Johnny Depp Network Your number one place and online resource for all things Johnny Depp since 2004!
July 22, 2001   Uncategorized No Comments

image: festivaldistresfrancevalou01.jpg image: festivaldistresfrancevalou02.jpg image: festivaldistresfrancevalou03.jpg
some more pics here

Valou (webmaster of the late ‘Tandem vp’ site) reported to Jean-Yves, webmaster of ‘Vanessa Paradis c’est l’enfer’:
She arrived at the concert at 6pm that day and went to the parking lot where cars arrive in the hope of seeing Vanessa… there were security guys so she thought it meants Vanessa was about to arrive. She was right: 5 minutes later, Vanessa got out of a grey Mercedes 4×4 with dark windows, with Lily-Rose asleep on her nape… Johnny and some guy named Philippe (Vanessa’s assistant?) follow…. They all enter the concert auditorium without looking at the fans… A few minutes later, Johnny and Philippe came back to the car to get their stuff (packs etc..). Valou asks if she can take a picture. Philippe replies ‘no’.

So, she leaves with other fans to the auditorium, buys the program (another fan buys a ticket) etc… and one of the staff guys tell them “oh look over there, Johnny is signing autographs!”…. they run to him. Philippe gives a kiss to Valou, the others take pictures and ask for autographs. Valou takes 2 close shots of Johnny. Then, she asks him to sign a small slide of Vanessa (by photographer Claude Gassian). Johnny looks very surprised, he doesn’t know how to sign so small but he does it. Valou takes another photo.

They were about 7 fans there. She was very excited to have finally seen Johnny in person! Valou will remember his sweetness: sweetness of his look, of his voice, of his movements… She didn’t think he was SO nice (a friend of her also fan said he was probably having a good day)…

Apparently, Johnny had seen the others fans while getting out of the car with Lily and Philippe, they had asked him for an autograph and he had said “I will come back”… Which he did. ūüôā

Before the beginning of the concert, they bought flowers and gave them to Philippe. Vanessa must have had heard about the ‘meeting’ because she invited them to the next concerts!
Translation by Karelle

valou’s site:

April 19, 2001   Articles No Comments

Johnny Depp was supposed to be another TV idol. But the beautifully underplayed roles — like the voracious dealer in “Blow” — are adding up to a career – By Stephanie Zacharek.

April 19, 2001 | Johnny Depp, so often described as androgynously beautiful, is really more like a male cat, a creature so sure of himself that his more masculine traits aren’t the first things you notice about him. You can see it in the way he underplays every role. Sometimes you look at him and you think he’s not doing much at all; then you realize that what he’s doing is so economical and so understated that you can’t afford to take your eyes off him for an instant. He wastes no line, expression or arc of movement. Like those ancient inky creatures painted on Japanese scrolls with just two or three strokes, he’s both the suggestion and the essence of feline masculinity, all implied muscle and Zen intelligence.

It takes that kind of muted confidence to forge a career the way Depp has. In the late ’80s, after a few tiny film roles, he emerged seemingly out of nowhere to become a teenage heartthrob on the TV series “21 Jump Street,” the kind of taint that some actors, no matter how talented they are, never recover from. Forget the fact that TV actors are so often viewed (wrongly) as movie actors’ less significant second-cousins; when you’re as good-looking as Depp, it’s a given that you’re going to be written off as nothing more than a pretty face. It’s the most unoriginal charge that critics and audiences can level at an actor, and yet particularly in Depp’s case, it was intoned in the press as if it were an unassailable fact determined by a team of brilliant research scientists. No one had much faith that Depp could develop into anything special. While the press busied itself with preconceived notions of the type of actor Depp was and always would be, no one saw that he was ready to pounce.

Copyright 2005

This is an article excerpt. To view the article in full, please visit

March 25, 2001   Uncategorized No Comments

Valou (webmaster of the late ‘Tandem vp’ site) reported to Jean-Yves, webmaster of ‘Vanessa Paradis c’est l’enfer’:
She arrived at the concert at 6pm that day and went to the parking lot where cars arrive in the hope of seeing Vanessa… there were security guys so she thought it meants Vanessa was about to arrive. She was right: 5 minutes later, Vanessa got out of a grey Mercedes 4×4 with dark windows, with Lily-Rose asleep on her nape… Johnny and some guy named Philippe (Vanessa’s assistant?) follow…. They all enter the concert auditorium without looking at the fans… A few minutes later, Johnny and Philippe came back to the car to get their stuff (packs etc..). Valou asks if she can take a picture. Philippe replies ‘no’.

So, she leaves with other fans to the auditorium, buys the program (another fan buys a ticket) etc… and one of the staff guys tell them “oh look over there, Johnny is signing autographs!”…. they run to him. Philippe gives a kiss to Valou, the others take pictures and ask for autographs. Valou takes 2 close shots of Johnny. Then, she asks him to sign a small slide of Vanessa (by photographer Claude Gassian). Johnny looks very surprised, he doesn’t know how to sign so small but he does it. Valou takes another photo.

They were about 7 fans there. She was very excited to have finally seen Johnny in person! Valou will remember his sweetness: sweetness of his look, of his voice, of his movements… She didn’t think he was SO nice (a friend of her also fan said he was probably having a good day)…

Apparently, Johnny had seen the others fans while getting out of the car with Lily and Philippe, they had asked him for an autograph and he had said “I will come back”… Which he did. ūüôā

Before the beginning of the concert, they bought flowers and gave them to Philippe. Vanessa must have had heard about the ‘meeting’ because she invited them to the next concerts!
Translation by Karelle

valou’s site:

February 25, 2001   Uncategorized No Comments

[i]This encounter first appeared in Johnnydeppfan, and is now hosted here with permission of the webmistress./i]

I don’t usually post on message boards, but I read a few messages now and then, if they appear to be “information-based,” and after seeing John Bogdan’s impassioned account of the Johnny sighting and all the effort he put into the pursuit (after his run, was that FIVE miles?), I felt compelled to share my experience.

I was a guest at the taping. I read on Vicki’s web page a few weeks ago that J.D. would be on I.A.S. I work in a TV station-we operate on SCHEDULES-and I couldn’t find any indication, in any schedule anywhere, that Inside the Actors Studio even aired on 2/25, let alone with Depp as guest. Through one of our programming directories I found a phone number for Bravo and ended up speaking with the person who handles the press guests for the show. She says they don’t publish taping dates for fear of being inundated with “gate crashers” in the small auditorium. In fact, I learned, there are IAS season subscribers who pay to see all the tapings, so it isn’t exactly a secret! Anyway, she said, “Why don’t you come up?” (I live in Orlando.) Didn’t take me long to make plane and hotel reservations and I was on my way to NYC on Monday for a very un-characteristically spontaneous mini-adventure.

