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1 January 2008   Articles Interviews No Comments

Title: The Continuing Adventures of Tim & Johnny

Author: Cal Fussman

Publication: Esquire

Issue: January 2008

One time a guy told me that he brought his wife to see Pirates of the Caribbean. She had lost her motor skills. I forget what you call it. It’s not autism. Jesus, they made a movie about it. You know, where you recede and your functions start to go. Anyway, they’re watching the film, and when Captain Jack Sparrow came on the screen, she started to laugh. This guy said he hadn’t heard that laugh in years. And so he took her back to see the film repeatedly. For some reason, Captain Jack made her laugh every time. That’s right up there.

My mother taught me a lot of things. The first thing that comes to mind is: Don’t take any shit off anyone, ever. When I was a little kid, we moved constantly. Bully picks on you in the new place? Don’t ever take any shit off anyone, ever. Eloquent and right.

My life is my life because of Tim. Definitely.

This is Tim Burton in a nutshell: We were doing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and I was on the set. We were shooting, work­ing, working, working. All great. Everything’s cool. One of my pals comes up and says, “Helena [Bonham Carter, Burton’s partner] just called. When you get a moment, she’d like you to give her a call back.” “Okay,” I say. “As soon as I’m done on set, I’ll go back to my trailer and give her a call.” So I go back to the trailer, call Helena, and say, “Hey, what’s going on?” I thought maybe Helena had a question about little boys because Billy was a little baby then and I’ve got two kids. So I say, “Is everything all right?” And she says, “Billy’s fine. Everything’s fine. But, well, you know how Tim is. He wants to know if you’d be… he’d like for you to be Billy’s godfa­ther.” I say, “But I was just with Tim. I was with him three minutes ago. I had to leave him to walk back to the trailer to call you.” So she called me to ask because Tim just couldn’t. That was his way of asking. I went back to the set and said thank you, told him that I was honored. It doesn’t get heavier than saying I’d like you to be the godfather of my son. But he’s not ever going to put himself into a corny kind of situation with a pal. He’s like, “Good, yeah, yeah.” Boom. “Let’s get back into the work.”

Look, see this little carrot near the dip? Watch. I’ll put it in my mouth as if it were a cigarette holder. Now I’m Raoul Duke. I spent so much time with Hunter Thompson, it just became second nature. As soon as I put anything resembling a cigarette holder in my mouth, he starts to come out. It’s so natural and its so strange. It sounds land of ridiculous to even say it.

The characters are always there and, depending on the situation, not far from the surface. So they show up every now and again. It can’t be good for you. It just can’t. Then again, who knows?

I don’t think anybody’s necessarily ready for death. You can only hope that when it approaches, you feel like you’ve said what you wanted to say. Nobody wants to go out in mid-sentence.

I am in a very privileged position-And I’m certainly not going to bite the hand that feeds me. I like doing the work. But I’m not a great fan of all the stuff that goes along with it. I don’t want to be a product. Of course you want the movies to do well. But I don’t want to have to think about that stuff. I don’t want to know who’s hot now and who’s not and who’s making this much dough and who’s boffing this woman or that one. I want to remain ignorant of all this. I want to be totally outside and far away from all of it.

I remember one time I had done some television interview, and they asked about my family life and kids. I talked about how I’m a proud father and how much I love my kids and how they’re fun and what we do and how it’s great. I was thinking that if in twenty-five, thirty years my kids watch old footage, I’d be proud for them to see their dad saying how much he loves them. Well, the show aired, and I get a phone call. “What the fuck are you doing?” I said, “Marlon, what are you talking about?” He said, “That’s none of their business!” I tried to say, “Marlon, listen, man, I only wanted my kids to…” And it was like he gave me this sort of once-over. ‘You don’t do it, man. That’s your world and it’s nobody else’s business. It’s not anybody’s entertainment.” And he was right.

People are super nice in the street If they want me to sign something, that’s great, I don’t mind that at all.

There’s no limit to the possibilities of what I could do to the paparazzi if I catch them photographing my children.

You don’t go through the front door of hotels anymore, you go through the garage. Or you go through the kitchen of a restaurant. Some people want to think that’s cool, that’s exciting. But it’ll definitely make you a little weird if you’re constantly being stared at. Part of the process that I’ve always enjoyed is being the observer. You know, just watching people and learning. At a certain point, the reversal took place. I was no longer the observer— I was being observed. That’s obviously very dangerous because part of an actor’s job is to observe.

My definition of freedom is simplicity, really. Anonymity. I’m sure it will be a possibility someday again. Maybe when I get old. They get tired of you.

“Didn’t you use to be Johnny Depp?” That will be the clincher.

31 December 2006   Interviews No Comments

Q. Why is this the character you can revisit over and over?

Depp: I just feel like I’m not done. I just feel like there are more things you could do. Because, I suppose, with a character like this, the parameters are a little broader, so there are more possibilities I think. And he’s a fun character to play. I was really not looking forward to saying goodbye to him.

Q. Any pirate adventures you still want to do, not touched on in Pirates 3 yet?

Depp: Time travel, why not? No, I don’t know. Ted (Elliott) and Terry (Rossio), the writers, and Gore (Verbinski), what they were able to do on the first one and then taking that to what they’ve done now with the second one and then going into the third, it’s pretty amazing. We’re getting close to just even stretching the boundaries a bit more.

Q. How much freedom do you have to improvise?

Depp: I think with everything you do, it’s always? You have the basic structure, you have your basic bones and a solid foundation. But with every one, you do your best to kind of explore it as much as possible while you’re shooting. It could be something that comes to you, like sometimes it just comes to me when I’m reading a script. A line will just come to me, and I’ll incorporate it into the thing and obviously run it by Ted and Terry and Gore and the other actors certainly. So it can happen that way or it can just happen in the spur of the moment which is more fun in a way, when something just happens because if you feel it and you do it in a big, wide master shot, it alters the rhythm for a second and it kind of throws the thing, takes the bottom out from under you for a second which is quite fun because you sort of see honest reactions all around. People panic for a second, and that kind of panic is fun and I think important, good for you.

