Johnny Depp on Letterman Oct. 26, 2011

Johnny Depp on Letterman Oct. 26, 2011

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST: It’s a big show; going to get a big star – like Johnny Depp.

First guest is a three time academy award nominated actor and one of the all time coolest guys on the planet, he stars in a new film entitled ‘the Rum Diary’, which opens tomorrow
Ladies and Gentleman, here he is: Johnny Depp.
That’s good, good to see you.

JOHNNY DEPP, ACTOR: Nice to see you.

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST: That sounded great Paul, thank you very much.
Johnny, Johnny, Johnny how are you?

JOHNNY DEPP, ACTOR: I’m allright.

LETTERMAN: Good to see you my friend.

DEPP: You too, thank you.

LETTERMAN: How was your summer? What did you do? Were you working?

DEPP: I was working.

LETTERMAN: Creating movies?

DEPP: I made a film.

LETTERMAN: What film did you make?

DEPP: I made another film with Tim Burton called ‘Dark Shadows’.

LETTERMAN: ‘Dark Shadows’ – and it’s a vampire movie?

DEPP: Something like that.

LETTERMAN: How is your family?

DEPP: They’re great.

LETTERMAN: How are the girls? You get like a teenager and a nine-year old.

DEPP: My girl is 12

LETTERMAN: Boy and a girl

DEPP: Yes, and my boy is nine and they’re just growing all too fast.

LETTERMAN: I remember one time, when the kids were much younger you described them like  beeing taking care of small drunks

DEPP: Yes, there is that syndrom ‘the tiny drunk’
LETTERMAN: And how has that evolved, hopefully it’s evolved, what is it evolved to now?

DEPP: It’s slightly less drunk, but still teetering.

LETTERMAN: What I’ve run into here now is a patch I hope it’s only a patch of everything is no.
Whatever I suggest, whatever I ask for – everything is no. And then you have to work around it
and boy, is it tiring

DEPP: Yes, there’s the ‘no’ and then there’s the ‘why.’

LETTERMAN: Believe me, I’m not a a quip for a ‘why’

DEPP: Yeah ‘why comes that’ – but it’s the endless ‘why’

LETTERMAN: But the girl now what is she – I mean she’s going to be in high school isn’t she?

DEPP: Yes, she’s in Junior High. She’s verging on tennagedom – which is frightening; I mean really frightening…make up and things.

LETTERMAN: Make up – believe me, if that’s all you got to worry about you’re home free.

DEPP: Yeah, she’s quite astonishing. I mean big trouble.

LETTERMAN: Listen: what happens if she comes home and says: ‘Dad I spent 14 years admiring your body art…what do we do then, Johnny?

DEPP: My fear is that she’ll bring someone home – that she’s been admiring his body art.
That’s my fear.

LETTERMAN: Oh man… and the kids spend equal time in California and France?

DEPP: Yes

LETTERMAN: And the kids… I mean that’s pretty worldly experience for kids – does it show? Does it manifests itself? Or are they just kids? They speak french, right?

DEPP: Yeah they’re bilingual it’s immediate – they don’t have an american accent when they speak french or french accent when they speak american…

LETTERMAN: Do you know: when they dream – are they dreaming in french or in english?

DEPP: You know – I don’t know that, but I sometimes dream in french….

LETTERMAN: Dream in french? Well I’ve been told that’s a sign that you have absorbed the language as your own. Good for you.

DEPP: Well I made it 😉

LETTERMAN: Your daughter likes Justin Bieber?

DEPP: Oh yes, she does. But I’m not sure anyone’s daughter doesn’t.

LETTERMAN: And do they know? I mean he’s in show buisness you’re in show business…have you all gotten together?

DEPP: There is this weird connection… I’ve met the young men and a very sweet kid

LETTERMAN: How did you happen to meet him?

DEPP: Well, he was playing a concert, you know, and my daughter Lily-Rose was desperate to go to the show and so we got tickets and passes and things like that…and brought her to show and introduced them… it was quite astonishing to see your child in this like kind of frozen –

LETTERMAN: Really? At all? Do you remember when you were her age,
having someone with that effect on yourself?

DEPP: No…

LETTERMAN: And what is the word ‘belieber’ ? Do I have that right? Justin Bieber-lieber..?
What is it? Is that his name in german? Is that what it is…? Herr Belieber-Bieber…

DEPP: I know – I was kind of struck with that word when I was doing a press conference for Rango
and out of nowhere somewhere out of the audience asked me if I was a ‘Belieber’… And I thought maybe he had some of….(makes gesture with his hands)

LETTERMAN: Yeah that would not be a bad guess.

DEPP: I was confused and then ‘aahh’ – synapse fired – I understood what he was saying.
So I said ‘Yes of course I’m a huge ‘Belieber’ ‘And then about three and a half seconds later to the right of the room Justin Bieber enters.

LETTERMAN: And how do they do that?

DEPP: Exactly; I don’t know if we summoned him up… I don’t know what it was.

LETTERMAN: I think that’s what it was. Something quiet right about that dynamic…

DEPP: He was just there.

LETTERMAN: I’m fascinated with Hunter Thompson and your friendship with him ans the movie I saw last night; and oh the premier how did the premier go?

DEPP: It went very well.

LETTERMAN: I know you are uncomfortable watching yourself work on screen –
what did you do?

DEPP: I didn’t watch it.

LETTERMAN: Now we have this picture, if there had been a crime this would be evidence,
but this is you entering the premier. Are you all right?

DEPP: He was giving me the Heimlich maneuver. It was a piece of animal flesh stuck into my throat and
LETTERMAN: everything is fine now

DEPP: It’s all good.

LETTERMAN: Well I want to tell you, I don’t mean to tell you how to do your business but this photo right here – this will sell tickets. This is all you want right here.

But now in the movie we see you without tattoos

DEPP: Yeah, there’s a brilliant make up man who covers these things up.

LETTERMAN: So you have to go through make up everyday all over your body, well most days when you’re without your –

DEPP: Yeah when you’re standing there in your box or something. I had to get all cover up here.

LETTERMAN: This Hunter S. Thompson a friend of yours, you met him late in his life, we talked about this earlier in this literary firmament, where, in the contemporary literary firmament, where would we place Hunter S. Thompson?

