Category: Interviews

Life’s sweet for Johnny Depp

NASSAU, Bahamas — Move over George Hamilton. Johnny Depp is dark. Mahogany dark, like a light-roast coffee bean in the sun. By JIM SLOTEK — Toronto Sun.

::In this excerpt Tim Burton and Johnny Depp talk to Jim Slotek about giving the Willy Wonka character a persona in their upcoming movie, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory::

Both Burton and Depp tell almost identical stories about how the Wonka characterization came about, inspired by, according to Depp, “guys like Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Greenjeans and local guys like Uncle Al, and how odd it was the way they spoke, this bizarre musical rhythm and cadence to their speech pattern — ‘Good morning children …’

“I tested it on Lily-Rose to see if I was going in the right direction with the sound of this voice. A lot of times what happens is you come up with these ideas and you never get to try them until a read-through. So with Lily-Rose, I was talking to her one day. Many times we’ve played Barbies where she says, ‘Daddy, don’t use that voice.’ And what happened was we were playing and I started to use the Wonka voice, and she kind of lit up a little bit, like, ‘Where’s that coming from?’ And I thought, ‘Awright, I think I’m on the right track here.’ ”


Johnny shares his thoughts on movies, fame and family

I swore to myself that I would only work on these films or these projects that I would at least someday be able to say to my kids, ‘That was all me. That’s pure me.’ ” – Johnny Depp – By Alicia Quarles – July 8, 2005.

Quarles: You’ve said every movie you’ve done has been for your children, even before they were born. What do you mean by that?

Depp: In the late ’80s when I was on that TV show 21 Jump Street. On the one hand it was a great thing. It was an incredible learning experience. It did a lot for me. I was making money for the first time in my life. That was not bad. There were a lot of very positive aspects to that situation. There were also negative aspects. At that time as a television actor, it was very, very difficult to break into films. …

I was released (from Jump Street) while I was doing Edward Scissorhands, and I swore to myself that I would only work on these films or these projects that I would at least someday be able to say to my kids, ‘That was all me. That’s pure me. I didn’t sell out because I don’t want you to be mortified or embarrassed.’ So that was what was in my head at the time, just thinking if I am going to this, I am going to do it on my terms. If I am going to fail, I am going to fail on my own terms.

Depp Dish

For years he seemed dead set on being anything other than a movie star, playing so many offbeat characters in so many offbeat movies that he practically became his own genre. Between 1989 and 1998, not a single Johnny Depp film grossed more than $55 million domestically. But two summers ago, “Pirates of the Caribbean” plundered $652 million worldwide, and Depp suddenly became Hollywood’s hottest “new” leading man. He spoke to NEWSWEEK’s Sean Smith. July 4 issue.

Smith: You and director Tim Burton have made several movies together. Did you assume he’d ask you to play Wonka?

Depp: I was stunned. I was ecstatic, man. I was doing Snoopy dances.

Smith: But after the success of “Pirates,” why wouldn’t the studio want you for this?

Depp: That didn’t even cross my mind. All the little films I’ve done that were perceived by Hollywood as these obscure, weird things, I always thought could appeal to a larger audience.

Smith: Still, it must have felt good to have your work seen and loved by so many people.

Depp: I had never experienced anything like that where you meet a 75-year-old woman who had seen “Pirates” and somehow related to the character, and then five minutes later you meet a 6-year-old who says, “Oh, you’re Captain Jack!” What a rush. What a gift.

UK Daily Star July 2005

UK Daily Star July 2005

 Title: I’m Just

Author: Kate Jackson

Publication: UK Daily Star

Issue: July 2005


JOHNNY DEPP is so worried children won’t like Wonka.

JOHNNY Depp won’t be the only one going completely Wonkas over his new role. The super cool star has become Willy Wonka, the chocolate-loving hero of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; and there’s already talk of an Oscar.

But sexy Johnny 41, isn’t bothered about an Academy Award – he’s more worried about what his kids will think of the movie when it opens this month.

“What I did with Wonka was test it on my daughter; Lily-Rose Melody; to see if I was going in the right direction” says the father of two. “Many times we`ve played Barbies where she has said ‘Daddy; don’t use that voice. Just talk regular.’

“But one day I started to do the Wonka voice. She lit up and gave me this ‘Where’s that coming from?’  kind of look.

“I thought ‘Ok, I think I am on the right track here’.”

But if Lily-Rose, six, and her brother  Jack three,  think daddy will be as generous with hls treats as Wonka, they’ve got another think coming.

While Johnny admits his children are the apples of his eye, he’s determined they won’t grow up to be like Roald Dahl’s bratty character Veruca Salt played in the movie by 12 year old Julia Winter.

“I’ve learned that one should regulate the amount of sweets you give children” he says. “They have an incredibly strange effect on them. I am learning moderation for kids now.

“They’re not bratty; thank God! Luckily, the kids are pretty well-balanced, well-grounded and not monsters at all. You get a little snippet of it and you just nip it in the bud immediately.”