Q. The executives panicked the first time. Did the audience prove you right?

Depp: The executives did panic. I mean, bless ’em, they did panic on the first one. And probably to some degree for good reason. But also, I think it’s prerequisite to become an executive, you have to have that capability to panic instantly and do your best to resolve it as quickly as possible. So breaking the thing yourself and then fixing it so you look good, it was a case on the first one where I was totally supported by a few in the sort of close knit group. Like Gore was a great support during that time, but really it was a case where the audience, the viewers, actually came in and they were the ones that saved me.

Q. Were you surprised it became so popular, that you’re a crowd pleaser now?

Depp: I was definitely never a crowd pleaser. May not be after this one, you never know. I was very surprised, incredibly surprised?still am that “Pirates” did as well as it did and that the character made some friends out there. I am still surprised and touched.

Q. Why do you think it struck a chord?

Depp: I’ve said for a long time, I for the most part had in terms of commercial success or box office bonanzas, I had about 20 years of sort of studio defined failures. To me they were all great successes because we got them done. In terms of what struck a chord with “Pirates,” I said for a long time and I really believe that studios were underestimating the intelligence of the audience or their needs. You go to the movies to be stimulated certainly, but you don’t go to the movies to know what the end is going to be. You want to be stimulated so I think that it was such a kind of different angle, that film, that people were ready for that kind of thing. That hyper kind of realism, the action sequences were insane. It wasn’t something they’ve seen all that much I think. I believe that’s what it was.

Q. Is it true you might be working with Tim Burton on an Edgar Allen Poe movie?

Depp: No, not that I’ve heard of. But boy, that’s an exciting possibility. We’ve been talking about doing “Sweeney Todd” together which is very exciting.

Q. How close is that?

Depp: Don’t know. Tim and I talked about it a long time ago actually, or the possibility a long time ago. So now the people who panic are panicking.

Q. The musical version?

Depp: I’m assuming.

Q. Do you sing?

Depp: Not yet.

Q. What was it like to stay in character when you went home to your family?

Depp: See, I’m never aware of it, that I’m in character. It never feels like I’m in character. It always feels like you have those moments just before the take and it kind of winds down after the scene is done.

Q. Did you wear the dreadlocks to bed?

Depp: No, I did not, no. There’s still time. We’ve still got to finish 3.

Q. You laugh about the apprehension towards you now?

Depp: I laughed way before that.

Q. Are you at peace with the frustrations of the industry? Were you always?

Depp: I?ll tell you what made it a lot easier to roll with the punches for me was having kids, or at least even before really. Knowing that I was going to be having a kid. That put a lot of things in perspective to me, like instant perspective. I think for a number of years I was frustrated by the whole thing. I didn?t understand any of it. But in terms of success or career or all that stuff, it never made any great deal of sense to me. So I guess, yeah, when I found out Vanessa and I were going to have a baby, you find out what?s important like (snaps fingers) real quick.

Q. Was that a maturity for you, or a camaraderie?

Depp: It was more like just finally understanding what it was all about for me, really. Because for years, there were the two things. There was the sort of business of Hollywood and the business and the business of that career and people saying, ?Well, you have to do this kind of movie because you?ve got to make money because you?ve got to do this and that.? And I always felt like, you know, ?Money is all it?s about. Well, hopefully, it?ll come at some point. But if it doesn?t, that?s alright. I know that I?ve done the things that I felt were right in terms of movies and stuff.? So it was that sort of business thing. And then there was work which I?ve always just done what felt right to me, so I don?t know. I never really had any problem. The only problem I ever had in terms of frustration with the industry and Hollywood and stuff was basically I didn?t think they understood the movies that I did and I think they didn?t know how to sell them properly because they didn?t know how to label them. And if you can?t label the product, it?s sort of this vague thing. If you don?t understand the product, you can?t sell it and they couldn?t sell it.

Q. You’ve done a lot of really inventive characters?

Depp: You’re saying I’m a weirdo?

Q. Have you ever thought of playing a straight romantic character? Or am I missing something?

Depp: It’s probably me missing something. I’m probably missing a lot. For example, “Donnie Brasco” was one that I felt was a straight-ish.

Q. He was pretending to be someone else?

Depp: Yeah, but I guess in terms of playing like a straight leading man type thing, I feel like all these guys are kind of not necessarily leading men but straight kind of characters. Even though they may seem bizarre or strange, I feel like I think everybody’s nuts. I mean, I really do. And the weirdest thing in the world is to see some guy who is just super earnest. He’s probably crazier than any of the guys I’ve played. And as far as really doing that, it would have to make sense to me somehow. It’d have to be something underneath for me to make that work. Otherwise, there are a bunch of guys out there, actors, actor types who do that kind of thing very well. I don’t think I could for myself. There’s got to be a bunch of different things going on, layers to stuff.

Q. What was the most fun scene?

Depp: Which scene was the most fun in Pirates 2? Boy, oh boy. Well.

Q. Getting slimed?

Depp: God, that was horrible. That was just horrible. But the good news is I was expecting the worst and it was horrible, but it wasn’t as bad as I suppose it could have been. I didn’t inhale any of the slime which is good. I guess the most fun was just one scene that comes to mind when Jack realizes that there’s a moment when Elizabeth is talking about how she wants to get married, and he has that sort of moment of weakness of ‘Ah well?’ That was a lot of fun to play. That was a lot of fun to shoot.

Q. Now that it’s almost over, are you getting sad again?

Depp: No, I figure because we’ve got a few more months to go. It’s the home stretch, so I think probably the last month I’ll start going into that deep, dark depression.

