quintessential starving artists. 

DEPP: Indeed. Being in his New York apartment felt like you’d walked into 1950. 

POP: With the little Zen tchotchkes. 

DEPP: And books everywhere. He was a relentless flirt. Every time I saw him, he’d want to hold hands. It was sweet. I think he just wanted affection, on whatever level.

POP: I read that you did telemarketing. How was that?

DEPP: [laughs] I marketed pens—on the phone. But the beauty of the gig was that you had to call these strangers and say, “Hi, how ya doing?” You made up a name, like, “Hey, it’s Edward Quartermaine from California. You’re eligible to receive this grand­father clock or a trip to Tahiti.” You promise them all these things if they buy a gross of pens. It was just awful. But I actually think that was the first experience I had with acting.

POP: I too was a telemarketer. I lasted two days and didn’t sell anything. I guess it’s good I stayed in music. 

DEPP: I sold one thing, one gross of pens to one guy. And then he was asking me about the trip to Tahiti and I was riddled with guilt, so I told him, “Hey, man, you don’t want these f***ing pens. This is a scam. The grandfather clock is made of pressboard. You’re not going to Tahiti. I’m sorry.” So I talked him out of it.

POP: How many cigarettes are you smoking on a daily basis right now? 

DEPP: I’ll bet a thousand. 

POP: A thousand a day! [laughs] That’s incredible, but you sound very authentic. I believe that. 

DEPP: I’m working my way up to ten thousand. 

POP: Mining that same vein, how does your future look? 

DEPP: [laughs] It’s questionable at best. You’re way off the smoky treats, aren’t you? 

POP: I quit at the end of the century. I had to. I came down here to Florida, which has a really zany, sleazy reputation—which is well deserved—but it’s a good place to heal up if you’re battered from New York City. I did kind of firm up.

DEPP: There’s definitely healing properties to being in proximity to the ocean and that breeze. There’s something about that Caribbean climate and humidity. 

POP: You moved from Kentucky to Florida, right? 

DEPP: Yeah, I moved from Kentucky to Miramar, Florida, at about 8. I think I was in second grade. I still had my Southern accent, and down there you got to experience a melting pot in full fury. All the kids I hung out with were, like, Sicilian kids from Jersey and New York. There were also the Cuban families, and those with a redneck-y vibe, so it was a bit of everything. I remember an inordinate amount of violence in Florida while I was growing up there. 

POP: It’s still like that. We get on the news for it sometimes. Once I was stopped in traffic on the Dixie Highway and two guys got out of their cars and just started having at it, right in the middle of the four-lane traffic. They didn’t bother with guns or anything. It was just flesh-on-knuckle road rage.

DEPP: You won’t remember this, but I did two shows with you in Gainesville. My band, the Kids, opened for you in the early ’80s. God, you were such a hero and the f***ing show was amazing. After the gig you were walking around the club, and I was standing at the bar, all of 17 years old, guzzling as much spirits as I could to get up the nerve to talk to you. And I remember making the horrific decision in my teenage drunken state to go, “Well, I’ll just get his attention.” I started going, “I-I-Iggy Pop, Piggy Slop,” you know? You walked towards me and put your face about a quarter of an inch from mine and just went, “You little turd.” [laughs] And not only was it exactly the reaction that I deserved, but it was the one I wanted. I had a moment with you. Even though it was three words that dressed me down to absolutely nothing, I was so satisfied and happy that I had that experience with you.

POP: I’m glad I didn’t blow it by being too nice a guy there. [laughs] I actually have a scatological gift that I carry from you too. It’s a one-liner of yours. You and I found ourselves in kind of a dodgy situation once. Someone had invited us to a party that may have been more like an orgy, and we got there and found ourselves in the darkened room at the top of what looked like a very empty house. There was very little furniture. No one was there. And you looked to your left and you looked to your right, and you said, “I smell s**t.” [laughs] And that was it, out the door. It always comes in my mind when I find myself in a bad place and want to tiptoe in the other direction. I figured people from Kentucky must say that. Actually I met your family, and it’s a really nice group of people. Everybody looks very related. Like a batch of cookies.

DEPP: It might be inbreeding. I don’t know. [laughs]

POP: In the trailer for Transcendence you do the corporate pitchman thing, where you’re basically introducing the new research, à la Steve Jobs. Was there anything that you got curious about as you were researching this role? 

DEPP: What fascinated me more than anything is the correlation between technology and power—the idea that a guy who is able to download his sentient being into a machine can become god, or a version of god. Religion is a fascinating black hole to me.

POP: The Church of Scientology ran a very big-budget ad during the Super Bowl, and it put forth the proposition, “What if technology and religion could be combined?” or something along those lines. The visuals looked a lot like the trailer for Transcendence. But a quirky association I had when I heard about this movie was Donovan’s Brain [1953]. It’s this cheap, old sci-fi movie that I watched a lot when I was in my twenties, about a pioneering scientist in the West who dies before he can complete his research. They manage to take his brain and put it in a large fish tank, and he becomes more brilliant than ever, but he also becomes really mean. I think the idea is that, without the moderating touch of the animal spirit, the human mind is capable of some very dangerous things.

DEPP: Absolutely. It’s really frightening. And when you see all this stuff that goes on in the commercials—the endless commercials—people yelling down your gob, “Buy this, do this, this will save you, this will fix you …”

POP: There’s a certain frenzy that’s taken over, this high-pitched, aggressive tone. It’s eaten everything; you can’t compete otherwise.

DEPP: Everything can be a reality show now. Imagine what’s it going to be in 20 f***ing years, man.

POP: I think it’s going to continue in that direction, until and unless there’s some sort of horrible conflict or problem that makes it much harder to maintain the electrical grid. A lot of the current vanities rely on some very fancy science. 

DEPP: People get famous now for I-don’t-know-what. People have reality shows because they’re a Hollywood socialite, and these things become very successful and they generate a shitload of money for the company. And it’s multiplying, to where you’re literally looking into your next door neighbor’s bathroom with reckless abandon. It is like watching a fire. You can’t take your eyes off of it.

POP: I know. How did Buster Keaton come to become an actor—was he in vaudeville? What would happen to a guy like that now? How would he get a gig? 