The 7pm taping was delayed about 45 minutes because of all the people who showed up. At one point I counted at least 130 people standing in the aisles. The show directors seemed overwhelmed, didn’t know what to do, paced back and forth; Lipton came out and said that this had never happened in 8 years and 115 or so guests and had to be due to the incredible career and popularity of “this man.” They brought out extra chairs, after trying to persuade some people to go to a viewing room somewhere (no one wanted to). I’m sure they were hoping the fire marshal wouldn’t choose that time to do an inspection. This is a very low-key production, as those of you who watch regularly know. I think their security procedures might change, however, after the chaos and confusion of Monday night.

They finally got everyone settled, with a few people sitting up on the camera platforms at the sides of the auditorium. I was grateful to find my name printed in large letters on the back of my chair, about 6 rows back on the side (Actors Studio students sit in the middle). When Johnny walked out, to a cheering, standing ovation, of course, he seemed shy, smiling at the audience, pausing and bowing slightly before he sat down. I must confess that my first impression was his hair. We all know from reading accounts of interviews that he sometimes looks pretty messy. But his hair was beautiful-lighter brown than I expected, long, but less than shoulder length, thick, shiny, and combed, although, by my rough estimate, he ran his hand through it about 750 times during the interview. Later when Lipton asked whether he preferred short or long hair, JD said he didn’t care, but his daughter doesn’t want him to cut it (a little sigh rippled through the audience). I was also struck by Johnny’s thinner-, paler-, and more-delicate-looking-than-I-expected-face. Those beautiful hollow cheeks are not done entirely with makeup, as one might think from his movies and photos. Lipton mentioned the crowd and how pleased they were to have him there?etc. About 3 sentences later, Johnny said something about “seeing that he would have to start this right away,” and immediately removed one of those dark cigarettes from what looked like a tobacco pouch, apparently a pre-rolled stash, which he continued to do, lighting and re-lighting through all of the taping, stopping every now and then to take a sip of water from the glass on the table next to him.

He wore a green bomber-type jacket, which he quickly removed (it was hot in there). He had on a Keith Richardson sweatshirt, jeans, and his famous boots. He appeared nervous and fidgety {and why not), and referred a couple of times during the Q & A about his nervousness before coming out on stage. Another time he was talking about the need for actors to watch and listen [to people], that he was always interested in watching people’s nervous habits “many of which he had been exhibiting tonight.” He smiled and laughed often, was funny and somewhat self-deprecating , spoke softly, was extremely polite and patient with the students during the Q & A, (lightly chiding one young lady who addressed him as “Mr. Depp” that his father is Mr. Depp), spoke warmly of the late Ted Demme, stating that it’s hard to talk about him in the past tense, then led applause for Demme. He was everything, in fact, that we would want him to be. I’m hoping no one could see the idiotic grin that was pasted on my face for most of the 3 hours. I don’t think I moved, actually.

I will tell you this much about the interview: Any die-hard Depp fan would know the answers to most of the questions before JD answered. I mentioned this when I called my Bravo contact today to thank her again for inviting me. I asked if the publicists provide the info to Lipton. She told me the researcher was sitting right in front of me at the taping (like I’d notice?), and that the guests provide a list of topics which they do NOT want discussed; the researcher does the rest. Maybe the researcher reads the same boards we do. Vicki should be proud. Luckily, knowing the answers would never keep a Depp fan from watching the show and to anyone else it will be new and interesting stuff!

One answer which I thought was delightful, when they were discussing where JD was living and why, etc. (we know all that), Lipton said, “There’s nothing like being in love and being in Paris,” to which JD replied, kind of to the side, “Yeah, it makes babies.” Johnny said he was living in France and living “here,” without any of that talk about violence in the US, which we have read in his previous interviews. One wonders if he is playing that down a little?don’t know?just wondering.

I’m really looking forward to seeing the finished product. The interview taping ran until about 10p, followed by the “classroom,” in which the students ask their questions (You know, the “Hi, I’m Buffy, I’m an actor” segment. Cheap shot?sorry?actually some very famous actors are graduates of the Actors Studio-you can look it up on the Internet.), lasting until about 11, when Lipton interrupted and said, “We’ve got to let this man go home!” Although I wasn’t sure, an inside contact tells me that JD was whisked out of the auditorium very quickly, which is where John Bogdan’s story takes over. She added that JD was somewhat overwhelmed by the late start, the chaos, and the unexpected and uncontrolled crowd, so Bogdan’s observations are right on. No air date has been announced yet-the editing time varies. If the popularity of the taping session is any indication, I would guess they might speed up the process and get the thing on the air as soon as they can. In this business, it’s sometimes hard to second-guess the plotting and planning. Due to the way ratings are compiled, I don’t think the cable networks hold off the hot stuff until sweeps, the way the b’cast stations do.

This has been a very exciting experience, an unexpected highlight of an otherwise VERY routine life, one which will keep me glowing for a long time. I suggest we check, or your TV listing-of-choice, regularly and do either a “Johnny Depp” or “Inside the Actor Studio” search to see the program listings. IAS lists two weeks out-so we’ll know when the program airs and won’t have to guess and gossip about it-well, guess, anyway. ūüėé This has been a very long post. I hope you enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it today.

March 10, 2000   Uncategorized No Comments

Opening like a cheap horror movie with titles that fly out of computer-animated castle facades, The Ninth Gate has an uphill battle to recover respectability from the very beginning – by Rob Blackwelder.

Until “Ninth Gate” turns vapid in the last couple reels, Depp gives a deeply immersed performance, playing Corso’s serpentine nature beautifully and even affecting a deeper, clearer, more educated vocal inflection than we’ve heard from him before. However, his credibility as a book expert is shaky at best. A true connoisseur would closely examine bindings, etc. A true connoisseur wouldn’t smoke while flipping through fragile, 600-year-old volumes, letting ash fall on the pages.

Copyright Ltd 2005

This is an article excerpt. To view the article in full, please visit the ContactMusic website.