Q. Do you have the rights to the Nick Hornby book?

Depp: Oh, “A Long Way Down.” I don’t know that I’ll be acting in it, but just kind of hoping to get it made I suppose.

Q. They?re doing a “21 Jump Street” movie.

Depp: I think it’s a great idea.

Q. Are you far enough past it that you’d do a cameo?

Depp: Wow, I certainly? Why don’t I just go back and play? It’d be good at 42. That would be interesting. To go back and play the same character I played 20 years ago with no one saying anything. A bunch of people going, they don’t’ say anything to him but they talk behind his back, ‘Is he out of his mind? He’s really old now, but he thinks he’s still young.’ That, I would love to play.

Q. What’s it like being in the Disney ride?

Depp: Boy, that’s so exciting. They showed me the drawings and the plans for what it might be.

Q. Thanks so much for your time this afternoon.


7 October 2006   Interviews No Comments

iF MAGAZINE: You make your comic pratfalls look easy and effortless but this isn’t easy and effortless. How do you get the timing so right and how hard do you have to work in making these falls look accidental and comic?

JOHNNY DEPP: Oh boy. That’s the key. How do you keep it fresh’ How do you keep it working’ For me, there’s a real fine art to the timing that I’m still working on because you go back and watch guys like Chaplin and Keaton or even in the dramatic roles, Lon Chaney. The timing, especially in those silent films is just astonishing. But also in today’s cinema, timing can be helped or hindered by editing. So I don’t know. I just sort of do my best.

iF: Speaking of timing, what did you think when you heard about Keith Richards falling out of the palm tree, and were you concerned that he might not be able to star in PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END?

DEPP: I thought that was bad timing. But it solidified my belief that he would be the perfect father for Captain Jack. Initially we were all super-worried ‘ ‘My God, what has he done” But being in touch with his people, his camp, I know that he’s doing fine and it was a momentary lapse and he’s back on the road soon and totally cool.

iF: You were at the launch of the new revamped Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland. How weird was it for your kids seeing a robotic impersonating their dad as Jack Sparrow’ How much did your kids contribute to your decision to do PIRATES?

DEPP: My kids were as excited as I was to see the animatronics figures at Disneyland. Yeah, they were pretty freaked out by that, as was I. Again, talking about timing being everything, right around the time I was offered PIRATES, there was no script, no story at all, no characters, no nothing. At the time my daughter was two-and-a-half, three years old, so I’d spent those three years watching nothing but those Disney animated features from way back or old Tex Avery cartoons and tons and tons of animated stuff. Which was unbelievably helpful for me because through that time [watching the cartoons] I became obsessed with the notion that these cartoon characters, these animated characters didn’t have to play by the same rules as we did in live action cinema. The boundaries were quite wide and the parameters were really stretched out so they could fly around a lot more, and also the notion that a three-year-old could sit there and watch these characters with a 40-year-old and a 75-year-old and all walk away with the same experience, that universal thing, so you become a child again. I would say more than anything that was the main ingredient in Captain Jack for me.

iF: Is there any truth to the rumor that you’re going to play INXS singer Michael Hutchence in a film?

DEPP: It actually isn’t, it’s not true. But the funny thing is someone sent that to me and I read it and thought, ‘Wow, that’s kind of interesting because no one ever approached me about it.’ I don’t think I’d be the guy to play Michael. I knew him pretty well and I think you’d need someone a little more, well, he was pretty broad Michael. He was a kind of a glam guy, like a god, like a shaman. I don’t think I’d be the guy.

iF: What about playing a young Keith Richards?

DEPP: Now that would be fun.

iF: We’ve heard you stay in character when you shoot the film. Does that make your interaction different with your kids when they’re with you on set?

DEPP: Well put it this way, it’s not that you stay in character, but because you’ve spent the majority of your day as that character, there is some let’s say residue by the time you get home. I’d get home and say [in Jack Sparrow voice], ‘Alright kids, everything alright” And they’d say, ‘Dad, come on, I’m watching SPIDER-MAN.’ To say they were used to it is a very kind way of putting it.

iF: So Tobey Maguire is a hero in your house?

DEPP: Oh man, SPIDER-MAN, JUSTICE LEAGUE. My boy has now gone into that full-on superhero phase. But I refuse to wear the tights.

iF: If you had Jack’s compass, which direction would it be pointing?

DEPP: It would be pointing wherever my family is.

iF: What was your initial reaction when Disney executives panicked on first seeing dailies of your Jack Sparrow during the first movie, asking ‘Is he drunk, is he gay’?

DEPP: This is totally irresponsible of me, but I thought it was hilarious. I really got a kick out of it because they were so worried, they were so freaked out, and it was so serious. And there were moments when you were in a very quiet sort of story situation, and you just go [trying to hold in laughter] “I lost myself, I went crazy.’ It got close you know. They were definitely considering giving me the boot and I was okay with that really. But I really felt like I had a handle on the character and I knew what I was doing and that they had to trust me or fire me. And they didn’t fire me.

iF: And how was it kissing Keira Knightley?

DEPP: Oh the smooch. Well those things are always so awkward especially because Keira and I have never been in that kind of situation together. She’s three and I’m a thousand. I’m Methuselah and she’s a toddler. There was that, but more than anything, we’ve known each other for a couple of years and suddenly it was, ‘Are you ready for this” And you just kind of do it. It becomes more like a stunt in a way. ‘Where’s my double” She was a great sport about it. She was really sweet.

iF: You might be a thousand, but you have this childlike quality about you. Where does that come from?

