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Entertainment Weekly, January 2011 – Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Entertainment Weekly, January 2011 – Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Title: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Publication: Entertainment Weekly

Issue: January 2011

DOES ANYONE LOVE the egomaniacal pirate Capt. Jack Sparrow much as, well, the egomaniacal pirate Capt. Jack Sparrow? Maybe not. But on person he comes close is Johnny Depp, who’s now played that seafaring scalawag 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 good bye to him.”

Captain Jack’s latest adventure was born during the back-to-back productions of the franchise’s second and third films, 2006’s Dead Man’s Chest and 2007’s At World’s End. Writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio persuaded series superproducer Jerry Bruckheimer to option Tim Powers’ On Stranger Tides, a 1987 novel that featured both the dreaded pirate Blackbeard and the fountain of youth. Once the rights were secured, Elliott and Rossio set the stage for the new installment by writing a concluding scene for At World’s End in which Sparrow is seen heading off in search of the fountain in question.

Given the combined $2 billion worldwide gross of Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End, Disney was happy to bankroll a fourth excursion. On Sept. 11, 2009, Depp appeared on stage dressed as Captain Jack at a Disney fan event in Anaheim to hype the announcement. He also embraced Disney’s then chairman, Dick Cook, who’d famously backed Depp’s idiosyncratic decision to base his character on Keith Richards. But just one week after the Anaheim event, Cook abruptly departed Disney—and plans for Pirates 4 seemed to founder: Depp told a reporter at the time that he felt “a fissure, a crack in my enthusiasm at the moment” for another Pirates movie. “Things became a little creaky after Dick Cook left” the actor admits now. “He had been very supportive of me on the first movie when a lot of people at Disney were concerned? However Depp also says he had issues with the nascent Pirates 4 script. “Things got very mathematical, very subplotty on the last movie because there were a lot of things that needed to be resolved with the characters,” he says. “I wanted to make a film that was more like the first one, that was more character driven.”

To help whip the yarn into shape, Depp attended a series of meetings in L.A. with the core Pirates team, including director Rob Marshall, who stepped in after Gore Verbinski left the series. “Johnny was instrumental in the design of the story” says Rossio. “l think an arbitration committee might give him a ‘story by’ credit if he was willing to submit it.”

Depp’s wish for a sleeker Pirates 4 dovetailed with the desire for a cheaper one on the part of Disney’s new regime, led by Chairman Rich Ross. Bruckheimer says On Stranger Tides’ budget is “a little bit smaller” than that of At Worlds End—which reportedly cost $300 million, thanks in part to its 165-minute running time. “The most important thing for the studio and for us [was] to have a script that wasn’t too long,” he says. “That’s where the money comes.” Film makers also saved a few doubloons with the departures of Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley whose story lines were resolved in At Worlds End.

On Stranger Tides introduces a slew of fresh characters, including Blackbeard (lan McShane); his feisty daughter, Angelica (Penelope Cruz); and a young missionary played by newcomer Sam Claflin. Angelica, it seems, is no stranger to Captain Jack. “You get the sense that there‘s most definitely something from the past, something that they’ve been through together,” Depp says cagily. “It’s a hate—love relationship.”

With all the elements in place, production began last spring in Hawaii—where the elements themselves became an obstacle. On the first day of principal photography the cast and crew had to take a precarious journey from a boat to an island via Jet Skis. “It was a rough sea and there was no dock,” recalls Bruckheimer: “It was pretty challenging.” A potentially more worrisome issue: the expanding shape of Cruz, who’s expecting her first child with husband Javier Bardem. Even so, Depp says, the actress was entirely gung ho: “It was funny to see a pregnant woman f—ing sword—fighting.”

The Pirates crew is betting that new characters and a zippier plot will help the fourth adventure combat the franchise fatigue that has hurt other series. Another attraction? It’s in 3-D. “When I wanted to do Sorcerer’s Apprentice in 3D, [Disney] said no,” says Bruckheimer. “Prnice of Persia, they said no. Alice in Wonderland and Avatar changed everybody’s mind. But we’ll be the first picture of this size out that is shot in 3-D on location. Avatar was on a sound studio.”

Now that Pirates 4 is in the can, Depp admits he would be happy to buckle some more swash. ‘As long as we can put all the puzzle pieces together; I would most definitely consider it,” he says. “I always feel that with Captain Jack, you can chuck him into any situation and have a ball with it.”

Entertainment Weekly Cover

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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Vanity Fair, January 2011 – The Crowed Mind of Johnny Depp

Vanity Fair, January 2011 – The Crowed Mind of Johnny Depp

Title: The Crowed Mind of Johnny Depp

Publication: Vanity Fair

Issue: January 2011

Johnny Depp is on set at Pinewood Studios, outside London, for the last days of shooting the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie—On Stranger Tides. We sit on the floor of his trailer, a brocaded lair worthy of Captain Jack Sparrow, strewn with the talismans of his real-life counterpart: Johnny’s blue lenses; faded bandannas; beat-up boots; Viper Room cap; silver skull rings in a bowl; a copy of Keith Richards’s Life atop a script for Dark Shadows and folded notes from his 8-yeanold son, Jack, and his 11-year-old daughter, Lily Rose. There is an old Stella acoustic guitar that he cannot resist picking up and strumming quietly. Johnny is working l2-hour shifts. The day begins in the makeup trailer, long before morning rush hour. Downtime is divided between press calls, stacks of pictures to sign, scripts to read, and family responsibilities; ever present and ever embraced. There is also the occasional hour of stolen sleep, often with his guitar resting on his chest.

I first met Johnny a few years ago, backstage at the Orpheum Theater, in Los Angeles, where I was performing with my band. When he laughed, l noticed his gapped teeth, a detail borrowed from the engaging smile of his companion, Vanessa Paradis, in preparation for his role as the frenetically pure Mad Hatter, in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. l had just seen The Libertine for the third time, in which Johnny hauntingly channels John Wilmot, second Earl of Rochester, who in 1675 wrote the infamous “Satyr Against Mankind? As the movie begins, Wilmot says to the viewer, “You will not like me.” But Johnny himself is in fact very likable, his magnetic energy infused with a certain shyness. In conversation, Johnny and I, both bookworms, moved easily from Wilmot to Baudelaire to Hunter S. Thompson. We were dressed alike—holey dungarees, battered leather jacket, time-worn flannel shirt. My son, Jackson, a guitarist, who was with me, noted that Johnny seemed more like a musician than an actor.

Later, visiting Johnny`s Los Angeles home. I became acquainted with his rare books and other precious objects. He never says he owns any of these things, preferring to call himself their guardian. He is the guardian of John Dillinger’s derringer, a manuscript in the hand of Arthur Rimbaud, and Jack Kerouac’s last typewriter.

Johnny is down to earth, yet also seems to operate in another universe. Time is precious—but also worthless. He has a bit of the Godfather in him—and also a bit of the bum. He is as rebellious as Rochester, as loving as the Hatter, and as ill-behaved as Jack Sparrow. He is also intensely loyal.

In Puerto Rico, as he was filming the late Hunter S. Thompson’s novel The Rum Diary, the spirit of Hunter, whom Johnny loved, permeated the atmosphere. A director’s chair was emblazoned with Hunter’s name and small rituals were carried out in his honor. The hours were long, and the jungle was moonlit and mosquito-infested. Johnny’s character dark shades, hair slicked back—was a rum-soaked journalist named Paul Kemp.

At the London premiere of Alice in Wonderland, I had my first glimpse of the character who would supersede Paul Kemp Frank Tupelo, the bemused math teacher in Johnny’s new movie The Tourist. Johnny does not watch his own movies, so that night he broke ranks to say hello to fans gathered outside in the rain, later joining the celebration hosted by the whimsical genius Tim Burton. After hours, I found Johnny sitting alone in a small alcove with a glass of wine before him. He was in a tuxedo. He had grown a beard, and his dark hair was longer than usual. His pale skin was illuminated by a single light, and he had thrown back his head and closed his eyes. He had left the Hatter and Kemp behind and was already slipping into the interior world of Frank Tupelo. In that moment I noticed for the first time how handsome he is.