Despite having starred in some of the most highly-acclaimed movies of his 20 years on screen, Johnny has never sold out to mainstream Hollywood.

The movies he chooses to appear in are always just a little left of centre, from his debut in Nightmare on Elm Street in 1984, through to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Blow and From Hell.

The only time he’s ever come close to the mainstream is with Pirates of the Caribbean, but even then, he made Captain Jack Sparrow his own.

Johnny has also avoided the celebrity trap. His relationship with Kate Moss 31, put him in the spotlight in the 1990s, but he has since retreated into an almost reclusive life.

Now he settles into family life with French singer Vanessa Paradis, 32, and much more content with simple pleasures.

“I didn’t have everything until I had my girl and my kids” he said. “I have everything I need now.”

“I like keeping a distance from Hollywood and the social expectations.” “Like Wonka, I’m really not good at that kind of game.”

“l find great comfort in having that distance because I don’t have the pressure or the responsibility of knowing who’s the top dog this week and who’s out from last week.

“I don’t know who anyone is and I really like

“Being a dad helps you in every way. It has eliminated so many known and unknown fears that l had.

“When my daughter was born, it was like one person’s life had ceased to be and suddenly a new man emerged, someone who saw things clearly.

UK Fabric – July 2005 – hot Chocolate

UK Fabric – July 2005 – hot Chocolate

Title: hot Chocolate
Author: Adam Stone
Publication: UK Fabric
Issue: July 2005


 The Peter Pan of Hollywood tells Adam Stone about his wild past, his family and his new found happiness

Johnny Depp and chocolate – two of the finer things in life and a recipe for sweet success if ever there was one. It’s just this combination that Tim Burton was banking on when he signed up his favourite leading man for his remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

But if you know Johnny Depp as an actor and Tim Burton as a filmmaker, you’ll know this won’t be a sugary tale from the sweet shop counter. This is dark chocolate – very dark – and it’s just how Johnny likes it. The film is based on Roald Dahl`s classic novel about a boy named Charlie Bucket who, thanks to a lucky ticket in a candy bar, becomes one of five children allowed a tour of the amazing chocolate factory run by the eccentric Willy Wonka and his staff of Oompa-Loompas.

Comedy actor Gene Wilder brought Wonka to the big screen in 1971 but his portrayal and the film as a whole infuriated Dahl, who refused the studio sequel rights.

Johnny believes his Wonka would please the legendary writer — if only he had lived to see it. “Regardless of what one thinks of the 1971 film, Gene Wilder’s persona stands out”, says Johnny on playing the magical chocolatier. “He scares the hell out of you. Those are big shoes to fill. So the first thing I did was to go back to the book and try to figure out what Roald Dahl had in his head.” Johnny‘s interpretation of the character is even weirder and darker – as you might expect. Sporting giant glasses and oversized dentures he recites his one—liners such as ‘Chewing gum is really gross – chewing gum I hate the most’ with as much threat as humour. “I play him as a kind of game show host cum bratty child,” says Johnny. “It’s Tim’s version of the book and the character really. We’ve taken the character of Willy Wonka and gone somewhere completely different”.

Johnny previously collaborated with the director on Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow and Ed Wood and jumped at the chance of working with him again. “It was great to be back with Tim — like coming home”,  he says of the director now married to Helena Bonham Carter. “We had a great time.” And that sums up life for Johnny Depp right now. No more is he the troubled wild man of Hollywood. At 42, he is more mellow than ever before, content with his life in France with Vanessa Paradis and their two children, Lily-Rose Melody, six, and Jack, three. “I went through a lot of fear and self loathing in my 20s and 30s until it finally got through to me that there wasn’t any point in poisoning myself and feeling miserable anymore.” says Johnny of his difficult past.  “I can only tell you that once you escape that kind of mindset, you have absolutely no desire to go back there. It’s not that I wake up mornings screaming, ‘Oh God, things are so beautiful’, but just being with my girl and our kids makes me feel pretty good.

Johnny met French singer and actress Vanessa while making The Ninth Gate in 1999. ‘We share this incredible life together and our children’ he smiles. You can’t plan that kind of deep love or the feeling parenthood brings. lt was part of the wonderful ride. It was kismet, destiny. Now I have become a perfect example of all the paternity clichés I laughed at for years. I look forward to having more children. I’d have 100 if Vanessa were willing. For me, family is the most important thing in the world. It’s your foundation, your roots. It’s the only unconditional love you’ll ever get. ‘When I met Vanessa, I was still drifting. But being with her has just blown me away and made me a better man. Ten years ago l never would have believed in the kind of life I have now as a father, although I still wonder if its OK to be this happy.’ Johnny’s darker times can be traced back to his youth in Florida. At school he was teased and taunted over his eccentric appearance and behaviour and he dropped out to follow his dream of being in a rock band. ‘School was a torment’ he remembers. ‘We moved often — I lived in more than 20 houses in my first 15 years — and I never felt accepted’. When he was 15, his parents divorced, and Johnny was raised by his mother. ‘All her life, she was a waitress in little diners’, he says.  ‘But I won’t let her wait tables any more.’  At age 17, Johnny became a rock musician. ‘When I was a kid’ he recalls, `I started playing guitar in the Baptist church where my uncle preached. Then I played in a garage band called The Kids. We opened for Iggy Pop. Playing the guitar helped me to discover who and what l was. It’s one of the true loves of my life.’