DEPP: It’s probably ignorance. I might just be really dumb, I don’t know. What keeps you a child more than anything is your kids, hanging around your kids, watching them experience things for the first time, seeing new things, watching them develop smarts about various things and seeing their imaginations bloom and flower. That’s the key to all of it for me. Just the miracle of saving a drawing they made when they were three years old and looking at one they made when they were four, there’s a vast difference in that. And then up to six and seven and it’s like, ‘I’m raising Picasso.’

iF: Can you talk about why you’re so comfortable living in France?

DEPP: Well it’s a beautiful culture. It’s an absolutely perfect kind of culture, steeped in history, fascinating in that way. I’ve always been a real history fiend and, also on a personal level, I’m not sure that art in cinema is possible any more in Hollywood. But in Europe there’s a real regard for the filmmaker and the writer, the product too sure, the end result. But they respect authors, painters, filmmakers, film, and creativity. They celebrate it. And the wine is pretty good.

iF: Was 21 JUMP STREET the real turning point in your career?

DEPP: That was a very important learning experience for me. That three and a half or four years I spent on JUMP STREET was my college, my schooling. It was great training, being in front of the camera five days a week, seven to nine months out of the year. You learn a lot about the process, cameras, lenses, lights; very good training. But the other thing that was very important for me was a situation that I was very uncomfortable with, the fact that they had turned my image of this character I was playing and sold it to the masses as me. This ball was rolling and it was greasy and I couldn’t get a hold of it, I couldn’t stop it, I couldn’t do anything, say anything. I just had to behave and be that guy for them. So as miserable an experience as that was for me it was actually instrumental in deciding where I would go after that. After I was out of that contract, I swore to myself I would never be that again, I would never let anyone do that to me.

iF: So you went off and made CRY-BABY with John Waters.

DEPP: CRY-BABY was the first sort of catapult out of that. They wanted me to go this way and I decided, ‘No, no, no, get John Waters over here.’

iF: What is it like working with Chow Yun Fat on PIRATES 3?

DEPP: I think once we get into the ring, no matter where you’re from, everyone has their own process, everyone has a different approach to the work. I knew he was a good actor obviously, I’d seen him in CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON and I knew his work was terrific. More than that, I was really impressed with who he is as a human, as a guy. He’s very down to earth, a lot of fun. Probably the best way to describe the guy is adorable. He’s a super-sweet, very together, very centered man. I was really pleased to get to know him.

iF: How’s your French now’ Might we see you speaking French in a French movie some time soon?

DEPP: It’s all right here and there. I can get through a conversation. I did a film a couple of years ago, right after SECRET WINDOW, IILS SE MARIERENT ET EURENT BEAUCOUP D’ENFANTS with Yvan Attal. I didn’t see the movie to be honest. But he’s a filmmaker I like very much, he’s very talented and there are great possibilities for the future; so if I did a movie in French I would definitely feel comfortable doing it with Yvan. Patrice Leconte is terrific too, going back to THE HAIRDRESSER’S HUSBAND, and I thought his work with Vanessa [Paradis] in THE GIRL ON THE BRIDGE was stellar. He’s another one I’d very much like to work with. Of course the people I’d love to have worked with are people like Jean Gabin, Louis De Funes. I loved De Funes. I think he’s one of the greatest actors of all time.

iF: Are you celebrating France’s magnificent victory today in the World Cup?

DEPP: I just heard about that. The last time I followed the World Cup was in 1998 and it was only because I had a standing bet with Hunter S. Thompson about the outcome. And it was the only time — and I’ll say it as many times as I can because I’m so proud — it was the only time I ever won a bet with Hunter.

iF: We know you based the character in the first film on Keith Richards. What did he have to say about that and what else did you bring to Jack this time?

DEPP: Well I was scared. But his reaction was terrific. He was very supportive and has been ever since. When we were hanging out together before I did PIRATES, it wasn’t like I told him, ‘I’m sponging parts of your soul.’ So he was great about it. And what am I bringing to this version of Captain Jack. Basically he’s the same guy. There’s a purity to the character. We’ve seen him panic, we’ve seen him on the run but this is the first time we’ve really seen him in mortal fear, really afraid for his life. Once Davy Jones says, ‘Time’s up, you’ve got to pay up’, there’s real panic there and he knows the clock is ticking, so that’s what I was trying to do.

1 August 2006   Articles Interviews No Comments

Title: Heartbeat Poet

Author: Philip Berk

Publication: AUS –  FilmInk

Issue: August 2006


Generally conceded as the best actor of his generation, Johnny Depp is certainly the least predictable.  Having completed two back-to-back Captain Jack Sparrows for Pirates of the Caribbean, he’s free to take a stab at something different. Last January when l interviewed him, Depp was contemplating a number of offbeat movies, including the sprawling adventure Shantaram, Hunter S. Thompson’s The Rum Diaries, and a Hungarian project called Whisky Robber; at that time he was enthusiastic about doing all of them. Six months later (in the interim he’s completed the second Pirates sequel), reports are flittering around that he’s in line to play Michael Hutchence in an INXS biopic. Even more mind boggling are claims that his ex-girlfriend Kate Moss has been signed to play Hutchence’s unhinged girlfriend Paula Yates.

As crazy as this sounds, it’s an interesting reflection on Johnny Depp’s career, Granted, he’s given great performances – as Ed Wood, Captain Jack, Willy Wonka, and some might add Donnie Brasco — but for the rest, it’s been more his unorthodox path to stardom that’s earned him his reputation. That is until The Libertine. The film came and went so fast in the US that you’d have to wonder if Disney had engineered its disappearance. Was the studio worried that Depp’s appearance in this sex-and-profanity-filled art film might adversely affect the Mouse Factory’s billion-dollar Pirates franchise? But truth be told, The Libertine is a Weinstein Company release, and is one of the few properties that Harvey took with him when he exited Miramax and Disney. Harvey happens to love Johnny’s performance in the film, but he admits that the movie is a tough sell. Only those who truly appreciate the art of great acting will be able to sit through it. I am one.