Within days of the Alice premiere he was unpacking in Venice, ensconced in a private section of a hotel tucked away at the end of a canal, steps from the Palazzo Fortuny. The mystical light of Venice and the misadventures of Johnny and his Tourist co-star, Angelina Jolie, were about to be captured for the screen. The movie is stylish, a thrilling caper in the manner of North ly Northwest. The schedule was punishing and the weather a challenge—hot by day but very chilly for night shoots. During a midnight break we ate pizza with our coats on, then Johnny was whisked away for a long shot down a fog-shrouded canal, chained inside a water taxi. Angelina awaited her cue, a hooded parka concealing the glamour that would soon emerge. Brad Pitt was minding the children, but her mother radar was always on. Paparazzi were kept at bay, but hovered relentlessly.

Now, in London, as winter sets in. Johnny is again consumed by Captain Jack; He will meet his match in yet another dark beauty, Penelope Cruz more than ready to spar with the Sparrow. At Pinewood, heavy mists descend upon the bogs, pools, and vines that create the physical atmosphere surrounding the much-sought-after Fountain of Youth, Johnny’s boy, Jack, who has the gaze of his mother and the stance of his father, accompanies the Captain on set, but not until jacket, cap, and scarf are located. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was shot here at Pinewood, but the river of chocolate is now gone. In its place there are strange waters teeming with mysterious organisms. It is damp and chilly, and the scene I witness is a mix of sword-play and slapstick. Afterward, the dresser takes away the Captains locks a heavy tangle of dreads and bones. Johnny’s dark silky hair is held flat in tight braids. There is a set change and a lull, so we sit on the floor of the trailer, a rare moment of peace, with his boy safe at hand. Johnny presses RECORD on the little tape machine. He smiles a smile that is his own. He is just Johnny, and, in truth. Johnny is character enough.

SMLTH: Anytime I’ve seen you in a trailer; at your home, in a hotel room, you always have at least one guitar with you. You sometimes talk while strumming a guitar How connected are you with music?

DEPP: It’s still my first love as much as it ever was, since I was a little kid and first picked up a guitar and tried to figure out how to make the thing go. Going into acting was an odd deviation from a particular road that I was on in my late teens, early 20s, because I had no desire, no interest, really, in it at all. I was a musician and I was a guitarist, and that’s what I wanted to do.

But because of that deviation, and because I don’t do it for a living, maybe I still have been able to maintain that kind of innocent love for it. The weird thing is I think I approach my work the same way I approached guitar playing—looking at a character like a song. If you think of expression musically—it goes from wherever it comes from inside to your fingers, and on to that fretboard, and then on to the amplifier, through whatever. It’s the same kind of thing that’s required here, with acting; What was the author’s intent? What can I add to it that maybe someone else won’t add to it? It’s not necessarily a question of how many notes, but a question of what do the notes express and what docs a slight bend do.

SMITH: I overheard someone in your camp—maybe it was on the set of The Rum Diary, or maybe it was The Tourist—talking  about how eager yon were to get back to Captain Jack, and about how much Jack was like you. How do you feel when you enter into the skin of Captain Jack?

DEPP: Free—free to be irreverent. I think it’s like unlocking a part of yourself and freeing this part of yourself to just be—what do they call it?—the id, or whatever, just to be . . . just to he, under whatever circumstances. The closest thing that I can compare it to was having known Hunter Thompson really well—we were very, very close—and witnessing him, because I studied him so deeply and lived with him for a period of time to try to become Raoul Duke, to try to become Hunter. There was a certain freedom that he had, or control, or command of the situation —there was never anything that he couldn’t get  through. Verbally he was just so clever and so quick and so free, and he didn’t give a rat’s ass about what the repercussions were.

Smith: He was the revolutionary’s Johnny Carson. I mean, he always had a punch line.

DEPP: Somebody once asked him, “What is the sound of one hand clapping, Hunter?,” and he smacked him. Captain Jack was kind of like that for me, an opening up of this part of yourself that is somewhat you know, there is a little Bugs Bunny in all of us.

SMITH: Young kids love, really love the Captain. And who is more mystical, mischievous and brilliant in his own way; than Bugs Bunny?

Depp: At the time, l had been watching nothing but cartoons with my daughter—with Lily Rose. I hadn’t seen a grown-up film in forever. It was all cartoons, all those great old Warner Bros things. And I thought, Jesus, the parameters here are so much wider and more forgiving in terms of character, These cartoon characters could get away with anything. And I thought, They’re beloved by 3-year-olds and 93—year-olds. How do you do that? How do you get there? That was kind of the start.

SMITH:  l also see a little of John Barrymore in Captain Jack. There’s humor and often a feyness.  He keeps his intelligence in his own little treasure chest. He doesn’t really want people to comprehend  that he knows everything.

DEPP: He has already assessed the situation.

SMITH: What were you reading to inform you about Captain Jack or his lifestyle?

DEPP: I was reading a lot of books about early pirates. There was one book in particular that was really helpful called Under the Black Flag. You realize that those guys were—you either loved it or you were pressganged and you didn’t. One of the things that helped me most with Captain Jack was a book by Bernard Moitessier, and it’s where I found the last line for the First Pirates movie. The writers were stumped, and they’d say, Well, what about this? And nothing seemed to click. I was reading this Moitessier book on sailing the earth, and he had written about how the ultimate for a sailor was the horizon, and to be able to attain that horizon, which you never get to, which is why it keeps pushing you forward. I thought, That’s it! That’s it! So I went to them and said, I`ve got a line for you: “Bring me that horizon.” And they looked at it and went, Nah, that’s not it. But about 45 minutes later they came to me and went, ‘That’s the line’.

SMITH: Because delivered in a certain way. . .

DEPP:  Yeah—“Bring me that horizon” That’s what they all want. That’s what all those guys want. Get me that horizon. And you never get there.

SMITH: How did Disney feel about Captain Jack? He does have a wisp of controversy about him.

DFPP:  It was a totally different regime over there at the time. They couldn’t stand him. They just couldn’t stand him. I think it was Michael Eisner, the head of Disney at the time, who was quoted as saying, “He’s ruining the movie.” It was that extreme-memos, and paper trails, and madness, and phone calls, and agents, and lawyers, and people screaming, and me getting phone calls direct from, you know, upper-echelon Disney-ites, going, ‘What’s wrong with him? Is he, you know, like some kind of weird simpleton? Is he drunk? By the way, is he gay? Is he this? Is he that?’ And so I actually told this woman who was the Disney-ite that called me about all that stuff and asked me the questions, I said to her, “But didn’t you know that all my characters are gay7” Which really made her nervous.

SMITH: The role of Frank in The Tourist is so different from the Hatter or the Captain—more subtle. Characters like him—who seem to have less that you can grasp—I would think would be harder to do.

Deep: The great challenge of a character like Frank, for me, is that he`s Everyman, you know, Mr. Ordinary not a simpleton, just ordinary. He’s a math teacher. I was always fascinated by people who are considered completely normal, because I find them the weirdest of all.

SMITH: So where did you find Frank?

DEPP: He was sort of a combo platter for me, from certain people I’ve known over the years. l knew an accountant who would travel—he was super-straight, very, very straight guy and he would travel all over the world to photograph places that had street signs or businesses that had the same name as his last name. He’d go to Italy, he’d go to Shanghai, and he’d take photographs. That was his kick.

SMITH: He had an eccentricity that no one sees. Everyone sees the eccentricities of an artist. But eccentricities like Frank’s  are so subtle and so particular.