DEPP: His mom and pop were in vaudeville. I think they put him onstage in their show when he was like 2 or 3. He was able to do these amazing falls. He supposedly got the name Buster from Houdini. Houdini was on the same circuit as the parents, doing the same shows around the turn of the century. Buster Keaton, the story goes, had this really nasty spill down a lengthy set of stairs, and Houdini looked and said, “What a buster.” And that’s where he got the name. But I think Buster Keaton, in this day and age, would be … He would have walked away, probably. He was pretty smart. [laughs]

POP: His look, his gaze was not unlike the gaze of some of the more intelligent and disturbing people that you see living on the street, watching the world that they can’t break back into anymore. There’s something there in that stillness, even if it’s just that they don’t have enough calories to fight back anymore.

DEPP: I think that’s exactly it. It’s that feeling of having been in the racket for such a long time, seeing the changes that have come along over the years within the context of our industries. I think that face, with Buster, is an existential, I can’t believe this is happening sort of look. Befuddled. At a loss for words.

POP: Is it fun dressing up and putting a bunch of goop on your face?

DEPP: I love the idea of changing my look. I think one owes it to the audience, to go out there and give them something different each time, so as not to bore them to death. And I always felt that if you’re not trying something different each time out of the gate, you’re being safe, and you don’t ever want to find that place of safety. I like that, each time, before I even go in front of the cameras, the studio’s reaction will be fear.

POP: [laughs] Fear for the welfare of their money?

DEPP: Ultimately. They have those hideous pangs of fear where they go, “He’s f***ing killing the movie.” [laughs] And I can’t argue with them, because I might be. But I just know for the character that this is the right thing to do. And I’ve always enjoyed hiding behind these characters. It’s a strange thing, you’re more comfortable as a character than you are in life. You know what I mean? I could stand up in front of, it doesn’t matter how many people, as a character. But if I had to do it as myself and give a speech, I would be liquid.

POP: I remember you were marveling how Jim Jarmusch came to your nightclub and chatted up somebody, successfully, and you said, “He’s got that gift of gab that I just don’t have!” I haven’t got it either. But Jarmusch’s really got it. What a smooth operator, man.

DEPP: Some people got that ability, and I never had it. And never wanted it.

POP: Nick Tosches, is he still going strong? 

DEPP: He’s still moving forward. He’s so brilliant. He’s one of the ballsiest, most poetic, and rage-filled writers, but he attacks with such calm. And wisdom. I always feel really lucky after I’ve read one of Tosches’s books, because it’s like you’ve had this experience with him. And it’s funny because hanging out with him is very much like being in one of his books. In the same way that it was with Hunter [S. Thompson]. When I hung out with Hunter for all those years, and lived in his basement in Woody Creek, Colorado, we were together a lot. I think I even referred to us as deviant bookends at one point. But you were always the other character in the book. He made you his counterpart. So, going to Cuba or being locked in a hotel room in San Francisco with him for five days, it was all true. We did end up with 17 grapefruits and 40 salt and pepper shakers, and club sandwiches packed to the ceiling. I mean—madness. It’s great to have that be real. There are those who meet their heroes and go, “Aw, f***.” And I’ve never had that, luckily. Starting with you, I was never disappointed by the people I’ve admired. And the choices I made when I was in a position where it was do-or-die were made with my heroes in mind. Like, Cry-Baby was a real important move for me, to get away from being considered just a TV actor. There was no real transition to cinema back then. And then Scissorhands was another step in the direction I wanted to go. Coming at it with the brain of a musician, all I kept thinking about back then is that you don’t want to disappoint those you’ve admired. 

POP: Like, what would Marlon Brando say?

DEPP: Exactly. I didn’t want to disappoint the people who had busted down doors before.

POP: There’s something about playing guitar. It helps you. Sometimes you can see truth, I think. 

DEPP: I still approach a scene as one would approach a solo. There’s nothing set or pat. I don’t know what the f***’s going to happen until I get in there. Just like when you’re in the booth and you’re playing a guitar solo, you don’t exactly know how you’re going to phrase this or that. Which I think is beautiful. That idea of chance.

POP: It’s very hard work being an actor on a film set. Grueling, hard work.

DEPP: It is hard work. But certainly I’ve heard of far worse gigs. 

POP: I read you were a mechanic in your teens. What did you do, work on your motorcycle?

DEPP: I was working at a gas station, pumping gas, and they put me in the garage and made me a mechanic. I told the dude, “Hey, I know very little about this.” And he said, “Oh, you’ll just do what I tell you to do and it will work out fine.” Well, it didn’t. I changed all the tires on this guy’s car, did the alignment, put the f***ing wheels back on, pulled it down, guy got in, and his left rear wheel shot off the f***ing vehicle. [laughs] I was asked to leave, needless to say. What about you? Are you off at the moment, writing, recording? 

POP: I’m doing a radio show all year for the BBC 6. 

DEPP: That’s great. I’m glad you got some time off the road. I’ve been playing a lot of music lately. It’s a real lifesaver, being able to focus on my first love. It’s freedom.

POP: It’s a much more free gig, being a musician. Less people involved. 

DEPP: And immediate—yeah, f***, we captured it. I suppose that’s it, capturing something. 

POP: Are you playing with a bunch of people?

DEPP: I’ve been writing and recording with Ryan Adams a lot lately. Ryan is incredibly prolific and he’s just a pure soul, he’s just this being.

POP: I know his stuff. He’s really f***ing talented, really skilled, and a restless sort of artist.

DEPP: Exactly, he’s itching all the time. It’s like it’s burning to come out of him.

POP: He’s in danger. Like I was. I hope I’m not anymore. But he’s got that endangered look. Oh, boy, come on Ryan, hang in there.

DEPP: He’s got a great handle on it. And is taking good care of himself. But what a talent, man. I’m amazed by the f***er. And then, here and there I’m doing some stuff with Alice [Cooper], which is really fun. Also with Marcus Mumford, who’s amazing. But what stays in my head is the couple of times that you and I sat down in the studio and just messed around—doing the TV show in Paris that time [performing their song “Hollywood Affair”], just recording stuff in the studio.

POP: “Hollywood Affair” is very nice; it’s a beautiful piece of music. And I got some really nice cues for your film The Brave, as well. I reused those on Avenue B [1999]. People who want their Pop straight don’t like it. But there are a lot of people I can reach out and touch that way. There was feeling in the music. It was supreme for me. 

DEPP: Here’s a question for you. The work you and [David] Bowie did that resulted in The Idiot [1977]—have you guys ever thought about trying something together again? I’m asking as a fan.