July 8, 1999   Uncategorized No Comments

By Johnny Depp

An appreciation of Kerouac, Burroughs, Cassady and the other bastards who ruined my life

There I was, age thirteen, eyes shut tight, listening intently to Frampton Comes Alive over and over again, as some kind of pubescent mantra that helped to cushion the dementia of just how badly I wanted to whisk Bambi, the beautiful cheerleader, away from the wedge of peach melba that was the handsome, hunky football hero. …

I was daydreaming of taking her out behind the 7-Eleven to drink Boone’s Farm strawberry-apple wine and kiss until our mouths were raw. ZZZZRRRIIIPP!! was the sound I heard that ripped me from that tender moment. My brother Danny, ten years my senior and on the verge of committing fratricide, having had more than enough of “Do you feel like we do?,” promptly seized the vinyl off record player and with a violent heave chucked the sacred album into the cluttered abyss of my room.

“No more,” he hissed. “I can’t let you listen to that shit anymore!”

I sat there snarling at him in that deeply expressive way that only teens possess, decompressing too fast back into reality. He grabbed a record out of his own collection and threw it on.

“Try this … you’re better than that stuff. You don’t have to listen to that shit just ’cause other kids do.”

“OK, fucker,” I thought, “bring it on … let’s have it!”

The music started … guitar, fretless stand-up bass, flutes and some Creep pining away about venturing “in the slipstream … between the viaducts of your dreams. …” “Fuck this,” I thought, “this is pussy music — they’re not even plugged in! Those guitars aren’t electric!” The song went a bit further: “Could you find me … would you kiss my eyes … to be born again. …” The words began to hit home; they didn’t play that kind of stuff on the radio, and as the melody of the song settled in, I was starting to get kind of used to it. Shit! I even liked it. It was a sound I hadn’t really ever given any attention to before, because of my innate fear of groups like America, Seals and Crofts, and, most of all, the dreaded Starland Vocal Band. I didn’t give half a fuck about a horse with no name, summer breezes or afternoon delights! I needed space to be filled!!! Filled with sound … distorted guitars, drums, feedback and words … words that meant something … sounds that meant something!

I found myself rummaging and rooting wildly through my brother’s record collection as if it were a newfound treasure, a monumental discovery that no one — especially no one my age — could know about or understand. I listened to it all! The soundtracks to A Clockwork Orange and Last Tango in Paris, Bob Dylan, Mozart and Brahms … the whole shebang! I couldn’t get enough. I had become like some kind of junky for the stuff and in turn became a regular pain in the ass to my brother. I wanted to know all that he did. I wanted to know everything that rotten white-bread football brute didn’t. I was preparing to woo that fantastic little rah-rah girl out of the sunlight of the ice cream parlor and into my nocturnal adolescent dreamscape.

And so began my ascension (or descension) into the mysteries of all things considered Outside. I had burrowed too deep into the counterculture of my brother’s golden repository, and as years went by he would turn me on to other areas of his expertise, sending me even further into the dark chasm of alternative learning.

One day he gave me a book that was to become like a Koran for me. A dogeared paperback, roughed up and stained with God knows what. On the Road, written by some goofball with a strange frog name that was almost unpronounceable for my teenage tongue, had found its way from big brother’s shelf and into my greedy little paws. Keep in mind that in all my years of elementary school, junior high and high school, possibly the only things I’d read up to that point were a biography of Knute Rockne, some stuff on Evel Knievel and books about WW II. On the Road was life-changing for me, in the same way that my life had been metamorphosed when Danny put Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks onto the turntable that day.

I was probably about fifteen by this time, and the cheerleader had begun to fade from my dreams. I didn’t need her now. I needed to wander … whenever and wherever I wanted! I’d found myself at the end of my rope as far as school was concerned; there seemed no particular reason for me to stay. The teachers didn’t want to teach, and I didn’t want to learn — from them. I wanted my education to come from living life, getting out there in the world, seeing and doing and moving amongst the other vagabonds who had the same sneaking suspicion that I did, that there would be no great need for high-end mathematics, nope. … I was not going to be doing other people’s taxes and going home at 5:37 P.M. to pat my dog’s head and sit down to my one-meat-and-two-vegetable table waiting for Jeopardy to pop on the glass tit, the Pat Sajak of my own private game show, in the bellybutton of the universe, Miramar, Florida. A beautiful life, to be sure, but one I knew I was destined not to have, thanks to big brother Dan and the French-Canadian with the name Jack Kerouac.

I had found the teachers, the soundtrack and the proper motivation for my life. Kerouac’s train-of-thought writing style gave great inspiration for a train-of-thought existence — for better or for worse. The idea to live day to day in a “true pedestrian” way, to keep walking, moving forward, no matter what. A sanctified juggernaut.

Through this introduction to Kerouac, I then learned of his fellow conspirators Ginsberg, Burroughs, Corso, Huncke, Cassady and the rest of the unruly lot. I dove into their world full on and sponged up as much as I possibly could of their works. The Howl of Ginsberg left me babbling like an idiot, stunned that someone could regurgitate such honesty to paper. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch sent me into fits of hysterical laughter, with the imagery of talking assholes and shady reptilian characters looming, always not far behind. Cassady’s The First Third rants on beatifically like a high-speed circular saw. The riches I was able to walk away with from these heroes, teachers and mentors are not available in any school that I’ve ever heard of. Their infinite wisdom and hypersensitivity were their greatest attributes and in some cases –as I believe it was with Kerouac — played a huge part in their ultimate demise.

I had the honor of meeting and getting to know Allen Ginsberg for a short time. The initial meeting was at a soundstage in New York City, where we were both doing a bit in the film The United States of Poetry. I was reading a piece from Kerouac’s Mexico City Blues, the “2nth Chorus,” and as I was rehearsing it for camera, I could see a familiar face out of the corner of my eye: “Fuck me,” I thought, “that’s Ginsberg!” We were introduced, and he then immediately launched into a blistering rendition of said chorus, so as to show me the proper way for it to be done.

“As Jack would have done it!” he emphasized.

I was looking straight down the barrel at one of the most gifted and important poets of the twentieth century, and with all the truth and guts I could muster up, I said in response, “Yeah, but I’m not reading it as him, I’m reading it as me. It’s my interpretation of his piece.”

Silence — a LONNNGG silence. Ticktock tickrock ticktock

I was smiling nervously, my eyes sort of wavering between his face and the floor. I sucked down about half of my 5,000th cigarette of the day in one monster drag and filled the air around us with my poison. It was at that point that I remembered his “Don’t Smoke!” poem … oops … too fucking late now, boy, you done stepped in shit! I looked at Ginsberg, he looked at me, and the director looked at us both as the crew looked at him, and it was quite a little moment, for a moment there. Allen’s eyes squinted ever so slightly and then began to twinkle like bright lights. He smiled that mystic smile, and I felt as though God himself had forgiven me a dreadful sin.