DEPP: It was guys like that that I thought about. Frank, for example, who had quit smoking, could be absolutely fascinated with that electronic cigarette, and the moving parts of it, and being able to really explain it to someone in great detail.

SMITH: Frank has same really nice pajamas. Cotton. Light blue. Do you wear pajamas?

DEPP: Occasionally I do. Occasionally, when it’s cold.

SMITH: Do they have, feet on them?

DEPP: I don’t have the feet. I have not gone for footed pajamas yet. However, I’m not—I wouldn’t, you know, withdraw the idea. One of the finest nights of sleep that I ever had, after a huge workload, was in a pair of pajamas that Julian Schnabel gave me. I hadn’t worn pajamas since I was about three. And I actually slept in them. They were somehow so comforting. His wife made them. That was the moment when l became completely square.

SMIIH: Well I don’t know.  I’ve also seen your Miami Dolphins socks—although that might be a secret.

DEPP: You have a pair, too! There are no secrets now. We’re in this together.

SMITH: We have another dirty little secret. A Monkees song.

DEPP: Oh, “Daydream Believer.” It’s a great song. I don’t care what anyone says.

SMITH: ‘Daydream Believer” came on the radio when we were driving to the set. It was a moment of total Happiness. It’s a pure, happy little song.  What bad thing can you say about it?

DEPP: I know. I know. It’s OK to like “Daydream Believer.” There’s nothing wrong with a guilty pleasure from time to time. Know what I mean?  It’s “Daydream Believer.” I’m justifying my own flag.

SMITH: A Monkee and I have the same birthday . . .

DEPP: Is it Micky Dolenz?

SMITH: No, it’s actually two Monkees. Mike and Duty. I used to be horrified by that fact, but now I don’t care anymore. I have the same birthday as Bo Diddley Rudyard Kipling and Paul Bowles. . . and two Monkees.

DEPP: That’s pretty good. That’s a good balance.

SMITH: Getting buck to The Tourist, from what I saw; on set, the atmosphere seemed fraught  with mischief.

DEPP: Angelina; we’d met basically on this film. Meeting her and getting to know her was a real pleasant surprise, and I say that with the best meaning, just in the sense that she’s this quite, you know, famous, and, I mean, poor thing, dogged by paparazzi, her and her husband, Brad, you know, and all their kids, and their wonderful life, but they are plagued by . . . so you don’t know what to expect, really. You don’t know what she might be like—if she has any sense of humor at all. I was so pleased to find that she is incredibly normal, and has a wonderfully kind of dark, perverse sense of humor, And because here we are working together in this situation where you could really; there are times when you see how ridiculous is this life, how ludicrous it is, you know, leaving your house every morning and being followed by paparazzi, or having to hide, sometimes not even being able to talk to each other in public because someone will take a photograph and it will be misconstrued and turned into some other shit.

SMITH: On set, I told her that she looked beautiful and she explained to me about all the different people it takes to make that possible—as she really isn’t. I found Angelina interesting. If you talk about her beauty she scoffs.  If you mention a cause, she invites you to take a stand.

DEPP: That’s the thing with Angie. I mean, you look at her and you go, O.K.: “goddess,” “movie icon.” ln 30 years people will still be going, “Oh, my God.” Elizabeth Taylor kind of territory. And she has got that, no question about it. But, like anything, it’s the way she deals with it. She’s so down to earth, and so bright, and so real. I’ve had the honor and the pleasure and gift of having known Elizabeth Taylor for a number of years. Who’s a real broad. You know, you sit down with her, she slings hash, she sits there and cusses like a sailor, and she`s hilarious. Angie’s got the same kind of thing, you know. The same approach.

SMITH: Something I’ve always wondered about   these people that you become for us or make flesh in a film. Do they revisit you ever? Are you able to discard them? What happens to them?

DEPP: They’re all still there, which on some level can’t be the healthiest thing in the world. But, no, they’re all still there. I always picture it as this chest of drawers in your body—Ed Wood is in one, the Hatter is in another, Scissorhands is in another. They stick with you. Hunter is certainly in there—you know, Raoul Duke. The weirdest thing is that I can access them. They’re still very close to the surface.

SMITH: It must be difficult when you have multiple personalities in one of them, like the Hatter has. What does he say “it’s crawled in here”?

Depp: “I don’t like it in here. It’s terribly crowded.” But they all, somehow, have their place. They have come to terms with each other. I suppose.

SMITH:  When you’re playing someone—when your really deep within a character—have you ever had a dream that you felt was not your dream? Do your character dream within you?

DEPP: I’ve certainly had dreams where I was the character. Sweeney was like that. There were a lot of dark Sweeney dreams. And certainly The Libertine, playing John Wilmot.

SMITH: I would think that Wilmot would be the one who would most desire to rear his head. He was a real human being. It’s  one thing to interpret a character in literature or someone in fiction.  But to have to channel someone who was a living person. Did you find that process different?

DEEP: It`s definitely different. The first thing is the responsibility. You have a responsibility to that person and the legacy and memory of that person. So especially play someone like John Wilmot, the Earl of Rochester, because I always felt he was this great, great poet who was never acknowledged as a great poet, but looked upon as a  satirist or some silly guy who hung around the court of King Charles II. I never believed he got his due. He was at renegade, a brilliant poet who was incredibly brave.

I felt this very strong responsibility to play him right—so much so that I became obsessed. I read everything. I knew everything about him. I went to the places he’d lived. I went to the place where he died. I perused his actual letters in the British Library and found his words and made notes and used them in the script. Without wanting to sound all kind of New Agey, I do believe that he paid me at least a few visits.

SMITH: When you spouted a few lines of poetry to Samantha Morton, who played Elizabeth Barry in the movie that was my introduction to Wilmot’s work, to his poetry. And I noticed in Alice, when the Hatter recites the “Jabberwocky” that you have a gift for giving us the full measure of a poet’s work. It is really quite difficult. Could you imagine doing a recording of works of poetry?

DEPP: I don’t know. It`s daunting, because you don’t know exactly . . I mean, you can decipher the intent, und you can kind of swim around in the guts of it, but you just don’t know how the poet would have wanted it read.

SMITH: Yes, but that’s no different than Glenn Gould having to anticipate how Bach would want his work played. l thought the Hatter’s reading of” Jabberwocky” was luminous. Yesterday you read me a poem written by the Elephant Man. I didn’t know he wrote poetry. The poem you recited was heartbreaking. How did  you come to find it?

DEEP: I made an appointment at the hospital where they had his remains. His skeleton is there, a plaster mask is there, and his hat and veil and all this other stuff is there. And right on the wall next to him is this gorgeous poem that he wrote about himself and about his life:  “Dragging this vile body / Round the years / I am not what first appears / A senseless freak / Devoid of hope or tears” This guy was deep, and so, so gifted.

SMITH: I’ve seen The Libertine a number of times. The cinematography, the direction, the script was all so beautiful. The costumes, the casting, the women, they were superb. John Malkovich was a great person for you to work off of. But it seemed buried as a film.

DEPP: It was buried, no question. It was buried horribly. It was a conflict within the ranks.

I wanted to go to the artist Banksy, the English graffiti artist. I was going to make a plea to him. What I wanted was the image, the spray-painted image of John Wilmot’s face to show up here and there, simply with the line from the movie, the phrase “You will not like me.” “You will not like me”—l thought. That’s the way to go with something like this. But the reaction was “Banksy who?”

SMITH: Do you have any actors that you studied from the past, actors from any era, who were helpful  either in a specific role or just in general?

DEPP: The guys I always adored were mostly the silent—film actors, Buster Keaton first, Lon Chaney Sr., and Chaplin, of course those three for me. And John Barrymore. The gods: those are the gods. And then you’ve got the people that came out of that, Paul Muni, certainly. . .

