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4 July 2005   Articles No Comments

Johnny Depp, Hollywood’s hottest eccentric, meets his match playing Willy Wonka in Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. How sweet is that? By Sean Smith. Newsweek, July 4 issue.

Playing Willy Wonka is not for the timid. It requires courage, imagination and flawless fashion sense. “I like these heels,” Johnny Depp says, pulling up his pant cuff to reveal a sleek boot emblazoned with a swirly W. “I wanted Wonka to be this long, string-beany kind of figure, and give him these unbelievable cha-cha heels.”

To build the character, Depp began thinking about the kind of folks who host game shows and children’s TV programs. “Not like Captain Kangaroo, but like that guy on the local cable station in Podunk, Idaho,” Depp says. “Wonka had sheltered himself from the outside world, and television would have been a good friend to him.” Depp also decided to make Wonka a perfectionist and a germ-a-phobe. As for his look, that flawless pale skin, perfect pageboy and slightly feminine air have had some people wondering whether Depp found inspiration in Michael Jackson. “That never crossed my mind,” he says. “I never thought about it once, honestly. But it’s interesting, people’s perceptions.”

23 June 2005   Articles No Comments

When Tim Burton proposed the role of Willy Wonka to his friend and frequent collaborator, two-time Oscar nominee Johnny Depp, he was barely able to get the words out. As Depp relates the conversation, “We were having dinner and he said, ‘I want to talk to you about something. You know that story, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Well, I’m going to do it and I’m wondering if you’d want to play….’ and I couldn’t even wait for him to finish the sentence. I said, ‘I’m in. Absolutely. I’m there.’ No question about it.”

“To be chosen to play Willy Wonka in itself a great honor,” says Depp, a long-time fan of Dahl’s work, “but to be chosen by Tim Burton is double, triple the honor. His vision is always amazing, beyond anything you expect. Just the fact that he was involved meant I didn’t need to see a script before committing. If Tim wanted to shoot 18 million feet of film of me staring into a light bulb and I couldn’t blink for three months, I’d do it.”

Before long the two were poring over Burton’s preliminary sketches, discussing Wonka’s look and the themes of the story, falling into a familiar creative rhythm that began when the director cast Depp as the lead in the 1990 poignant fantasy Edward Scissorhands. They subsequently re-teamed for the critically acclaimed Ed Wood and Sleepy Hollow and are currently working together on the stop-motion animated feature Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride.

“Johnny is a great character actor in many ways,” says Burton – “a character actor in the form of a leading man. That’s what struck me about him from the very beginning and it’s what makes him such an intriguing actor – the fact that he’s not necessarily interested in his image but more in becoming a character and trying different things. He’s willing to take risks. Each time I work with him he’s something different.”

“He’s a tremendously insightful actor,” adds Grey. “He came to the project with respect for the book and also a sense of how he could do something very special with this character. I can’t think of anyone we’d rather have in the role. Sometimes the right magical combination comes together and I believe that’s what we have here: Roald, Tim, and Johnny.”

Above all, Depp approached the role with “a great sense of affection for Wonka.”

Forced to open his beloved factory for the first time in 15 years to find an heir, Wonka is uncomfortable with the unfamiliar human contact. As Depp suggests, “he puts on his game face in front of people but underneath he has a great anxiety about actual contact or closeness. I believe he’s a germophobe, which is why he wears gloves, and in addition to the gloves it’s as if he’s wearing a mask. There are moments during the tour when we catch Wonka acting, and acting badly, literally reading off cue cards. I don’t think he really wants to spend any time with these people. I think he’s struggling, from the first second, to put on an act for them and keep a smile.

“At the same time,” Depp continues, “a part of him is genuinely excited about being the grand showman, like P.T. Barnum, pointing out everything he’s created and saying, ‘hey, look at this! Look what I’ve done, isn’t this wonderful?’”

“Willy Wonka is an eccentric,” notes Zanuck. “He’s odd, he’s funny, he’s aloof yet terribly vulnerable; it’s an interesting composite, both childlike and deep at the same time. No other actor could give this character the kind of depth, range and spin it requires. Johnny has an incredible gift.”

Burton and Depp worked with Academy Award-winning costume designer Gabriella Pescucci (The Age of Innocence, Van Helsing) to arrive at precisely the right look for Wonka, which resulted in a total of 10 different plush jackets and overcoats. In keeping with the timeless quality of Dahl’s tale, wardrobe was, Pescucci says, “contemporary, but with some old-world styling.”

Regarding Wonka’s hair and other small but significant details, Depp made some deliberate choices. “The hair was one of those elements I saw clearly very early on,” he says. “The top hat was easy, because that came right from the Quentin Blake drawings, but the hair I imagined as a kind of Prince Valiant do, high bangs and a bob, extreme and very unflattering but something that Wonka probably thinks is cool because he’s been locked away for such a long time and doesn’t know any better, like the outdated slang he uses.”

Based on the book’s description of Wonka’s sparkling eyes, Depp selected a pair of violet-tinted contact lenses for an effective dimension of color, and drawing from the story of Wonka’s childhood orthodontia, decided he should flash remarkably perfect teeth. Add to that a distinctly pale skin tone from years of living indoors and an image of Wonka emerges as an extraordinary figure of outlandish but expensive tastes, with a style of speech and presentation as unique as his lifestyle.

As Pescucci exclaims in her native Italian, “Willy Wonka é la persona fantastica!”

Starring as Charlie is Freddie Highmore, who rejoins Depp after sharing the screen with him in 2004’s acclaimed drama Finding Neverland. Twelve years old when Charlie began production, Highmore had already carried leading roles in the family films Five Children and It and Two Brothers, and portrayed young King Arthur in the TNT miniseries The Mists of Avalon.

As Grey attests, “He brings great emotion to the role, but you don’t see any of the strings – you don’t see him working. He really is well beyond his years to have that kind of skill.”

Expressing the consensus of opinion from all who have worked with him, Burton marvels at how “completely natural and genuine” the young actor is. “He has such gravity, without ever being false, which is very difficult to do, even for an adult actor. He has the ability to convey emotion without speaking or trying too hard. That’s not something that a director can tell someone to do; they either have it or they don’t. This is why casting Charlie was crucial.”

To Highmore, Charlie’s appeal is based on his being “a normal boy. He doesn’t have any special talents or superior qualities. In fact, he doesn’t have much of anything at all, except for his family, but he’s always thoughtful and really nice to everyone. So when his wish comes true and he goes to the factory, I think people are happy for him because he’s so deserving.”