DEPP: Well I think for me, Hunter is one of the most, without question, one of the most important writers of the 20th century. He reinvented a stile of writing by putting himself in a situation,
by living it.

LETTERMAN: This was the phrase ‘ the guns old journalism’ and stuff;
and as prolific as he should have been or not?

DEPP: Pretty prolific for a very long time and then later in life just kind of weird off….

LETTERMAN: He was on the old show two or three times and I can remember those segments
I can hear in my head the second hand clicking, because with him you just didn’t know; is an
ambulance on it’s way? What will Hunter do? Will he be here? Will he not be here?

DEPP: Yeah, he was very unpredictable in a lot of I mean in every way;
The first time I met him I happened to be in Aspen in December 94 I got an invitation from a mutual friend said: ‘Would you like to meet Hunter? Come to the woody creek tavern
at midnight or something. So I go to the woody creek tavern I make may way as far back in the place as I can, you know the back wall just the kind of be invisible and then around and then around 1.30 the front door bursts open and I literally saw sparks; but sparks. And then I saw people like throwing themselves out of the way in this kind of opening, parting the sea and people jumping and diving themselves into safety and then I heard: ‘Out of my way, you basterds!’
and as he got closer I realized that he had a three foot cattle prod in his left hand
and a taser in his right…

LETTERMAN: Just trying to make friends. But I mean beyond that, what kind of guy was in there?

DEPP: I mean he was a wonderful guy, he was brilliant, incredibly quick with it, he was very very fast and very very funny, but he sort of….he just was the kind…he just wanted to have fun; he did.
I mean he dictated exactly the way he was going to live his life, and you know…

LETTERMAN: Was he frustrated maybe because he was on the wrong planet? Was he just one of these guys who didn’t fit in or maybe he didn’t care?
DEPP: Oh he couldn’t give a rat’s. Really didn’t.

LETTERMAN: So it didn’t make any difference what planet. It’s all going to be about him.
I’ll tell you what, when we come back we continue chatting here with Johnny Depp Ladies and Gentleman.
Johnny Depp Ladies and Gentleman. You lived and spend some time in Venice.

DEPP: Italy?

LETTERMAN: Yes.

DEPP: Yes I have.

LETTERMAN: You own property there?

DEPP: No I don’t. There’s a strange room….

LETTERMAN: There is a strange room, but that’s was I was alerting to;
people say: ‘You see there. Johnny Depp owns that and lives right there.

DEPP: Yeah, I wish I did but I don’t.

LETTERMAN: But it’s a little sad, it’s a dying city, other than tourism the culture is all vanishing.

DEPP: Yeah, well there is certainly nothing that you can get out of this water.

LETTERMAN: Yeah, that’s right; except out of the water if you know what I mean….
So this movie: where did you guys shoot the film?

DEPP: San Juan, Puerto Rico

LETTERMAN: So it was actually shot in Puerto Rico and it is autobiographical.

DEPP: It is. It is basically Hunter in 1995/96 the pre fear and loathing the pre hells angels;
the guy who was trying to find his voice; find that outlet for that rage.

LETTERMAN: And starting as a newspaperman; this was a first job on the newspaper?

DEPP: Yeah, I think before he worked for the San Juan Star he went down there and worked for a bowling magazine.

LETTERMAN: A Puerto Rican bowling magazine? Honest to god: subscribers? Really?
Who subscribes to a Puerto Rican bowling magazine?
How long did it take to shoot the film?

DEPP: It was pretty quick actually. It was only a couple of months.

LETTERMAN: It looks fantastic. Wonderful experience. It creates a nostalgia for a time
in my life I never had. That make sense? You wish:’ Oooh I wish I had that life’ but I never did.
When Hunter died, killed himself; what did you miss immediately? Other than just the guys spirit?

DEPP: Hhm you know everything….
LETTERMAN: Did you guys talk regularly before he died?

DEPP: definitely…I think what I miss the most of Hunter are these three a.m. Phone calls where e would say, he used to call me ‘Colonel, Colonel Depp, yeah he mad me an official Kentucky Cornel, which he was very proud of; which I don’t think is very difficult to do.

LETTERMAN: He’s not from Kentucky, is he?

DEPP: Oh yeah, he is.

LETTERMAN:  So he had that power.

DEPP: We had that sort of connection; but the three a.m. Phone calls where he would say:
‘Colonel, wake up man! What do you know of the hairy black tongue disease?’ And you: ‘ I’m sorry?!’
‘The hairy black tongue man, it’s everywhere. You must avoid it’ Of course you must avoid it.
It was that kind of stuff.

LETTERMAN: And that would be the whole conversation?

DEPP: Oh no, it would go on two and a half hours

LETTERMAN: That was just ‘hello’ You had me at the hairy black tongue disease.
This is a lovely piece of work this film ‘the Rum Diary’. This was a manuscript written and published later, published in 1998 but it has been overlooked and rejected many years hadn’t it?

DEPP: What happened was, what I think, Hunter wrote the thing, looking to write a great american novel, as he out it later the great Puerto rican novel, it was about 96/97 when we were going over the manuscript of ‘Fear and loathing’ which consisted out of all kinds of madness: You pull out a cocktail napkin with some sort of matter on it and an old dried gum and some of these brilliant passages and I pushed that box away, opened another cardboard box  and it says ‘the Rum Diary’
and we sat there cross legged on the floor started reading the thing and he said: ‘Good god man,
this is really good isn’t it? And I said: ‘Yes it is.’ And he said: ‘We should make a movie.’
And I said:’ Maybe you should publish it first.’ And I think he didn’t look at it since 1995/96.

LETTERMAN: The clip we are going to see here, the film opens tomorrow, what do we need to know about what we are going to have here?

DEPP: I think this is after we had a series of bad luck, car has been stripped,….

LETTERMAN: It’s ‘the Rum Diary’, beginning tomorrow and here is a little bit right here.
A couple of guys having some fun in Puerto Rico. In the movie your character is carrying around a copy of ‘the ancient mariner’ and was Hunter Thompson obsessed with that or was that just an affectation in the script?