After the shoot, we took a car back to his apartment on the Lower East Side and had some tea. He was gracious enough to speak to me about the early years with Kerouac, Cassady and the others. We spoke of many things, from the cost of a limo ride to the high-pitched voice of Oscar Wilde; he actually had a recording of Wilde reading The Ballad of Reading Gaol. He flirted unabashedly and nonstop for the duration of my visit, even allowing me to smoke, as long as I sat next to the kitchen window and exhaled in that direction. He kindly signed a book to me and a couple of autographs (one for my brother, of course), and then I made my way back to the hotel, only to have already received a call from him, inviting me to some kind of something or other.

From that day forward, we stayed in touch with each other over the next few years and even spent time together from time to time. Our communication continued until our final conversation, which was just three days before he passed on. He called me to say that he was dying, and that it would be nice to see each other again before he checked out. He was so calm and so peaceful about it that I had to ask how he felt given this situation. He gracefully said that it was like a ripple on a sea of tranquillity. He then cried a little, as did I; he said, “I love you,” and so did I. I told him I would get to New York as soon as possible, and fuckin’ A, I was gonna go — the call came only days later.

Ginsberg was a great man, like his old pals, who had paved the way for many, and many more to come. The contribution of these people goes way beyond their own works. Without On the Road, Howl or Naked Lunch, for example, would we have been blessed with the likes of Hunter S. Thompson and Bob Dylan? Or countless other writers and poets of that caliber who were born in the Fifties and Sixties? Where would we be without modern classics like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or The Times They Are A-Changin’?

So much has happened to me in the twenty years since I first sat down and took that long drag on Kerouac’s masterpiece. I have been a construction laborer, a gas-station attendant, a bad mechanic, a screen printer, a musician, a telemarketing phone salesman, an actor, and a tabloid target — but there’s never been a second that went by in which I deviated from the road that ol’ Jack put me on, via my brother. It has been an interesting ride all the way — emotionally and psychologically taxing — but a mother-fucker straight down the pike. And I know that without these great writers’ holy words seared into my brain, I would most likely have ended up chained to a wall in Camarillo State Hospital, zapped beyond recognition, or dead by misadventure.

So in the end, what can anyone … scholar, professor, student or biographer … really say about these angels and devils who once walked among us, though maybe just a bit higher off the ground?



published in Rolling Stones Magazine  07/08/99

June 1, 1999   Articles No Comments


JOHNNY DEPP has always chosen roles that are different, and his newest film Sleepy Hollow he displays his talent for humour and drama in a film reminiscent of the Horror films of the ’50s and ’60s. Depp has the starring role in this new version of Washington Irving’s fable Tile Legend of Sleepy Hollow but the success of the film comes from the multi-faceted character of Ichabod Crane.¬†

American-born Depp now lives with his wife Vanessa and their young daughter in France, but he had to adopt an English accent for the role of Crane. It is something he worked hard to develop. 


“You know what I did?” he responds to our inquiry. “I watched a lot of old Horror films. People like Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.” The inspiration for the character, he says, was in fact three people. “Number one was Basil Rathbone from the old Sherlock Holmes movies. Number two was a very great friend of mine that recently passed away, Roddy McDowell. He was a great man, a great actor and he was a very important model for the character. In a way this was my opportunity to tip my hat to him, to thank him, to salute him. The third was a terrific actress, Angela Lansbury,¬†

she was a great model for the character. I just tried to hold on to those three people and out of that came the accent.”¬†

Depp is too modest to admit that the success of the character may have had something to do with his own talent as an actor, but whatever talent he has, he says, it is something he’s nurtured through constant education.¬†

“l’vc been blessed to know certain people who have been great teachers to me,” he says. “I think that every film you do is a kind of continuation of your education. You meet great teachers along the way. Marlon Brando was one, and he became a great friend. Al Pacino was another, Martin Landau, the list goes on. You learn from everybody.”¬†

He pauses momentarily, before continuing. “Acting is a strange job, What’s at the heart of it for me is my fascination with human behaviour. I think the main thing for any actor when he’s starting out, before you go to class, before you read a book, is just to watch. Just observe people. And if you can take that on board, if you can learn from that and put it in a drawer somewhere, you can use it later to playa character. You’ll show how people do behave, and try to do it as honestly as possible.”¬†

“We present a certain image of ourselves to the public, or to other people in life but in fact there is usually something going on underneath. There’s the subtext underneath. That’s what fascinates me about acting, and that’s why I love it.”¬†




Depp has acquired a reputation for taking on roles that other actors might turn down, but he has also turned down roles that have made others superstars the so-called ‘blockbuster’ films. Still, when asked, he insists that what he projects is only himself, not something he’s modeled on anyone else.¬†

“I’m not sure I can say I’ve modeled myself on anyone else, no. But there were people influencing me even before I was an actor. One was Buster Keaton, another was Charlie Chaplin, another was Lon Chaney. Chaney influenced acting before Marlon did. Lon Chaney was one of the greatest character actors ever to stand in front of the camera. Unbelievable performances. Unbelievable transformations.”¬†

Chaney, of course, played some of the greatest Horror roles during his Hollywood career, popularising the Horror movie long before Karloff or Lugosi.




“I find all of those early stars very inspiring. but Chaney in particular. If I can be anything I would like to think that I can at least make an attempt at being a character actor. I think that is more important than just being a leading man. I think the term is pretty limiting. I’d like to consider myself, some day, a character actor.”¬†

Clearly his role as Ichabod Crane shows a progression towards that goal, although by his own admission, Depp had his uneasy moments during the film. “I could keep my distance from the atmosphere of the film, the Horror clement,” he says. “But you do get kind of wound up in these things. There were some scenes with the horseman that were pretty spooky. I got really scared.”¬†




SLEEPY HOLLOW marks Colleen Atwood’s fourth collaboration with Tim Burton She earned an Oscar nomination tor little Women and a second nominanon for Jonathan Demma’s Beloved She previously worked with Burton on Mars Attacks. Edward Sclssorhands and Ed Wood¬†

For Sleepy Hollow, Atwood’s research focused on period paintings and Visual descriptions of costumes from books, “There were no existing photographs,” comments Atwood. “but since this film IS not a history lesson the work becomes impressionistic ..¬†

In the film’s opening scene, Depp wears a constable’s uniform which Alwood describes as ‘incredibly chic” Once lchabod travels to Sleepy Hollow. he wears one costume in varying stages – a long waistcoat with gold trimming and a hand-printed silk lining that kicks back light when he moves, “People didn’t have a lot of clothing unless they were wealthy.’ Atwood explains “The Idea with lchabod’s costume was to make It very minimal and sleek¬†

The more elaborate costumes were worn by the Villagers of Sleepy Hollow – each one crafted by Atwood and her team from specially chosen fabrics. “They’re country folk that are 5 or 6 years behind the minute. says the designer, “but With the maximum amount of trim and gear to show their money on the outside.” The most extravagant dresses belonged to Lady Van Tassel (Miranda Richardson) “She’s definitely ruling the roost. When a character aspires to something greater. they take it to a different level.