In that respect, says Zanuck, “Freddie conveys an air of purity and goodness” – yet, he doesn’t take it too far. “Goodness can be so boring on screen,” quips Helena Bonham Carter, who first worked with Highmore in the 1999 British comedy Women Talking Dirty. “Essentially, Charlie’s a good soul with the right values. He’s not spoiled, which sets him apart from the other four children. But what’s great about Freddie is that he doesn’t make Charlie a drippy boy, which is always the danger with a role like this.”

As Charlie’s home is dominated by the Wonka factory looming just behind it, so his imagination is dominated by thoughts of what might be inside. Still, unlike his privileged companions on the tour, he is content with his life as it is. Says Highmore, “Even though he has cabbage soup every night and wears a sweater that’s threadbare, Charlie has a loving family. He seems to have nothing, but he’s actually got everything already.”

When Charlie comes home with the precious golden ticket it revitalizes old Grandpa Joe, played by Waking Ned Devine’s David Kelly. “You can see it in his walk, you can see it in his talk,” says Zanuck. “Grandpa Joe used to work in the factory years ago before Wonka shut the town out, and those were his glory days. The opportunity to get back into the factory literally gets him out of bed and makes him come alive again.”

“When David walked in, that was it,” Burton recalls. “He was Grandpa Joe. What an amazing actor, and what a deeply expressive face, like a silent movie character.”

Kelly appreciates how Dahl highlighted the special relationship between Charlie and his grandfather, noting that the author saw value in the whole spectrum of age. Not having had the good fortune to know his own grandparents, who died before he was born, the actor enjoys the connection his children have with his parents, and asks, “Is there anybody in the world who doesn’t feel a very special grace for their grandparents?”

Kelly compares the production to “being inside Tim Burton’s head, which is a rewarding place to be. The man is a standard-setter, truly brilliant. When people asked what I did, I’d say ‘well, I was being rowed by 50 Oompa-Loompas in a pink candy boat down a chocolate river with Johnny Depp.’ The sets are wonderful – hand-painted, handmade, the kind you rarely see anymore. Going to work every day was endlessly jaw-dropping and magical.”

Cast as Charlie’s loving parents are Helena Bonham Carter and Noah Taylor, both of whom, says Burton, “shine in relatively small roles that bring warmth and credibility to Charlie’s family unit. The house and their living conditions are so extreme, almost surreal, that without the right actors it just wouldn’t have worked. We were lucky to have Noah and Helena; they truly made it feel like a real family.”

Bonham Carter, whose starring role in the 1997 romantic drama The Wings of the Dove earned both Oscar and BAFTA nominations, describes the emotional balance she and Taylor keep as Mother and Father Bucket. “Like Grandpa Joe,” she says, “Charlie’s parents are accustomed to disappointment. We’ve had a hard time with life, used to being the underdogs, so when the golden ticket contest is announced of course we haven’t the slightest expectation that Charlie has a chance of winning. The odds are tiny. We adore our son and don’t want him to be hurt so we try not to get his hopes up. He’s always been our main source of joy but when he finds the ticket, suddenly, he becomes the embodiment of hope and life and future for the whole family.”

Taylor (Shine, Almost Famous, The Life Aquatic) sees Mr. Bucket as “not the kind of man you’d call successful. He’s probably from a long line of people who aren’t particularly rich or clever or well-connected, but he’s clever enough to keep his family together and bring up a sweet child, and that, I think, is one of the greater accomplishments you can have in life.”

For Taylor, Dahl’s message, as illustrated by the Bucket family, is that, “you don’t need money or status to be a good person.” Yet, “it’s not the sort of moral that’s thrust down your throat; rather, he allows you to discover it for yourself.”

The Four Rotten Children

Cast as the four children who join Charlie on the factory tour are AnnaSophia Robb as Violet Beauregarde, Jordan Fry as Mike Teavee, Julia Winter as Veruca Salt and Philip Wiegratz as Augustus Gloop. Like their fictional counterparts who vie for a Golden Ticket to Wonka’s factory in a global contest, the four talented young actors of varying backgrounds and experience were chosen from an international pool.

We’re not saying they’re bad, these four Golden Ticket winners, but as Zanuck diplomatically puts it, “they’re not the kind of children you’d be proud to call your own.”

Violet Beauregarde is a ferociously competitive and self-assured little hellion who boasts of a roomful of trophies back home and is currently working on the world’s record for non-stop gum-chewing. Ignoring Wonka’s warning, she seizes a piece of experimental chewing gum with a blueberry flavor from the Inventing Room and within moments is turned blue and blows up like a giant blueberry-hued beach ball and must be removed to the Juicing Room. Violet is played by 11-year-old American AnnaSophia Robb, who recently starred in Wayne Wang’s family feature Because of Winn-Dixie and The WB’s 2004 television movie Samantha: An American Girl Holiday.

Robb says her Charlie experience “made me feel like a little part of history because everyone loves the book so much. Being on set was like a fantasy too, having a rooms full of candy that you get to play in and eat. Really cool.” Her preparation for the role included martial arts training with teacher and stunt professional Eunice Huthart, for an introductory scene in which Violet is seen mercilessly knocking down her rivals in a karate competition.

Know-it-all video game addict Mike Teavee, played by 12-year-old American Jordan Fry, scoffs rudely at another of Wonka’s inventions, an attempt to transport a chocolate bar via electromagnetic waves through a television screen. Teavee interrupts the experiment by inserting himself into the middle of it with some very unexpected results.

Newcomer Fry happily found himself flying across the set on wires for the sequence. “The hardest part,” declares stunt coordinator Jim Dowdall, “was keeping him from laughing in sheer delight at the experience because in the scene he’s supposed to appear rather frightened and unsettled.”

Gluttonous Augustus Gloop is unable to resist the lure of the factory’s luscious chocolate river and breaks from the tour to get taste of it, despite cautions from his mother and Wonka. He promptly falls in, mouth-first, and is sucked up through an intake pipe that transports the chocolate to other parts of the factory.

Gloop marks the professional acting debut of 12-year-old German-born Philip Wiegratz, who wore a fitted prosthetic body suit and calves for the role of the greedy youngster. Even more of a challenge, says Dowdall, was that “Philip couldn’t swim when he came to us. We had to get into our wetsuits and show him how to do it, but he learned very quickly, even with the encumbrance of all that padding.”

