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9 July 2006   Articles No Comments

After years of proving his versatility as an actor without ever starring in a gold-plated box-office blockbuster, his talent was finally acknowledged by cinemagoers and critics alike through his performance as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates Of The Caribbean three years ago – By Steve Pratt for The Northern Echo

Public adoration of Captain Jack, the fact that people took to the character and supported him, came as a pleasant surprise. “At a certain point some of the better dressed people at Disney were having a difficult time with my interpretation of the character. The fact that the audience came in and supported me was a win-win situation,” says the actor with a degree of satisfaction.

Executives’ worries were understandable when you consider Captain Jack’s mincing swagger and mangled, effeminate English accent. His body language is all to do with the weather, explains Depp. “It came from extreme heat. I went to a sauna, locked myself in – by the way, I don’t recommend that. Out on the open seas for a long period of time, he’d obviously be subjected to the elements. So what happens when you lock yourself in a very hot place? It starts to affect the way you move, that’s kind of how Jack’s movement was born.”

The combination contrives to remind you not only of Keith Richards but also Captain Birds Eye and Julian Clary. The two sequels are being filmed back-to-back, with Depp and the rest of the cast reuniting to complete filming next month.

Refreshingly, Depp rejects any actory character development nonsense regarding his pirate. “I kind of reckon he’s fully developed,” he says. “He’s arrived and had arrived on the first one, so that whole idea of the arc of the character? Bollocks. The guy is, and he sort of moves forward.”

What comes across on screen is that Depp’s having a ball doing a funny voice and silly walk, and it’s difficult to resist warming to Sparrow. For Depp, the role helps fulfil a childhood dream. “I can very clearly remember wanting to be a pirate when I was a kid,” he says.

“It feels like that still exists for a lot of people. Something to do with the idea of total freedom. Everybody wants to be that free, everyone would love to be totally irreverent and not have to answer to anyone. He’s me and I’m him. He’s a character born out of me, but I don’t trust him at all.”

Pirates 2 is his first sequel and he’s happy to keep splicing the mainbrace for as long as audiences want to see Captain Jack. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer has said that he’s looking to make more Pirates movies beyond number three. “As long as there’s a good script there, you’re OK,” says Depp.

His children haven’t seen Pirates 2 yet. “The responsible thing to do was to check it out first before they come to it. I’ve come to the conclusion they’ll be OK,” he says.

9 July 2006   Articles No Comments

Like most Hollywood actors, his particular journey has been something of a rollercoaster ride and right now he couldn’t be higher off the ground by LAWRIE MASTERSON for the Sunday Mail.

Depp admits that even his mother, Betty Sue, was impressed when he landed on the cover of Newsweek recently and his star power drew comparisons between him and Tom Cruise.

But while Cruise, 44 on July 3, routinely tops lists as Hollywood’s most powerful and bankable star, it’s 43-year-old Depp who has the acting credibility, the reputation for uncanny choices of material.

And while Cruise’s personal life has taken turns towards what some regard as bizarre in recent years, Depp, who certainly had some wild days early in his career, now is the epitome of the happy family man. He is the father of Lily-Rose, seven, and four-year-old Jack with his partner of the past eight years, French singer and actor Vanessa Paradis.

“Even before the ride took this particular turn (with Pirates) I never really went out much, so nothing has changed in that regard,” he says. “My kids have a super-normal life. They do their school, they play with their friends.

“OK, they get to go to Disneyland maybe a little more often than other kids, but that’s part of the gig.”

Depp and his family divide their time between homes in Los Angeles and the south of France and, having spent more than two years in the Bahamas making the three Pirates movies and earning about $A47 million for the two sequels, he also has bought a small island about 100 km south of Nassau.

The retreat has become a “very necessary part of the balance”, he says.

“Here in Hollywood with this work, that’s one type of animal. The island and the idea of going to a place where there are no telephones, no cars, no street lights or noises – there’s just nature and the sea and the wind and the sun – that brings things down to their absolute base level.

“It’s a great education for the kids. It serves a lot of purposes and it’s good to get away, definitely.”

Depp, who has always spoken openly, says being the father of a seven-year-old and a four-year-old is “a high-energy, high-stakes experience”.

“Vanessa and I have been lucky to have spent so much time with our kids, but we’re also lucky enough to take time for ourselves because you’ve got to remain not only lovers and all that stuff, but friends. It can’t always be talking about the kids.”