POP: I never say never about anything. I had great times, creatively, with him. Particularly on that first one, The Idiot. Bowie would try anything, and at that point, I would try half of anything. One night I went out and got drunk and he was bored, so he went into my bedroom and he dug under the mattress—I used to write angry poetry and hide it under my mattress—and he found this poem: “I’m on the edge / I feel like I’m about to break / Everything’s too straight and I want a weird sin / I want some weird sin.” So he wrote it up and made a song out of it [“Some Weird Sin” on Pop’s 1977 album Lust for Life]. He also gave me the title idea for “Lust for Life.” I didn’t know it at the time but it had, of course, been a novel and a film starring Kirk Douglas, as van Gogh.

DEPP: Some of those lyrics still stick in my head. I think one of the most beautiful lines ever is “That’s like hypnotizing chickens.”

POP: That’s from Burroughs. “What is this love anyway? / Well, it’s just the same as hypnotizing chickens / You just rub their belly or rub their head, and they go into a trance / That’s love.” [laughs]

DEPP: I listen to Burroughs read “A Thanksgiving Prayer” probably bimonthly. That’s my religion. I think it starts out, “To John Dillinger, in hope he is still alive.” It’s just so beautiful. God, it’s so great to talk to you, man. I miss you. I hope we can hook up sometime. 

POP: Absolutely. I’ll get myself some kind of gig out in Hollywood. Or, you know, you can see my blues shack here. 

DEPP: I’ve got to get you and your gal to come out to that little place I got in the Bahamas, man. You could leave your house and be on a beach in, f***, less than two hours. Anonymity is achievable there. And the heart rate slows about 20 beats per minute, within the first 15 minutes of being there. Yeah, we should make a sojourn there.


16 November 2011   Articles No Comments

Johnny Depp – in my opinion the most beautiful man in the world – always working exactly against this beautiness. The only work he doesn’t succeed in. And even if you don’t think Johnny looks absolutely amazing – you cannot deny that he is the most talented actor of his generation. Nobody can represent that many different characters, nobody is that daring in his choice of movies. I guess there is no role he cannot play. And he is not only a great actor. Do not forget his great work as the writer and director of the movie The Brave. Or his talent as a musician. Playing the guitar or even composing his own character’s score for the soundtrack of the movie Once upon a time in Mexico.

And his most adorable “talent” is his character in real life, his love for his girl Vanessa Paradis, and being a father for his two kids.

But why Johnny Depp?

Johnny Depp gives us fans more back than it is even possible for other actors.

Johnny is one of the most talented and convertible actors ever. He does’t let himself being pegged as something, but attempts completely different roles everytime. And he does not only play the character, he becomes the character, so that nobody else is conceivable for it. Johnny Depp doesn’t shy away from movies for sure a flop nor from roles not even paid for. He is not only a great actor. Let’s not forget his great work as the writer and director of the movie The Brave. Or his talent as a musician. Playing the guitar or even composing his own character’s score for the soundtrack of the movie Once upon a time in Mexico.

Apart from these talents, he is – obviously – an incredibly beautiful looking man, whose outer beauty is reflected inside and out of his eyes many times over.

In interviews he always seems romantically dreamy and thoughtfull, before this seriousness suddenly turns into an incredibly cute, childish and stirring humor.

But Johnny Depp doesn’t care about his stardom and beauty.

He is down to earth and sees himself as an ordinary guy with an extraordinary job. He doesn’t wear designer fashion, but he has his own personal (Quote:) “No-Style-Style”: he wears, what he found.

Instead of meeting with the celebrities of Hollywood, he plays Barbie with his daughter at home. In interviews he talks smiling about his two kids and their mother Vanessa Paradis.

This is what makes him so covetable: he is not the unreachable star but a completely down to earth family father.

And Johnny accepts us fans – or “supporters” how he calls us – from his heart.

He signs autographs till the last fan got one. At public appearances, he lays his hand down to his heart to show us that he wears us there. He tells fans he meets, that he is the one feeling honoured. And in his totally unprepared, from hearth coming, acception speech of the People’s Choice Awards he thanks us with the words “you’re the boss!”.

Johnny Depp is just…more wonderful than the man every woman covertly dreams from.

I want to add a quote…my favourite one made about Johnny Depp…written by Rudolf John in the Austrian Kurier and I hope, I translated this correct: …and there is scarcely any other actors face that meets more the conception of romanticism than his. With the melancholic trait around the mouth, the poetic far sighted view, where nevertheless the rogue is flashing through, and the bantering body language.

— Martina
5 November 2011   Articles No Comments

the following article is Copyright October 2011

The world’s biggest movie star talks

“I am preparing myself to forgive you,” says Johnny Depp, dramatically. “I think you’ve been punished enough.”

What heinous crime has ShortList committed to warrant such hard-fought absolution from one of the most famous men on the planet? Only to ask him for his favouriteWithnail & I quote, which, as Uncle Monty devotees will already have spotted, he promptly provided, accent and all.

However, we’ve not waited up until the early hours for Depp’s transatlantic call simply to trade lines from cult films. The 48-year-old is phoning ShortList to promote his latest project — a big-screen adaptation of Hunter S Thompson’s debut novel, The Rum Diary.

It’s been 13 years since Depp’s first celluloid flirtation with Thompson’s work, in the shape of the almighty Fear And Loathing In Las VegasThe Rum Diary, written a decade before Fear And Loathing but not published until 1998, finds the actor playing permanently ‘thirsty’ journalist Paul Kemp; another drink-and-drug-pickled, semi-autobiographical Thompson protagonist.

Replacing Terry Gilliam in the director’s chair for this adaptation is Withnail visionary Bruce Robinson (hence the Uncle Monty impression), whom Depp lured out of a 19-year retirement to write the screenplay and direct the film. Which results in our first question…

How did you manage to coax Bruce Robinson back to filmmaking?

I was a real pest [laughs]. I just kept coming at him. I understand someone who makes that decision and says, “I’m done with this cinema game and all those nasty bits that come with it,” but Bruce was my dream for The Rum Diary and he was Hunter’s too. So I had to pursue him until he kicked me in the mid-section [laughs].

Did he ever come close to doing that?

I don’t know [laughs]. He was initially reluctant, but once we’d talked about it a bit and he’d read the book a couple of times, he started to get a flavour for it. I’d always wanted to work with Bruce on something, but The Rum Diary was the ultimate. And then one day he just said, “You know, I think I’ll do it.”