Meanwhile, hopelessly spoiled Veruca Salt has problems of her own. Upon seeing Wonka’s squirrels at work in the nut room she demands to have one and storms the assembly line. The squirrels examine her as they evaluate all nuts, determine she is a bad nut and dispatch her down the garbage chute with the other rejects. Veruca is played by 12-year-old Londoner Julia Winter, a member of the children’s drama group Allsorts Drama, in her professional acting debut.

“I couldn’t get the hang of lying on the floor fighting off the squirrels so Tim lay down on the floor next to me and demonstrated,” Winter offers. “There we were, both of us, kicking our legs and screaming at the top of our lungs, swatting away imaginary squirrels. It was great fun and we must have looked absolutely ridiculous.”

The parents of these beastly children represent the worst imaginable child-rearing skills, hilariously evident as they chaperone their horrible little brats through the factory.

Missi Pyle (Big Fish, Dodgeball, Bringing Down the House) as Mrs. Beauregarde appears more manager and coach than mother to young Violet, an obnoxious girl bent on winning every conceivable prize and contest in the world. “Mrs. Beauregarde wants her daughter to have everything she didn’t,” says Pyle. “A self-proclaimed winner, she has instilled in Violet her own competitive sprit to the exclusion of any other thought. The two of them arrive at the factory – in matching outfits, of course – fully expecting to go home with the grand prize,” whatever it may be.

Veteran actor of both film and television, BAFTA Award nominee James Fox (A Passage to India) stars as the beleaguered Mr. Salt, father to the colossally spoiled Veruca, a girl with no thought for anyone or anything but herself. “He’s very anxious that his daughter have everything she wants,” says Fox, who slyly describes Veruca Salt as “lovable, adorable, sweet and talented, the perfect child,” before adding, “as long as her father meets her demands. Immediately. If he doesn’t, she’ll scream until he does.”

Fox believes the tour ultimately proves beneficial for all the children. The lessons meted out to the rude, selfish and inconsiderate are quite valuable, “and Wonka serves somewhat as a judge. He discerns the children’s motives and their characters and he wants to change and correct them. He wants to make them better people.”

Adam Godley (Love Actually, Around the World in 80 Days) as Mr. Teavee and Franziska Troegner (nominated for the German Film Award in her native country for 2001’s Heidi M) as Mrs. Gloop fare no better. Mr. Teavee is sadly not immune to his son’s sarcastic bullying and poor Mrs. Gloop seems not only unable, but uninterested in controlling Augustus’ rampant gorging.

The Oompa-Loompas and Dr. Wonka

Deep Roy, whom Burton appropriately calls “the hardest-working man in show business,” took on the daunting task of starring as an entire community of Oompa-Loompas, the factory’s sole work force. Rescued by Willy Wonka from their harsh life in distant Loompaland, they now cheerfully live and work inside its walls and feast on their favorite food: cocoa beans.

Having worked with Burton in Planet of the Apes and Big Fish, Roy was happy to renew the association when contacted about the part. But there was a catch, as the actor relates with a laugh. “The first time Tim mentioned the idea he said ‘There will be only one Oompa-Loompa and it’s going to be you. We’re going to create hundreds from you.’ Then he thought perhaps I would be doing as many as five in close-up. The next time I saw him in London, five had become nineteen! In the end, it didn’t matter to me if it was 19 or 20 or 50. It’s been an absolute blast.”

The production team managed to populate the screen with scores of the diminutive and industrious factory workers through motion and facial capture technology, creating duplicate yet individual Oompa-Loompas in computer image from Roy’s multiple performances and then scaling them down to size. For Roy, it meant months of rehearsal and choreography. If a scene called for numerous Oompas to join in a narrative song and dance, Roy would perform the steps for all of them, each from a slightly different starting mark and each with subtle distinctions of expression and movement, so that when the images were joined he became an entire troupe.

“The audience may think it’s all computer-generated,” says Roy, “but that’s not the case. If you see 20 Oompas, I did all 20 performances.”

Additionally, state-of-the-art photo-realistic and animatronic Oompas were modeled from Roy to supplement the action and serve as physical focal points in the scenes.

“Deep did a heroic amount of work on this,” Burton acknowledges. “Considering how to present the Oompa-Loompas there were a number of possibilities, one of which was full computer animation, but I think this was the way to go, to give it that important human element and keep it true to the spirit of the book.”

Bringing to life the role of Willy’s father, the dentist Dr. Wilbur Wonka, is Christopher Lee, conjured up by Willy’s memory in a series of flashbacks to his childhood. Well-respected worldwide, the British actor’s career spans nearly 60 years, first catching fire with the memorable Hammer horror films in the 1950s (of which Burton was an avid fan) and encompassing a wide range of feature and television productions including starring roles in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Star Wars sagas and 1998’s critically acclaimed Jinnah.

Lee sees the elder Wonka as “not a bad father, certainly, just overly stern and unable to show his love.” Dr. Wonka was acutely concerned with oral hygiene and overly protective of his son’s teeth, to the extent that he forbade the youngster from eating sweets. “It’s not exactly parental abuse,” Lee suggests, “as he does it for the best of motives. But he’s very strict and therefore comes across as a rather alarming figure to a little boy.”

“Not only is he a great actor, whose work I grew up watching and admiring,” says Burton, “but Christopher Lee is simply a powerful presence in every sense of the word.” As screenwriter John August avows, “He’s completely intimidating in just the right way.”

Lee, who worked with Burton and his Charlie co-star Johnny Depp on Sleepy Hollow and re-teams with them on the upcoming Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, says, “Tim is a director of vast enthusiasm. It comes at you in waves of encouragement from behind the camera. He’s amazingly inventive and has a brilliant mind.”

In fact, Burton was so tirelessly active on the set and covered so much ground each day that Helena Bonham Carter gave him a pedometer as a joke. “She wanted to see how many steps he took in a day,” says Freddie Highmore, who cannot recall the official count but says “it turned out he didn’t need to go to the gym because he walks enough at work.”

15 June 2005   Articles Interviews No Comments

Your little ears will delight with this Jo Whiley-Johnny Depp audio interview on bbc/radio1. Johnny chats about his fans, about the weirdest thing one of his fans has done and about the prospect of making Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. You will need Real Player to listen to this Audio interview. This interview was first published on 22 April 2004. Excerpt:

Whiley: On chatting a lot with fans…
Depp: “There’s no reason to be otherwise really…I think that the kids that come around the people who come around, it’s so nice to meet them. For all intents and purposes they’re my boss aren’t they? they keep me employed.”

Go to Audio Interview

© Reprinted with permission.