7 July 2006   Articles No Comments

Having sailed so long outside the mainstream, Johnny Depp isn’t sure how to navigate superstardom – BY JEFF STRICKLER for the Star Tribune

LOS ANGELES — Sure, he has starred in plenty of movies, but usually as a performer who prides himself on disappearing inside his role. It wasn’t Depp who drew audiences to those films, it was characters such as Edward Scissorhands, Donnie Brasco and George Jung (“Blow”).

The patrons lining up at theaters today will be there to see Depp. The sequel to the 2003 blockbuster — which had $652 million in ticket sales worldwide — is a mega-budget star vehicle built around and totally dependent on Capt. Jack Sparrow, the flamboyant pirate he created. And that blows his mind. “I’ve definitely never been a crowd-pleaser,” he said. “I was very surprised that the first ‘Pirates’ did as well as it did. I still am.”

“If you define my career in terms of box office, I’ve spent 20 years making movies that the studios consider failures,” he said. “To me, they were great successes just because we got them made.”

Depp says he’s “not the leading-man kind of actor — there’s a whole bunch of guys out there, actor types, who do that well.” Instead, he prefers characters “who may seem bizarre.” He points out that while the first “Pirates” movie was being filmed, studio executives went bonkers over reports that he was playing the freewheeling character as a seagoing Keith Richards.

“The executives panicked, and for good reason,” he said. “Fortunately, the viewers came in and saved me.”

Director Gore Verbinski said that the first film’s low profile enabled him to recruit actors from foreign and independent movies — the same background as Depp.

Keira Knightley was nominated for an Oscar earlier this year for “Pride and Prejudice,”but when we hired her, she was just a teenager,” he said. “And as for Orlando [Bloom], the first ‘Lord of the Rings’ movie hadn’t come out. They weren’t famous yet.”

Depp loves playing Capt. Jack Sparrow. To wit, filming of the third movie in the series, scheduled for release next Memorial Day, is half done and will resume as soon as the promotional work for this movie is over.

“That character made a lot of friends out there,” he said. “He’s a really fun character to play. When [filming on] the first movie ended, I was sad to say goodbye to him. There are a lot more things you can do with a character like this. I don’t feel that I’m done with him yet.”

7 July 2006   Articles No Comments – People Magazine editor-at-large and The Early Show entertainment contributor Jess Cagle spoke with Depp about the new movie and his unique role.

“You’ve said that ‘Pirates’ initially came from a desire to do a movie for the kids. And I wanted to know what kind of feedback have you gotten from your kids about the movies?”

Depp: “The kids have been incredibly sort of supportive,” he says. “They enjoy the character a lot. Every now and again, very rarely, but they’ll ask me to sort of, say something like Jack Sparrow. Or do something like Sparrow. My son for example, used to think that – it was the cutest thing in the world – he always thought that the character’s name was ‘Captain Jack Sparrow Savvy.'”

Depp was practically a kid himself when he starred in the TV drama “21 Jump Street.” Director John Waters saw that Depp was capable of much more and gave him his first big-screen starring role in “Cry-Baby.”

“John Waters said he thinks Captain Jack is actually, of all the characters you’ve played, the character closest to you,” Cagle asks, laughing. “Is there, first of all, why would he say something like that, is there any truth to it?”

“I’ll never reveal the truth … I cannot and will not say. No, I think with all the characters, you know, they’re still in there, you know. Ed Wood pops up every now and again,” says Depp. “Captain Jack, certainly. Closest to me? You know, maybe. It’s hard for me to say.” [More…]

5 July 2006   Articles No Comments

ABC News
Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean” isn’t really what anybody apart from Depp had in mind for the character.

“I think in their minds they had a sort of Errol Flynn, Burt Lancaster type,” Depp said.

Shock soon turned to glee. The director and studio bosses took a chance on Depp’s bizarre creation.

Now he’s back, playing Jack Sparrow again in the second “Pirates” movie, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.”

Depp said that he had to rein himself in when returning to the character.

“At times, yeah, at times you definitely had to control yourself,” he said.

Sometimes he goes into character off the set.

“There are moments when he [Jack Sparrow] shows up. My kids are sort of like, ‘Oh, Dad,'” Depp said. “You know one of those things when you’re like, ‘Don’t become Jack Sparrow.'”