He married at 20 and divorced at 23, by which time he had found his way into acting. Broken engagements to Jennifer Grey, Wiona Ryder and Kate Moss followed as Johnny’s private life threatened to spiral out of control. On screen he was heralded as a genius, off screen he was an alcoholic and a depressive. ‘It’s too easy to blame other people and things in your past for your own self-loathing’, says Johnny. ‘When I was drinking heavily, I was just in a really bad frame of mind and using alcohol to deaden whatever I was feeling at the time. l didn’t really know how to handle the process of going from being a nobody to someone who is suddenly famous and getting paid more money than he knows what to do with and having people stare at you in a cafe. I don’t even really know why I was doing it except that l wasn’t happy and so you drink to escape that feeling’. It was his friends and family that eventually put Johnny back on his feet. ‘The thing is, you never think you’re on the verge of disaster while you’re looking over the edge yourself’ he continues. ‘It was other people who were trying to get me to stop and after a while it kind of` sank in and I just cleaned up my act. But that didn’t really solve the problem which was that I was unhappy with the way my life was going and didn’t see any great relief on the horizon. That all changed when I met Vanessa. l pretty much fell in love with her the moment I set eyes on her. As a person I was pretty much a lost cause at that point of my life. She turned all that around for me with her incredible tenderness and understanding. Very quickly, I realised I couldn’t live without her.  She made me feel like a real human being instead of someone Hollywood had manufactured. It sounds incredibly corny and phoney, but that’s exactly what happened to me and what she has meant to me.’

After six years and two children together, Johnny has still to pop the big question. But that’s nothing to do with a lack of commitment. ‘The truth is that Vanessa and I have considered ourselves husband and wife since the day we moved in together’  says Johnny. ‘It’s not a big issue for us because we know what we feel for each other, and that kind of connection is what’s  going to keep us together for a very long time. Marriage would just be a formality.’

Johnny is still regarded as one of the world’s sexiest men. It’s not a tag he is particularly proud of or one he’s worried about losing. ‘I love growing old, getting some lines in my face, watching my kids grow up’ he says. ‘l think you have to accept getting older because there isn’t anything you can really do about it anyway. And if it bothers you, it’s just a question of surgery, isn’t it?’ he laughs. The truth is that Mr Depp still looks a man fresh out of his 20s, let alone his 30s. He’s more likely to use film to make him look uglier or older. He currently has gold teeth and long, unkempt hair for a second swashbuckling adventure as Jack Sparrow in back-to-back Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. “He’s someone I’ve looked forward to re-visiting”, Johnny says. ‘He’s a charming, interesting fellow, aside from those braids and gold teeth. What’s fun about the character is his outrageousness. I really connected with him and I’ve missed the guy’.

Johnny now finds himself more in demand as an actor and celebrity than ever before. ‘I still have those guys with the cameras staking me out and watching the house – even when were in France’, says Johnny.  ‘The difference now is I’m trying not to let myself get worked up about it any more. That just makes them even more money and they know that, so some of them try to provoke you that way.  I’ve stopped playing into their hands by giving value to a photo of me. I’m just trying to be a boring family guy because that’s what I am now!’

Jo Whiley Audio Interview with Johnny Depp

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

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

Go to Audio Interview

© Reprinted with permission.

UK Mirror June 2005 – I love playing with Barbie dolls

UK Mirror June 2005 – I love playing with Barbie dolls

Title: I love playing with Barbie dolls

Author: Eveyln Moore/Corrine Barraclough

Publication: UK 3AM Mirror

Issue: June 2005

He’s one of the sexiest stars in Hollywood but Johnny Depp couldn’t be less bothered about his A-List Hollywood heart-throb status.  The 41-year-old hunk prefers the simple life with his family in France to the glitz and glamour of Tinseltown. But don‘t worry you haven’t seen the last of those smouldering came-to-bed eyes, girls. Johnny’s back in two films this month. Starring along side him in The Libertine is Brit talent Smantha Morton and funny man Johnny Vegas, in which Johnny D plays the lead as a drunken 17th century poet.  Dreamy Depp also shares a screen with Kate Winslet in Finding Neverland, the story of J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan. And if that isn’t enough to keep Depp fans happy,  you can also start fantasying about his return as Jack Sparrow in the sequel to box office smash Pirates of the Caribbean.

You‘ve always been labelled as a bit of a rebel in Hollywood — Is that true?

Well I’ve never though of myself that way! I never got that whole rebel thing, you know, the rebellious image.  It was something they slapped on me just to have a name for the product I think.

Maybe it’s also because you’re no pushover?