DEPP: Hunter was obsessed with Coleridge and all those great writers, this sort of soul.

LETTERMAN: It’s pointed out in the movie. Colderidge wrote that in his twenties or even younger.

DEPP: Yeah he was a bad junkie.

LETTERMAN: Hallucinating drugs or something.
I give you 100 bugs for that hat.

DEPP: It’s yours.

LETTERMAN: Anyway do yourself a favour watch this movie; this is Johnny Depp!
Thank you very much.

CNN – Larry King Special

LARRY KING, CNN HOST: He’s one of the biggest stars in the world. One of the most acclaimed actors or our time.

Tonight Johnny Depp. The man who rarely grants interviews sits down with me and opens up about his fame.

JOHNNY DEPP, ACTOR: This is the card I drew, so I’ll deal with it, that’s fine. Doesn’t mean every single moment you have to be sort of OK with it.

LARRY KING, CNN HOST: He’s one of the biggest stars in the world. One of the most acclaimed actors or our time.

Tonight Johnny Depp. The man who rarely grants interviews sits down with me and opens up about his fame.

JOHNNY DEPP, ACTOR: This is the card I drew, so I’ll deal with it, that’s fine. Doesn’t mean every single moment you have to be sort of OK with it.

KING: His family.

DEPP: I don’t want my kids to experience me as a novelty. I want my kids to know me as dad.

KING: And his famous friends. Brando had that big an effect on you?

DEPP: He was a wonderful man. You know? He’d give you anything.

KING: Plus we’ll go on a tour of his private office full of personal memorabilia and his paintings.

It’s all ahead on this LARRY KING SPECIAL, “Johnny Depp.”

We’re sitting here in Johnny Depp’s office. An office like none I have ever seen. That later we’ll get a chance to explore a little. He, of course, one of the most celebrated and versatile actors of his generation. He’s also a director, producer, accomplished musician.

His new movie “Rum Diary” will open October 28th. The only novel ever written by Hunter S. Thompson. We’ll talk about that a little later.

You don’t do many things like this. Do you not like to be interviewed or —

DEPP: No. I’m just not very good at it, you know. Never have been very good at it.

KING: Why not?

DEPP: I don’t know. There’s a — you know, there’s a strange thing, you know. I’m OK when I’m a character. If I’m playing a character, I can do, you know, virtually anything in front of a camera. But if I’m just me, I feel, you know, exposed and sort of, you know, it feels awkward.

KING: We won’t expose you.

DEPP: OK. Good.

KING: Do you like being other people?

DEPP: Yes, I do. I do because I’m fascinated with people. I mean, I’m fascinated — I like to watch people. And that’s the one sort of thing, you know, as an actor in terms of job necessity is the ability to be able to watch people, to observe, to be the observer. As a journalist, you know, to observe. And it’s one of my favorite things, to sort of pick apart, you know, various traits.

KING: Marlon Brando told me that one of the problems is when you get very well known is they’re observing you.

DEPP: That becomes the problem.

KING: You can’t — you’re not observing them really.

DEPP: Yes. Exactly. No, that becomes the problem. You become the focus of others. So, therefore, your ability to observe is tainted. You know it’s a little bit — yes. It changes quite radically.

KING: How did you go from guitar to acting?

DEPP: Accident.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: How did it happen?

DEPP: I’d moved to Los Angeles in 1983 and was living here playing — you know, playing music. And we did a couple of good gigs. You know, the band and stuff. And we went on the road for a little bit. And that was all fine. But, I mean, in terms of making a living, it was pretty straight — you know pretty close to the bone there.

So I was filling out job applications for just various — like video stores or anywhere, you know. And I happened to be with an old buddy of mine, Nicolas Cage. And who was — who was then coming up the ranks. And he said that, you know, why don’t you just — I think you should meet my agent. You should investigate acting.

KING: You hadn’t thought of it?

DEPP: No, not really, no. No. And so I met his agent. She sent me to read for a part. And got a call back and then they hired me for the gig. You know that was the first “Nightmare on Elm Street.” That was 1984? Three or four.

KING: Did you like it right away?

DEPP: No.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: It was a job?

DEPP: It was just a gig. You know I just thought, well, this will get me through, you know, until, you know, the music picks up or whatever. You know. So I just — you know, the first two or three, four films to me were just, you know, a lark. You know, just —

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Would you rather have been a musician?

DEPP: In retrospect, no, you know. In retrospect, no. Because it’s — I suppose had that become my bread and butter, as they say, you know, the main gig, I would have probably fallen out of love with it on some level. And I still to this day, you know, have the — the same love, you know, first love feeling for music as I did when I was 12.

KING: Do you play?

DEPP: All the time, yes. Constantly. Still, yes.

KING: How did you react to getting famous?

DEPP: I’m still reacting, you know. I’m still sort of dealing with it. I don’t think it’s anything you ever get used to, you know. I could never — for many years I could never sort of put my name in the same sort of category as the word “famous” or anything like that. And I just found it very uncomfortable. So it’s weird.

It’s something like if you — I find if you get used to it, then something must be wrong, you know. If you get used to that constant kind of thing, it’s — something’s got to be wrong. There’s got to be still a part of you that — somewhere in there that pines for anonymity.

KING: Allen Alda told me one that he doesn’t like giving autographs because he feels it demeans the person asking for the autograph. It put them on a lower level. And Brando didn’t like much being photographed. Is it true you don’t like being photographed?

DEPP: I suppose, like, for example when you’re doing something organized like a photo shoot, essentially amid the faux pas of, you know — there was a piece in “Vanity Fair” where I should have used the word “violated.” However, you know, in my — in my lack of vocabulary in the moment I used another word, which I’ve, you know, apologized for radically.

But the thing — the thing with doing a photo shoot, that’s sort of an organized thing. You feel dumb. OK. But you just get through it. But what I find still to this day, kind of, like an attack on the senses, is really just being bombarded by paparazzis.

You know I’ll take photographs with kids. People, you know, who want to take photographs with me. People who like the movies. People who supported me. I’ll do that all day, all night, that’s fine. But the bombardment, you know, of the paparazzi is just — it’s like a — it’s just —

KING: What do they get out of it? I mean, they take your picture.