You may hate the movie, but even so, you’ll have to concede that Johnny gives a spectacular performance – staggering in every sense – and had it been judged fairly, he would have run off with all the acting awards last year. So now Australia has a chance to look at the film, and maybe give it its just reward. Ironically, Disney allowed Johnny time off from filming in the Bahamas to promote the movie. And in fact, he did as much press for The Libertine as he’s done for any movie. But alas, to no avail. Audiences beware: this is not a film for the squeamish or faint of heart. As Johnny himself told me, “I’ve told my kids they’re not going to see it until they’re, like, thirty…if then!”

So what exactly makes the film so shocking? Well, for one it’s about a Libertine. Let Johnny explain. In the prologue to the movie, Johnny – as John Wilmot, the debauched, sexually outrageous Earl Of Rochester, who arrested his loins for long enough to pen scandalous poetry before drinking and shagging himself to an early grave — addresses the audience. “You’re not going to like me,” he warns us.

The very first line of the film is a challenge, and it’s something Johnny Depp responded to immediately “I liked him when he delivers that challenge,” the actor says. “There’s something intriguing about being challenged. Once you start examining him, there are various layers you peel away. I saw that he was a drunk. I saw that he was self-destructive. I saw that he was vicious at times. But then you start thinking, ‘What got him there?’ And as I read on, I discovered that he had been in the war and as a very young man his battalion had been decimated. That experience plagued him for the rest of his life. ‘Why them and not me?’ So then I started to think of heroes I’ve had in the past, and artists I’ve had great admiration for. People like Vincent Van Gogh, Jack Kerouac, and Shane McAllen, who I think is one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. You start putting these things together and you realise that the guy wasn’t vicious. He wasn’t cold or closed off, and he wasn’t a hedonist; he was hypersensitive. What he was doing was trying to mask his pain, to numb his pain. He was self medicating, and l could feel nothing but pity for him.”

As an artist, does he share those insecurities? “I don’t necessarily consider myself an artist,” Depp replies, “but there was a period of time when I couldn’t stand being looked at or pointed out in a street or restaurant. It took me a long time to get used to that. Not used to it, but accepting it as being not such a bad thing. I felt as though I’d been turned into a novelty. I could only be myself when I was alone. It made it difficult for me in social situations where I was expected to behave properly. So to compensate, I drunk my guts out. It took me a number of years, maybe too many, to grow up and not take it all so seriously, The thing that gave me real perspective and understanding was getting together with Vanessa [Paradis] and the birth of my first child.”

The Libertine had been in pre-production for a long time, and Depp was involved almost from the get-go. “It was about ten years ago when John Malkovich called me to come and see the play and asked me to play the part in the film,” he explains. “He was playing the role of John Wilmot – we hadn’t met before – and I didn’t know why he’d invited me. I watched the play. I was amazed and devastated and thought it was brilliant. We went to dinner afterwards, and he goes, ‘I’d like you to play the role in the movie’, and my first reaction was, ‘Why don’t you do it because you were brilliant onstage. You’d be amazing in the film” And he said very simply, ‘Well, because I want you to do it.’ And I went, ‘Okay, I’m in.”‘

In the intervening years, he and Malkovich became neighbours, two expatriates living in Paris, France. Is John as languorous socially as he is in interviews, hanging onto every word he utters? ‘John makes me look like a speed talker” Depp jokes. “He’s always like that, except when he’s acting. Then his motor gets revved up. I think he’s a brilliant actor, a great guy, a terrific man, and very funny, but it takes a long time for him to get to the point. You want to go, ‘John, spit it out.”‘

The Libertine is dedicated to Marlon Brando, a dear friend of Depp’s. The pair starred together in Don Juan De Marco and Depp directed the master actor in his sadly little-seen directorial debut The Brave. “When I arrived in London to start The Libertine, I had spoken to Marlon about the play,” Depp explains, “We were always in touch. He wasn’t familiar with John Wilmot, The Earl Of Rochester but it was something I was excited to do because I thought it would be a film he might want to watch. And then when we finished the film, I got the news that Marlon had passed away, and as you can imagine it was like a direct blow to the skull. I decided then to send this one out to Marlon because he never got to see it. And it wasn’t long after within the same year that Hunter S. Thompson made his exit. He was another dear friend and a great hero; so I thought it was right to make that dedication because there was a lot of the artist in Marlon. There was also a lot of the artist in Hunter. There was a lot of the artist in Rochester too, as tormented as he was. I wanted to give that to them. It’s not very much – just a little salute to my friends.”

Not surprisingly, Depp sees parallels between hard living gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson (Depp played his alter ego Raoul Duke in Terry GilIiam’s Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas) and the sexed up, morally audacious John Wilmot. “In the early ‘70s, Hunter was inventing a new style of journalism, a new voice, and that’s what John Wilmot was doing 400 years earlier He’s been written off through the centuries as a pornographer a lunatic, a drunk, and a hedonist, but I can tell you, I went to the British Library, and I was blessed to have his actual letters in front of me, written in his own hand, to his wife, to his mother to his kids. So what I was reading wasn’t pornography. They were beautifully poetic letters from a concerned father from a tortured human being to his wife. He was a great artist- it was a waste what he did to himself – but I believe he made a great contribution.”

Depp, however doesn’t see Wilmot’s booze-and-sex sodden brand of self-destruction as being solely peculiar to artists. “I think it happens to others as well,” he says, “but we just pay more attention to creative people. I believe it happens to everyone, When you’re unstable or sensitive, you’re looking for an outlet for your pain or confusion, I found an outlet for my weirdness when I was twelve-years-old. It was the guitar. That was my whole life until I started acting. I think we’re all looking for some outlet. We’re all weird. That we know,” he jokes.