6 March 2005   Articles No Comments

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the auto-biography of Hunter S. Thompson starring Johnny Depp, was the tie that brought the two individualists together. Now, Johnny has come to Aspen, Colorado to attend a private party to celebrate the life of writer-journalist Thompson who committed suicide on February 20 at 67.

The following excerpts are provided by the BBC News UK edition:

At the doorway [Hotel Jerome] was a sign reading “Thompson for Sheriff”, a reference to his failed bid for office in 1970.

It was reported he ran his election campaign from the bar at the Hotel Jerome.

Thompson was considered one of the most important political writers of the 20th Century and pioneered “gonzo journalism” – which includes much of the writer’s personal views and shuns objectivity.

Among his seminal works were Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, published in 1972, and The Great Shark Hunt in 1979.

© Reprinted with permission.

1 March 2005   Articles No Comments


By Erik Hedegaard. Photograph by Albert Watson.


At Claridge’s Hotel in London, squirreled away at a table in the bar, over a relaxing glass of red wine, Johnny Depp lighted one of his hand-rolled cigarettes, grinned, leaned back, exhaled a plume and said “Fuck it” quite happily. It was a Tuesday afternoon. Earlier, he’d thought to go to the Dorchester Hotel, one of his other usual hants, but was put off by all the paparazzi and professional autograph hounds milling around, so he ended up here, talking about the movie he’d just finished shooting, the remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, his fourth film in fifteen years with director Tim Burton “I have no idea what I did” he said, which he basically says about all his performances “And I have no idea of it’s anywhere near where it needs to be. I can only go by what I feel, and I feel good”
He smiled his slightly fractured, slightly raffish, entirely vulnerable smile and said that he was looking forward to a few months off before relocating himself and his family – his girlfriend of seven years, French pop singer and actress Vanessa Paradis, and their two children, Jack, 2, and Lily Rose Melody, 5 – to Los Angeles to begin making the sequel to Pirate of the Caribbean, the 2003 blockbuster that got him his first Oscar nomination, in the Best Actor category, for his swishy rendering of Capt. Jack Sparrow “Between now and then, what I’m going to do, I guess, is slobber and drool, space out, play Barbie with my daughter and sword-fight with my son” he said. As well, he let it be known that if anything like Lily-Rose’s Barbie train set was in his immediate future, he might just go nuts “I mean, those things are a real bastard to put together” he muttered, still smoking and obviously trying to remain calm “So frustrating that they will send you onto the verge of a nervous breakdown”
Depp, 41, was silent for a moment, then added that if the gods really wanted to smile on him, they would also help him avoid one other thing; an Oscar nomination for his steadfast, low-key portrayal of Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie, in Finding Neverland, because that would mean he’d actually have to attend the Oscars, and while such a thing would not, of course, match the nerve-shivering hell of constructing a Barbie train set it could, nonetheless, lead to some discomfort, just as it did when he and Paradis went to the Oscar after the Pirates nod. “All Vanessa and I could think of was “When and where can we go smoke?” he said, frowning “And “Where can we get a drink?” And “When is it over?” And “Please. don’t let me win” It was such a shock, to get the news that I’d been nominated. My first reaction was “Why?” On one level I was flattered; but it’s not what I am working for. And when I didn’t win the Thing – oh, I was ecstatic. Absolutely ecstatic. I applauded the lucky winner [Sean Penn] and said “Thank God!”
On the other hand, had he won, he probably would have said “Fuck it” and then manfully gotten up, given his little speech, taken the Thing home and pawned it on his kids to play with. But that’s Depp for you and has been for a very long time. He has a number of words he tries to live by. From the poem “Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann: “In the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy” From the preface to The Time of Your Life, by William Saroyan “Place in matter and in flesh the least of the values, for these are the things that hold death and must pass away. Discover in all things that which shines and is beyond corruption” And from Depp himself, from deep within himself, when faced with his fears, doubts, anxieties, uncertainties and ambivalences, which are legion: “Fuck it!”
“I’ve ended up saying it in life a lot and in the work a lot, and I’ve always found it very helpful” he said. “Yes” he went on, between sips of red wine “”Fuck it” over the years, has always been pretty soothing”
Not so very long ago, the Dep name in marque lights wasn’t exactly a heart-thumping box-office draw. Burned by his first big experience in Hollywood, in the late Eighties, when the Fox network turned him into a David Cassidy-type teen idol on the TV show 21 Jump Street, he decided right then to never again be part of anyone’s machine but his own, and his own machine is anything but conventional; it’s positively, infernally Rube Goldberg-ian, which has left him swerving hither and yon through roles that called for great big bunches of silence (Secret Window), the wearing of swell, pink Angora sweaters (Ed Wood), hands that can prune hedges (Edward Scissorhands), a way with women that he may in fact possess (Don Juan DeMarco) and that have him strutting through the L.A. airport, in a sweet white suit, fat shades covering his eyes, to the tune of Ram Jam’s “Black Betty” (Blow), one of the greatest moment in all of cinema, bama lam bama lam. Critics love him, magazine writes fawn over him, and he’s developed a fan base like no other (with many a pubic hair winding up in his daily mail), largely because of his performances are most often off-kilter, angled and light, full of soul, tenderness, toughness, sincerity and grace, expressed through the liquid cadences of his voice and his diction, his beautiful man-boy face, the unerring and partifular use of limbs to amplify and enhance, the whole shebang centrifically whipped together, and so forth. One could go on.