But Marlon, it wasn’t until Marlon Brando came along that . . . it was revolutionary, it just changed everything. The work he was doing, Streetcar completely different fucking animal. And everybody changed their approach from that moment on.

SMITH: He was bigger than-I don’t know how to say it—it was almost like the screen could not contain him. Does that make sense?

DEPP: Absolutely. I don’t know what the fuck it is, or was, but, at that time—especially at that time—he had too much. And the shape of his face and his nose and his-and the distance between his forehead and his eyebrows, and whatever was going on for whatever genetic reason, or whatever. He was placed in that spot for that particular thing. And, man, he cranked it. He just absolutely owned it.

SMLTH: Its interesting when one individual whether its Michal Angello, Coltrane, Bob Dylan, Jackson Pollock, they’re so inspiring, and they have; beget almost a whole school but no one can touch them.  They have this place of kingship, but also solitude.

DEPP: And Marlon hated it. He hated it, which is probably why he rejected the whole idea of it, you know, and made fun of it. But I know its bullshit. I know he was capable of the work and worked hard when he did the work. I saw him do it, you know. He did care.

SMITH: Earlier, you mentioned those three greats, the silent film greats. You’re a master of language, voice, script, words. And yet you chose three silent-film actors.

DEPP: The amazing thing about those guys is that they didn’t have the luxury of language. So what they were doing, what they were feeling, what they were trying to express, had to come out through being had to be alive, had to be in there behind the eyes. Their body had to express it, their very being had to express it.

SMITH: Throughout your life, you seem to have had beautiful relationships with a succession of mentors; Marlon, Hunter,  Allen Ginsberg . You hold these people with you. Is that something that has just come your way? Or is it something that you seek in life?

DEPP: I think it’s probably a combination. It‘s never been a conscious sort of searching, but it did happen with these guys. The combination probably goes back to memories of my grandfather. We were very, very close, and I lost him. I was about nine.

SMITH: Is it your grandfather you have tattooed on your arm?

DEPP: Yeah, Jim. He was a wonderful model. He drove a bus during the day and ran moonshine at night. He was a Robert Mitchum type, a man’s man. He just said things as they were.He’d call a spade a spade and piss on you if you didn’t like it. He was also of a different era—I mean, a radically different era, as were some of the other guys that we’ve talked about, like Marlon and Hunter, and even Keith [Richards] to some degree, and Allen certainly. I really believe it was a better time. I really believe that, at a certain point, if you’re born in ’60-something or whatever, you got ripped off; you know what I mean? I always felt like I was meant to have been born in another era, another time.

SMITH; I was thinking back on Edward Scissorhands—he has this father figure and mentor; Vincent Prices character. You told me a story once about Vincent Price.

DEPP: We were doing Scissorhands and Vincent was playing the inventor –essentially my father in the film. And he was a decent man. He was able to move around. He was cool. He was old.

SMITH: Was that his last film?

DLPP:I think it was, yes. I think it was his last.

SMITH: Such a beautiful film to end with.

DEPP: And the same kind of genre that he dwelled in for a long time. I adored him. As did Tim, a long time before me. So we spent time together, hung out. I was totally enamored. And I had this volume of Edgar Allan Poe, Tales of Mystery and Imagination, that 1 wanted to show him, just show him, you know, because I love the illustrations by Harry Clarke. I brought it to Vincent, and we were sitting in his trailer. He says, Oh, yes, this is wonderful, it’s a wonderful book. He was leafing beautifully through these great heavy pages. And he found “The Tomb of Ligeia” and started to read from it. And he read about half a page aloud, maybe. And then he closed the book and continued. He knew it verbatim.

SMITH: Speaking of books, I was thinking about the letters and manuscripts you have – Dylan Thomas, Kerouac, Rimbaud. Can you remember the first of these that you obtained and how that came about?

DEPP: It was 1991, and I was finishing a film called Arizona Dream in New York. And I wanted to take a trip to Lowell, Massachusetts, to see Kerouac’s town. I’d read everything and been inundated with the Kerouac thing. And so I went there and hooked up with John Sampas, who is Kerouae’s wife’s brother. We talked. He took me around the town. We went to various bars and went to his house, spent a couple of days like that. At the time it was prior to all that stuff being sold off. He gave me access, total access, to Kerouac’s things. He just opened up—bam! I read the Book of Dreams that was under his bed. I read it cover to cover. There it was, like right there in front of me.

SMITH: In his handwriting?

DEPP: Handwriting, watercolors—the Book of Dreams. It was right there, little notepads, tiny little steno notebooks that he carried in his back pocket. I read, cover to cover, as many as I could. And opened up suitcases of his that hadn’t been opened for years, All these amazing things. John Sampas gave me a coat so we could walk to the cemetery to visit Kerouae’s grave. And the coat he put on me was Jack’s. A black raincoat, three-quarter length, slight check in it. I reached into the pockets. In the right-hand pocket there was a tissue, just some old wadded-up tissue. And on the left-hand side there was an old matchbook. And I thought, you know, O.K., I’ve touched these. It’s like the Smithsonian Institution was in my pockets, you know’?

SMITH: You must’ve felt like you fell down your own rabbit hole.

DEPP: I was happy not to leave. I was happy to stay there.

SMITH: Are you reading anything right now? Well you’re always reading, so I should say, what are you reading right now?

DEPP: Between scripts I’m reading The Thin Man, the Dashiell Hammett book, to see what we can mine from it. That’s something that would be Rob Marshall] directing and me playing the Nick part. My hope is that Penelope [Cruz] would play the part of Nora.

SMITH; And what script are you reading?

DEPP: The most recent draft of Dark Shadows. That’s something I Want to do. The script is close now, really close, and, you know, it’s just a question of myself and Tim and the writer, basically the three of us, getting together and signing off on various scenarios. But it’s really gotten good. In the last three weeks, it’s gotten fuckin’ good.

SMITH: Do you ever think of doing plays? I think it would be wonderful  see you work live.

DEPP: I do, I do, I do. The bitter pill that I swallowed was with Marlon, who asked how many movies I did a year. And I said, I don’t know; three? He said, You ought to slow down, kid. You’ve got to slow down ’eause we only have so many faces in our pockets.

And then he went on to say, “Why don’t you just take a year and go and study Shakespeare, or go and study Hamlet. Go and work on Hamlet and play that part. Play that part before you‘re too old. I thought, Well, yeah, yeah, I know Hamlet. Great. What a great part, great play, you know, this and that.

And then the killer came. He said, “I never did it. I never got the chance to do it. Why don’t you go and do it?” He was the one that should’ve done it, and he didn’t. He didn’t. So what he was trying to tell me was: play that fucking part, man. Play that part before you’re too long in the tooth. Play it. And I would like to. I’d really, really like to.

US – Entertainment Weekly, November 19, 2010 – When Angelina Met Johnny

US – Entertainment Weekly, November 19, 2010 – When Angelina Met Johnny

Title: When Angelina Met Johnny

Publication: US – Entertainment Weekly

Issue: November 29, 2010

 

Sometimes Hollywood seems like the smallest place on earth. If you’ve ever seen celebrities backslapping on the red carpet or even sat through a season of Entourage, you might conclude that everyone in the movie business knows everyone else. Take Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. Between them, they’ve made 70 films. They own homes within an hour of each other in the south of France. And they both live with actors, which you’d think would expand their A-list circles further. But it wasn’t until last November that the co-stars of The Tourist actually met. “We’re both not that social,” says Jolie. “I don’t think either one of us goes out of our house, especially in France. We’re both locked away:” Adds Depp: “So much has been written about Angie and Brad. They’re sort of the Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton of our era. I knew she was a big star, but I didn’t know what to expect…” We take for granted that if two movie stars are big enough – and beautiful enough—they will have instant chemistry on screen. And when the PG-13 romantic thriller hits theaters on Dec. 10, the world will find out whether Depp and Jolie-arguably the biggest male and female stars on the planet—will have that indefinable spark. Until then, though, there’s a story worth sharing. The story of how Angie met Johnny

As with most $100 million-plus Hollywood productions, The Tourist took a byzantine path to theaters. It began in 2005 with a French film called Anthony Zimmer——a Hitchcockian import starring Sophie Marceau and Yvan Attal that barely made a ripple on this side of the Atlantic. Still, the pretzel-like wrong-man thriller about a money launderer on the run from detectives and Russian mobsters in sun-kissed Nice was fresh and clever enough for studios to think remake. Zimmer had twists, turns, and double and triple crosses, not to mention juicy parts for two major stars. In no time, Tom Cruise was said to be attached. Then Charlize Theron.