This role might have overwhelmed a lesser actor and made him known forevermore as Jack Sparrow. When you’ve played Edward Scissorhands, Willy Wonka and Ed Wood, as Depp has, that’s not likely.

“Although there is the off chance that I’ll end up at fast-food chains doing personal galleries/appearances,” Depp said, “or golf tournaments as Jack Sparrow. Things like that.” [More…]

26 June 2006   Articles No Comments

Agent Tracey Jacobs was selected by VARIETY, the Hollywood trade paper, as a “Woman of Impact,” one of the most influential females in an industry where powerful women are still a rarity. Ms. Jacobs has represented Johnny Depp since his early days in Hollywood; in fact, it was Tracey who prevailed upon Johnny to meet Tim Burton and discuss playing EDWARD SCISSORHANDS. Johnny has often spoken of Tracey’s loyalty to him despite career choices that could drive an ordinary agent round the bend–for example, turning down blockbusters like SPEED while electing to make the little-seen (but thoroughly brilliant) DEAD MAN. “Tracey’s taken a lot of heat over the years,” Johnny told TIME’s Josh Tyrangiel last year. “She has bosses and higher-ups, and every time I take on another strange project, they’re going, ‘[…]When does he do a movie where he kisses the girl? When does he get to pull a gun out and shoot somebody? […] When is he finally going to do a blockbuster?'”

Ironically, Tyrangiel added, when Johnny Depp’s blockbuster opportunity came around, “his long-suffering agent didn’t want him to take the part” of Captain Jack Sparrow. “He was pitched the movie without a script,” Tracey told Tyrangiel. “They basically said, ‘We’re going to make a movie out of this theme-park ride. Want to do it?’ And he said, ‘Great! I’m in. I believe in the idea.’ I just thought, What idea, you lunatic?”

Today Johnny celebrated Tracey’s being named a “Woman of Impact” by publishing the following letter in tribute to her. The letter appeared as a a full-page ad in today’s VARIETY, July 29, 2005:

Darling Tracey,

Thank you is not nearly enough. You believed in me when no one else did, or would. You stuck by me through great difficulties, ugliness and beauty while others turned away. Your friendship, bravery, wisdom, strength, trust and love know no bounds. I am humbled by your devotion, inspired by your courage and conviction, blessed to have you in my life and proud to call you friend. I love you more than you will ever be able to comprehend.

As the old saying goes, “I’m nothing without you.”


The Zone thanks Micdus for posting the text of the letter, Jacks_Effects for the TIME magazine story, and emma for posting the VARIETY article about Tracey Jacobs on the News & Views forum. We congratulate Tracey Jacobs and wish her all possible success and happiness in the coming years.
/ / July 29, 2005

**Article from website.

16 June 2006   Articles No Comments – It’s really big, really black, and really, really scary — just the kind of vessel a crew of skeletal pirates would feel right at home in. Though you may not recognize it, if you’re a dedicated filmgoer, you’ve most likely seen it – By Robert Nolin.

The Black Pearl, the pirate ship from the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, is at a Dania Beach marina being spruced up after several months of sea and salt exposure. The 150-foot-long, 38-foot-wide faux galleon was built in Alabama from the wooden hull of a supply ship and is painted black from stem to stern, said lead painter Giovanni Ferrara.

“People see it and say, `What the heck is this old boat doing here?'” Ferrara said. “When they realize this is the Black Pearl, Johnny Depp’s boat, they freak out.”

Ferrara said the ship spent time last year in the Caribbean filming the sequels to the Pirates of the Caribbean. It has been in town for about a month getting re-painted before leaving on a yacht transfer ship Monday for California, for about three more weeks of filming.

13 June 2006   Articles No Comments

Meet Jack Sparrow’s nemesis – by Steve Head.

**May Contain Spoilers**

IGN – To many Pirates, Davy Jones is a frightening myth. They tell stories of “those who have disturbed him” – entire crews being killed, and their ships pulled to the bottom of the sea, trapped in his locker. There have been a few survivors of these phantom encounters. (Their lives were spared to tell the tale.) They liken the experience to staring death in the face.

“I’ll tell you this,” says Bill Nighy, the actor who plays Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, “If you are so unlucky as to stand before him, then it’s true: you are staring death in the face, and he’ll kill you without question.”