You’re obviously a big Withnail & I fan. Have you got a favourite quote from the film?

Oh my God, there are so many. Well, certainly Uncle Monty. Oh, and then there’s the opening scene [adopts Withnail voice] “I have some extremely distressing news… We just ran out of wine.”

Is there a touch of Withnail about Captain Jack Sparrow?

Oh yeah, definitely. But Withnail, for me, is as great as cinema gets. It has every aspect you want. It’s hysterically funny, immensely quotable and there’s a great gravity to it as well. It’s a very poetic film. For me, it’s in the top three of all time.

What are the other two?

I’d say Time Of The Gypsies by Emir Kusturica and To Have And Have Not [Howard Hawks’ 1944 war romance].

Robinson famously told the teetotal Richard E Grant that he had to get drunk at least once in order to play Withnail. Did he take a similar approach with you on The Rum Diary?

Well, the thing is, both Bruce and I have a tendency with drinking to… Well, we’re both very good at it. He has a pretty hefty capacity and so do I, so we initially made a pact to stay completely sober. For the first couple of months we managed it, until one late night filming in Puerto Rico. It was boiling hot, a million degrees humidity. We were just about to finish for the night and we saw this little store across the street and we knew — we just knew — they had the coldest Coronas in the world in there. So, at that moment, we said, “All right, f*ck it. We’ve got to have a beer.” We downed about three each in a minute [laughs].

Did the boozing continue?

Yeah, but it wasn’t out of hand. We weren’t guzzling booze on set.

Is it true that you and Robinson nearly died while scouting locations?

Yeah. We were flying to Mexico to check out some locations and suddenly, somewhere over San Diego, the plane’s power went. Engine noise, everything — it just went. It was one of those moments where Bruce and I just locked eyes and went, “What the f*ck?” I think I literally said to him, “Wow, is this… it?” And then we both burst into hysterical, uncontrollable belly laughs.

Had you been drinking, by any chance?

We’d had some wine, yeah. And a few Coronas [laughs]. But it wasn’t a hallucinatory situation. It was really real. The power came back on, of course, but it was one of those things that nobody wanted to talk about until we were safely off the plane. But Bruce and I were laughing like infants the entire time.

There are some impressive stunts in the film involving fire-spitting and driving while sitting on another man’s lap. Did you perform those?

Well, I thought I was going to do the fire-spitting, but everyone came over and said, “No, no, that’s not happening. Not tonight, Johnny.” I figured I could have done it. But driving down those steps in the car — that was very real.

Were there any close calls?

Hell yeah! [Laughs] It was ugly. Especially as I was being dry-humped by a grown man while I was trying to steer.

Having worked so closely with Hunter S Thompson on Fear And Loathing, was it odd not having him on set this time round?

It was. But I had this cache of ammunition from my years with Hunter, living in his basement, going on the road with him as his… What did he call me? Oh yeah — “road manager and head of security”. And my name was Ray. People would go, “That’s Johnny Depp,” and Hunter would say, “No. His name is Ray.” [Laughs] So because I knew him so well, he’s easily accessible.

What’s your fondest memory of the time you spent together?

It’s difficult to pick just one, but that time alone with him, just the two of us — besides Deborah, his secretary, who basically kept us alive by feeding us vitamins and water — that was the greatest, because it was Hunter unguarded. So those evenings, sitting around, bullsh*tting about writers such as [F Scott] Fitzgerald, Henry Miller, Nathanael West, those were my favourites. But even when I was 2,000 miles away, I’d get the occasional 3am phone call from him, saying things such as, “Colonel!” — he used to call me ‘Colonel Depp’ — “Colonel! Are you familiar with the hairy black tongue disease?” [Laughs] I’d be like, “What?” “Oh yeah, man. It’s a real thing. I’ve got some literature on it that I found at the dentist’s office. You gotta read about this hairy black tongue disease.” And you know, it is a real thing [laughs].

You must have had some wild nights out around the time of making Fear And Loathing…

Yeah, there was a time when Hunter did a gig at The Viper Room [the LA nightclub that Depp used to co-own]. We all met for dinner — me, Hunter and John Cusack came too. Hunter forced me and Cusack to get onstage with him, and he had this idea when we arrived that we should chuck a blow-up doll on the street so we could have the proper sound of screeching tyres outside.

Why did he want that?

He wanted chaos! [Laughs] So, he threw this blow-up naked woman doll into the road and there was this horrible commotion and screaming, tyres, going “Eeeeekkk!” And he just laughed, man. He just laughed.

Was that typical Hunter behaviour?

Oh, very. I remember the first night I met him. It was around Christmas ’94. I was asked to go to the Woody Creek Tavern [in Colorado] and wait for Hunter. So I’m sitting in the back of this joint and suddenly, at about 12.30am, the door bursts open and all I see is sparks [Thompson was carrying a Taser gun in his hand]. Just sparks. Then I see people hurling themselves on the floor, and I spot the safari hat and sunglasses and hear [adopts Hunter voice], “Out of my way, you bastards.” He cleared a path, walked straight up to me and said, “Good evening. My name’s Hunter.” From then on, we were the best of friends [laughs].

Do you find that certain characters, such as Fear And Loathing’s Raoul Duke, have stayed with you?

Yeah, it’s a weird thing. When I played Edward Scissorhands, I found a great safety in being that character, because there was nothing negative or malicious about him. So, I learned to look at everything almost through a puppy’s eyes. And when I was playing Raoul, I found safety in thinking and retaliating like him, through all that time I spent with Hunter. There are still times to this day when Hunter… arrives. Whenever I find myself in some ignorant situation, this kind of irreverence arrives in me that was a huge part of Hunter. He could be so irreverent and at the same time so deadly.

Let’s talk about your other famous characters. Your children must be forever insisting that you do the Jack Sparrow voice for them…

[Laughs] No, Captain Jack doesn’t do it for them any more. They’re so used to him now. I have to make them laugh with new characters.

Like who?

Just anything to make your kiddie laugh, you know? Some of the characters I’ve done in the past were born literally out of playing Barbie with my daughter. And if [a new character] works, I think, “OK, I may put him in a drawer and use him again later.”

You recently worked with Ricky Gervais on Life’s Too Short — was that fun?

Oh my God, it was out of control. Everyone was trying to keep a poker face on the set and it just wasn’t happening. Stephen Merchant came closest, but Ricky and I were howling and so was Warwick [Davis]. We were all crying with laughter.