Over time, a who’s who of six—figure screenwriters tried to blockbusterize the story; which was now being set in Venice: Jeffrey Nachmanoff (The Day After Tomorrow), William Wheeler (The Hoax), Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park), and Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects) turned in one promising draft after another But every time it looked as though The Tourist was headed for a green light, that light quickly turned red. Cruise backed out and went off to make other films. Then Sam Worthington was in. Until he wasn’t.

Just as The Tourist seemed headed for the turnaround graveyard, Jolie was in New York wrapping the stunt heavy Salt. She l remembers being black—and-blue and exhausted. “I wanted to do something that would be a great vacation for my kids,” she says. “I got a phone call saying, ‘Okay the film’s shooting in Venice” and I said, ‘I don’t know what it is, but I’m going to say yes “

Jolie’s only half kidding. The actress, 35, admits she’s always had a sweet tooth for action thrillers and was intrigued by the story about two good-looking strangers in trouble in a picturesque European locale. But she also knew the script needed work—a lot of work. It also needed a director a producer; and a leading man. Still, her mind kept drifting back to a working vacation on the canals of Venice. There are worse places to spend a few months, she thought.

You would never think it thumbing through the tabloids at the supermarket checkout line, where Jolie and Brad Pitt’s globe-trotting
exploits are chronicled the way NORAD tracks heat-seeking missiles, but the actress insists that when she and Pitt are not working, they tend to be parked in front of the TV for movie nights, with a heaping bowl of popcorn.

One evening back in 2006, the couple put on a yet—to-be-released German film called The Lives of Others—the feature debut of a 32-year-old director from Munich named Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. The film, which tells the tense, claustrophobic story of an East German spy, would go on to win the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. But before its long march to the Kodak Theatre, Jolie and Pitt sat in front of the TV entranced. “Brad and I watched it together and we loved it,” recalls Jolie. “The character work, all the small details, you really had to lean in and watch. It was handled with such precision and delicacy and very few films are today.”

Pitt sent a gushing letter to the director and fired up along-distance friendship. He wasn’t the only admirer: Seemingly over-night, Henckel von Donnersmarck was meeting with smitten studio execs in LA. “It was overwhelming” says the director. “If you make a film for $2 million that makes $80 million world-wide, those are numbers that Hollywood responds to. No one wanted to distribute The Lives of Others.  And going from that to being offered all these Hollywood scripts, you’re like a lobster being cooked alive. I remember thinking, ‘Do l just jump at an opportunity because it’s there?’ “

Henckel von Donnersmarck, whose name is actually short for the even-more-unwieldy-and-Teutonic Florian Maria Georg Christian Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck, wasn’t sure he was ready to become the next Roland Emmerich—the big—budget German amateur of Tinseltown schlock like 10000BC. He says he passed on “dozens” of offers, opting instead to hammer out a script of his own despite the concern that he was making a colossal mistake. Then, just as he finished his screenplay he got a call from Jolie. Would he meet her in Los Angeles?

Pitt arrived with Jolie to make the introductions, then left his better half to talk business. Jolie pitched the director on The Tourist——how she saw it as a suave cat—and-mouse thriller; like a modern-day To Catch a Thief or Charade; how she was convinced it could still feel smart and European despite its rich price tag; and how it also needed a lot of overhauling. “She was still a little undecided about it and, she said, ‘Look, what do you think? If you wanted to do it, I’d be interested,”’ recalls the director “I found myself apologizing that it wasn’t The Lives of Others,” adds Jolie. “It doesn’t have that importance or depth. And he talked about how something that’s a pleasure to watch can be just as important.” Henckel von Donnersmarck left the meeting knowing he would not only direct the film but rewrite it, too.

Jolie and Henckel von Donnersmarck then brought The Tourist to Graham King, an English-born L.A. transplant with a gruff London accent and a fast-rising reputation as a rainmaking producer of ambitious, star-driven films like The Departed and The Aviator. As luck would have it, King mentioned to them he had a dinner date with Johnny Depp the following week. And just like that, three lightbulbs simultaneously went on.

At dinner King turned to Depp and said, “Before you do Pirates 4, are you interested in going to work?” Depp was intrigued. King sent the actor the script-or at least the cobbled-together mishmash of all the previous scripts. Depp called back a week later He was in. The only problem was The Tourist would have to be rewritten, shot, and wrapped in the next five months so Depp could jet off to Hawaii and slather on Captain Jack’s mascara. If they’d stopped and thought about it, King says they probably would’ve talked themselves out of making the movie. But he also knew that sometimes it’s best not to think.

“When I read the script, I thought, ‘Hmmm, there’s quite a bit missing here,’ ” says Depp, 47. “We need to dissect this f–er and see what we can throw in there.” Depp liked the idea of inhabiting an Everyman character like the Midwestern math teacher he plays in the film—a regular Joe who goes to Europe for an adventure and finds one on a train after meeting a stunning mystery woman who‘s being tailed by the police and a gang of Russian goons. After all; Depp had seen Anthony Zimmer years earlier and loved it. Plus, there was another reason for doing the film: the chance to finally meet an actress he’d long admired.

For those who watched them, movies are simple diversions. But for those whose business is making them, they’re complex machines with lots of unpredictable moving parts. One of the biggest question marks on The Tourist was whether Depp and Jolie would have chemistry when they met. Each of the actors had been a fan of the other: Depp had been floored by Jolie’s go-for-broke performance in The Changeling; Jolie had long been a fan of Depp’s and later admitted she’d watched his Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland over and over with her six children. On Nov. 24, 2009, less than three months before the two stars would fly to Venice and start a complicated love affair on camera, King and Henckel von Donnersmarck set up an introduction for them at Depp’s office in West Hollywood.

Jolie and the director got there first. Henckel von Donnersmarck, playing a sort of millionaire matchmaker, quickly plopped himself in Depp’s chair so the two stars would be forced to sit side by side on the sofa. Jolie paced around Depp’s office trying to take the measure of her co-star before laying eyes on him. “As I was waiting, I noticed these beautiful pictures of his [girlfriend, actress Vanessa Paradis] and kids and all of his paintings” remembers Jolie. “He’s an artist, and you feel that in any space he’s in. When he walked in, he was as interesting as I’d hoped he’d be.” When asked if she was nervous going into the meeting, Jolie pauses for a minute, then replies, “Maybe.”

When Depp is asked the same question, he laughs. “Well, there is sort of that. Because on one level it’s like, ‘Here we go, kid. We’re about to get into the ring together” We sat there and babbled about our kids, and it was a huuuuuge relief. I was pleasantly surprised that she has an incredibly perverse sense of humor. She’s a really cool broad.” Halfway through the meeting, a bottle of wine was uncorked. And by the time it was over everyone got in their cars, drove their separate ways, and exhaled.

Six weeks later Depp and Jolie landed in Venice to start shooting. They couldn’t believe the film was actually happening. “I think we all kept thinking it was going to fall apart any second just because it all happened so quickly,” says Jolie. Henckel von Donnersmarck showed his stars the still wet pages of his rewrite as the cameras began to roll.