One of Atwood’s favorite costumes IS a black and white dress worn by Lady Van Tassel. “It was such a challenge to create. and the way Miranda Richardson wore the costume was fantastic. The original Inspiration was bark in the forest. I wanted the dress to lit In the woods. but still be very grand. Miranda understood the architecture of the dress. that It went from light to dark, When she walked in it she walked straight forward and then turned to the Side, so you got the play of light on the costume ..¬†






AMONG Sleepy Hollow’s action set-pieces. including stunts. pyrotechnics and special effects is a choreographed fight between Ichabod (Johnny Depp). Brom (Casper Van Dien] and the Headless Horseman (Ray Park) in the creepy entrance bridge to the village, The lengthy coach chase through the Western Woods. recalling several Hammer scenes. was filmed inside Leavesden’s ‘flight shed’ where designers built a 400¬∑1001¬∑ long forest.¬†

Stunt co-ordinator Nick Gillard. whose recent film credits include Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. brought Originality to the action sequences, In addition to choreographing the fight scenes, Gillard, along with horse master Steve Dent. also gave riding instruction to the entire cast. Depp’s horse. Gunpowder, is a Belgium carriage horse. The Headless Horseman’s horse. Daredevil. was brought over from Seville and trained from scratch, “Spanish horses have the best nature.” says Dent. “You Just have to work with them for ten minutes and they’re rewed up like a Ferrari”¬†

Leavesden’s largest sound stage (,A’) underwent almost weekly transformations, changing from a forest to a barren field with haystacks, to a freezing snow-covered battlefield. Even a family of birds nesting in the ceiling grids were fooled by the changing seasons, When stage ‘A’ was revamped into a battlefield, the birds flew next door to stage ‘B’ where designers had created a cherry orchard for the spring dream sequences¬†

Filming ‘exteriors’ inside a sound stage required ingenuity and constant collaboration from director of photography Lubezki. production designer Heinrichs and the special effects department. “The biggest challenge.” according to Lubezki ‘was creating a false sense of sky” Lubezki pre-rigged the stages With hundreds of space lights (strung from the ceiling) that could be controlled from a dimmer board.¬†



CREATURE EFFECTS artist Kevin Yagher admits his greatest challenge was finding unusual ways for people to die. “Tim wanted very stylized decapitations, nothing that we’ve seen before.” explains Yaqher. In one instance. it meant a head spinning on its axis three or four times after being lopped off, Cast members had ‘life casts’ taken of their heads and bodies, a process some described as incredibly claustrophobic, The heads were then plastered and painted with silicone. then sculpted and textured by artists, Hairs were individually punched in. eyeballs inserted, and acrylic teeth are filled into the gums¬†

On average. a head tooks five weeks to complete and the results were often staggering for the actors. “I was silting in the make-up truck gossiping over a cup of coffee: recalled actor Richard Griffiths. “when one of the effects guys asked ‘have you seen your head yet?’ I said thank you. no, So he pulled it out of a box, Well the jolt. the thump, somewhere underneath your fourth rib that you get when you see it. Talk about intimations of mortality, I’ve seen my head In somebody else’s hands!”¬†

In addition to creating more than a dozen realistic looking heads. the creatures department had an even ‘bigger’ project on their plate – the building of a life-sized (and life-like] mechanical horse to double as Daredevil. the Headless Horseman’s horse.

January 1, 1999   Uncategorized No Comments

What we have here is the product of two men. After his screenplay for “Seven” was produced, Andrew Kevin Walker’s retelling of this Washington Irving story was sold and promptly sat on the shelf for a few years. Director Tim Burton, after a long string of artistic and commercial successes, had a pair of setbacks. His cinematic adaptation of the “Mars Attacks!” trading cards was all sight-gags, and no soul. Recently, he spent a year in pre-production on a Superman movie, only to have Warner Bros pull the plug a couple of months before filming would begin. In a no-brainer, the director and the script found each other. There are two things that make this the perfect Burton project. The first is the latest addition to his gallery of beloved outcasts, Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp)- by Ron Wells for Film Threat.

In this version of the tale, Crane is not a schoolteacher, but a New York City constable in 1799 (though still a foppish girly-man). At this time, superstition and piety still rule the populace. After a childhood trauma, Crane has rejected both in favor of science and reason. When attempting to apply both to police work, the would-be forensic scientist is ridiculed and sent upstate to apply his “detecting” skills to a series of murders in a small village called “Sleepy Hollow”.

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January 1, 1999   Interviews No Comments

Brooding Johnny muses on his motley career and reinventing Ichabod Crane for Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow – by Rob Blackwelder.

Blackwelder: You’ve said you patterned the character after Roddy McDowell, Angela Lansbury in “Death On the Nile” and the old Sherlock Holmes. How did you use those influences to create Ichabod?

Depp: It’s funny, because what happens to me when I read a script, when something grabs hold of me, I start getting these flashes of people or places or things or images…With “Sleepy Hollow,” I was (after) the kind of drive that Basil Rathbone had as Sherlock Holmes, but what’s going on behind that is total and utter confusion. Basil Rathbone knew exactly what he was talking about. He hit in on every note. Ichabod would (seem to) hit it, but he would miss it, in fact.

With Roddy,…he had this very ethereal quality (I wanted), and (with) Angela Lansbury (it was) the energy, the sort of righteousness that she had. I haven’t even seen “Death On the Nile” since I was very young, but she was this force, she was this presence. So those are the ingredients and you just sort of mash then all together and see what you come up with. It’s always dangerous when you try that stuff. With Ed Wood, it was this sort of blending of Ronald Reagan, the Tin Man from “The Wizard of Oz” and Casey Kasem.