DEPP: Yes.

KING: And then they take it a minute later. It’s not any different than a minute before.

DEPP: And it’s not any different than the year before, or the year before that.

KING: So what is the — what do you think it is?

DEPP: I truly don’t understand. I think it must be just this kind of — I don’t know. It just feels like this kind of gluttonous, horrific sport. It’s like sport. It’s like hunting or something.

KING: Do you therefore go out of your way to try to avoid them?

DEPP: Yes. I try to avoid, you know, any and all, you know, press or — especially that nature. You know, just to — yes. I just —

KING: So do you —

(CROSSTALK)

DEPP: I don’t want my kids to experience me as a novelty. I want my kids to know me as dad, you know. And already, you know, if they have access to the Internet or whatever, I mean they understand what the deal is. But I don’t want them to have to live through and experience that kind of attack, you know.

KING: So what do you do when you go out to eat?

DEPP: I don’t go out very much, you know. I stay at home a lot. Or when you go out to eat, you know, you’ve got to — it becomes a strategic sort of plan.

KING: Getting in through the side door.

DEPP: OK, we’re going in the back. We’re going to walk through the slippery kitchen and we’re going to go into the private room or, you know, that kind of thing.

KING: It’s a tough way to live.

DEPP: It’s — you know, I suppose it’s what I — it’s the card I drew. So I’ll deal with it. That’s fine. But you know it doesn’t mean that every single moment you have to be sort of OK with it. I certainly am not one of those guys and would — you know, can’t stand the idea of, you know, one of those guys who whines about, you know, how horrible success is.

I do realize and understand very well on a profound level how lucky I am and what a privileged position it is and what it’s done ultimately for me, my family and my kids. But at the same time, you know, there are moments in a man’s life when you just kind of want to feel somewhat normal, you know.

KING: He’s one of the biggest stars in the world. But it wasn’t always that way.

DEPP: I had been essentially known within the confines of Hollywood as the — you know, as box office poison. You know basically I’d built a career on 20 years of failures.

KING: Plus, later, Johnny shows me the inside of his private office. It’s an up close and personal look at a Johnny Depp you will not want to miss. When this LARRY KING SPECIAL, “Johnny Depp” returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Paul Newman told me that any successful person in any field who in discussing their career doesn’t use the word luck is a liar.

DEPP: Yes. He’s absolutely right, yes.

KING: So you consider yourself lucky?

DEPP: Very lucky, yes.

KING: But you have to have talent to meet the luck, right?

DEPP: Somebody hands you the ball and you run, you know. And then if you get hit, you get hit, or maybe you make it through, you never know. But, I mean, I just know that somebody handed me the ball at a certain point. And I was hungry enough to keep running. And I’m still running. So —

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Now what do you think makes you good at what you do? You have to think you’re good.

DEPP: I’m OK.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: You don’t watch yourself, right?

DEPP: I don’t. No. I don’t. I don’t like to watch myself. I think, you know, I maintain a hunger, but not an ambition. You know, I — I’m very happy to explore all possibilities of a character and really, you know, dive into the role. You know to the point where Disney wanted to — wanted to fire me.

KING: They wanted to fire you from “Pirates”?

DEPP: Yes.

KING: Because?

DEPP: They couldn’t understand what I was doing. You know? They didn’t understand the character. They were actually contemplating subtitling the film, you know.

(LAUGHTER)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEPP: You will always remember this as the day that you almost caught Captain Jack. What are you doing? You burned all the food, the shade, the rum.

KYRA KNIGHTLY, ACTRESS: Yes, the rum is gone.

DEPP: Why is the rum gone?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Ever turned down something you regretted?

DEPP: No.

KING: No?

DEPP: Don’t regret any of it, no. No. Everything that I turned down was — it was — weirdly, it was more important what I turned down than what I accepted in terms of films.

KING: For your own happiness?

DEPP: Mm-hmm.

KING: So even if it became a hit?

DEPP: Yes. “Pirates” was a complete accident, you know? I mean prior —

KING: What do you mean?

DEPP: Well, prior to “Pirates of the Caribbean,” you know, the first one in 2003, that was — I mean I had been essentially known within the confines of Hollywood as the — you know, as box office poison, you know what I’m saying? You know basically had built a career on 20 years of failures.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Did it surprise you, its success?

DEPP: Hugely. I had no idea.

KING: Are you going to do more?

DEPP: You know, it depends.

KING: Does it ever become maybe too much?

DEPP: Not yet, you know. Not yet for me. I mean, maybe — maybe to the masses. I don’t know. Maybe. I don’t know. I still feel like in terms of character, Captain Jack is one that I’d like to explore.

KING: He’s still evolving?

DEPP: Yes. Because he’s — because he’s fun, you know. It’s his fun. It’s a license to be totally and utterly irreverent and get away with it.

KING: He’s going to age, then?

DEPP: I suppose he’ll have to.

KING: Discuss some others. Some incredible roles you’ve played. Edward Scissorhands.

DEPP: Probably the most important film that I’ve ever done, just in terms of the — the transition for me, you know, from basically at the time, you know, being known as having come up the ranks as a TV actor, essentially, in the minds of Hollywood. “Scissorhands” was the one that sort of put me on the road that I wanted to be on. So for me that one’s — yes, that’s probably the most important of all.

KING: “Mad Hatter.”

DEPP: A gas. You know, I mean, just a gas. Again, one of those things where you get a call from Tim and he says what do you think about this? And you just — you just start to travel, you know.

KING: You just did “Dark Shadows,” right?

DEPP: Just finished.

KING: Finished. That was a soap opera about a vampire.

DEPP: Yes.

KING: What attracted you to that?

DEPP: Well, I had watched it as a kid, you know. Religiously. I remember sprinting home from school to see it. Didn’t want to miss, like, a minute of it. Ironically, you know, Tim had gone through the same experience. You know running home from school. And then back when we were doing Sweeney, we were doing “Sweeney Todd” a couple of years ago, it — one day we’re just sitting there talking, and I said, you know, we should do a vampire movie sometime.

Let’s do a vampire movie. It was before all the “Twilights” and all that, you know, stuff. And yes, that’s a good idea. I went, oh, “Dark Shadows,” man. And so we got on the “Dark Shadows” tangent. And then one thing led to another.