They’d have to learn their lines on the fly. Fortunately Depp and Jolie shared similar acting styles—no small concern considering that Depp loves to ad-lib and basically refuses to rehearse or pay attention to stage directions in the script. Jolie wasn’t just okay with Depp’s merry-prankster improvisations—she gave as good as she got. “I could throw her anything and I would expect a great toss-back,” says Depp. “Or I’d do a scene and she’d slap me with something and you run with that. We had a ball!”

Actually, the only problem on the set was the one that could have been most easily predicted by pairing two of the world’s boldest boldface names. “I remember standing on a bridge by the Grand Canal one morning and Johnny and Angelina were coming to the set on their boats, and behind them was a fleet of paparazzi on their boats,” says King. “It was a nightmare” He says they improvised an elaborate system of decoys and obstructions to frustrate aggressive photographers and keep them at bay. “l remember freaking out the first week of shooting, thinking, ‘How are we going to keep this movie from the press?’ ” says King. “But in today’s world there’s a lot you can do with green screen. You can put up a black tent and fill it in later”

Later is now finally here. Nearly a year after The Tourists harried and hurried journey began, Depp is off in warmer climes flashing his rum-sozzled gold teeth for May’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and Jolie is in Budapest directing an as-yet-untitled Bosnian-war drama—her first gig on the other side of the camera. For both stars, the charming canals of Venice and their awkward first shotgun rendezvous are distant memories. Meanwhile, Henckel von Donnersmarck is stuck in L.A., tweaking, tinkering, and praying that the moment when Angie met Johnny is as memorable on celluloid as it was in the flesh. ‘At the end of the day, whether people will accept the movie or find it too European, that’s out of my hands,” says the director: “If they don’t, it might make it tough for me to direct The Tourist2 or Superman, but I won‘t be in a worse position than before I made The Lives of Others.” As for Depp and Jolie, something tells us they’ll be just fine.

Entertainment Weekly March 05, 2010

‘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.

Entertainment Weekly, December 2009 – Johnny Depp

Title: Johnny Depp

Author: Chris Nashawaty

Publication: Entertainment Weekly

Issue: December 2009

When the decade began, Johnny Depp wasn’t the Johnny Depp of today. Sure, the critics had anointed him one of the finest actors of his generation, but Depp still hadn’t found his footing at the box office. Back then, he was an artistic martyr—Hollywood’s very own Saint Jude, patron saint of cinematic lost causes. For every middling hit on his oddball résumé like Sleepy Hollow or Chocolat, there was a misfire like Fear and Loathing in Los Vegas.

Then something happened. Johnny Depp found his stride in the most unlikely of places 1t’s easy to look at 2003’s Pirates of the Caribbean Curse of the Black Pearl,  a Bruckheimer blockbuster from Disney, and conclude that Depp had finally sold his soul. But anyone who’s seen his lunatic turn as Capt. Jack Sparrow knows better `It’s one of those without-a-net performances, so singular and subversive that it’s hard to believe he got away with it. Which he utmost didn’t when the studio suits saw the dailies and nearly had a collective cardiac infarction.

The First Pirates made $305 million and proved that Depp’s idiosyncratic gifts could entrance a huge mainstream audience. No one was more baffled by his success than Depp himself. When the actor sat down with EW in 2003, he said, “All I can say is for a guy like me who’s been dangling in this business for the last 20 years, to finally have something hit, it‘s unexpected and very touching” Depp received his first,-ever Oscar nomination for Pirates. And just to show that it was no fluke, he was nominated again for his tear-jerking turn in 2004’s Finding Neverland. Then in 2008, he was nominated a third time for what may go down as his ballsiest parlor trick, singing and slashing throats in Sweeney Todd. Today, Depp, 46, is an acting icon and a father: (He and his long-time partner, the French singer-actress Vanessa Paradis have two children, Jack and Lily-Rose Melody.) Depp is no longer the impish patron saint of cinematic last causes, but something far rarer: an entertainer who’s most magically alive in that fleeting moment between “Action” and “Cut.”

UK-Caesars Player, December 2009 – Johnny Depp the Outsider

UK-Caesars Player, December 2009 – Johnny Depp the Outsider

Title: Johnny Depp the Outsider

Author: John Lancer

Publication: UK-Caesars Player

Issue: December 2009

Depp may have been master of his own fate, beginning with his decision to desert his starring role in the hugely popular television series 21 Jump Street to act on the big screen. But it hasn’t always been easy.

“I was Sort of thrown into becoming famous he remembers.”There were some battles l had to fight to retain my individuality. I’d get agents who’d say to me,’ Why are you going against the grain?’ But I knew that if I continued the way they wanted me to, it was death; it was just going to be over with. It was a question of standing tall and saying, I’m not going to be what you want me to be. I’m going to be what l want to be.”‘

Instead of trying to become a leading man, Depp picked unconventional roles ranging from the strange teen in cult filmmaker John Waters’ Cry-Baby to the outcast with shears for hands in Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands. And he remained a reluctant celebrity battling against fame with occasional outbursts of pubic anger fuelled by drugs and alcohol. Looking back, he says simply, “I think in many ways I was existing without living”

Now, Depp has left personal angst behind to become one of the hottest stars In Hollywood. The three-time Oscar nominee [for Pirates of the Caribbean, Finding Neverland and Sweeney Todd] reflects “The first thing you’ve got to trust is your instincts your gut. That‘s really how I’ve been able to stick around for such a long time. I just rely on my instinct and do what l think is right for me.”

A MAD, MAD WORLD

Depp’s current choice unites film with Burton for the seventh time as he takes on the role of the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland. “Lewis Carrolls book was my starting point” he says. ‘There are little mysteries, little clues, in it that l found fascinating and were keys to my understanding of the Mad Hatter. i also thought about what he should look like, and I made little weird drawings and watercolors and brought them to Tim Burton. Then, he showed me his weird little drawings and watercolors and they were not dissimilar. You could’ve put them right together and they were pretty darn close”

Over the years, starting with Depp’s first collaboration with Burton on Edward Scissorhands and taking him through Sleepy Hollow and the hit Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the pair has forged a close working relationship and friend-ship that seems to always revolve around the creation of oddly unique characters.

“There‘s no real definition other than there is some kind of connection, some sort of understanding that Tim and I have that is at most times unspoken”  Depp explains. Burton says of Depp ‘From the first time I ever worked with him, he was willing to try anything. As an actor, he’s totally fearless. I sometimes think of actors like Johnny as silent films stars. It’s like they don’t even need to speak when you see them on the screen because they’re so fascinating to watch”

A PIRATE’S LIFE

It was Depp’s wildly offbeat take on Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean that propelled him to the top of the A-list.”I never really thought about it much; he says of becoming wealthy and successful.”Somebody mentioned something about me being on the Forbes list and it just made me laugh. It just didn’t make any sense no me at all. But if that’s where they want to put me, that’s great. It doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll be there next year. I figure if this is what the ride is for the moment, great.”

Depp isn’t apologizing for his biggest indulgence, the purchase of an island in the Bahamas where Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed.”It‘s a tiny place that I fell in love with,” he explains. “I can divide my time between there and the South of France, where I live with my family. For me, the place to be Is where there is an opportunity for normalcy and simplicity. I sort of slum around the world on location,  battling incessantly to get other people’s words right in front of a camera, so to go and sit and stare at the horizon on my island for a little while is pretty good. I think it might add a couple of minutes to your life”

So what’s guiding him now? “Remembering that you make your own reality” Depp says.”You don’t have to stay in a little shell that was hammered out for you from childhood. I think that at a certain point, you have come out and live your life the way you want to live it and not have to answer to anybody”

In fact, Depp does answer to a couple of people who he admits have changed his life; his son and daughter with French actress Vanessa Paradis. “The greatest thing is just the sort of  beauty of watching my kids grow up and become little adults” he says.“The kiddies give you strength and perspective. When the fame thing would make me angry, I’d sort of go ‘Oh bug off! I’m just going to play Barbies with rny daughter”

And while Depp is clearly proud of his track record in a tough business, he insists he tries not to become too preoccupied with what he puts on the screen. ‘I prefer to stay as ignorant as possible about my work.” he says.”It takes a while for me to watch a movie I’ve done because I may start having regrets.  My philosophy is once they wrap the film, my job is done. I’ve done my damage. It’s up to somebody else to clean up the mess and put it all together.”