Well, my mum told me never to take any sh*t from anybody. That’s probably the best advice I’ve ever been given.

Fair enough. You’ve always done such different roles, we couldn’t pigeonhole you even if we wanted to.

I think this second you get pigeonholed one of two things happens. You either become rich and successful or it’s game over. If you find something that you’re good at and stick to it, you’re unfair to the audience.

Lily Rose will be pleased that you‘re doing a sequel to Pirates. You must have really enjoyed the first one…

Oh yeah. The amount of fun that l had on the first one was criminal. There were moments where the director and I would look at each other and just go ‘Do you actually believe we’re getting paid for doing this? This isn’t a job.’  So with the original team coming back, it’s a no brainer really.

Who Inspired those crazy rings in Pirates?

Oh! I’ve been wearing those skulls for a long, long time!

ls it true that you’ve never watched ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape’?

l don’t watch most of my films. L always figured that once my job is done then anything beyond that is none of my business. So if I can avoid seeing the final product, then I will. Because all I have in my head is the experience, and I feel very good about the experience.

Do you miss Hollywood at all now you live in France?

Oh, being in France has done wonders for my relationship with Hollywood! I’m so removed from it that I  don’t know anything any more – I don’t know who anybody is, who’s rich, who’s poor, who’s successful, who’s a drag. I don’t know anyone. So it’s great. I come in and I don’t have to think about anything but my work.

Would you ever move back to Hollywood?

I still live there sometimes, well, I go back and forth. But I wouldn’t move back fulltime, no. I certainly don’t want to raise my kids there.

So what is it about France you love so much?

I’ve been drawn to France for years. I’ve never really understood why, and then I went over there in 1998 to do a movie with the director Roman Polanski. I met my girl and never left! She got pregnant, had a baby, and it’s been really refreshing to be away from America.

Rolling Stones, December 30 2004 – Johnny Depp: How He Found His Own Private Neverland

Rolling Stones, December 30 2004 – Johnny Depp: How He Found His Own Private Neverland

Title: Johnny Depp: How He Found His Own Private Neverland

Author: Erik Hedegaard

Publication: Rolling Stones

Issue: December 30, 2004 – January 13, 2005

In “finding neverland” Johnny Depp plays Peter Pan author, J.M. Barrie with muted, understated ease, and in so doing he may well wind up with his second Oscar nomination. It’s been quite some year for Depp, 41, both good and not so good. His friend Marlon Brando died in July. But then came Never-land. He recently finished filming Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for his friend and frequent director Tim Burton. He’s soon to start shooting the sequel, maybe two, to his biggest hit ever, Pirates of the Caribbean. He recently plunked down $3.6 million for a deserted island in the Bahamas.

What was the best present you got this year?

Probably this gig. playing Willy Wonka.

Favorite movie this year?

Yeah, it’s an old one [1944] called The Mask of Demitrios with Peter Loire and Sydney Greenstreet. I watched it about five times in a row. Brilliant. I don’t see new movies that much. If I do see a new movie, it’s a kids movie. The Incredibles was really, really great. My son. Jack, now runs around with his little Mr. Incredible doll. The beauty is, Jack calls Mr. Incredible “Mr. Credible.” which really killed me. Mr. Credible. Ha ha.

Are you ready for four more years of W?

Oh God. Did you watch the debates? It’s so perverse. I actually enjoy watching him talk. And it pisses me off, certainly – it’s like looking at something you’re not supposed to be looking at. You shouldn’t be watching, but you can’t help yourself.

What are your plans for 2005?

If we do Pirates of the Caribbean Two and Three together, that’ll be the whole year. Work and kiddies. Work and kiddies.

UnCut, December 2004 – Cooler Than You

UnCut, December 2004 – Cooler Than You

Title: Cooler Than You

Author: Stephen Dalton

Publication: UnCut

Issue: December 2004

FOR A WHILE back there, we almost lost Johnny Depp. Torn between success and excess, art and commerce, Hollywood’s Lost Boy could easily have coasted into a perpetual twilight of self-loathing like his friend and idol Marlon Brando. More likely still was a slow drift into art house exile in France. There were even moments when the darkness of River Phoenix or Kurt Cobain could have consumed him.

And yet, in 2004, Depp isn’t just back, he’s back on top. After countless flops punctuated by a couple of hits, the uncompromising 41 -year-old is currently basking in the glory of a sustained run of box-office smashes – first his Oscar-nominated turn as buccaneer Jack Sparrow in the theme-park swashbuckler Pirates Of The Caribbean then running away with Robert Rodriguez’s splatterpunk “taco western” Once Upon A Time In Mexico, and now his sensitive portrayal of Peter Pan creator JM Barrie in Finding Neverland, from Monsters Ball director Marc Forster. After years playing emotionally scarred fuck-ups, drug addicts, freaks and outcasts, the Lost Boy has come in from the cold.

GLIDING THROUGH the ballroom of Venice’s Des Bains hotel to meet Uncut, Depp radiates the serenity of a man with nothing left to prove. In his dreamy, faraway voice, he talks about Barrie.