There are few things that will deter Jack Sparrow if a tidy profit is involved. Without getting into spoilers here, we’ll just say, in pursuit of his next treasure, he isn’t entirely aware of the consequence involved.

“Most don’t have any idea what Davy will do because they don’t expect it,” Nighy tells IGN FilmForce. “It isn’t that he’s an entirely predatory killer. He’s not out to simply kill pirates. He’s out to kill the pirates who trespass upon his territory. Death has always surrounded him, and he spends considerable time arranging for the destruction of such adversaries. Unfortunately [Sparrow] looks where he ought not to, and stirs up trouble as such that the price he’ll pay is more than he initially considered.”

Now you might be wondering, how did Davy Jones come to be? And what in the world is he? A man? A ghost? A creature? “To him, his origin is a bit foggy,” says Nighy. “At one time he was a man, a captain of the Ship of Death. This was so long ago, and in Davy’s mind, he’s not sure if that’s real anymore. He suffers profoundly. And he’s lived under sea for so long he’s been effectively transformed into a half-squid creature.” Exactly why he’s been vanquished to the bottom of the sea, we can’t say. However, Nighy adds, his desire to obtain and protect anything relating to his treasure “has no bounds. He’s trapped by his own quest, and just not all there because of it.”

Not only was Davy Jones condemned to live forever on the ocean floor, so was his crew. And they, too, have been transformed, each inhabiting the likenesses of sharks. They’re the cronies who do his dirty work, marauding for wayward ships. Their goal, says Nighy, “is to put the fear of God in you. They’re of the sea, and I must say, they’re a sight to behold.


On Pirates 2…

It’s the camaraderie, the give-and-take with other actors that’s most enjoyable for Nighy. “It’s when you’re on the set and you’re inhabiting these bad guys, and amid the talent and the ambiance of the sets, there’s an electricity. Everyone feels it.

And when they get down to business, Davy and his crew will lay down the law with Jack Sparrow. “The old term Shiver Me Timbers certainly applies,” says Nighy. “If you’re so unlucky as to meet Davy, there comes a time when he might make a bargain. He would offer you death, and Davy and his crew have no concern about allowing Jack and his cohorts to die, most painfully.”

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

21 May 2006   Articles No Comments

Santa Cruz – Nobody thought much about the sight of two blond women crying in each other’s arms in the parking lot of Mountain Elementary School on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 – By PEGGY TOWNSEND Sentinel staff writer.

Lots of people had cried that day at the news that three hijacked planes had plowed into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and a fourth had nose-dived into a Pennsylvania field.

But this was different.

This moment would shift the lives of those two women, and possibly the lives of thousands of children and families, in a whole new way.

Nearly five years later, the two Soquel moms – Lori Butterworth and Devon Dabbs Maggard – are heading a program that is fighting to change the way critically ill children get hospice care and are rubbing shoulders not only with powerful politicians but also Hollywood heavyweights like Johnny Depp, Toby Maguire and the former head of the Screen Actors Guild Melissa Gilbert.

They have helped write a California bill that would begin the process of changing children’s hospice rules and will be the focus of a Senate hearing next month. They have organized a statewide coalition of health agencies to push for children’s hospice care, set up a model for the program here in Watsonville and now head an organization with a $500,000 budget.

And sometimes, they find themselves sitting beside a dying child’s bed or holding a parent whose daughter or son has just died, and weeping.


On the day they met, Maggard was a documentary filmmaker and Butterworth was the founder of a support organization for families of kids with cancer called Jacob’s Heart.

Both had been unable to contact relatives in cities the Sept. 11 terrorists had hit; both had broken down with worry.

It wasn’t long before they were huddled over cups of coffee, talking about their lives, their kids, about Butterworth’s work with children with cancer and then finally a topic that was to be at the core of their lives for the next five years – a federal rule which forces parents of terminally ill kids to stop any treatment intended to save their child’s life in order to qualify for the hospice care benefit.

Energized by the emotions of that day, the two women, who look enough alike that they could be sisters, decided to do a little research. Before they knew it, they were attending conferences, making calls to children’s hospital officials and renting a hole-in-the-wall office in Soquel to start their drive to change a 30-year-old federal rule that had been put in place mostly for adults.