If most of his movies haven’t struck a chord with the mainstream, however, he’s never seemed to care and has, in fact, whistled right past roles in flicks such as Speed, Legend of the Fall and Interview With the Vampire. He does what he does, and yet, of late, strangely and surprisingly, this has begun to work out for him, gross-dollar-wise: Pirates, for one, made $652 million world-wide and turned him into a $20 million-a-picture actor. Because he is Depp, though, this acceptance does not sit upon him easily. While making Pirates, he was delighted when studio executives supervising the picture expressed high anxiety over his fobbish characterization of Capt. Jack Sparrow, famously based on Keith Richards (and a whiff of Pepe Le Pew) And if they didn’t like what he was doing, they could fire him, but never could they change him. “I can’t change it” he likes to say, helplessly. “There’s nothing I can do” During the making of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, howewer, no such early studio concers were voiced, forcing Depp to think long and hard about what this might mean.
“Frankly, I got worried” he said over his glass of red wine “It’s like something wrong, because they’re not flipping out. I’m not doing my fucking job! But then months into it, Alan Horn, the president of Warner Bros., finally admitted to having felt a little ting of fear over the initial dailies, and I thought “O.K. I’m doing all right”
But enough of all this Hollywood talk, because there’s so much more to life than that. The smell of Lagavuilin single-malt Scotch whicky, for example. “You’ve got to smell it” Depp said, flagging down a waitress. “Can we get a snifter of Lagavuilin?” he said. “Just straight” He continued, “I don’t drink hard liquor anymore, but I sometimes order Lagavulin just for the smell. It’s so good. It’s unbelievable”
A moment later, Depp lifted the snifter to his nose and breathed deeply.
His face lit up.
“Peat” he said, chocolate eyes swirling with appreciation. “It’s so peaty!”
This is an interesting time in the life of Depp, many changes afoot, largely precipitated by a vision he saw several years ago, in Paris, in the lobby of the Hotel Costes. It was of a woman. Her dress revealed her back, and her back greeted her neck in such a way that Depp’s insides buckled and he suddenly experienced one of life’s greater miracles. “Whammo, man, across the room, amazing, incredible, awesome” he said, working himself into a lather “The Back, the Back, I saw the Back, and I was reduced to” – and here he made a blubbering, love-struck kind of noise. The woman was Paradis, and the feeling was mutual. Within a few months, she was good and pregnant, and shortly thereafter, Depp quickly evolved into the family man he is today, with a $2 million villa in the South of France, near the Riviera, where he and Paradis spend much of their free time. He likes it here. When he goes shopping in a nearby town, he’s just another guy shopping in a nearby town. He’s calm here. He spends his hours wandering around his vegetable garden or playing with the kids, instead of doing what he used to do back in Hollywood, drinking himself into a stupor, etc. He’s a good man there. A better man.
He is evolving in other ways, too.
A well-known and resolute chain-smoker, he recently made up his mind to cut back. “Yes” he said, with considerable chesty pride, “I’ve weaned myself down to about, on a great day, on a really great day, three cigarettes. For a nicotine junkie the essential cigs are three: the first-of-the-day cigarette smoked after lunch, the after-dinner cigarette and then the one taken whenever you want – the luxury-wild-card smoke. It used to be quite a bit more. It used to be, I’d smoke these table. I’d smoke the patch. I’d smoke the gum. So I feel good about it”
Another thing: He has sold his share in the Viper Room, his club in Los Angeles. It was synonymous with cool. You could go there, see Beat poet Allen Ginsberg hanging around with the rest if the slitty-eyed-crowd, ask him for an autograph and have the request politely refused; but he would wet-kiss you. It was that kind of place. It was, as well, where River Phoenix died of a drug overdose, on the front sidewalk, which has cast a kind of sad shadow over the place ever since. But now it is gone from Depp’s life. The only part of it that remains with him is a Viper Room-branded Zippo lighter, which he uses to light his disminishing number of smokes with.
Another thing: He recently, for the first time since he was three, started sometimes wearing pajamas to bed and has, he says, “found them a very agreeable thing”
Another thing: Several months ago, more or less on a whim, he bought a thirty-five-acre island in the Bahamas for around $3 million. The purchaser fulfilled a childhood dream of his, based on the whole Robinson Crusoe thing, but when he first told Paradis about it, she did not immediately share his enthusiasm.
She said, “Why do we need an island?”
He said, “No, no, no, you don’t understand. It’s an island!”
Absolutely donw consulting with his girl, he turned to his friend, the late Marlon Brando, himself a famous island owner.
Depp said, “Hey, man. I found this thing, this island!”
Brando said, ” Well, get me the paperwork and we’ll go through it”
“He was all for it” Depp said now “but before he could go over it for me, he, you know, went away”
He went away in July, and when Depp got the news, he cried “One of the last times we spoke, he was so giving, so affectionate, to the point where somewhere in your mind, you went “Oh, I hope everything is O.K.” It triggered something. But it was still a shock” He went on, fondly, “We first met in ’94, when we did Don Juan DeMarco, and when we got together we were like children. We just laughed, over completely just stupid and vile stuff. pee-pee, caca, fart stuff. And then sometimes there were great silences. He once told me he couldn’t stand people that were afraid of silences. And he practised what he preached. We had great moments where we’d just sit and say nothing for an hour or two hours. Or there’d be a grunt or “Look at that!” But nothing more”
Actually, the island idea, Depp probably got it from thinking about Brando. In 1996, he said “Maybe I should do what Brando did thirty years ago: buy an island. Maybe take my girl … and just go there and sleep. And read and swim and think clear thoughts. Because you really can’t do that [in Los Angeles]. You can’t be normal, not with people hitting you up at any given moment with bizarre requests. You can’t just hang out and have a cup of coffee and pick your nose or adjust your package, you know?” The official name of Depp’s island is Little Hall’s Pond Cay, but if Depp had his way, it might go by a few other names as well, like Keep Away Island, Stay Away Island or Fuck Off Island. You can only get to it by boat, seaplane or helicopter. It has six beaches, its own harbor, lots of palm trees, a lagoon. He plans to kick back in a tiki hut there and let the days ease by. “Some people aren’t cut out for that kind of life” he said. But he is. And he’s looking forward to it and, no doubt, to countless hours of nose picking and package adjustment in perfect, blessed peace. What, for a fellow like Depp, could be better?