Depp’s performance in the film is the rich, full-bodied kind that cries out for a proscenium arch. Has he ever thought of doing theatre? “I’ve thought about it, but I’m too scared to attempt it, even though I’m aware fear is a necessary ingredient in everything you do. And as an actor you should be afraid of taking risks and be prepared to fail miserably. The audience deserves that. If you do the same thing over and oven they’ll pick up on it. They‘ll go, ‘Oh well, he’s just phoning it in, He’s not doing the work.’ One of the things that Marlon said to me was, ‘You should play Hamlet.’ and I said ‘Come now! Go from doing no theatre at all straight to Hamlet? and he said, ’Do it now, while you’re still young enough.’ He said, ‘l never gut to do it. I never did,’ so it’s the one thing that’s always spun around in my head, playing Hamlet, If I did, I’d like to do it in a room that seats maybe forty. l wouldn’t want it to be some big sprawling epic. I’d like to do something small. There’s less room to fall,” and then jokingly he adds, “You hurt yourself when you pass out.”

Despite his intense passion for The Libertine, Depp is not quite prepared to recommend it without reservation. “I think it’s a good movie, but it’s not for everybody,” he says. ‘And it would be irresponsible of me to say to the kiddies who watched Pirates and Charlie And The Chocolate Factory to come see it.”

Despite the masses of acclaim that Depp has received (including an Oscar nomination) for his imaginative creation of Captain Jack Sparrow, he found more inherent difficulty in playing the rakish John Wilmot. “With both, you’re doing your best to serve your character to serve the author to deliver the director’s vision, and the writer’s vision. But when John Malkovich talked to me about doing The Libertine, I’d been doing Pirates with its comedic twists and stuff. Suddenly you realise that this is a lot to chew on, You have to take yourself to places that are not really fun; so in that sense it was more difficult. With Pirates or Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, it was all about making Tim Burton laugh or making the crew laugh. With this, it was very intense and emotional and a little ugly; so l guess it was more difficult.”

Six months later, and Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Mans Chest, the first of two sequels intended to repeat the blockbuster business done by the first, is upon us. The film is big, bloated, and over plotted, but Johnny’s performance is as inventive as ever and I apologise to him for ever having suggested that he might have sold out. Rest assured, he hasn’t! He arrives for his press duties looking surprisingly healthy; you’d think he’d quit smoking but he hasn’t. He’s calm and serene, and hasn’t lost any of his unalloyed charm, His candour – when talking about his lack of facial hair or his tempestuous on·screen kiss (no telling with whom) – takes your breath away. And when he chuckles approvingly about something he’s just said, you have to love him.

My first question to Depp is about The Libertine, and he has no idea that the film is just opening in Australia. Was he disappointed when it came and went unnoticed in the US? “I was”, he replies, “The horrible thing is that I’d been attached to that project for ten years. The process was gruelling and exhausting, as it is for everyone when they do a labour of love. It’s a film I’m proud of because everyone’s work in it is very good. And then, as you say, it came and went so quickly. I think it was simply a case of mismanagement. It wasn’t a good product for them to sell, and that’s a drag because everyone worked very hard. But even though it was critically and financially a flop, to me it’s a great success because we got it done. We were able to do what we wanted to do, and I feel good about it. Obviously I was disappointed that it got mismanaged, but l think it will have a long life. People will have a chance to see it on DVD and make their own choices.”

The same fate is not likely for the Pirates sequel. The film already is being touted as the summer’s top money-maker, But for Depp, it represents something else: a chance to investigate the fascinating character of Captain Jack even further. “I didn’t want to say goodbye to him,” Depp says. “I wanted to spend time with him again, and as far as going back and watching the first Pirates to get the essence or the feeling of Captain Jack, the truth is that I avoided it. I didn’t watch it. It was very simply just strapping back into the costume and going through that process again, stepping on set and seeing all the familiar faces, the same crew members. It felt like we’d taken a week’s break.”

This sequel assumes that bigger is better. Was he involved in that decision? “The most important decision in making a sequel is to not rely on whatever formula made the first successful,” Depp replies. “We wanted the second and third to stand on their own as self contained films, yet at the same time we wanted them to make sense in terms of a trilogy. And that was no small feat. But I think the director and the writers achieved it. I don’t think anyone went in saying, ‘We need to top the first one ‘.  The real task was trying to exceed everyone’s expectations and yet leave room for the magic of the first one.” Even the idea of a fourth film is met with a smile. “If the scripts were good enough and they had something to offer, I’d keep going. I think there’s still more to explore. For me, he’s endlessly entertaining to play. He’s really fun to be.”

And this time, there was no interference from the powers-that-be regarding his unapologetic “gay”interpretation of the character: “That was the one advantage I had on this one,” Depp laughs. “We weren’t getting the panicked phone calls, and the threats we had on the first film like, ‘You’re ruining the movie!’ which gave me the added confidence to play it as I did.”

As with the first film, there were manifold physical challenges. “Being strapped into this massive wheel and rolling upside down days on end was the worst,” Depp laughs. “I really didn’t mind that, but at some point they struck my foot, and I lost feeling in the upper hall of my left foot. For four months you could put a pin in it and I couldn’t feel it. It was scary,”

How about the kiss? Apparently when asked who the better kisser was, he or Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley named him. Without missing a beat, Depp responds, “That’s funny…I thought Orlando was a great kisser.” After the laughter subsides, he gets serious. “It’s always awkward, kissing someone that you’re not romantically involved with. But then it’s acting, it’s fake. And the fact that Keira is twenty some years younger than me made it infinitely more awkward. But she was a good sport about it. We just sort of did what we had to do, and then it was over and we moved onto the next thing ”

Looking back over the three years he’s devoted to Captain Jack, does he have any regrets? “The thing I‘ve always wanted regardless of success or failure is to look back on my work and feel I did all right. I’m proud of that. I didn’t sell out. I didn’t make a bad choice for the wrong reason. So really, that’s all I care about. I’m looking forward to the time when my kids will be able to say, ‘You did well, pop. You did well.’ I know it’s crazy, but even the ones that could be the worst of the worst, an absolute dog, it happened for a reason, and there was something to be gained, maybe a learning experience. I don’t regret any of it now.”

