Johnny Depp on Letterman Oct. 26, 2011

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

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

JOHNNY DEPP, ACTOR: Nice to see you.

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

JOHNNY DEPP, ACTOR: I’m allright.

LETTERMAN: Good to see you my friend.

DEPP: You too, thank you.

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

DEPP: I was working.

LETTERMAN: Creating movies?

DEPP: I made a film.

LETTERMAN: What film did you make?

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

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

DEPP: Something like that.

LETTERMAN: How is your family?

DEPP: They’re great.

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

DEPP: My girl is 12

LETTERMAN: Boy and a girl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

DEPP: Well I made it 😉

LETTERMAN: Your daughter likes Justin Bieber?

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

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

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

LETTERMAN: How did you happen to meet him?

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

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


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

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

LETTERMAN: Yeah that would not be a bad guess.

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

LETTERMAN: And how do they do that?

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

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

DEPP: He was just there.

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

DEPP: It went very well.

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

DEPP: I didn’t watch it.

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

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

DEPP: It’s all good.

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

But now in the movie we see you without tattoos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DEPP: Italy?


DEPP: Yes I have.

LETTERMAN: You own property there?

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

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

DEPP: Yeah, I wish I did but I don’t.

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

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

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

DEPP: San Juan, Puerto Rico

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DEPP: Oh yeah, he is.

LETTERMAN:  So he had that power.

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

LETTERMAN: And that would be the whole conversation?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DEPP: Yeah he was a bad junkie.

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

DEPP: It’s yours.

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

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