So there’s no bad blood between you and Gervais after his joke about The Tourist at the Golden Globes earlier this year?

No, no. I actually thought that was the funniest thing he said that night [laughs]. He’s a very talented guy and obviously he’s got his act, his thing. But he’s very clever and super quick.

As one of the world’s coolest men, do you have any guilty pleasures?

I wish I could tell you I watch those horrible reality shows or something, but I just can’t bring myself to. I don’t know… I like watching crime shows on TV.

Like The Wire?

No, like documentary, investigatory shows. Unsolved crimes. I can’t think of any other guilty pleasures, other than I’m a big fan of The Monkees’ song Daydream Believer.

That’s not a guilty pleasure — that’s a good song.

Oh, OK. Good. Thanks.

Do you still play your own music?

I get together and write music with friends occasionally. Music is still my first love, so it’s never anything I’ve abandoned.

You’ve worked with Keith Richards and Noel Gallagher — ever thought of forming a supergroup with them?

No, man, I’m not worthy [laughs]. But if things pop up, I’ll do them. Shane [MacGowan] called and asked if I’d play on something recently. I played on Patti Smith’s record. I love playing any chance I get.

Stephen Graham told us that he tried to make you a Liverpool FC fan on the set of the last Pirates Of The Caribbean film. Did he manage it?

[Laughs] Yeah, he tried, and our Liverpudlian stunt co-ordinator on [Tim Burton’s upcoming gothic drama] Dark Shadows has been trying, too. But I don’t really know enough about the sport — I haven’t seen many games. Although I did go to an England rugby match a while back. That was cool.

You must get spotted at events like that. What kind of things do fans say to you?

Little kids like to hear Captain Jack. But what really freaks them out is when you go from Jack to [adopts Wonka voice] “Willy Wonka” [laughs]. Suddenly, they’re like, “I’m not sure about this guy…”

The Rum Diary is at cinemas nationwide from 11 November

(Image: All Star)

Although Pirates of the Caribbean- On Stranger Tides will not premiere in theaters until May 20th , much of the public have been able to view the film already at the many screenings held in major cities. Veering off the path of past POTC films that were held in strict privacy, this film has been shown all over the US during the past month for fans to view for free.

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23 January 2011   Articles No Comments

Text from Red Bulletin January 2011

Johnny Depp is at once one of the world’s most alluring, yet impenetrable Hollywood leads. Rüdiger Sturm explores the character of this quirkiest of actors and reluctant star.