But there’s one thing that Depp almost always misses: the characters he plays. “l remember when l was doing Edward Scissorhands he says.”I really feel like a dunce saying this, but it’s the truth—the last day of filming, it was like the eighty-ninth day. I had my makeup on and I looked in the mirror and went, ‘This is the last time I’ll see you! I had that feeling about Captain Jack too. It’s a weird thing, and l don’t think it’s normal.”

FilmInk, November 2009 – Through the Mirror

FilmInk, November 2009 – Through the Mirror

Title: Through the Mirror

Author: Gaynor Flynn

Publication: FilmInk

Issue: November 2009

The first time that you see Heath Ledger in Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, he’s hanging under Black friars Bridge in London with a noose around his neck. It‘s an incredibly disturbing moment given that it’s only 21 months since the actor was found dead in New York from an accidental overdose of sleeping pills. When Gilliam first heard about the death of his friend, he was grief stricken. Then, of course, there was the film to consider. The news had barely flashed around the world, but investors had already begun to desert the sinking ship. “l didn’t see how we could finish it without Heath, because he’d only done approximately half of his roIe.“ says Gilliam wearily. “The financial people were dropping out, and I thought that everything was over. I was so depressed that I didn’t want to continue working. Luckily, I always surround myself with really good people, and they wouldn’t let me stop. They said, ‘Fuck you, you lazy bastard! You’ve got to fix this thing because of Heath.” So we went back td work.’

Gilliam, his 31-year-dld daughter Amy (who makes her producing debut on the film), and cinematographer Nicola Pecorini shut themselves away in a room and tried to think of a solution. “Amy was the one who initially said that we could do this. She was stubborn and pig-headed and determined to finish the film for Heath. Clearly she’s a chip off the old block” cackles Gilliam. Who came up with the idea of three actors replacing Ledger?  “Well, we discussed for a long time whether one actor should take the part, but I felt that was impossible.” says Gilliam. “I didn’t think that it was respectful, and I didn’t think that it would work at all. The film‘s story involves a magic mirror, which Heath goes through three times. So I thought, ‘Okay, three actors would he the way to approach it.”‘

Still, Gilliam had his doubts. It was only when he contacted his good mate Johnny Depp that the director began to believe that the film was salvageable. “I called Johnny, and he said. ‘I’m there’, and at that moment. I thought that it might work.” says Gilliam. “Then I called other people who knew and loved Heath. Colin Farrell and Jude Law came on board as well, and worked for no money,” adds Gilliam. “They wanted their fees to go to Heath‘s daughter. They wouldn’t take a bean”

Set in modern day London, The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus revolves around a horse drawn carnival show. There‘s a magician of sorts (Andrew Garfield) and a dwarf  (Verne Troyer), but the main attraction is Dr. Parnassus {Christopher Plummer}. who is 1.000 years old thanks to a deal that he made with the devil {Tom Waits}. The deal requires Parnassus to hand over his daughter Valentina {Lily Cole} on her sixteenth birthday, which is only three days away. As the day looms, Parnassus is forced to re-evaluate his life and find a way to save his daughter. An amnesiac stranger called Tony {Ledger} joins the troupe and helps the doctor with his plans.

Gilliam first worked with Ledger in 2005 on The Brothers Grimm. They became close friends, each mentoring and inspiring the other, and both wanted to work together again. Was Gilliam nervous about Ledger’s family seeing the film? “I think they’ll be delighted by it.‘ he replies. “l got to work with Heath every day in the cutting room, so it’s slightly different for me. He doesn’t seem to be that long departed from us.‘

What was he like in the days before the tragic accident? There was talk that Ledger was broody and moody alter making The Dark Knight. “There was no darkness around Heath,“ says Gilliam. “He had chronic insomnia, and he‘d arrive in the morning looking exhausted. But within an hour, he’d be running circles around everybody else. Heath was enjoying himself so much. He was adlibbing a lot and loving every minute of the experience. I don’t normally allow that much adlibbing in my films, but Heath was just brilliant at it. Everybody was just energised by Heath. He was extraordinary, and he was almost exhausting because he had so much energy. He was coming up with new ideas every minute, and it was a joy to watch this part blossom.”

24-year-old British actor Andrew Garfield, who first came to notice in the powerful drama Boy A, which won him a BAFTA in 2007, is still amazed that Gilliam cast him. “He was just drunk, I think,” laughs the young actor. “I was lucky because I really, really wanted the part. I was brought up watching The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen and all the other films in that vein, like Labyrinth and The Goonies and all these broad fantasies. To not only work with someone who I‘m hugely inspired by and in awe of was great, and my dad is a huge fan as well, which made it even better. I learned so much from Terry, and also from Heath,” Garfield continues. “I really learned from his approach, his stillness and his specificity. The most valuable thing to have as an actor is to he free from your mind imposing what you should be doing or what you should be thinking. Heath had that freedom of body and mind in abundance. I found that inspiring”.

Did Gilliam have to do any major rewrites once Ledger was gone? “The movie is what we wrote.” the director explains. “We had to change certain things to accommodate Heath not being there, but it was very important to stay exactly true to what we set out to make because Heath wanted that movie. There‘s one moment where Christopher Plummer’s character is saying, ‘A tale of romance, of comedy, of unforeseen death’, and he didn’t want to say that line after Heath died. We said, ‘You have to say it! That’s the line that we wrote; that’s the movie that Heath and I were making.’ The dialogue with Johnny Depp — ‘They will live forever, eternally young’ — was all written in advance as well.” continues Gilliam. “Heath hanging from his neck from the bridge was shot on the first day of shooting. I knew that it would be a very strange feeling for an audience to see that. We left it in because that was the movie that we were making, and that’s what Heath would have expected” he explains.

Where did the idea for the story come from? Is it something that Gilliam has been working on for years? “The genesis was basically just deciding one day to do something original rather than adapting a book.” Gilliam replies. “I thought that it would be fun to make a compendium of all of the things that I was interested in, from Python cartooning to Twelve Monkeys. I brought in Charles McKeown, who had written The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen and part of Brazil with me. We hadn’t worked together for quite a long time, so I thought that would be fun as well. That’s how we started. I basically started rummaging through my drawers, looking for old ideas that were never used.”

Anyone who has followed Gilliam’s career will know that the director’s projects are often beset by monumental problems. It’s not a coincidence that many of Gilliam’s fantastical tales revolve around the struggle against a great power. The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus is no different. This time, the  power is the devil himself. Gilliam describes it as “a self portrait.” The film is essentially about a man with a crazy imagination who wants to share it with the world, but the world doesn‘t want to listen. “I was feeling depressed, so I thought, ‘Okay, with The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus, nobody wants my stories anymore, so they don’t want his either.’ I was feeling very sorry for myself. So we put that in there, and little by little, it became what it is.“ Has he ever sold his soul to get a film made? “Are you kidding? All the time,” Gilliam laughs. “What do you think I‘m doing now?”