The law said that in order for someone, including a critically ill child, to get the hospice care benefit – 24-hour on-call help from a nurse, a social worker, a chaplain and volunteers, along with respite care and pain management – they had to give up any treatment intended to cure or prolong their life and have a doctor say they had less than six months to give.

That makes sense for 90-year-old cancer patients, Butterworth and Maggard thought, but not for a 6-year-old with neuroblastoma or a 13-year-old with a failing heart.

“It’s inhuman to say to parents that you have to stop chemo so you can get hospice care,” Butterworth says, her eyes filling with tears as she tells of a father who couldn’t get hospice, so he had to give his daughter her daily injections himself.

“We knew if we could give a voice to this, there was a good chance people would rally around it.”


Early on, a state health official had told the pair, “Ladies, you’ve got to be the squeaky wheel,” Butterworth recalls.

“So that’s what we’ve done,” she says.

They’ve called government officials, heads of charities, cancer specialists, insurance executives. “Smile and dial,” is their name for it.

Once the assistant of a powerful woman snapped, “it’s never enough with you people.”

Butterworth told her : “You know what, this is my job to advocate for these kids.

“I’m not doing it for me.”

Actress Melissa Gilbert, former president of the Screen Actors Guild and best known for her appearance on TV’s “Little House on the Prairie,” calls the women fearless and remembers her own first contact with them and their cause..

She was at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles with Toby Maguire “Spiderman” and Leonardo di Caprio “Titanic” to give an honorary Screen Actors Guild card to a little boy named Dustin Meraz who dreamed of being an actor, but who was dying of cancer.

While kids on the ward swarmed the actors, a woman with brown eyes and shoulder-length blond hair slipped up beside Gilbert and in a rush of words told Gilbert about the children’s hospice project, about kids who died without care that could have kept them from suffering, about those who died in a hospital when they wanted to die at home.

“I remember I felt like I had been hit by a tornado. She left me breathless,” Gilbert says. “How could I say no?”

Gilbert agreed to be on the Children’s Hospice and Palliative Care Coalition’s Board of Directors, enlisting the aid of friends like actor Johnny Depp, who set off a firestorm of fund-raising simply by wearing one of the organization’s bracelets.

Soon, thanks to Gilbert, support began coming in from other Hollywood stars like Bruce Willis, Jeremy Piven of “Entourage,” Kiefer Sutherland, George Clooney and Tom Cruise, and Gilbert spoke out regularly on the issue, even attending medical conferences to educate herself on the issue.

“We tend to make heroes of people who score terrific numbers in sports games, or who make big money at the box office,” says Gilbert. “But women like Lori and Devon are the real heroes.


Shannon Snow remembers how the two women came into her life as her son Nick was being treated for a cancer of the nervous system at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles.

The boy with the coffee-latte colored skin and curly brown hair proudly told Butterworth he had “flunked hospice twice.”

The truth was, Snow says, that she arranged her own hospice-style care for her son, because getting the service would have meant he would have not been able to get the experimental chemotherapy she thought he needed.

She tells the story in a soft voice of how Nick had said he was tired of the chemotherapy, but had rallied with the group of volunteers and a nurse around him and how the final round of the treatment had been the thing that cured him of the cancer.

He was cancer-free when he died last month after surgery to repair a perforated intestine.

Nick was 16.


Since Sept. 11, 2001, they have formed the statewide Children’s Hospice and Palliative Care Coalition, have helped author a bill to change hospice benefit rules for children in California, have set up a demonstration children’s hospice program in Watsonville called Partnership for Children and set up an online resource for parents of critically ill children at


Their $500,000 budget is funded by the California Health Care Foundation, Community Foundation, Hospice Foundation of the Central Coast, Newman’s Own, Santa Cruz Memorial, the Harden Foundation, D’Arrigo Brothers, Robert Woods Johnson Foundation and the sale of bracelets and donations.


Would require that the state apply for a federal waiver to allow children to receive the hospice care benefit. Some 10,000-12,000 children on public health programs in California would be eligible. Cost would be negligible because it would save on hospitalization and other costs. The bill passed the California Assembly last year on a 77-0 vote and is now awaiting Senate hearings.

For details or to order a bracelet, visit or call 763-3070.

This is an article excerpt. To read the article in full, please visit the Santa Cruz website.

2 April 2006   Articles No Comments

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

Johnny Depp explains his special relationship with Tim Burton

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

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

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

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

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