KING: So was “Willy Wonka” fun?

DEPP: Absolutely fun. Yes. Really fun.

KING: Do you have to enjoy it to do it? DEPP: I think you have to. I mean I think it’s got to be fun. The process itself must be fun. You have to enjoy what you’re doing. And as we all know, as you know as well as I do, it’s a collaborative process, you know. It’s not just let’s put the actor in front of the camera. There are many people behind the scenes that make it all go.

So I would — I would find it really a drag if they stick me out in front of the camera and the guys behind the camera weren’t having a good time, too. All I do is try to make them laugh.

KING: Still ahead, Johnny talks about his famous co-stars and friends. Al Pacino.

DEPP: He says, I’m nuts, but he’s really — like, he’s certifiably nuts.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Marlon Brando.

DEPP: We got along like a house on fire. You know. Instantly. There’s a dangerous element. You never know what to expect from him.

KING: And Hunter Thompson.

DEPP: I realized that this was the voice of truth. He was without question I mean, I think the most important nonfiction writer of the 20th century.

KING: Plus, get a tour of his private office. Wait until you see what’s in there.

But first, after supporting them for years, Johnny opens up on the release of the West Memphis Three.

Did you have anybody say to you, you know, Johnny, you go out on a limb on a thing like this?

DEPP: Oh, yes.

KING: Find out why when this LARRY KING SPECIAL: JOHNNY DEPP” continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: What do you make of finally the release of the Memphis Three? You got involved in that battle. We did a whole show on it.

DEPP: Yes.

KING: We had them on. And they still not — they’re guilty. They’re out. But it’s crazy.

DEPP: It’s a very strange thing the state of Arkansas presented to them. Essentially, you know, to say, OK. All you have to do is say that we have the evidence to convict you again, and — but we’ll do time served and you’re out. Admitting guilt, maintaining your innocence. So it’s a very — you know, it’s a really floppy piece of ground to stand on.

KING: Why did you get involved?

DEPP: Because I — I knew immediately, you know, when I — when I first started to get, you know, kind of familiarize myself with the case, I knew instantly that they were innocent. I knew instantly that they were wrongfully accused. And the more research I did and the more people I spoke to, it was absolutely apparent.

KING: Did you have anybody say to you, you know, Johnny, you go out on a limb on a thing like this.

DEPP: Oh, yes, yes. A lot of people.

KING: Like what if they did it? You’re going to look bad.

DEPP: There was that kind of thing. Yes. But I just knew. I just knew, you know. I — it was just — it was ugly and — and a raw deal from the get-go. Back in ’93. And you’re thinking of these three kids, you know, one, Damien Echols on death row for 18 years. Ten years in isolation. You know, for a crime that he did not commit.

KING: You think Obama should pardon them?

DEPP: I mean, it would be wonderful. I don’t — I think he’s probably got a few other things on his mind at the moment. But, yes, yes. What I’m hoping is that the investigation will continue outside the courthouse right now and we will be able to prove the real killers.

KING: Back to some roles. One I want to play a little clip for you here. Because you did one of my favorites, one of my all-time favorite movies with one of my dear friends, Al Pacino. And that was, of course, “Donny Braskow.” So let’s hear — let’s watch Al talking about you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Working with Johnny Depp.

AL PACINO, ACTOR: I love him. I love Johnny Depp.

KING: What makes him special? You did “Donnie Brasco”.

PACINO: Yes. Yes. And he’s done so many things. I mean He’s gone from A to Z, you know. It’s just gifts. It’s really his gifts. And has a personality. And as a person, I just loved him. I loved being with him because he made me laugh every day I was there. He’s really nuts, too.

KING: He’s nuts?

PACINO: Oh, yes. He’ll say I’m nuts but he’s really nuts. He’s nuts in that way that just — you know, it’s just fun to be with. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: You the same way toward him?

DEPP: Yes. Although when you’re working with Pacino, you know he’s great. I mean in that moment, you know, of course you lock in, as he said. You lock in and you’re in the scene and stuff like that. But you know, as soon as cut comes, you go, Jesus Christ, man. Wow. He’s monumental.

KING: He said you’re nuts.

DEPP: He might be right. But he’s — I mean, he’s really — I mean he says I’m nuts but he’s really — he’s like certifiably nuts.

(LAUGHTER)

DEPP: And one of the funniest human beings I’ve ever known in my life.

KING: From Pacino to Brando. Now there’s a puzzling aspect of your life that puzzles me. You directed and appeared with Brando in a movie.

DEPP: Yes.

KING: That we have never seen.

DEPP: Yes. “The Brave,” yes.

KING: Why have we never seen it?

DEPP: I was sort of rushed to take it to the Cannes Film Festival. Took it there. And then —

KING: And it was praised there, was it not?

DEPP: It was kind of praised. The first night was really wonderful, you know. I mean you had Bertolucci there and Antonioni and Kustavitza (ph) and all these filmmakers that I really admired and have admired for years, you know, saying bravo, bravo. And then, you know, and then the next day the American press just absolutely lambasted, you know, me and the film saying it’s the — you know we haven’t seen a weirder group of people since Bunel and, you know, and all these kind of strange things. And I just —

KING: Shelved it?

DEPP: Yes, I didn’t shelve it. You know I owned the North American rights. And I just thought, you know what? I mean, what’s the point? You know?

KING: Might you release it?

DEPP: Yes. Maybe. I tell you why. For one reason only. It’s certainly not a perfect film. What I will say about that film and what I will say about Marlon in particular, it’s one of the best performances he’s given since “Last Tango.” It’s one of the performances where he dug down deep and gave of himself so monumentally.

KING: Was he a little ticked that you didn’t release it?

DEPP: No. He didn’t care. No, he was fine.

KING: That’s Marlon.

DEPP: Yes. He was fine with it.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Now you did do a movie with him. Did you enjoy doing that?

DEPP: “Don Juan”?

KING: “Don Juan.”

DEPP: Yes. Very much. That was the first. That’s when we met and we got along like a house on fire, you know, instantly. And that’s where we got very — we got close doing “Don Juan.”