“It’s important to keep in contact with those qualities we had as children,” Depp tells Uncut.” I think that’s what Barrie was talking about, the idea that we grow-up all too fast. The world gets a hold of you pretty quickly in your youth, and there comes a day when you’re just no longer a child. It happens too last – it really happened to me fast,”

Inevitably, parallels will be drawn between Depp and Peter Pan. Of course, he’s already played his own version of Captain Hook in Pirates Of  The Caribbean, even the rock’n’roll fan, Depp famously based Sparrow’s louche cockney mannerisms on Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, his long-time partner in late-night drinks and jam sessions. Has Keef seen the movie? Was he flattered?

“I think he was.” Depp grins.” He certainly would never say that to me, but I think he felt all right about it. The good news is he didn’t attack me physically…”

MANY ACTORS WOULID KILL to be rock stars, but Depp is the real deal. He was born on the road, a part-Cherokee daydreamer from a nomadic blue-collar family who lived in dozens of motels and short-term apartments across Kentucky and Florida. A lover of Kerouac and Ginsberg, his childhood was closer to classic muso-hobo outlaw myth than all those drama-school bad-boy wannabes.I lost my virginity at 13.” Depp told Rolling Stone’s  in 1988, “did every kind of drug there was by 14, swiped a few six-packs, broke into a few classrooms, just to see what was on the other side of that locked door.” Infatuated with KISS, Van Morrison, Aerosmith and The Sex Pistols, Depp had been through a dozen garage bands by the time he turned 20. Relocating to LA with his most serious group, The Kids, he tried his luck as a guitar hero. They were good enough to open for Talking Heads, The Ramones and Iggy Pop, but never broke through to the next level. Depp’s first encounter with Iggy, a lifelong hero, was hardly promising.

Monumentally wasted, he greeted the godfather of junkie-punk by screaming: Fuck you! fuck You! FUCK YOU!” Iggy- squared up to Depp, called him a “little turd”, and turned away. A few years later, they were acting in movies together.

“When I first started doing films, the band was making little money.” Depp told Gavin Martin in the NME in 1994.”I thought of acting as a way to finance my music habit. My whole upbringing was playing in bars and clubs since I was 14; I still feel like I’m a musician. There’s nothing like being on stage with four or five guys with a really loud guitar and all the adrenalin, there’s nothing to compare with it.

“It was my friend Nicolas Cage who suggested I should try acting. For the first two or three years I was in movies, I never thought I’d be doing this as a living. I thought it was a way of making some money and then I can go back and play in the band. I didn’t care if my acting was good, bad or whatever. I just wanted to get a pay cheque.”

Depp drifted into TV teen dramas, was catapulted to overnight pin-up status, and soon had a reputation as a hot-head, notching up several arrests for drunken misconduct. But beneath the bad-boy caricature, there was something of Kurt Cobain about Depp’s disgust with his sex symbol straitjacket. Like Cobain. Depp was a dirty-sweet “white trash loser” with a morbid sense of humour, an inherent distrust of the cult of success and an unhealthy interest in guns and drugs. Director John Waters goes so far as to say that “Johnny invented grunge.”

The first of many father-mentor figures that later included Tim Burton, Marlon Brando and Hunter S Thompson, Waters rescued Depp from teenybopper hell with 1990 comedy Cry-Baby. Part high camp musical, part affectionate Elvis spoof, it starred the 27-ycar-old Depp as a tearful teenage serial killer. Aptly enough, Iggy Pop played his hillbilly trailer-trash dad.

A string of spooked outsider roles followed, most memorably in Tim Burton’s gothic fairy-tale Edward Scissorrhands (1990) and Jim Jarmusch’s ghostly Wild West symphony Dead Man (1995). Depp credits Burton with saving him from being “a loser, an outcast, just another piece of expendable Hollywood meat”. Their solid bond continues to this day with the upcoming remake of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory.

Following romances with Jennifer Grey and Sherilyn Fenn, Depp became engaged to Scissorhands co-star Winona Ryder. With “WINONA FOREVER” tattooed on his right shoulder, he claimed to have left his wild years behind him. But his 1993 split with Ryder coincided with a period of heavy drink and drug use.

“Mostly alcohol.” he told Playboy in 1997.”There were drugs too, pills, and there was a danger that I would go over the edge”. While filming What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (l993), he admitted, “I was poisoning myself with alcohol and medicating myself.” Rumour had it Depp was on heroin. “I never had a monkey on my back,” he insisted in Playboy”. I just wanted to self-medicate, to numb myself through liquor.” To this day, Depp claims, he still can’t watch Gilbert Grape. An “intervention” by family and friends helped straighten Depp out for a triumphant reunion with Burton on the story of the cross-dressing king of no-budget movie trash Edwood (1994). Depp modeled his performance on Ronald Reagan, the Tin Man from The Wizard Of Oz and John Waters. Co-star Martin Landau even likened Depp to his former best friend, James Dean; “I don’t know anybody who’s closer to Jimmy than Johnny.” Meanwhile, the now critically acclaimed Depp gave his Ryder tattoo a witty remix: “Wino Forever”.