Copyright Ltd 2005

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June 1, 1998   Articles No Comments

What Makes Johnny Famous?
Icon, June 1998
by Dana Shapiro

Despite relentless attempts to abandon the image that launched his career, Johnny Depp can’t seem to escape his own face.
Once told a front desk clerk that his name was Mr. Donkey Penis…used to hang off the ledge of a parking structure with Nicolas Cage… was spotted in a gay bar with John Waters…had his “Winona Forever” tattoo surgically altered to read “Wino Forever”…got a speeding ticket…broke some furniture…slept in the bed where Oscar Wilde died…got in an argument with a photographer named Jonathan Walpole in a London pub; “He pulled both my ears,” Walpole said. “Very hard.” “I’ve just handed Johnny Depp a thick stack of press clippings downloaded from the data retrieval service, Lexis-Nexis. “You just type in ‘Johnny Depp’ with a headline restriction, and this is the type of stuff that comes out,” I explain.
He flips through the pages with a mix of intrigue, amusement, and disgust, reading the occasional quote that catches his attention. “Jesus,” he says, “this is bizarre.” Depp charged with assaulting a security guard in Vancouver in 1989, described Canadians as ‘Moosehead-drinking hockey players,'” he laughs. “Good lord,” he says. “Wow, this is weird: ‘Emir Kusturica] and Johnny carried around
Dostoevsky books and Kerouac books and they wore black. They had never worn black in their lives. They kept everybody in the cast and crew awake all night because they were blasting music and getting drunk.’ I think Vincent Gallo said that.” He continues flipping. This is amazing,” he says. “What’s it called–Lexis-Nexis?”
It’s two o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon and Depp is eating chicken chow mein at the Formosa Cafe, the star-clogged Hollywood restaurant that open in 1946 across the street from the Goldwyn Studios (now the Warner Hollywood Studios). Outside in the parking lot are mock reserved spots for Frank Sinatra, Clark Gable, Bette Davis, Lee Marvin, Grace Kelly, Larry, Moe, Curly, and Elvis–“Nothing But a Hound Dog” on the sound system.
I bet she used to be a real dish,” Depp says quietly of the waitress, a skinny, motherly woman with extra makeup and a wink for the movie star. She doesn’t say anything fan-like, but it’s clear she knows who Depp is–after the meal, he’s allowed to smoke in the nonsmoking section. “You wouldn’t happen to have a toothpick, would you?” Depp asks her.
On the walls above the table, and all over the restaurant, hang the autographed faces of everyone from Tony Curtis to Michael Douglas to Liza Minelli to John Ritter. “Meet me at the Formosa” reads the sign above the bar. “Where the stars dine.”
Whether or not you consider Johnny Depp a “star” depends on whether you chalk the concept of fame up to public recognition, acclaim, hatred, or talent. JonBenet Ramsey is famous for dying. Dennis Rodman is famous for making himself famous. Thomas Pynchon is famous for not being famous. And then there are those who become famous by dating famous people–Gwyneth Paltrow, Rande Gerber, Donovan Leitch, Nicole Kidman–an unfortunate factor that has kept Depp’s name in print and made his personal life more marketable than his films.
“There’s an episode, a little moment on Beavis and Butt-head that I really like,” says filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, Depp’s good friend who directed him in the 1996 film Dead Man. “They’re watching a Tom Petty video and Beavis is saying, ‘Why is this guy so famous?’ And Butt-head says, ‘Because he’s always on TV.’ Beavis says, ‘Yeah, but why is he always on TV?’ Butt-head says, ‘Because he’s famous.’ And Beavis is getting really upset, y’know, because he can’t follow that concept–why are people famous?”
Four years ago, Tim Burton called Depp and said, “What are you doing?” and Depp said, “Hanging out,” and Burton said, “Can you meet me at the Formosa Cafe in about 20 minutes?” Depp said, “Yeah, yeah I’ll be there.” When he arrived, Burton was sitting at the far end of the bar, having a beer. “So I sat down, we had a beer, and he says, ‘I got this story,'” Depp recalls. “And he started talking about the film, and within five minutes I was like, “Okay, let’s do it, I’m there. Just say when.'” Burton had the idea of making a black and white biopic of the transvestite filmmaker Ed Wood and wanted Depp to play the lead. (It was Burton who, four years earlier, legitimized Depp’s acting career when he chose him–over Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, and Michael Jackson, among many others–to play the role of an innocent experiment whose scissorhands keep him in fear of cutting what he truly loves.)
While Edward Scissorhands certainly called attention to Depp’s potential, it was his role as Ed Wood that solidified his status as an actor, proving he had a range beyond the passive handsomeness of his previous roles in Arizona Dream, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, and Benny and Joon. Unlike, say, Tom Cruise, whose looks are obscured by a gung-ho enthusiasm that makes even his dramatic roles seem like action-adventure, Depp’s brooding face and mannered coolness can be distracting. The most obvious exceptions are Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood, because in the former Depp’s face is disguised with makeup and scars, and in the latter he turns the passivity into a put-on–Ed Wood is more of a caricature than a character, and for that reason, Depp is all the more effective.
When Depp was shooting Ed Wood, Jarmusch was staying at his house in L.A. and recalls how the role of the grinning, panty-wearing “worst director of all time” was making his friend a little weird. “At the end of the day, I’d hang out with him or whatever and he was Ed Wood for at least three or four hours after he’d leave the set,” recalls Jarmusch. “He had this stupid smile on his face, and I’d ask him, ‘Johnny, what do you want to eat–Thai, Chinese, Italian?’ And he’d say, ‘They all sound great! Everything’s terrific! What would you like? And it was so not Johnny. I just wanted to slap him–come one, cut it out, you’re scaring me. But he couldn’t. I really gave me the creeps.”
Though Depp says his role as the withdrawn, unfinished monster in Edward Scissorhands is closest to his own personality, his role as William Blake in Jarmusch’s Dead Man may be a closer parallel to the boy from Kentucky who moved to L.A. to get a record deal but wound up with his face spread across the covers of every teen magazine in America, unintentionally becoming known as a heartthrob. In the film, Depp plays a soft-spoken accountant from Cleveland who goes west to the industrialized town of Machine with a letter promising him a job, but when he gets there, nobody seems to know who he is. He goes to the local bar, where an act of chivalry leads to a self-defense murder, and his face winds up spread across the covers of Wanted posters, unintentionally becoming known as a killer. The rest of the film is spent running away from, and ultimately confronting, the image on the poster.
“Johnny’s character is sort of like a blank slate, and everyone projects an identity onto him that he doesn’t even understand necessarily,” Jarmusch explains. “He’s not an outlaw, violent-type guy, but he gets made into a wanted, hunted criminal. And Johnny has that too, in that he has the ability to let others project things onto him. And it happens to him in his real life as well–movie star, bad boy–whatever they project onto Johnny seems, to me, so far off from who he really is.”
“When I first met him I thought he was just that dork from 21 Jump Street,” says Vincent Gallo, who stars with Depp in Arizona Dream. “What’s interesting about Johnny is that he’s been able to permeate the mainstream without pandering to it.” Juliette Lewis, who played Depp’s love interest in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, says, “We were linked together in the first three weeks of filming, but we never even talked to each other really. I worked with him, but I don’t have a clue who he is as a person. I mean, that’s something to say.” “If you don’t mention how shy he is, you’ll be missing the boat on a lot of stuff,” says Peter DeLuise, who played big Doug next to Depp’s small Tom on 21 Jump Street. “The reality is that he’s a tiny, little, sensitive guy, and more times than not, he’s overwhelmed with people coming up to him.”
How do you like your potatoes?
“My favorite way to eat anything is fried,” Depp says. “Gotta be fried.”
Chicken fried steak?
“Oh, f**k. Live for it. Love it.
So you like McDonald’s better than Burger King.
“I love ’em both. But I think I love Burger King maybe a little better. I know it’s char-broiled, I knot, but…I’m a big advocate of fast food. I’m from the South. I’m complete and total and utter white trash, and that’s okay, y’know. I love pork, I live for pork. I just think pork is the best thing in the world.”