In Dead Mans Chest, British actor Bill Nighy is hidden behind a phantasmagoria of CGI as the film’s chief villain, Davey Jones. Depp shakes his head in bemusement. “Bill Nighy is the most patient man alive,” he says. “He had his little grey outfit on with the black stripes and the ping pong balls [whereby the computer animators took their cues] and his cap. One of the most disconcerting moments I’ve ever had was knowing that he’s going to have those tentacles hanging from his face and being told, ‘Watch out when you step round him. Make sure you don’t step on the tentacles’}.  And yet it’s Bill standing there in that weird outfit”

The pirates – particularly in Dead Mans Chest – look like they could use a bath. Knowing how hot and steamy it is in the Bahamas, did that ever pose a problem on the set? Taken aback by the question, Depp gathers his thoughts. “I’ve never been asked that question before,” he laughs, “but l’m determined to answer it. Let’s see. Personal hygiene. I can only speak for myself. Once you get off work, and you had all sorts of makeup, you have to be scoured. You have to take a hot fire hose to yourself. From what I could tell, the majority of the cast and crew were of a similar feeling. You do, however hit the odd foul smell, but it’s occasional and you can either get past it or know that the wind will change any second. Everybody looks like they stink real bad, but in fact they don’t. It’s the magic of the movies.”

For the past two years – even when promoting Finding Neverland and Charlie And The Chocolate Factory – he’s always sporting a Captain Jack beard. How come? “Oh, that’s a good question,” he laughs. “It’s very simple and a little embarrassing because if I shave, it would take me months and months and months, like a half year to grow it back. What I have is like a full beard for me. [Pointing] Seven hairs here, three over here, all this kind of patchy stuff, and that’s it. That’s all I get. So if I shaved, they’d have to glue something on, and that wouldn’t work. So that’s the answer.”

The one thing he doesn’t talk about is the island he owns in the Bahamas. But while doing press for Charlie And The Chocolate Factory in the Bahamas, he acknowledged ownership, “I still have trouble,” he apologised, “I refer to it as ’the’ island. I have difficulty saying ‘my’ before that word. We get there as much as possible. It’s a very special part of the balance. The idea of going to a place where there are no telephones, no cars, no streetlights or noises or anything. There’s just nature and the sea and the wind and the sun. It brings things down to its absolute base level. And for the kids it’s a great education.”

Despite Depp’s celebrity, he insists that his children – daughter Lily Rose and son Jack – have a relatively normal life. “They do their schooling, and they play with their friends. Okay, they get to go to Disneyland maybe a little more often than other kids, but that’s part of the gig. I haven’t really noticed any difference.”

As for the future, Depp is tight lipped despite the variety of rumours flying around linking him to all manner of projects. “I report back to the Bahamas in August to complete the third Prates film and after that nothing is in place,” he says. In the meantime, Shantaram has been delayed (director Peter Weir has walked off the project under mysterious circumstances) and because Tim Burton’s Ripleys Believe It Or Not project with Jim Carrey has been delayed a year Paramount is scrambling to find a replacement. Believe it or not. they’ve put Stephen Sondheim’s musical Sweeney Todd – about the l9th century murderous barber who sold his kills to the local butcher for use in his famous meat pies – on the fast track. “Tim and I have had discussions about it,” Depp says. “Everything’s looking very good. It’s a great opportunity to be working with Tim again. This would be our sixth film together and our first musical. I love the score, not that I’m a singer. I would never claim to be one, but I am willing to give it a shot. I think it might be all right. I’ve always felt it important to try different stuff. And growing up, I was a guitar player. I was a musician for most of my life. I am musically inclined. I am not tone deaf….at least not yet,” he jokes. “I would definitely work with a vocal coach … at least until they fire me!”

Is he still enjoying being a daddy? “Oh yeah,” he replies enthusiastically. “The kids – especially at this age of seven and four years old – are a high energy, high stakes experience. It’s never boring. and it’s always fun. It’s interesting the way they grow and how quickly they grow up. My daughter is exiting that Barbie period and moving into fashion accessories, real teenage stuff, which is unbelievable to witness. It’s amazing because it‘s no longer about princesses and fairies and all that. Now she wants to watch big girl television. It’s frightening. And Jack, my boy Jack, is still a blessing. He’s discovered superheroes, which is really fun. Now he’s going into the area of comic books, an area I happen to be pretty good in. Vanessa and I have been lucky enough to spend much of our time with the kids, but we also take time for ourselves. You’ve got to remain not only lovers but friends as well.”

Do their careers ever collide? “The good thing about Vanessa is that she can pack a bag and split. She can still do her work when I’m filming. In terms of her music, she can play, she can write, she can do her demos. She’ll fly to France for a couple of weeks and then come back. She’s working on an album right now that’s really promising. The only tough time I can remember was a couple of years ago when my daughter wasn’t yet two. Vanessa had a concert tour to do, and she had to go on the road. We didn’t have a nanny; so I was the tour daddy. We travelled by bus and watched The Wizard Of Oz 7000 times. I was just being poppa, and I had the distinct impression that my daughter wanted to spend more time with her mother. Understandably that was a great challenge entertaining a two-year-old. That was tough!”

21 July 2006   Interviews No Comments recently interviewed the director, Gore Verbinski, of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest Fame, about the second instalment of his pirates adventure trilogy. Here’s a short excerpt…

Does Johnny Depp stay in character on set?