But Depp’s bad-boy image continual to plague him, especially after the bar he bought in 1993 with rocker Chuck E. Weiss, The Viper Room, became the most notorious stretch of Sunset Strip sidewalk overnight when Riser Phoenix died of a massive drug overdose on Halloween. Tabloid reports, inevitably, branded the club a den of vice and excess.

“It was fucking wake-up call for everybody,” Depp told Vanity Fair.” I don’t give a fuck what the tabloid press writes. But to drag River’s name through the mud and turn the incident into a fucking circus was such a horrible thing. It was unforgivable.”

Another wake-up call came 11 months later during Depp’s romance I with supermodel Kate Moss, after he smashed up their $1,200-a-night suite at Manhattan’s Mark Hotel. Ironically, it was rocker Roger Daltrey who alerted staff to the fracas. “Keith Moon would have been embarrassed for him,” Depp joked afterwards. In Depp’s account of the incident, he apologised and offered to cover the damage. But hotel staff insisted on calling the police, and he spent 48 hours in three different New York jails.”He looked good under arrest” quipped Waters.”I loved the handcuffs. Criminal Movie Star is a good look for Johnny.”

But Depp’s reputation and eccentric film choices began to hamper his bankability. The situation wasn’t helped by his 1997 foray into directing, The Brave. a left-field fable starring Depp himself as a penniless Native American who sells his life to a snuff film-maker in a bid to protect his family. Tapping into Depp’s Cherokee ancestry, this engrossing indie oddity co-starred Marion Brando, but reviewers were savage. “I think they were just upset that I had the nerve to say that I have some semblance of a brain,” Depp tells Uncut. “Not much, but just a little.”

Depp worked with another Method heavyweight, Al Pacino, on Mike Novell’s gritty 1997 mob thriller Donnie Brasco. It gave the star a rare commercial hit, but Terry Gilliam’s 1998 film of Hunter S Thompson’s counterculture classic Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas bombed with critics and audiences alike.

Before filming began, Depp visited Thompson’s fortified compound in Colorado, and the two Kentucky outlaws bonded by blasting a nickel-plated shotgun at gas canisters topped with nitroglycerine, detonating giant fireballs in the Rocky Mountain night. Thompson later shaved Depp’s head for Gilliam’s film, and even look a brief cameo. Bored during the shoot, the mischievous author phoned a bomb scare through to The Viper Room. “Man, he’s a sickness,” Depp groaned in Rolling Stone. “He is a fucking disease that has penetrated my fucking skin.”

FEAR AND LOATHING was a bad omen for Depp. His third collaboration with Burton, supernatural shocker Sleepy Hollow, followed in 1999 but was a relative flop. A string of subsequent movies including Ted Demme’s slick cocaine saga Blow and Albert and Allen Hughes’ atmospheric comic-book thriller From Hell, also underperformed at the box office.

Despite these setbacks, Depp remains loyal to his friends and collaborators. He will soon be directed by his Fear And Loathing co-star Benicio Del Torn in another Thompson adaptation. The Rum Diary. He also agreed to star in Gilliam’s time-travelling fantasy The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, which imploded barely a week into production. It made for a great behind-the-scenes documentary. Lost In La Mancha, but will the real film ever resurface?

“I hope so,” Depp sighs. “Boy, it was one of the most satisfying six days I’ve ever had on a film, but it was one of the most dissatisfying experiences because it was coitus interruptus. It was going to be a great film.”

As the new century dawned, it seemed Depp had succeeded in exiling himself to the arthouse fringes. But then came Pirates Of The Caribbean, a shameless blockbuster made with his kids in mind. After years of turning down lucrative studio vehicles like Speed, Thelma And Louise and Interview With The Vampire, does he ever regret taking the road less travelled?

“No, no, no,” Depp insists, rolling his sixth cigarette of the day. “I think everything’s worked out just perfectly, and I’m certainty amazed I’ve been able to stick with it this long. Because I started about 20 years ago, so it’s amazing to me that I still get jobs. Then when something like Pirates happens – you get the call, and it’s a hit! I was still like: come on, you’ve got to be kidding? But I did it for the right reasons. I never thought about the money”.

Depp’s rock’n’roll ambitions burn less brightly now. In the ’90s he appeared in Tom Petty and Lemonheads videos, guested with The Pogucs on Top Of The Pops and directed a promo for Shane MacGowan. He also played slide guitar for Oasis on Be Here Sow track “Fade In-Out and jammed with Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers and Chili Peppers bassist Flea in the punk group P. He recently composed some soundtrack cuts for Once Upon A Time In Mexico, but concedes rock stardom is no longer a serious option.