Did Winona Ryder eat pork?
“Yeah, Winona ate pork.”
How about Kate Moss?
“Kate eats pork, hell yeah. She’s English.”
But you’re single now, right?
“I’m single now, yeah.”
Is it strange looking up at a billboard and seeing your ex-girlfriend?
“No, it’s nice, you know? It’s nice to be able to sort of drive by and wave, say hi. It’s sweet. I like seeing her face.”
Do you date vegetarians?
I”I did date a vegetarian actually. And she’d sit there and watch me feast on some pig snout, hog snout. Yeah, I’ve dated a couple vegetarians.”
Do you trust vegetarians?
“I don’t really trust anybody who doesn’t eat pork. I mean, it’s fine if you’re a vegetarian, but fuckin’ A, man, how can you not eat pork?”
What’s interesting about Depp is not that his parents got divorced, not that he dates mostly white women, not that he pulled some guy’s ears for repeatedly asking Kate Moss’s friend for a cigarette and then taking a sip of her drink (actually, that is kind of interesting), not that he smoked some pot or swallowed some acid. What’s most interesting about Depp is his career. Not because it was launched by playing an androgynous sex symbol on the Fox Network’s first hit show, 21 Jump Street, not because he showed his ass in the embarrassing Private Resort, but because the films that he’s chosen to be in, and the fact that he’s chosen to be in them, is, for lack of a better word, interesting.
“I think Hollywood would have preferred to have made him into a different kind of product,” Jarmusch says. “Johnny’s not your typical player–you can see by the choices he makes. He hasn’t done the Nick Cage-type of moves, to be in big action movies.”
It’s an observation worth exploring because Depp’s films are atypical (past costars include Joe Dallesandro, Patty Hearst, Traci Lords, Vincent Price, George “The Animal” Steele, Jerry Lewis, and Robert Mitchum), and Nicholas Cage (besides introducing Depp to acting) is a relevant person to bring up, if only for the sake of contrast. Cage launched a career with the same type of “oddball” roles that Depp has become know for taking–Valley Girl, Birdy, Vampire’s Kiss, Wild at Heart–but now he’s making summer blockbusters. Conversely, Depp began his film career by playing preppy roles in mall-targeted films like A Nightmare on Elm Street and Private Resort, and went on to make films like Arizona Dream, Ed Wood, and Dead Man–good work that few people saw.
What’s also interesting is how this self-proclaimed white trash, high school drop-out wound up living in Bela Lugosi’s old mansion in the Hollywood Hills and getting A-list acting offers when not one of his 14 starring roles has ever been nominated for an Oscar, and the highest grossing movie that he ever starred in (Edward Scissorhands: $56 million) came out eight years ago.
Of Depp’s last three major releases since Ed Wood–all more “typical” than his usual work–Nick of Time seemed to be the most conspicuous peek over the “mainstream” fence, but Christopher Walken, John Badham (the director of Saturday Night Fever), and the film’s Hitchcockian roots made a good defense for Depp’s bad decision. Before that, Don Juan DeMarco was almost legitimized by Marlon Brando’s surprising participating and Depp’s authentic accent, and Donnie Brasco had ex-Godfather Al Pacino and an identity-questioning script to separate it from a genre that should have ended with Goodfellas in 1991. Still, none of these films approached the original craftiness of Ed Wood.
Of Nick of Time–released three years before this month’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (directed by Terry Gilliam and starring Depp as Hunter S. Thompson’s alter-ego, Raoul Duke)–Waters says: “Of all Johnny’s movies, I wouldn’t pick it as my favorite.” Jarmusch: “Nick of Time wasn’t a movie that interested me very much, nor did the character that he played.” DeLuise: “I thought Nick of Time was a valiant attempt, although I don’t think it really worked as they thought it might.” While it seems unanimous that Nick of Time was the low point, Depp’s recent decisions–to star in Roman Polanski’s next project, The Ninth Gate, and as the lead in the Hughes Brothers’ biopic of, curiously, Howard Hughes–once again show he is more attracted to working with certain actors and directors than increasing his visibility at the multiplex. “His motivations are based on what makes his life interesting,” Jarmusch says, “rather than what skyrockets his quote for a film or whatever.”
What certainly hasn’t skyrocketed Depp’s quote–and perhaps his riskiest career move yet–was his directorial debut, The Brave (based on the book by Gregory McDonald and co written with his brother Dan), a film about a Cherokee Indian who agrees to be in a snuff film to earn money for his family. It stars Depp, Brando, and Max Perlich, and features a score by Iggy Pop. The poster for The Brave (which Depp has hanging in his house) features an image of a painted creature that looks like a Basquiat scrawl–Depp saw it on a wall, and has no idea who did it. But perhaps the most striking aspect of the promotional image is that Depp neglected to put his own face on it. (For now, anyway.)
As a first-time director, Depp says he was “scared shitless” for the film’s premiere last year at the 50th Cannes Film Festival. “You walk up the red carpet, you know, the whole thing: go up there, wave, go in and sit down and watch the film with 2,500 people. Film goes through. No coughs, no moving shoes. You’re charged, you’re out of your mind, you’re everything. You’re dying, you’re ready to vomit, you’re shaking, you want nothing but to get horribly drunk. And at the same time you’re really proud, and you’re embarrassed, because you feel exposed, you know? You just feel like you’ve ripped your chest cavity open and just begged someone to s**t in it.”
Which is not far from what some critics did, and with a vengeful sort of glee. By most accounts, The Brave was booed at the 8:30 AM press screening, but found a much warmer reception later that evening at the official premiere. Lisa Schwarzbaum, a critic from Entertainment Weekly who was at the press screening, recalls, “It had a nice look to it, it was beautifully lit, had a very moody feeling to it, but was sort of astonishingly not ready to be seen. It was actually kind of embarrassing. He really needed somebody older who wouldn’t be afraid to say, ‘You know, Johnny, nice idea, but let’s sit on this for a while. Let’s get a little life behind you before you take on something like this.’ With any luck, it will never be released and nobody will ever have to see it, and I mean that for him as well as the audience.”
Says Waters, who was with Depp later that night for the premiere: “Well, it’s very serious, but it’s certainly arty. He didn’t make a commercial kind of movie, which I think is good. People loved it.”
But the film has yet to be picked up, and Depp seems frustrated by the negative press. “Hollywood Reporter, Variety, all these f**king things, they come out and they say, ‘The Brave was booed last night’. Well, they lied. And distributors were scared shitless. It was a film that was over two hours long, it got booed, you know–they thought it got booed–but it’s like, the people in this town play Follow-the-Leader, man. If Joe down the street has a really nice pair of sneakers but, you know, Bob doesn’t know if he likes them or not until he sees Sue’s boyfriend Lance wearing them. Then if two people like ’em, I’m there, y’know? That kind of mentality is like a fuckin’ disease.”
In 1986, Depp spent 10 weeks in the jungles of the Philippines filming Platoon, only to come home and find his part as Lerner the translator had been almost completely chopped out of the finished film, partly because Oliver Stone thought the Lerner character was diluting the good-guy power of Charlie Sheen, and partly, Depp says, for his changing some lines (something he says he does often). Around this time, he began dating Sherilyn Fenn (Twin Peaks, Just One of the Guys), one of four girls he’s been engaged to in his life. (“Haven’t you seen the bumper sticker in L.A.?” asks Jennifer Grey, who was engaged to Depp for eight months in 1989: “Honk if you’ve been engaged to Johnny Depp.”)
Depp’s first fiancee, Lori Ann Allison (a makeup artist five years his senior), became his wife for two years in 1983. “I was engaged to Sherilyn, um. I was engaged to Winona. I was engaged to Jennifer Grey,” Depp says. “Out of respect to the girls I was with, I’ll just answer that I was engaged to those people. But a lot was written about that s**t, and it was taken to another level and it was turned into some kind of horrible joke, you know. I like the idea of marriage. I don’t know if I believe in it, but I like the idea, the concept. I don’t know if one person can be with one person until they die. I don’t know if that’s humanly possible.”