There must have been times over the years when Gilliam thought that he was jinxed. Has he ever thought about giving up? “No. I haven’t,” he replies. “I don’t know why. It would be much nicer if I could just stop. I spend most of the time being depressed; I‘m not this upbeat normally. . this is not me! What you’re hearing is this guy that pretends to be me. I’m really miserable. Speak to my wife,” Gilliam laughs. “I’m also a fatalist. I start things. I try very hard to make them happen, and they either do or they don’t. This one did, and I’d like to think that Heath had a hand in that. He was my guardian angel. He made this happen; the fact that this film got made at all is a miracle, pure and simple”

People, November 2009 – Sexiest Man Alive

People, November 2009 – Sexiest Man Alive

Title: Sexiest Man Alive

Publication: People

Issue: November 2009

Johnny Depp should come with a warning label: Close encounters are likely to cause extreme nervousness, impaired judgment and embarrassing displays of rapture. Take it from actress Missi Pyle, his co-star in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. “It was my sister’s birthday, and I said, ‘Would you mind writing a little something for her?’” recalls Pyle. “And he was like, ‘Why don’t you come to my trailer for a picture?” Decked out in her character’s teased blond wig and Day-Glo makeup, “I remember running back and washing and blow—drying my hair and putting on my real makeup because I looked so frightening,” says Pyle. “I walked in to his trailer and there were candles burning and he’s like, ‘Would you like a glass of wine? A cigarette? He rolled his own—I had quit smoking—but I was like, ‘Of course!’ I was nauseous for four hours because they were really strong.” And then there was the awkward issue of remembering to look at his eyes-and not, y’know, other mesmerizing bits—while chatting with him. “I would find myself talking to his mouth,” says Pyle. As for her reaction when director Tim Burton suggested she get closer to Depp during the production, Pyle says: “I felt a party go off inside of me.”

Break out the Bordeaux, the whoopee cushions and the bangin’ Keith Richards guitar solos (all Depp favorites), because the 2009 Sexiest Man Alive party is officially under way—and everyone’s invited. Bringing the fun with him wherever he goes—whether it’s onscreen in fizzy roles like Captain Jack Sparrow or at home with his family on their private Bahamian island—is just one of the many reasons why Depp, who also scored the honor in 2003, has joined an elite club of two—time SMA title-holders (only Brad Pitt and George Clooney have matched the feat). At 46, the father of two—daughter Lily—Rose, 10, and son Jack, 7, with his partner of more than 10 years, French singer-actress Vanessa Paradis, 35—still reigns as Hollywood’s most irresistible iconoclast; as one-of-a-kind as his beloved 15-year-old boots and as smoldering as his favorite Cuban cigars. (He gave up his signature Bali Shag cigarettes a few years ago.) “He really is as sexy as he’s cracked up to be,” says actress Leelee Sobieski, his co-star in last summer’s John Dillinger biopic Public Enemies. Exactly what makes him so sexy? “He has a profound elegance about him,” says his friend Bruce Robinson, who directed him in the upcoming Hunter S. Thompson film The Rum Diary. “He knows exactly who he is and doesn’t try to be anything he isn’t.  Plus,” adds Robinson, “the fantastic face.”

Ah, the Face. Exactly 25 years after he hit the big screen in his first major role as a doomed teen in Nightmare on Elm Street, Depp’s arresting magnetism remains remarkably unchanged: those famous sword-sharp cheekbones, the dark rum eyes. “I’ve worked with a lot of big actors,” says Pyle, “and he’s by far the most-I can’t think of the right word; only dirty words are coming up!—he’s by far the sexiest.” (He does sweat for that timelessly hot body: On the set of Public Enemies, he put in daily 5 a.m. workouts with a trainer.) A versatile artist who counts oil painting, playing guitar and reading the work of Tolstoy among his talents—oh, and he “can swear in any language,” notes his Public Enemies co-star Branka Katic—he’s essentially “an interesting enigma when it all comes down to it,” says Amber Heard, his  leading lady in The Rum Diary. “You have to watch him.” And yet the Kentucky native with a proud streak of Cherokee blood wears his sex appeal as effortlessly as his treasury of tattoos and assorted trinkets. Notes Pyle: “I think he’s genuinely flattered by the effect he has on women and yet doesn’t really care. And that’s sexy too.”

As comfortable as he is in his own skin, he’s happiest when he’s with “my girl” and the “kiddies,” as he has affectionately called Paradis and their children. The continent-hopping family—who divide their time between their estates in the Bahamas, California and the south of France- “are like gypsies with a private plane,” says a Paradis pal. And yet the family is rarely apart, with Depp typically flying to join them wherever they are in the world when he is shooting elsewhere. “Whenever he mentions his kids, his entire facial expression changes—his whole spirit just lifts,” recalls Jeff Scalf, the great—nephew of John Dillinger, with whom Depp met in preparation for playing the notorious robber. When Scalf asked about Depp’s most famous role-Pirates of the Caribbean’s loopy Captain Jack, for which he scored an Oscar nod and helped the trilogy rake in over $2.5 billion worldwide-the actor explained that the part has special meaning for him. “He said, ‘I do Captain Jack because my kids really think Daddy’s a pirate” says Scalf. “His face beamed. He says he plays pirate with the kids quite a bit.”

To be sure, behind the gold teeth-Depp even makes those sexy-and devil-may-care insouciance, there is a heart-melting softie. Dropping off Lily-Rose for her first day of pre-school in France awhile back, “he hid in the bushes to watch her,” recalls an observer. “Lily was crying and she wouldn’t stop. So Johnny took her out of the classroom and she never went back.” When Lily was hospitalized with a serious illness in London in 2007 Depp shut down production of his film Sweeney Todd to be by her bedside until she recovered. “His family comes way before anything else,” says Robinson. “They are the most important thing in his life.”

 Renowned for his fan-friendly graciousness, he is “one of the most generous spirits I’ve ever met in my life,” says Robinson. On the Rum Diary set in San Juan, Puerto Rico, notes the director, “he’d be working a long day and it’s hot as hell, but he’d never neglect all the people who’d been Waiting outside to see him.” And the man keeps his promises: In Wisconsin last year, local boy Jack Taylor admired Depp’s Dillinger-era fedora from Public Enemies and asked if he could have it. Depp said yes – when the film Wrapped. Sure enough, the hat arrived at Jack’s house after the film was finished.

Next up for Hollywood’s nicest rebel – two more full-makeup fantasies: Next month’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, in which he helped take over the role of his late friend Heath Ledger, and March’s Alice in Wonderland, his seventh collaboration with director Tim Burton. Sharing his personal philosophy last summer, Depp said, “You’re handed the ball and you go as far as you can until somebody says, All right, kid, you’re done.’ ” Kid, you’ve only just begun.

Vanity Fair, August 2009 – Mad About the Hatter

Vanity Fair, August 2009 – Mad About the Hatter

Title: Mad About the Hatter

Author: Evgenia Peretz

Publication: Vanity Fair

Issue: August 2009

 

After the huge success of Batman {I989], Tim Burton might have gone the route of Hollywood action director, churning through every iconic American superhero. Instead, he has spent the last 20 years on his own candy-colored, cobweb-by path, inventing heartbreakingly peculiar heroes [Edward Scissorhands] and giving a macabre edge to children’s classics [Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory]. It would seem inevitable that one day he’d take on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, last seen on film in the bland animated Disney version of 1951. Fifty-eight  years later, the Cheshire Cat and the Red Queen were begging to be reimagined by the living master of cheeky Goth.

It’s inevitable, also, that it would star, as the Mad Hatter, Johnny Depp, whose real-life passion for haberdashery could hardly be better documented. Now on their seventh collaboration, Depp and Burton both grew up as suburban outcasts and admit to speaking a language on set that no one else understands. The film also stars Anne Hathaway as the White Queen, Burton’s partner, Helena Bonham Carter, as the Red Queen, Crispin Glover as the Knave of Hearts, and Mia Wasikowska {In Treatment Defiance} as Alice. The director has employed “’performance capture” technology and 3D—two more reasons it seems destined to be of a rare breed; the auteur’s blockbuster.

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