“Gibby s gone back to doing stuff with the Butthole Surfers,” Depp reveals to too Uncut. “We haven’t played together in a long time. No, I think that that career option ended a long time ago. It seems to be popular, though. A lot of actors are in bands these days”

Now dividing his time between LA, Paris and Provence – where he lives with girlfriend Vanessa Paradis and their two children – family life has quelled his demons. His last brush with the law was five years ago, outside a swanky London restaurant, when he threatened a gaggle of paparazzi with a plank of wood after they tried to snap pictures of a pregnant Paradis.

“I look at it as a scientific experiment in human behaviour,”he later joked in the Daily Express. “And the unfortunate result that I came up with that night is that violence works. Since then, they’ve been OK and left me alone”

With a Pirates sequel and the much anticipated Charlie And The Chocolate Factory remake on the way, Depp’s commercial stock could hardly be higher – there’s even talk of another Oscar nomination for Finding Neverland. His next film, The Libertine, finds him playing scabrousle rude 17th-century poet and rake the Earl of Rochester.

“He was a pretty wild guy, Rochester,” Depp smiles, a wicked glint in his eyes. “I think he was great, very gifted but just debauched. He died when he was 33 of drink and syphilis, but 1 think he had an absolute ball. Honestly, though, I think he was tragic.”

A great story, but no longer a role model for Johnny Depp. Because somewhere between the twin temptations of success and excess, Hollywood’s original lost Boy has found his way again.

The Oprah Winfrey Show

HOST: Oprah Winfrey

Unidentified Man #1: All right. Here we go, guys.
Unidentified Man #2: Oprah’s on the way.
Unidentified Man #3: Good show, good show, good show.

OPRAH WINFREY: Johnny Depp’s OPRAH show debut, the sexiest man alive. When you look at the cover…
Mr. JOHNNY DEPP (Actor): I tried not to look at the cover.
WINFREY: A rare interview.
Most romantic encounter…
Mr. DEPP: Wow.
WINFREY: …that you can speak of.
Mr. DEPP: Yeah. Better have a drink.
WINFREY: From ’80s teen heartthrob to A-list movie star…
Mr. DEPP: I was convinced that I was going to be fired.
WINFREY: …and the love of his wife.
Mr. DEPP: I just knew.
Ms. KATE WINSLET (Actress): Oh, this is my kind of talk show.
WINFREY: …the ultra-talented Kate Winslet.
A lot of people make a big deal about your weight. You look spectacular.

Yes. Good to see you. Good to see you. Great. Good to see you. Whoo! Thank you. Thank you. Too much. Thank you. So I hope you go out and vote today, because I just did. I just did. Everybody has to vote today. Now,
OK, I know my next guest is not going to like this. He’s not going to like
it. But whether he likes it or not, I’m going to hold it up. There you go:
Sexiest Man Alive. I’m going to hold it up. Sexiest Man Alive. I don’t
know, what would that feel like? I don’t know.Now I haven’t seen him. I have not seen him at all. I have not seen him,
because I don’t meet the gu–if I’ve never met a guest, and I like to meet
them when you meet them so I can have the same drool factor that you do. But my producers have met him. And they just came in and went, `Oh, my God!’ And I said, `Really, what is it?’ and she went, `Oh, my God!’ So, OK, I can’t
wait. Did you just see the movie, though, right? Isn’t it wonderful? It’s
really wonderful. OK. And let me ask you this. Who cried? Did you cry?
Oh, you all cried! You cried. I was–you know what? I said they are not
going to get me. I tried so hard not to cry! And only till the last–I
didn’t cry for the (mumbles), I didn’t cry when the (mumbles), even when the (mumbles). But then the last scene, I was like gone.

OK. Johnny Depp’s new movie, “Finding Neverland”–it’ll get you. It’ll get you. His performance is just superb, is it not? It really is superb. It’s
no wonder why he’s called one of the most gifted actors of his generation. Let’s take a look.

(Excerpt from “21 Jump Street”)

WINFREY: The year, 1987. Teen girls everywhere just lost their minds over a young Johnny Depp in “21 Jump Street.”

(Excerpts from “21 Jump Street,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street”)

WINFREY: Fans screamed for his big-screen debut in the classic horror flick “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”

(Excerpt from “A Nightmare on Elm Street”)

WINFREY: Johnny shredded his pretty boy image in “Edward Scissorhands” and critics raved. His smoldering sex appeal cannot be denied. Who could forget
his performance as a passionate Gypsy in the Oscar-nominated “Chocolat.” This year, Johnny swashbuckled his way through “Pirates of the Caribbean”…

(Excerpt from “Pirates of the Caribbean”)

WINFREY: …and scored an Oscar nomination for best actor. He is a self-proclaimed Hollywood outsider, who lives with his beautiful girlfriend Vanessa Paradis and their two children, Jack and Lily-Rose. Though reluctant he may be, Johnny Depp has been named the Sexiest Man Alive.

Reluctant, sexy, Johnny Depp!

It’ll be fine.

Mr. DEPP: Uh-oh.

WINFREY: Uh-oh. So, listen, they told me you like good wine. They told me you like good wine.