GORE: He turns Captain Jack on and off like a switch. Johnny’s so close to that character that there’s more Johnny Depp in Captain Jack than in any other character he’s played. I think if you’d seen him doing Ed Wood for example, you’d have seen him stay in character a lot more on set, trying to find the character and keep it and distill it. But Captain Jack is really close to Johnny. I think his other performances he’s been running away from an archetype, from being a leading man, the sort of guy who gets the girl and there’s usually a shyness and an introverted quality to those performances. But Jack is a braggart, a liar, a thief and a conman and at ease with it to. So I think there have been these floodgates with Johnny holding all this stuff back for years and suddenly with Captain Jack, Whoosh! The line I always keyed into in thinking how to direct Jack was one from the first movie: ‘You’re the worst pirate I’ve ever heard of’ – ‘Yes, but at least you’ve heard of me’.

18 July 2006   Interviews No Comments

This cool cat [Johnny Depp] is unfailingly courteous, funny, modest, candid-he answers all questions-and [is] approachable. We’ve interviewed him several times before, and we’re always reminded that the guy is dedicated to his [girlfriend], French singer-actress Vanessa Paradis (which explains why he is now fluent in French), and father to Lily-Rose, 7, and Jack, 4 writes Ruben V. Nepales of the Daily Inquirer.

Here’s an excerpt from a great interview that can be found in full on the website.

Can you describe the mood when you and Keira kissed?

DEPP: It is always awkward when you are kissing someone you are not romantically involved with. It is acting and it is fake. Kissing scenes are always strange to me, especially since Keira is twentysomething years younger. But she was a good sport. We did what we had to do … and moved on to the next thing. You can almost compare kissing scenes to stunts. It is a strange moment before and after. And then it is just done.

12 July 2006   Interviews No Comments

Our favorite buccaneer, Johnny Depp, resumes the role of the wildly flamboyant and hilarious Capt. Jack Sparrow, the craziest pirate on the high seas, in Gore Verbinski’s new “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” by Sheila Roberts for Movies On Line.

Q. Were you surprised [Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl] became so popular, that you’re a crowd pleaser now?

Depp: I was definitely never a crowd pleaser. May not be after this one, you never know. I was very surprised, incredibly surprised…still am that “Pirates” did as well as it did and that the character made some friends out there. I am still surprised and touched.

Q. Why do you think it struck a chord?

Depp: In terms of what struck a chord with “Pirates,” I said for a long time and I really believe that studios were underestimating the intelligence of the audience or their needs. You go to the movies to be stimulated certainly, but you don’t go to the movies to know what the end is going to be. You want to be stimulated so I think that it was such a kind of different angle, that film, that people were ready for that kind of thing. That hyper kind of realism, the action sequences were insane. It wasn’t something they’ve seen all that much I think. I believe that’s what it was.

Read more of Shelia Robert’s interview with Johnny by following the link above.

11 July 2006   Interviews No Comments

IGN FilmForce spends some time with the captain by Jeff Otto.

Johnny Depp takes the character as laid out in the script and runs with it. Director Gore Verbinski admits to giving Johnny a certain carte blanche to add his personal touches to the part. “I think with everything you do… You have the basic structure; you have your basic bones and a solid foundation. But with every one, you do your best to kind of explore it as much as possible while you’re shooting. It could be something that comes to you, like sometimes it just comes to me when I’m reading a script. A line will just come to me and I’ll incorporate it into the thing and obviously run it by Ted and Terry and Gore and the other actors certainly.”

Read more of Jeff Otto’s interview with Johnny by following the link above.

10 July 2006   Interviews No Comments

In his exclusive interview for If Magazine Contributing Writer EMMANUEL ITIER talked with Johnny about playing Jack Sparrow in the Disney blockbuster sequel PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST. An excerpt follows:

iF: And how was it kissing Keira Knightley?

DEPP: Oh the smooch. Well those things are always so awkward especially because Keira and I have never been in that kind of situation together. She’s three and I’m a thousand. I’m Methuselah and she’s a toddler. There was that, but more than anything, we’ve known each other for a couple of years and suddenly it was, "Are you ready for this?" And you just kind of do it. It becomes more like a stunt in a way. "Where’s my double?" She was a great sport about it. She was really sweet.

Follow the link above to read more as Johnny talks about staying in character with his kids, Keith Richards as a dad, and French films.

6 July 2006   Interviews No Comments

Johnny Depp has always been a star. Tim Burton’s go-to guy has won universal acclaim for a string of wonderful and original performances in films like Edward Scissorhands, Blow and Sleepy Hollow. But, without question, it was taking on the mantle of Captain Jack Sparrow that made Depp the biggest movie star in the world. And so, here we are, a humble film website, days from the release of its sequel – having been deafened the previous evening by tens of thousands of fans who were screaming his name at the London premiere – sat down with the man, the legend, Mr. Johnny Depp – By Joe Utichi.

Film Force: This is your first sequel, was it interesting getting a chance to go back to Jack?

Johnny Depp: The opportunity to play Jack Sparrow again was a real gift. I can very clearly remember wanting to be a pirate when I was a kid. It feels like that still exists for a lot of people. Something with the idea of total freedom. Everybody wants to be that free, everyone would love to be totally irreverent and not have to answer to anyone. At the end of the first one, I felt it wasn’t done; there was more to be done, more possibilities, more areas to explore.

As long as there’s a good script there, you’re OK. And I’d be happy to keep going with Captain Jack; I just very selfishly enjoy playing the character. I really love playing the guy, purely because it’s fun, nothing more. There’s no evil moment when you go into a back room and start counting money! It’s never been about that for me. It’s purely about playing the character. So if these guys wanted to continue on, on the same ride, if everything’s in the right place, if the script & story was good, I’d stay on the ride, sure.

The idea of a sequel felt totally normal to me. I was looking forward to it, just to be able to put the gear back on and become Captain Jack. And working with Stellan Skarsg