He was born John Christopher Depp II, in Owensboro, Kentucky, to a waitress mom, his beloved Betty Sue. and a city-engineer dad, John, was moved to Miramar, Florida, at the age of seven, lived the next seven years in more than a dozen different homes, was a huge fan of Dracula, Frankenstein and the Sixties goth-wampire TV show Dark Shadows, was beset by fear of the dark and What Is Under The Bed, so much so that he could only get into his sheets by leaping from a distance (“I leapt. Oh, I leapt!”); was plagued by nightmares featuring the Skipper, from Gilligan’s Island; developed a phobia of the pop singer John Davidson, took up smoking at age twelve, then drugs and drink; lost his virginity at age thirteen; played the guitar; wanted to be a rock star; suffered through his parents’ divorse at age fifteen; mooned a teacher at school and was suspended; booted down a locked school door “just to see what was on the other side”; dropped out.
Years later the press would use these things as evidence that Depp was a bad boy and a rebel. But Depp never saw himself that way; plus, he hates labels of that kind, buzzwords meant to interpret, encapsulate and reduce him to a single misguided thought. “To me it was much more [about] curiosity,” he said “It wasn’t like I was some malicious kid who wanted to kick an old lady in the shin and run, you know? I just wanted to find out what was out there.”
Indeed, in 1983, at the age of twenty, he got married and ditched Florida for California to find out what might be out there for him in terms of his rock & roll dreams. Once there, he got divorced, held many an odd job (hawking T-shirts, telemarketing pens) ultimately failed as a musicians but ultimately succeeded as an actor, aided by introduction provided by his pal Nicolas Cage.
Depp’s first role found him gobbled up by a bed in A Nightmare on Elm Street, and then came a few minutes in Platoon and then came 21 Jump Street, the Fox TV show that turned him into a totally miserable teen idol. “The earth was saturated with these horrific images of me as Tom Hanson.” he said. “They’d invented this product, and this product somehow looked like me, and I had no control over it, And I was forced to work maybe 290 days out of 365 days a year, and you end up saying some guy’s words more than you say your own, and they aren’t particularly good words, with a lot of histrionics and bad plots points, and that feels bad. It feels really bad. It was horrible”
He managed to escape this particular hell four years into his seven-year contract, and found himself happily released into the world of major motion pictures with his first starring role, as a screwball greaser with really high hair in John Water’s Cry-baby.
Already, legend had begun to surround him. Legends has it, for instance, that on one plane flight he become so unnerved that he started yelling, to no one in particular, “I fuck animals!” causing his seatmate, an accountant, to lean over and ask, “What kind?” And so it made a certain kind of sense that in 1988, Depp’s hungover-sounding voice on his telephone answering machine related the news that he was “out out out out out out out out”
Much of the time, of course, he was out with some of the hottest babes in town, including, in his customary serial-monogamist fashion, Sherilyn Fenn (Twin Peaks), Jennifer Grey (Dirty Dancing) and Winona Ryder (Edward Scissorhands). Also, he was drinking heavily, to ease various kinds of pain, so that was another kind of out for him “There are guys, the weekenders, who can go out and get loaded and they’re having fun and partying – which is a term I deplore, partying – and it’s all recreational and they’re having a ball. I never had that. It was never about recreation. Not. Ever. That was never my motivation. Not once!”
He got into brawls. Sometimes he was vaguely suicidal. Sometimes he cut his arm with a knife. One time he got a tatto on his right arm to signify his love for Ryder – WINONA FOREVER, it read – and when they broke up he could take the pain of only so much tattoo-removal; it now reads WINO FOREVER. He wasn’t having much fun. The same imagination that served him so well in the movies fucked him up bigtime in his personal life. He was jealous beyond words. “Oh, boy. Oh, fuck. I was a professional at it. Oh, the scenarios I dreamed up. Oh, fuck. Oh, I mean, worldclass. I was. I could see ink pens on the desk, and hairbrushes, and oh, fuck …”
He drank more – bourbon, neat – became more volatile and began to decay. In September 1994, he reportedly got into a pretty loud and violent fight with then-girlfriend Kate Moss in the $1.200-a-night Presidential Suite at New York’s Mark Hotel, which led next-door guest Roger Daltrey, of all people, to complain to the management, which led to Depp’s forced eviction, a few hours in the pokey, much lurid press and, in the aftermath, vastly increased bookings for the Mark. Depp later claimed he was simply out to squash a cockroach: “I was trying to catch this bug, and of couple of articles of furniture just happened to get in the way”
“That was kind of a nasty, darker period for me” he said today. “I can’t say I was completely unhappy, but I couldn’t get a grasp on it, so I spent years poisoning myself. I was very, very good at it. But finally I was faced with a critical decision: Do I want to continue to be a dumbass or do I want not to be a dumbass? It was best to stop. Now I look back and say, “Why? Why did I do that?” And since the viewing of the Back, from that great distance, I’ve been another animal altogether. I can’t even compare it to anything else” His imagination can still get the better of him, but these days it mainly resolves around his kids, whenever one of them sneezes and the what-ifs begin to suggest dire consequences. “There’s been many times when I’ve teetered on the brink of absolute madness,” he said, “and unfortunately, once I go, I go, so I count on Vanessa to talk me down. And it takes some serious fucking reeling in to bring me back to three-dimensional reality. But it’s not anywhere near as disturbing as it used to be. With age, you do mellow in certain areas. And it’s fucking happiness”
He sighed and splashed a little more wine into his glass, as if to once again celebrate that most elusive thing for him, that happiness.
This morning, he opened his eyes at around 7:30, after his son Jack jumped on his chest and said “Papa?” and Depp said “Yeah.” and Jack said “Let’s talk,” and Depp, groggily, “O.K. man, what do you want to talk about?” And then he got up, rushing around and eventually leaving the house wearing a black vest over a well-worn but still grand spread-collar white shirt, French cuffs flopping open, but without his usual jewelry: the tiger-tooth necklace, the Che Guevara necklace, the Ganesh necklace, his skull rings (given to him and also worn by Iggy Pop): the bead bracelet made for him by Lily-Rose; and all the rest of it by which he is so well known. In a sense, then, he arrived at Claridge’s halfnaked and soon enough went on to bare other parts of himself.
He said that he tries to avoid mirrors (“I try to avoid mirrors”) and is particular about public restrooms (“I avoid the doorknob afterward, bacause why’d I wash my hands if I’ve got to touch the fucking doorknob?”) and, being a former bar owner, has some advice about bar treats (“Don’t ever go for the peanuts. They’ve got twenty-seven different kinds of urine on them, scientifically tested”)
He let it be know he leans toward self-effacement. He said, for instance, that Paradis has no pet name for him, nor does he have one for himself; but if he did it would be “Fuckhead, probably, ha-ha, no, not really” He then said that the worst thing he’s ever done to another person is force that person to watch his movies, “ha-ha.”
He said that any talk of J.M. Barrie being a pedophile is “horseshit.”
He said that he’s not overly fussy about his hair, though he was once, during his early rock years. “I was a coiffeur back then, so now I guess I’m a reformed coiffeur”
He said that public functions cause him extreme anxiety – “anything like that, where you are expected to act in a certain way. I can’t go out and do that. I can’t do it. It’s not in me. It feels awful to even try.”
He said that the best song ever written is “La Mer” by Charles Trenet, and that Bobby Darin’s version of it, titled “Beyond the Sea” is “a killer too.”
He said that as a youth he probably masturbated about as often as the next guy “I don’t think it ever got out of hand. But isn’t everybody a frequent masturbation? You’re not going to ask for a stool sample, are you?”
He said that he’s already worrying about Lily-Rose becoming a teenager and “all the greasy little boys that’ll be coming over with homemade tattoos”
He said that when he used to get in fights, he was “a dirty fighter. Oh, yeah, The dirtiest there ever was. Stop at nothing. It doesn’t matter. Balls, sucker punch, bite the ear, pull the ear, gouge an eye out. I have done damage, and damage has been done to me. I’ve been hit with everything in the world: ashtrays, bottles, the worst being a pointy-toed Tony Lama boot to the face” He went on “I still have a Hellish temper. I mean, it’s dimished a little, but rage is still never very far away.” He’s thinking about the paparazzi and what he might do to them if they ever step into what he calls “a sacred kind of circle,” the one that surrounds him when he’s with his family. “Once again, there’s nothing I would stop at. It’s a hideous place to go but sometimes a necessary place. Yeah, yeah, shit – biting their noses off, chewing it in front of them would be the least of their problems, But, fuck ’em”
He said that he misses eating at Arby’s.
He said that he would like a cup of black coffee.
What all this says about Depp is open to interpretation; but, of course, interpretation only leads to labels of the kinds that Depp so strenously dislikes, So, it’s best to resist and just enjoy pondering Depp in all his wonder and glory.
He said that he named his production company Infinitum Nihil for a reason, He said, “The beauty of it is, when someone asks you what it means, you can say, ‘Absolutely nothing’ Because in Latin that’s what it essentially means; absolutely nothing”
He chuckled about this briefly, because it seemed to say so much and absolutely nothing, both at the same time, and then it is time for him to leave, to go have dinner with his girls and the kiddies. His assistant showed up. Depp followed him to the side exit. “I’m going to hit the head real quickly” he said and disappeared down a flight of stairs. Upon his return, he stood at the exit, looking out at the idling car waiting for him. Finally, his assistant gave him the coast-is-clear, no-paparazzi-here high sign, and Depp eased himself into the early-eveing darkness, no leaping necessary, no leaping at all.