Mr. DEPP: Well, that’s the one.
WINFREY: So I pulled up one of my bottles. This is for you. A toast to you, toast to you.
Mr. DEPP: Oh, we’re going to be drunk in a minute.

WINFREY: No, we won’t. We’re not going to drink the whole thing. Here’s to your superb performance in “Finding Neverland.”

Mr. DEPP: Thank you. Thank you.

WINFREY: Ooh, good.

Mr. DEPP: What do you mean we’re not going to drink the whole thing?

WINFREY: That is pretty good, isn’t it?

Mr. DEPP: Don’t you think we should?

WINFREY: Yeah, well, the–we can.

Mr. DEPP: All right.

WINFREY: You can. You can. I know it’s all a daze. But I remember seeing you briefly on the red carpet at Oscars.

Mr. DEPP: That was real weird, I mean, just because I’m not used to that kind of event.

WINFREY: Hoopla.
Mr. DEPP: Yeah.
WINFREY: Hoopla.
Mr. DEPP: Function.
WINFREY: It’s been quite a year for you. Mr. DEPP: Yeah.

WINFREY: How did you feel about being nominated and being in all of that hoopla?

Mr. DEPP: Shocked, you know. Completely shocked. WINFREY: Yeah.

Mr. DEPP: It was just–yeah, it was just super bizarre, you know. I mean, I’m still in shock over that.

WINFREY: Yeah. And so when you’re–OK. First of all, it was a Disney film. It’s “Pirates of the Caribbean.” It has since raised $650 million worldwide.
But I think…

Mr. DEPP: That’s real weird.

WINFREY: I think in the beginning, people just thought, you know, it’s a summer movie. It’s about some pirates and the Caribbean and it’s kids. Nobody…

Mr. DEPP: That’s kind of what I thought.

WINFREY: Yeah. And nobody–but, obviously, when you read this script, you thought that you could bring something to the Captain Jack character that nobody else could.

Mr. DEPP: Well, I had–I mean, I had this sort of very strong idea of Captain–what Captain Jack…

WINFREY: Sparrow.
Mr. DEPP: …Sparrow should be. And was that his name? Ba… WINFREY: Yeah. His name’s Captain Jack Sparrow.
Mr. DEPP: Thank you very much.

Mr. DEPP: And just sort of stuck to my guns and went in there and did it.
So, I mean, as you say, you know, the Academy Award nomination was a very strange thing, especially since for the first month, I was convinced I was
going to be fired.

WINFREY: Really? Mr. DEPP: Oh, yeah.

WINFREY: Because I heard that the studio wasn’t so delighted at first with your interpretation.

Mr. DEPP: They were a little nervous.

WINFREY: What? They thought he was a little–what was the word they used?

Mr. DEPP: They used a lot…


Mr. DEPP: …a lot…


Mr. DEPP: …but understandably nervous.

WINFREY: What, they didn’t like the gold teeth or they didn’t like–they thought he was a little flirty?

Mr. DEPP: Effete… WINFREY: Yes.

Mr. DEPP: …was one. Yeah. They didn’t like any of it at first, yeah. The gold teeth, the beard dangles, the things in the hair, the dreadlocks, the…

WINFREY: They didn’t like any of it.
Mr. DEPP: No.
WINFREY: And is it true that you modeled…
Mr. DEPP: They especially didn’t like me.
WINFREY: And is it true you modelled him after Keith Richards? Mr. DEPP: Keith was one of the main ingredients. Absolutely. WINFREY: Really? You did.

Mr. DEPP: Oh, there he is. He’s the best pirate in the world.

WINFREY: I bet that’s fun because you just sta–get to live out of your imagination.

Mr. DEPP: Yeah. No. Exactly. WINFREY: Yeah.

Mr. DEPP: I mean, you get to sort of–and for me, I mean, having done the homework for the character, I just have to sort of step in…

Mr. DEPP: …step into frame.
WINFREY: What was the homework? What was the homework?

Mr. DEPP: I actually–Captain Jack was–this is going to sound very weird, but he was sort of born in a sauna. Yeah. I was–I figured the pirates would have, you know, spent a lot of time in the sun.

WINFREY: Yeah, in the sun.
Mr. DEPP: Sometimes, you know, grueling, you know… WINFREY: Heat, yeah.

Mr. DEPP: Yeah, serious heat. So I would go into the sauna for great lengths of time, which I don’t recommend, by the way. And you start to get a little woozy after about 30 minutes. I don’t think it’s very good for you.


WINFREY: No, they advise not to stay in that long.

Mr. DEPP: Yeah, yeah. I know.


Mr. DEPP: I know.

WINFREY: And that’s where the character came from?

Mr. DEPP: Yeah. That’s where the…

WINFREY: Are you making this up or is that one wine sip…

Mr. DEPP: No, no, it’s–no, no.

WINFREY: …that one little sip did that to you? Yeah.

Mr. DEPP: Yeah, that’s where he came from. Yeah.

WINFREY: So I read–starting at the beginning, by the time you were 15, that you were–already had lived in 20 different homes. Is that true?

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