you might expect any number of different reactions to the experience of meeting Johnny Depp: awed respect maybe, nervousness, a frisson of here’s- hollywood-in-the-flesh excitement. But when yours truly is finally sitting directly opposite the 47-year-old mr D at the luxury Le meurice hotel in paris, i’m struck by quite another emotion altogether. this superstar makes you feel all protective. the way he looks at you from behind his blue horn-rimmed glasses makes him seem timid. his voice is muffled. you might even say he’s shy. and there’s something feminine about his 5ft 8in frame. yet at the same time his appearance is immaculately polished. the two-tone scarf he’s wearing perfectly matches his open-sleeved grey shirt and stylishly ripped jeans. his wrists are covered in leather straps and Buddhist prayer bands. his ears and fingers are covered in rings, including one film memento complete with skull and crossbones, a thick platinum and diamond number and a gold signet ring. his fragile, artistic appearance means the mild irritation i’d felt at his being half an hour late swiftly disappeared. especially as he immediately apologises in a rather despondent tone. “i’m afraid this habit of mine is practically automatic. i’m always late.” truth be told, he needn’t really have said another word. Because those first impressions alone answer the question as to why Johnny Depp is perhaps the most successful, and definitely the most exciting, star on the planet right now. they betray both coolness and a sense of style and are the outward signs of an individual who lives in his own world: a creature as exotic as he is sensitive and one clearly ill at ease when he comes into contact with the outside world. From this perspective, these impressions are almost more illuminating than his latest film, a thriller, the tourist – a conventional flick in comparison. Depp stars in this, his latest, as an american maths teacher on a leave-the- heartache-behind trip to Venice, trying to get over a painful break-up. While there, the stunning girlfriend (angelina Jolie) of a fugitive gangster casts her spell over him. But it’s all part of a plot.
as nobody knows what the criminal looks like after plastic surgery, the people pursuing him assume the unsuspecting tourist is their target, which provides for no end of chases and machinations around the grand canal.
Depp understands this is a far cry from the eccentricities of his signature captain Jack sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean – or, even, his sweeney todd. “it was a real challenge to produce a ‘mister normal’ after playing roles like that,” he offers.
except that, as far as he’s concerned, there’s no such thing as banal normality: “the people who society considers average are often the strangest people you can imagine,” he says.
he gives as an example an honest accountant who decided to travel the world looking for and photographing signs with his surname on them. Depp worked out his ‘normal’ ideas within a strictly limited framework. he decided what his character would look like, put on a couple of pounds and adopted a couple of quirks, such as the low-brow american trying to speak to italians in spanish. it was also his idea to flee across Venice’s rooftops in pyjamas in one scene.
even in such staid roles as these, he’s still quite the thrillseeker. he wouldn’t dream of appearing with a perfect blond head of hair and a bronzed six-pack, as Brad pitt might. nor would he want to be heralded as some greying heart-throb, like george clooney. he seeks out his characters from the fringes of society, regardless of their appearance or state of mind, and then interprets them without a hint of vanity, delving deep into his own imagination. “he’s teeming with ideas, almost too many for one person,” his partner Vanessa paradis opines. “i feel trapped if i’m not allowed to improvise,” he explains. and he “just wants to run away” from directors who try to set him strict guidelines on how to play a role. Which is why he h argued with michael mann during the making of the gangster epic Public Enemies. meantime, an adaptation of the bestselling novel Shantaram, has been put on hold because he couldn’t see eye-to-eye with star director peter Weir of Master and Commander.
it’s because Johnny Depp’s imagination is so rich and dazzling that it needs to be protected. it’s possible that The Tourist might not have come about at all if it hadn’t been for producer graham King who’s worked with Depp for years and, as such, enjoys the star’s trust. it’s no coincidence that Depp brings King along for the interview, even if the beefy englishman lets his star do the talking. it took Depp a long time to find this kind of patron. he can still vividly remember being bullied by one female teacher at school. he could never get on with classmates who dreamed of nothing more than winning the Beauty Queen – or King – crown. “i never wanted to be an insider,” he says.
even in hollywood he was ill at ease and this despite his becoming one of the ’80s leading teen idols for his role as a young undercover cop in the tV series 21 Jump Street.
“i was sold like goods. it drove me completely crazy.”
But Depp was never just a pampered genius; he was also a rebel – splendidly mooning the school teacher he hated, for example. During those crisis years in hollywood, he would sometimes smash up the furniture in his hotel room out of sheer frustration. a flirtation with crime was perhaps no surprise. “my grandfather sold moonshine during prohibition in the ’30s – that was a real service to the community. then my stepfather learned about life the hard way for a couple of years in a juvenile penitentiary,” Depp explains with evident pride.
so it was only to be expected that he would break out of any pigeonhole the business wanted to stick him in. a twist of fate introduced him to someone who would help him escape and who remains a loyal supporter.
Director tim Burton cast Depp as the outcast, monstrously made-up eponymous hero of Edward Scissorhands. the eccentric filmmaker has shaped the image of Johnny Depp the actor more than anyone since. in Ed Wood, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland, he has always presented his star as an oddball character verging on the ingenious, who’s as sensitive as he is unique. But even with that support, Johnny Depp might still have got lost down one of the movie industry’s dead-end streets. “all people ever talked about in hollywood was making money. it was so frustrating,” he says.
he’d numb these lows with a mix of drink and drugs. “i was close to completely losing my mind,” Depp admits. What stopped him flipping out altogether, however, was an encounter 12 years ago in the lobby of a paris hotel. “i turned around and i saw this great back.” it belonged to pop singer Vanessa paradis. “i went up to her, she turned around and when i said hello to her, i knew that was it.” and he wasn’t wrong. three months later, the French singer – 26 at the time – was pregnant. the man who used to smash up his hotel rooms found the emotional stability that had been lacking in his life until then. “anything i’d done before was kind of an illusion. my daughter, the birth of my daughter, gave me life.” in 2002, his son, Jack, was born and Depp’s priorities were changed forever. “my greatest hope is that i’ll be fair to the people i love.”
But whoever thought that this bourgeois idyll might have dulled the thrillseeker spirit was wrong. if anything, it marked the start of probably the most satisfying phase of his career, from teen idol to cult actor to superstar. a year after his son was born, came Depp’s first blockbuster, Pirates of the Caribbean, which also brought him his first oscar nomination. But he had to fight to realise his own vision for the character of captain Jack. Depp wanted his pirate captain to have all the eccentricities of someone like Keith richards. and Disney studios weren’t at all impressed by that to start with. “they thought i was crazy.” But the risk paid off. cinema goers were happy not to see yet another identikit hero. the era of the bland sunshine boy was over and a new era of traumatised superheroes, mutants and freaks had taken its place. and Johnny was one of its icons. the Pirates trilogy had made his personal eccentricity completely socially acceptable. the outsider had come in from the cold. his sense of being on the fringes, looking at the action, rather then being central to it, hasn’t disappeared, however. “sometimes i’d love to run away screaming,” he confesses without a hint of irony. What from? “our technology-obsessed world, the invasive media, the madness of reality tV. We’ve lost touch with the simple things in life. We’re losing our individuality.” even if that may sound a little excitable and convoluted, it tells us one thing, namely that Johnny Depp doesn’t feel at home in the modern world. When he’s not getting carried away in a train of thought, his face takes on an astonished expression – a mixture of misgiving and amazement. Like a visitor from another planet who’s not sure whether he’d like to be beamed back up or not.
Luckily, he has the means to organise his own private seclusion zone. one of the family’s homes is in an idyllic village in the south of France, and don’t forget the private island in the Bahamas. “that might sound extravagant to you. But i need somewhere where i can breathe easily or just sit around and chat without someone taking my picture.” it’s as if he’d rather live in the past, maybe in the ’30s, when “…the men were still elegantly dressed, looked like their own men”. his favourite films seem to tie in with the same pattern. “We like watching the old hollywood classics,” Vanessa paradis admits. It Happened One Night, a comedy in which clark gable meets an heiress on the run, is one of the couple’s favourite films. even Depp’s food tips meet the same criteria. For example, he rates the bistro chez L’ami Louis in paris which opened in the ’20s but has long since fallen out of favour with the critics. But that doesn’t bother him. Because, “…you feel like you’re in a time machine”.
and if he goes to a city he doesn’t know, he wanders in the historic footsteps of the great writers. When i ask him what stood out in Venice, where The Tourist was shot, he doesn’t name something standard like st mark’s square or the rialto Bridge, but he does mention with great enthusiasm that he walked past the lodgings of english poet genius Lord Byron.
yet this special take of his never goes to his head. he has neither an egomaniac’s ponderousness nor a winner’s arrogance. it is precisely because he doesn’t take himself too seriously that he is able to embody the most absurd of roles. even during a comparatively streamlined production like The Tourist, he and his co-star angelina Jolie would still see who could raise the biggest laugh. he’s notorious for putting whoopee cushions on his colleagues’ chairs. and he can take a joke too. at press conferences he never evades even the most intimate of questions, be they about his ideal of beauty or the length of his manhood, and he sometimes even makes jokes about his “sex change”.
all of which makes Johnny Depp, with his wonderful eccentricity, meek timidity and rebellious sarcasm, rather unique in the movie industry. he should be placed on the endangered species list forthwith. But the best description of him i’ve ever heard comes straight from the horse’s mouth. he may have been talking about Keith richards at the time, but it could just as well apply to him. “he is profound, funny and absolutely brilliant. he might well have been wallowing in fame from a young age, but he always managed to stay cool and normal. and he treats everyone the same. and to manage that in this industry is an amazing achievement.”

Highlights from Entertainment Weekly’s Jan. 21 issue (on newsstands nationwide Friday, Jan 14): Johnny Depp talks exclusively about ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’ and the possibility of ‘Pirates 5’

New York, N.Y. – Does anyone love the egomaniacal pirate Capt. Jack Sparrow as much as, well, the egomaniacal pirate Capt. Jack Sparrow? Maybe not. But one person who comes close is Johnny Depp, who’s now played that seafaring scallywag in four Pirates of the Caribbean movies, including On Stranger Tides (out May 20). “I’m never tired of the character,” he says. “I don’t look forward to the day when I have to say goodbye to him.”