See scans from the German Rolling Stone here

10 February 2005   Articles No Comments

He’s found neverland with the woman he loves and their kids, but “rage is still never far away” – By ERIK HEDEGAARD. (Excerpted from RS 967, February 10, 2005)

Critics love him, magazine writers fawn over him, and he’s developed a fan base like no other (with many a pubic hair winding up in his daily mail), largely because his performances are most often off-kilter, angled and light, full of soul, tenderness, toughness, sincerity and grace, expressed through the liquid cadences of his voice and his diction, his beautiful man-boy face, the unerring and particular use of limbs to amplify and enhance, the whole shebang centrifically whipped together, and so forth. One could go on…

22 November 2004   Articles No Comments

Johnny’s Depth

Sure, he’s still cool, but Johnny Depp is a new man, creating Oscar buzz with Finding Neverland and cherishing his family-though he still loves a whoopee cushion.

Johnny Depp was having his very own take-your-daughter-to-work day. For months he had been commuting from the set of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory near London to see his fami- ly-Lily-Rose, 5, Jack, 2, and their mom, his longtime companion, Vanessa Paradis, 31-at their retreat on the French Riviera. Every weekend was the same, says producer Richard Zanuck: On Friday after Work Depp took a two-hour flight to Nice followed by a two-hour drive to the family house in a tiny French village, then headed back to London again every Sunday night. The trip never Wore him out. “Monday morning he’d be all smiles and say; ‘I just had the greatest time with my family’ ” says Zanuck. “It seemed to refresh him.” 

But he brought the family to England for the last month of shooting. And nothing could quite compare to the charge he got bringing Lily-Rose to the set on Nov. 9. Zanuck explains, “He Wanted her to see him playing with the Oompa Loompas.”

Talk about perks. Less than a year Hollywood’s sweetly scruffy outsider was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for the $654 million-grossing Pirates of the Caribbean, Depp, 41, is once again riding high on a Wave of good fortune. There’s Oscar buzz about his role as Peter Pan author J.M.Barrie in Finding Neverland. And there’s Depp’s deep contentment with family life – a life that now includes a recently purchased private island in the Caribbean where he can watch Paradis, an actress and model, play with their two children. “One of the most beautiful things in the world,” Depp told Oprah Winfrey on Nov. 2, “is seeing a mommy with her kids. There’s nothing more beautiful, nothing more sublime.” Though the ability to name your movie after years of being known as the coolest guy nobody goes to see (“Box office poison,” Miramax chief Harvey Weinstein said of his colleagues’ take on Depp before Pirates) is pretty darn good. Depp has signed on to make two Pirates sequels-but also The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, the true story of a French editor who suffered a paralytic stroke and dictated a memoir by blinking his eye. Thesedays, he picks films based primarily on their appeal to his “kiddies” As he told Le Parisien writer Alain Grasset, a longtime friend of Paradis’s, he wants his children to “be proud,” says Grasset, “and say, ‘Dad did good work for a while.”’ Work like his heartwarming-and wrenching-turn in Neverland as the eccentric Barrie, who befriends the young sons of a widow (Kate Winslet) and finds inspiration for Peter Pan. “Johnny is at the pinnacle of his career,” says Weinstein, who was an executive producer on Neverland and has worked with Depp on Dead Man, Chocolat and Once Upon a Time in Mexico. “He is the most versatile actor in the industry. He is a leading man, a character actor, and he has the courage of his convictions.”

That extends to his curious sense of style. PEOPLE’S Sexiest Man Alive, 2003, the fame that for many years left him – as he recently put it – “freaked out”. In the opinion of Lasse Hallström, his friend and director on the 1993 drama What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, his choice of eccentric roles in offbeat films has been a form of “hiding”.

As, no doubt, were the antics that made headlines in the ’80s and ’90s-partying all night at his L.A. club Viper Room and dating a string of beauties (Sherilyn Fenn, Winona Ryder, Kate Moss). But for the kid from Owensboro, Ky., some trademark goofing off is just a product of his inner child. Or adolescent. Among his buddies, says his Pirates costar Orlando Bloom, Depp is well-known for a sophomoric sense of humor evident as early as Gilbert Grape, when “Johnny was hell-bent on trying to give [19-year- old costar Leonardo DiCaprio] disgusting things to smell so he would throw up,” recalls Hallstrom with a laugh. A decade later, Depp still had a taste for mischief on the London set of Neverland During one formal dinner scene calling for the kids to giggle nervously, he set the mood with a Whoopee cushion. “Johnny was wonderful with the children,” says Weinstein, “playing pranks, being funny with them and relaxing them. And, yes, he is a big believer in the fart machine.”