KING: What did he do that others in the — what did he do that the rest of you didn’t do?

DEPP: Well, Marlon early on, I mean, Marlon reinvented — Marlon reinvented acting. He revolutionized acting. He made it — it was not about behavior in a sense as it was just about being in a moment. And he was a dangerous element. I mean, he was a dangerous element. He remained a dangerous element.

KING: Risk taker.

DEPP: Oh, yes. All the way through, man. Until, you know, his last — his last breath. You know, he was — he was a dangerous element. You never knew what to expect from him.

KING: Coming up, Johnny explains how he made Hunter S. Thompson’s final wish come true. Shooting his ashes out of a cannon.

DEPP: He came down over all of us. You know we were covered in Hunter’s ashes. It was something that I knew that had to be done and we got it done, yes.

KING: And get an inside look at his office. It’s all next on this “LARRY KING SPECIAL: JOHHNY DEPP

KING: Johnny Depp’s personal office. As interesting and unique as the man himself. Inside the walls are lined with personal mementos and photos from his life and work. Here, a cabinet of curiosities from his movie “Sweeney Todd.” Willy Wonka’s throne from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” And his walking stick and that golden ticket. One of his guitars. Awards and accolades.

Perhaps one of the most interesting things to see, Johnny’s self-made portrait of his friend and mine, the legendary Marlon Brando.

DEPP: I said, hey, I made this painting of you. You know? And he’s, you paint?

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Another amazing man in Johnny’s life, Hunter S. Thompson. Here he shows us a letter and a check. Something he received after Thompson lost a bet over the 1998 World Cup. Johnny became friends with Thompson before he filmed “Fear and Loathing” in Las Vegas. It was a friendship that endured for years and one that led to his latest movie “The Rum Diary.”

All right, let’s talk about Hunter Thompson. And your friendship with him. You led to this movie, “Rum Diary” based on him. You found this novel, right? He never written — we never knew he wrote a novel. DEPP: No, no. I happened upon it. Hunter and I — it was when I was researching “Fear and Loathing” in Las Vegas, and I was living in his basement, you know, and I happened upon this box. As we were looking through the manuscript of “Fear and Loathing,” and I see this, you know, folder.

“Rum Diary” across it in his hand. I thought, wow, what’s that? You know — so we started to read it, sitting, you know, cross-legged on the floor. You know, reading this amazing thing. And he’s like, my, god, that’s pretty good, isn’t it? Yes, it’s very good, Hunter.

You know, what are you doing? But then he brought up the idea of, you know, he used to call me Colonel. Colonel Depp, you know. As a colonel, we must produce this. We’ll produce this together. It’ll be our — you know, so that was the plan.

KING: Did he know you were going to do it?

DEPP: It took a little while. And you know, years, years happened. And then Hunter made his exit, you know. So he never got to —

KING: Did you kind of make a promise that you’d make it?

DEPP: Yes. Absolutely. Yes.

KING: So this is a commitment?

DEPP: For sure. No, this was — this was fulfilling a commitment to hunter. This was absolutely a major promise, we are going to produce this thing together. And I even so far as to have — you know I mean Hunter had his chair on set every day with his name on it. He had his script there with his name on it. He had — there was a bottle of Chivas there every day. A highball glass filled with rocks. And we’d bang in the Chivas. We had his Dunhills, we had his cigarette filters.

KING: It’s a very unusual film, you’ll agree with that.

DEPP: It is, yes.

KING: People will react different ways to it.

DEPP: I think so, yes.

KING: So explain to the uninitiated who Hunter Thompson was?

DEPP: He was without question, I mean, I think the most important nonfiction writer of the — of the 20th century.

KING: When he died, you — you blew his ashes?

DEPP: Yes.

KING: How did you come to do that?

DEPP: It was — KING: From a cannon?

DEPP: Yes. Built a cannon. He — it was his last request.

(LAUGHTER)

DEPP: You know? And it was something that we’d talked about here and there. But I knew that that’s what he wanted. And I knew that that had to be done at whatever, you know — at whatever cost. So I met with some — you know, some kind of architectural wizards and stuff. And we built — we devised a cannon of 153 feet in the shape of the gonzo fist that would shoot Hunter into the stratosphere.

KING: Did it make a big sound?

DEPP: Oh, boy. It was huge.

(LAUGHTER)

DEPP: He came down all over all of us. You know we were covered in Hunter’s ashes. But the idea also is to take Hunter — you know, his ashes and then mix that in with gun powder, there was something so poetic about that. You know it’s something so kind of symmetrical about Hunter becoming basically large bullets.

(LAUGHTER)

DEPP: That he would have loved. So I mean it was — again, it was something that I knew that had to be done and we got it done, yes.

KING: He’s gone from pumping gas to being one of the highest-paid actors in the world.

DEPP: I haven’t changed. I’m still exactly the guy that used to pump gas, you know. I’m still the guy that was a mechanic for a minute, you know. I’m still exactly. I just happen to have a weird — weirder job at the moment.

KING: And Johnny tells us the latest on the “Lone Ranger.” Finally back on? It’s going to happen?

DEPP: Yes. We got the budget down.

KING: That’s good to hear.

DEPP: Yes.

KING: That’s coming up on this “LARRY KING SPECIAL: JOHNNY DEPP.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Ever want to do theater?

DEPP: Yes. There is a part of me. There is a part of me that wants to do it, you know.

KING: I mean to have the audience and get the reaction.

DEPP: Yes, yes. There is a part of me that wants to do it. But at the same time, you know, I — I suppose the reason to do it is because it just scares the absolute, you know —

KING: It does scare you?

DEPP: Oh, yes.

KING: You don’t have the protection of “cut.”

DEPP: Yes. You don’t have the protection of cut. But also you just walk out there and suddenly just go — line. You know, I mean — I’m up. What’s the line, you know? That would be a real drag.

KING: Is there a play you’ve liked that you’ve said to yourself, if I do do it, I would do that play?

DEPP: It was one — one conversation with Marlon where he said — he asked me how many movies I did a year. And at the time I said, I don’t know, maybe three or something. He says, too much, kid. That’s too much. We only have so many faces in our pockets, you know. I said, OK, I get it. He said, why don’t you play Hamlet? You should play Hamlet.