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5 March 2010   Articles Interviews No Comments

‘Alice in Wonderland’: Hollywood’s Mad Hatter

Johnny Depp and Tim Burton look back at 20 years of collaboration

Twenty years ago, a frustrated young TV star and a wild-haired filmmaker met at a hotel off the Sunset Strip, drank coffee, and talked. To an outside observer, Johnny Depp and Tim Burton would have seemed an unlikely pair: one, a reluctant teen idol; the other, a shy, rumpled director with a penchant for the macabre. But from that meeting sprang a creative partnership that has produced some of the most memorable oddball characters in recent movie history: An alienated teenage Frankenstein with scissors for hands. A cross-dressing Z-movie director. A demented candy maker. A murderous barber.

On a warm winter afternoon, Depp, 46, and Burton, 51 — the duo behind Edward ScissorhandsEd WoodCharlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Sweeney Todd, among others — sit on a balcony at another L.A. hotel, just days away from the March 5 opening of their seventh film together: an eye-popping new 3-D Alice in Wonderland. This PG-rated big-screen take on the Lewis Carroll classic stars Depp as the Mad Hatter alongside newcomer Mia Wasikowska as Alice, Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen, and Anne Hathaway as the White Queen. Between Depp’s whacked-out spin on the Hatter and Burton’s flair for imagery, Alice is poised to capitalize on the growing appetite for 3-D extravaganzas stoked by Avatar, which, perhaps surprisingly, neither of them has seen (”I hear it’s good,” Burton says with a shrug). Then again, the film also faces a looming glut of 3-D movies, plus a threatened boycott of the film by theater chains upset over Disney’s decision to move Alice‘s DVD release up by a month. Today, though, the two old friends — both now fathers of two — sip iced tea and look back on their long, strange trip down Hollywood’s rabbit hole.

EW: Alice in Wonderland has been adapted in one form or another hundreds of times. What inspired you to take a crack at it?
Tim Burton Disney came to me with the idea of doing Alice in Wonderland in 3-D, and that seemed intriguing. I’d never really read the Lewis Carroll books. I knew Alice through music and other illustrators and things. The images were always strong, but the movie versions I’d seen, to me, were always just, like, a little brat wandering around a bunch of weirdos. [Laughs] It was fun to try to make the characters not just weird — I mean they are weird, but we wanted to get deeper into those characters.

EW: Johnny, how did you approach the role of the Mad Hatter?
Johnny Depp Oddly enough, I had reread both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass not long before. I started looking up things on hatters and where that whole term ”mad as a hatter” came from. It was actually due to mercury poisoning, because when they were putting together the hats, they used this really vile substance that — it’s like huffing — it makes you go sideways. So I just started to get these images in my head. That’s where the orange hair came from.

EW: When you did Pirates of the Caribbean, the executives at Disney famously panicked at first over how you were playing Jack Sparrow. Was there any concern this time about portraying the Mad Hatter as a sort of pale-skinned, green-eyed, orange-haired freak?
Depp When we first went in to do the camera tests, I was thinking, ”They’re going to lose their minds.” But Tim fully supported it. It was a couple of solid hours in the makeup chair every day, but it really helped. You start to understand who the guy is through all that weird kind of Carrot Top Kabuki.
Burton From Edward Scissorhands on, Johnny has always wanted to cover himself up and hide. [Laughs] I get it.
Depp I still do. Absolutely.
Burton It’s fascinating to see Johnny work up to a character, though. In the past, we’ve done some studio read-throughs of the script and the executives will come up to me afterward, like, [in a nervous whisper] ”He’s not going to do that in the movie, is he?” I remember on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, we did a read-through of the script early on and Johnny was holding a pencil and pretending to smoke it like a pipe. And this studio executive said to me, ”He’s not going to smoke a pipe in the movie, is he?”
Depp The subtext underneath that question is so funny. It’s like [with mock outrage], ”Are you kiddingme? He’s smoking a pipe?!”
Burton ”The character isn’t wearing any socks? He’s got ripped jeans? Oh my God, don’t do anything to embarrass us!” It’s funny, because the thing that worries people most is often the thing that makes it work.

EW: And to prove it, there are now people standing out on Hollywood Boulevard dressed as Jack Sparrow.
Depp I was driving down Hollywood Boulevard one day and stopped at a light, looked to my left, and saw Willy Wonka having a conversation with Jack Sparrow. It was so cool, man. [Laughs]

EW: Johnny, you’ve said you don’t like watching yourself on screen. What is it like to see yourself in 3-D in Alice?
Depp I’m actually unable to see 3-D. I’ve got a weird thing where I don’t see properly out of my left eye, so I truly can’t see 3-D. So I have an excuse [not to watch myself] this time. [Laughs]

EW: It’s been 20 years since you two first met at a hotel to talk about Edward Scissorhands. Tim, what do you remember about that meeting?
Burton All I remember is coffee — a lot of coffee. In fact, I think I’m still coming down the walls from that. I’d never seen [Depp’s cop show] 21 Jump Street, but meeting Johnny, I could sense that this thing was probably not why he got into acting or where he wanted to go. My impression was that he had something inside of him, but because of the show he was on, people thought of him in a certain way that wasn’t accurate. There’s a painful quality when you grow up and you’re not perceived correctly and that’s what the character of Edward Scissorhands was about. It was an instinctual thing, but I could see that Johnny was that character.

EW: Johnny, did you have the feeling you’d won the role in that meeting?
Depp I was convinced there was no way I’d get it. Everyone in this town wanted to play that role — including Michael Jackson. [Laughs] I’d had a great meeting with Tim and left zipping on coffee and chewing on a spoon, but then I didn’t really hear much for a few weeks. When I got the call saying ”You’re Edward Scissorhands,” I was just elated. I knew how important it would be. It was a big risk for Tim to take on some TV actor. With 21 Jump Street, they were trying to make me this thing, this product, and I couldn’t deal with it. When Scissorhands came, I knew even if immediately afterwards I was booted out of Hollywood and was pumping gas or working construction again, at least I was on solid ground. I was exactly where I needed to be. And even if that was all I’d done, I was fine. I knew what road I wanted to go on, but Tim pushed me onto that road.
Burton And within weeks he was vomiting behind a bush in Florida.
Depp [Laughs] I was covered head to toe in leather on that movie, shooting in Tampa or wherever it was, and it wasn’t long before I was in full heatstroke. I remember there was one scene where I’m running from the cops. I’d done it, like, six times already and I was dying. Tim was like, ”How are you doing? You got one more take in you?” I was like, ”Yeah, sure.” I ran down the street, heard ”Cut,” didn’t stop running — and ran on to the side of someone’s house and just hurled into a bush.
Burton By the way, how come they haven’t made a movie out of 21 Jump Street?
Depp They’re going to. I’m hoping they’ll let me do a cameo. Someone will say, ”What ever happened to Tom Hanson?” and they’ll find me somewhere hoarding jars of peanut butter and shaking in my underpants. [Laughs]