Still, it was less his inner child than his inner adult that helped him bring “magic” and a “spirit of family” to the set, says Weinstein. As Depp tells it, both those feelings came to life the moment he saw Paradis at Hotel Costes in Paris in 1998. “[She] walked towards me, directly at me, and just said ‘Hi.’ And then I just knew, you know, it’s over with,” he told Oprah. Meeting her, he said, “changed [my life] completely” Beginning with the fact that he now lives with his family in a medieval-style place in L.A. and frequently travels to his French country villa as well as a small house on the secluded Caribbean island he bought for about $3 million this summer-with a minimum of 30 suitcases. “We travel with so much stuff,” Paradis, a regular face in Chanel ads, told French Elle magazine in March, “so [the children] can have the same visual and sensory references no matter where they are: Jack’s folding bed … toys and even the cloth which covers the baby’s changing table.”

And yet for all the chaos that accompanies two working parents moving between homes and sets-Depp spent most of 2004 shooting Chocolate Factory and The Libertine with John Malkovich in the U.K.-their life is surprisingly simple. When he is on location, his family comes to him or he visits them on weekends. In the south of France, the foursome generally go marketing on Thursday mornings and can be seen on many Sunday mornings wandering around an open-air flea market. “It’s a very normal family life,” says one local. Outings to Paris are less likely to include dinner at the trendy restaurant Depp co-owns, Man Ray, than a stopover at a pizza restaurant near the Pont d’Alma, where he and Paradis come in, says owner Paul Balilli, “with their kids, no assistants, no pretense. They take beautiful care of their children, [who] are well- behaved.”

ln L.A., life is the typical mix of trips to the park, walking the two dogs (mixed breeds), visiting the pediatrician, playing with Barbies and Hot Wheels and having weekly viewings of Finding Nemo. Depp told Winfrey that Lily-Rose, “from the first second, was just a little princess, very delicate, very girly.” He described Jack as a boy who “almost immediately just would vault himself into walls and, you know, runs around now with these plastic swords swatting at everyone.” Just the boy for Captain Jack Sparrow, who is pleased, if a bit surprised, at his own domestic leanings. As he told Vanity Fair; “It’s amazing when you get to a certain age and you talk about sleep in the same way you spoke about inebriates 20 or 25 years before. ‘Man, I got eight hours of sleep last night-it was fan-tas-tic …. 

According to Jim Jarmusch, the “complex” and at times “moody” Depp “seems happier than he’s been. His kids and Vanessa really give him some grounding. . . something outside himself that gives him this delighted look in his eye.” But certain qualities are unchanged – the feeling of being an outsider in Hollywood, for starters. He remains “shocked,” he said, over his Oscar nomination for Pirates. He was equally surprised to find himself in Manhattan on Oct. 30 getting ready to receive the Actors’ Fund Lee Strasberg Artistic Achievement Award at the Waldorf-Astoria. “[I] took a shower. Shaved. Brushed my teeth,” he said. “But you can never be prepared. You’ve got to walk around in confusion, not understanding why someone wants to give you something as prestigious as this.” On stage later, wearing a tuxedo and chewing a wad of gum, he said he was “grateful” and, with typical boyish charm, expressed his hope that “I won’t pass out, vomit or soil myself.” He didn’t. But here’s another hope: 

Should Neverland lead to a win at the Oscars in February, Lily-Rose and Jack, whose snapshots Depp always carries with him in a little notebook, will help him think up a better speech. Weinstein has full faith in his “charming and self-deprecating” leading man.  “Johnny’s calmed down a tremendous  amount. He is quieter, mellower, and  [his family] is something that he really loves,” he says. “It has given him tremendous serenity and strength.” 

19 October 2004   Articles No Comments

Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet are ‘Finding Neverland’!:

[Hollywood News]: London, Oct 18 : Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet walked down the red carpet for the UK premiere of their forthcoming flick, ‘Finding Neverland’.

The movie tells the tale of Peter Pan author JM Barrie, played by Depp, and the ‘Titanic’ beauty plays Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, a mother whose young sons inspired Barrie to write the unforgettable classic.

The proceeds from the London premiere, held in Leicester Square, would go for the benefit of the ‘Great Ormond Street Hospital’, which treats sick children.

Meanwhile, Depp has confessed that it was difficult for him to get the Scottish accent required for the role.

“Musically, rhythmically, I initially couldn’t quite get a hold of it. Luckily, I found this dialect coach who helped me out a great deal,” the BBC quoted Depp as saying.

Kate, who was clad in a shimmering floor-length turquoise Ben de Lisi dress at the premiere, said that motherhood helped her play the part of Sylvia to her best potential.

“I don’t think I could have played Sylvia if I wasn’t a mother. There is something about the physicality of being a parent that you don’t know about until you become one,” the stunning actress added. (ANI)

19 October 2004   Articles No Comments

Kate Winslet says Johnny Depp interrupted filming on their latest movie – by secretly using a fart machine.

The sexy actress, who stars with Johnny in new movie ‘Finding Neverland’, revealed the 41-year-old actor disrupted the shoot by playing practical jokes during intense takes.

She told Britain’s The Sun newspaper : “There was one scene when we were having dinner together. It was a difficult scene and that’s when Johnny did one of the most triumphant things I have ever seen an actor do – he had a fart machine under the table.”
But 29-year-old Kate, who is married to director Sam Mendes, claims the cast had no idea the stunt was a joke – and thought someone had really broken wind.

Stunning Kate admitted both she and her four child-co-stars struggled to ignore the trick because no-one knew what to say.
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She confessed: “The first take was priceless. The boys didn’t want to speak, to say, ‘Somebody’s farted.’ But then it happened again and we were bursting with laughter.”

But Kate admits Johnny’s fart machine actually helped make the shoot a success.

She added: “That was the thing that made the scene work. That was totally down to Johnny.”

It’s not the first time Johnny has been caught using the realistic machine on the set of his films.

Three years ago, Penelope Cruz claimed the heartthrob star sabotaged her scenes on the set of their film ‘Blow’ with his comic prank.

And Johnny, who has two children with French beauty Vanessa Paradis, has revealed he has used the machine in a string of other confined spaces. He said: “That kind of thing is particularly fun on an airplane and it’s quite fun in an elevator too.”


6 September 2004   Articles No Comments

Appearing at the Venice Film Festival, Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet are in town to promote their new film Finding Neverland. Johnny’s starring role as JM Barrie required him to study with a dialect coach from a Scottish family – “It [ the Scottish accent] was one that was really far away from me, in terms of my ear. I couldn’t quite hear it initially so I just studied and studied and studied,” said Depp. He added, “I tend to approach that kind of thing as a musician. I learned how to play by ear and I couldn’t find the music initially.”

View article on BBC website.

© Reprinted with permission.