I said, I don’t know, you know, Hamlet’s the kind of cliche thing. He said, no, man. Do it before you’re too old to do it. He said, I never got the chance. I never did it. You should do it. Go do it. And — so that still sticks in my head is the possibility of, you know, before I’m too long in the tooth to play Hamlet. It’s just —

KING: Have you —

(CROSSTALK)

DEPP: Have I?

KING: Yes.

DEPP: Yes. Every time. Me? Yes. Sure.

KING: But what got you down?

DEPP: Well, I don’t know — throughout life, and many things, but I mean certainly, you know, losing Marlon, you know, took me down. Losing Hunter took me down. Because, you know that these — these friends, these mentors, these teachers, these father figures, you know, these — someone who you really — it was amazing to be accepted by them and to — and to be loved by them. And suddenly they’re gone, you know. Yes. Those are pretty down times.

KING: Do you have faith?

DEPP: I have faith in my kids.

KING: Me, too. DEPP: Yes. I have faith in my kids. And I have — I have faith, you know, that as long as you keep moving forward, just keep walking forward, things will be all right, I suppose, you know. Faith in terms of religion, I don’t — religion is not my specialty, you know.

KING: Do you enjoy success? Now you know you’re successful. Are you — do you enjoy it? Do you enjoy the fruits of it?

DEPP: Sure. I mean, I’ve been very — like I said, very, very lucky, you know, in a sense that, you know, I mean, how ironic is it that, you know, as I said you get —

KING: You were pumping gas.

DEPP: I was pumping gas, most definitely. Printing T-shirts and selling ink pens, and you know anything and everything. Yes. And then the fact that you have a 20-year career of failures and then you do a pirate movie and that buys you an island is pretty — the irony of that is pretty good.

KING: Do you think about the times when things weren’t so good a lot?

DEPP: Yes, yes. Oh, yes. You know, there was a guy who I worked with many years ago. And we were talking about success and money and all that stuff. And he told me this one thing. He said, you know, money doesn’t change anybody. Money reveals them, you know. Same thing with success.

And I believe that, you know, wholeheartedly. I think I’ve been revealed. I don’t think — I haven’t changed — I’m still exactly the guy that used to pump gas, you know. I’m still the guy that was a mechanic for a minute, you know. I’m still exactly. I just happen to have a weird — weirder job at the moment, you know?

KING: It is a weird profession.

DEPP: As Marlon said, he had — Marlon had the best definition of acting that exists, you know. It’s a strange job for a grown man. And that’s it.

KING: You do that good.

DEPP: It’s a strange job for a grown man. Right?

KING: But he called something else that people in the business got mad at. He said it on our show. He called it lying for a living.

DEPP: Right.

KING: And most actors say they’re not lying.

DEPP: Mmm.

KING: Did you think that was an unfair expression?

DEPP: I think it’s totally — I think it’s totally right, yes. It’s lying. It is lying. Why wouldn’t it be? You can make it lying. You can make it not lying. You know it’s — you can find your own truth. But it’s still a lie. You know what I mean? You’re going to go to the craft service table. You’re not Henry VIII, man. You’re not going to have some Fritos or whatever, man. You know?

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Have a donut and then go, yes.

DEPP: Right. You know? He’s not going to eat a giant chicken leg and chuck it somewhere and start screaming “wench”. Right? You know? And that’s not —

KING: Do you like the camera? Burt Reynolds used to say every day he’d go up and say to the camera, love me today.

DEPP: Oh, really?

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Please love me. You don’t look at your films, right?

DEPP: I don’t. I don’t look at my films. But what I do is — the strange thing is what happens at a certain point, it’s kind of like that thing Marlon said about being observed and having been the observer. You get to a place at a certain point where you’re more comfortable in front of a camera doing, behaving, living in front of a camera than you are in normal life. That is to say, like, out at a restaurant or something like that. You know, the camera becomes sort of just part of the —

KING: Same thing in my profession. I don’t want to discuss myself.

DEPP: But you know what I mean?

KING: Yes.

DEPP: It’s just there and that’s part of it and that’s it.

KING: It’s your comfort zone.

DEPP: Yes, yes.

KING: Up next, Johnny talks about being a family man.

DEPP: Kids are great. So fun. As you know, they just grow up so fast. It’s just shocking.

KING: Explains those tattoos.

Do the kids like it?

DEPP: Yes, they’re OK with it, you know. Yes. I mean they’re sort of used to it by now, you know. When I come home with a new one they’re like oh, yes, that’s good. Nice one, dad.

KING: And announces details on his next projects. Are you doing a film about Dr. Seuss?

Find out all about his future coming up on this “LARRY KING SPECIAL: JOHNNY DEPP.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: You’re not into “National Enquirer.”

DEPP: No. I mean, thank god. You know, early days, you know, they tried to sort of slop me into those things but now not so much. You know I think they kind of — after almost 14 years of Vanessa and two kids I think they kind of —

KING: How did you meet Vanessa?

DEPP: I had met her before. But very briefly. And then it was ’98 when I went to do this film with Roman Polanski in Paris. I was in the hotel lobby sort of getting my messages. And I turned around and was walking back towards my room and then I saw — I saw across the room, I saw this back, this sort of skin of this back and this neck attached to it.

I just thought, my god, what’s that? And then instantly it turned towards me and walked over and said hello. And it was Vanessa. And it was that moment when I knew I was absolutely in deep trouble. It’s over. I just knew it. It was over. And she — you know, we were going to have a kid. You know within three months she was pregnant, so it was over.

KING: What are the kids like?

DEPP: The kids are great. So fun.

KING: Now you live here, right? You live in Los Angeles?

DEPP: Yes, yes. We basically try and spend — spend sort of half and half. But with the kiddies in school we do a lot here. The kids are great, you know, they just — as you know they just grow up so fast. It’s just shocking.

KING: I mean you and your sister are very close, right?

DEPP: My sister, yes. Christy is my best friend in the world. She’s always kept me alive since I was a little kid.

KING: So you were family oriented early.

DEPP: Very much so.

KING: Maybe you changed. It’s hard to change.