EW: Four years later, you guys reunited for Ed Wood. Johnny, what were you feeling about your career at that point?
Depp In terms of Hollywood, people were still wondering, ”Why won’t he carry a gun and f— the girl?” That’s all they wanted me to do: carry a gun and nail some broad, you know. I’m not opposed to that, but I thought there might have been other things to investigate.
Burton You should have just said to them [in a thick, Tony Montana accent], ”I leave the guns and broads at home. I come to work for fantasy.” [Laughs] As an outsider, I always felt like you kept your integrity. If you had done the parts they asked you to do, you would have made a lot more money a lot sooner and all that s—. But you picked things that you wanted to do.
Depp Yeah, luckily. It was more out of ignorance than anything else. I was just like, Well, shouldn’t I just do the things I want to do? Isn’t that right? But apparently Hollywood didn’t work that way. When I didPirates, I felt like I’d infiltrated the enemy camp. I’d never been welcomed in before. Nobody had ever asked me. Not only that — they’d been adamantly against me. Most times, Tim had to fight, fight, fight to get me in these movies.
Burton Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was the first time the studio brought Johnny’s name up first.

EW: Johnny, what’s the scariest thing Tim ever asked you to do in a movie?
Depp Singing in Sweeney Todd.
Burton No question about it.
Depp The thing is, I dumbly thought that once I’d gotten through singing the demos and going through the recording process in the studio, I was home free. I thought I’d get on the set and just lip-synch. I didn’t realize that you’ve got to sing it live on the set. Me and Helena [Bonham Carter] were, like, belting it out with the whole crew watching. It was just mortifying.

EW: How would you describe the sensibility you two share?
Depp There’s a similar respect for the absurd and things slightly left of center. I’ve just always understood what Tim’s looking for, and he trusts me to go out there and do the stupid s— I do.
Burton Like dress up as a scary clown. [Laughs] Over the years we’ve learned that we have similar tastes. We both like old horror movies. We talk about TV performers that scared us as children. There’s a lot of common ground.
Depp There are directors I’ve worked with that I’ve had a grand old time with: Terry Gilliam, Gore Verbinski, the Hughes brothers, a number of guys. But the collaborative process of making a film with Tim — that energy is like riding some kind of enormous wave. There’s this connection, this shorthand. It sounds corny, but it’s truly home for me, where you can try absolutely anything and you might be afraid to fall flat on your face but that’s what makes it worth it.

EW: Still, there must be times you disagree, right?
Burton It’s hard for me to even think of something. We always work it out. There’s never been a big issue.
Depp Not even on Sleepy Hollow when Tim strapped me to a strange piece of metal behind two gaseous horses after they’d had some curry and dragged me through the mud. [Laughs]

EW: Your lives have obviously changed a lot over the years you’ve known each other, and now you’re both family men with two kids. Has that changed the kinds of things you talk about together?
Depp Well, we’ve discovered the Wiggles. That’s one thing I can always be proud of: I gave Tim his first set of Wiggles DVDs.
Burton [Groans] You try to maneuver your way through the least offensive children’s programming, but it’s hard. I keep trying to show my son [the psychedelic 1970s kids’ show] H.R. Pufnstuf but he’s not going there. Oh, well.
Depp He will.

EW: There’s been talk of you two adapting the 1960s vampire TV series Dark Shadows. Will that be next?
Burton For now we’re still basking in the glow of Alice. But we’re working on Dark Shadows. When you work with someone like Johnny, it’s always about, Are you excited about this? Do you see something here?
Depp I still just wait for that call from Tim — ”Did he call?” [Laughs] I sit at home and just stare at the f—ing phone.

30 July 2009   Articles No Comments

Johnny Depp is a very busy man.

Not only is he knee-deep in promotion and post-production for Alice in Wonderland, Depp will once again be joining forces with Tim Burton in the vampire flick Dark Shadows, targeted for a 2011 release with filming beginning in 2010. Burton confirmed to the LA Times that Dark Shadows will be his next project as soon as he wraps up post-production on Wonderland.

Burton described the 1960s vampire soap opera as having “the weirdest vibe to it,” and it most certainly will again with Burton and Depp at the helm. The prolific Depp’s production company, Infinitum Nihil, has optioned the film, and Depp will be taking the lead role of the vampire Barnabus Collins, which he confessed was a “lifelong dream.”

According to IMDb, Depp’s company has over a dozen films in development right now, including 2011’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret, an adaptation of Brian Selznik’s Caldecott-winning novel.

Depp himself is immersed in a variety of acting roles. On the heels of Public Enemies comes Wonderland, The Rum Diary, The Lone Ranger, and Rango (Depp voices the title character). He’s also rumored to be taking part in The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, In the Hands of Dante, The Incredible Mr. Limpet, and Sin City 3.

And who can forget the incomparable Jack Sparrow? Depp is reprising his role in Pirates of the Caribbean 4, which is currently in the script-writing stage and which, according to Disney’s Head of Production Oren Aviv, will begin filming in 2010.

The movies have subsequently gotten bigger and bigger and very complicated and they were satisfying on so many levels obviously, but I want to kind of reboot the whole thing and bring it down to its core, its essence, just characters.

This “reboot” will apparently include backstory on Depp’s eccentric character and will possibly be the first in a new trilogy, rather than a sequel to the first. Either way, Pirates fans will be lining up to see it.

As if all this wasn’t enough, Depp is also rumored to be taking on a Frank Sinatra biopic produced and directed by Martin Scorsese. Of course, nothing is confirmed, and there is also a rumor that the role will be taken by Leonardo DiCaprio, so Depp might not end up being connected to the film at all. Then again, there are the other members of the Rat Pack to consider…

Whether Depp characterizes the crooner or not won’t diminish the impact his career has made on modern cinema. Johnny Depp is undisputably one of the best actors of his generation with more than two dozen awards under his belt. All he needs now is an Oscar; maybe one of his many upcoming ventures will get him there… if he doesn’t burn out in the attempt.