DEPP: Well, unfortunately I have a tendency, you know, especially these days now when — you know the way the work is coming, I work a lot. And I probably work too much. If I could change that, I’d love to be able —

KING: You can change that.

DEPP: — to spend more time. Yes, you can. But once you’ve committed to certain things.

KING: You need that camera.

DEPP: Well, I need to have the brain occupied for sure. You know, the brain canopy occupied at all times. Otherwise I will go sideways.

KING: Why tattoos?

DEPP: Like a journal. You know.

KING: You keep a journal of your life on your body?

DEPP: Basically, yes. It started when I was 17 I got my first tattoo. And every single one means something and they all —

KING: And the kids like it?

DEPP: Yes. They’re OK with it, you know. Yes, I mean they’re sort of used to it by now. You know? When I come home with a new one they’re like, oh, yes, that’s good. Nice one, dad.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: What happened to “The Lone Ranger”?

DEPP: It’s still up and running. They —

KING: I heard that the budget was too high and they’re not going to do it. You’re going to play Tonto, right?

DEPP: Yes.

KING: You have Indian blood, right?

DEPP: Yes, yes.

KING: What tribe?

DEPP: I was told — you know I was always told it was Cherokee growing up and stuff. It may be Cherokee. It may be Creek. I don’t know exactly, you know?

KING: Is there a script?

DEPP: There is a script. There’s a very funny, good script.

KING: Is it a takeoff of “The Lone Ranger”?

DEPP: Yes.

KING: It’s funny.

DEPP: There’s humor. Yes. There’s a boat load of humor.

KING: Does Tonto get to say kimosabe?

DEPP: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

DEPP: Yes, yes.

KING: Who’s Lone Ranger is made?

DEPP: It going to be Army Harmer. Looks like it’s going to all come together in January.

KING: So it’s going to happen.

DEPP: Yes. We got the budget down, yes.

KING: That’s good to hear.

DEPP: Yes.

KING: So you play him tongue in cheek? How are you going to approach Tonto?

DEPP: I think — what I like about Tonto is the idea that this character who’s thought of as the sidekick, you know, it was the thing that bugged me always about “The Lone Ranger” is why is the Indian the sidekick? Why does he have to go get you that thing? Why does he —

KING: Because he’s the slave.

DEPP: Right. And I couldn’t stand that always. And my approach to Tonto is that he’s this sort of — there’s sort of a crazy like a fox stoicism to Tonto, you know, that — that Tonto probably believes that the Lone Ranger is his slave, his sidekick. So he’s like, go get me the thing. No, no, no.

KING: He’s going to say no?

DEPP: You go get it. You go.

(LAUGHTER)

DEPP: You’re the one dressed in the funny outfit. You do it.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Are they going to do the beginning where all these bunch of rangers are killed and Tonto saves the Lone Ranger’s life and —

DEPP: Yes. There’s certainly elements of that, yes, for sure. You remember it well.

KING: Oh, is there a love interest?

DEPP: Not for Tonto.

KING: I see, he doesn’t get —

DEPP: Not for Tonto, no.

KING: Will you do your own Tonto makeup?

DEPP: Will I do my own Tonto makeup?

KING: Have you figured out will Tonto — one little feather?

DEPP: I think it’s a little more than that. I think —

(LAUGHTER)

DEPP: I’ll tell you what, I’ll send you a picture of it.

KING: Please.

DEPP: I’ve done some tests. I’ll send you a picture of it. Because it’s — it’s a little — it’s a little different than that. What I like about Tonto, what I feel good about in terms of Tonto is that I feel like he’s, you know, when I — when I came up with Captain Jack, I thought, OK. I’ve really arrived at something, you know, different here, you know. And Tonto feels right on par with Captain Jack. It feels like another Captain Jack to me.

KING: Are you doing a film about Dr. Seuss?

DEPP: It’s something, yes, something we’re developing. With Seuss’s widow, you know. Guisele’s widow. And it’s a very exciting possibility. Because it’s a sort of combination of live action and —

KING: “Cat in the Hat”?

DEPP: Not “Cat in the Hat” so much but the characters. The characters will certainly have a role.

KING: Thank you, Johnny.

DEPP: Thank you. What a pleasure. What an honor.

KING: Let’s go around then.

DEPP: That was fine really, yes.

KING: Johnny Depp.

 

our Tim Burton Interview (by Lizzy)

our Tim Burton Interview (by Lizzy)

Tim Burton’s name is synonymous with words like, genius, dark, quirky, strange, eccentric and yes even to some scary. But none can deny his influence on pop culture and film today. His persona can be a bit intimidating, but unlike the stereotype some may have, I found him to be fun and cheerful and a glmmer in his eye of mischief.  His most recent inspiration is in the form of art at the LACMA museum in Los Angeles. This exhibit is full of past works from Burton himself and spans his whole career. Tim was on hand for the opening and to meet and greet a few hundred lucky fans who stood in line for hours just to gain a signature and a copy of his book, “The Art of Tim Burton.” The day after the opening he was off to continue his work in England on the new film “Dark Shadows” with of course his partner in crime, Mr. Johnny Depp and his most beautiful wife Helena Bonham Carter. There wasn’t much time for a lot of questions but any time this icon can spare is precious to be sure…

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PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN ON STRANGER TIDES: Johnny Depp Interview

To watch this exclusive interview with Johnny Depp about the new Pirates just click on the link:

here 

 

 

Thanks to Corinna for this information!

PIRATES 4 ~ Press conference

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SG7VwQkmoXY

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Johnny Depp Can’t See 3-D!

Johnny Depp won’t be watching the latest installment in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, at least not in 3-D.

The actor revealed to Access Hollywood’s Maria Menounos at the junket for “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” that he ‘s unable to see the new Disney film in all of its 3-D glory.

To read more and watch the clips just click on the link here

 

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New Pirates interviews with Jerry and Rob

Director Rob Marshall and Producer Jerry Bruckheimer talked with Screenslam about the latest installment in the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN franchise, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES.

Clip

Thanks to SHAWN CAUTHEN!

Exclusive Johnny Interview of 1988

Watch a nice little Interview of Johnny in Year 1988

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4I_HoRkadU&feature=player_embedded

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.

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.

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