What Makes Johnny Famous – part 2

Disappointed with the outcome of his part in Platoon, Depp accepted the job to play an undercover high school cop named Tom Hanson on 21 Jump Street, a decision he says was almost entirely wrong. He never wanted to be a TV actor, but the prospect of a steady paycheck and his hunch that the show wouldn’t last more than a season outweighed his artistic ambitions. “Actually, there were good people involved, and in terms of the camera, the lighting, marks, television is a great education” Depp says. “So that was like college for me. So that was like college for me. But I just didn’t want to be involved in that kind of assembly-line s**t, you know? I didn’t want to be a product. I didn’t want to be a product. I didn’t want to be that thing, that hunk s**t or whatever. It wasn’t me.
21 Jump Street became the flagship show for Fox, and consequently Depp became the poster child for the up-and-coming network, his face on every ad they took out. “He was the star,” says DeLuise. “There was no doubt in anybody’s mind, and I think he really resented that. On the show they would always randomly cut back to his face while he was listening to other people talk–he was forced to react and make faces, and that made him mad. So Jim [Whitmore, the director] came up with this great idea: he said “I’ll tell you what, you don’t have to make faces, I will give you the subtext of the scene. There is poop somewhere nearby, and at the beginning of the scene you sense there is poop, and then you actually smell the poop, and then you can’t seem to get away from the poop, and then you need to know where the poop is. Now just work on that.” And if you look at the expression on Johnny’s face, he is trying to find the poop.”
“I was bored to tears and I was dying,” Depp says of his days on the show. “I was chewing my own leg. Whitmore would do things like that to keep the scene interesting for me. If you had the subtext that somewhere in this room was s**t, it made a lot more go on during the scene.”
Around this time in Baltimore, John Waters (Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble) was looking through teen galleries/magazines for a boy to play the role of Cry Baby Walker, a leather clad “drape” with a tattoo of an electric chair on his chest. “With Cry Baby, I was trying to make a job, a satire of an Elvis movie,” Waters explains, “and to me, Johnny certainly looked right. He looked like the perfect juvenile delinquent. Then I watched 21 Jump Street and I met him and I knew he had a sense of humor–that was the main thing. And he told me he hated being a teen idol. I said, ‘Stick with us, we’ll kill that. Don’t worry.'”
“John saved me, he really did,” Depp says. “Because I was desperate to get out of that mold, y’know, and desperate to not be a product anymore. And by doing Cry Baby, and John giving me that gig, it was a major turning point. I always like to say that John Waters made me a millionaire. I used to always say that to him: “‘Do you realize you made me a millionaire?'”
But it was a symbiotic relationship. Without Depp, Waters wouldn’t have been able to get the money to make the type of campy musical he wanted to make, and without Waters, Depp wouldn’t have gotten the chance to spit at his own face. And it worked. “Cry Baby still plays constantly on cable and all over Europe, and that’s thanks to Johnny. Because even if it was not successful in some countries, it can play now because it’s a Johnny Depp movie, not a John Waters movie. And I think Johnny can thank me for ending him being a teen idol.”
Though barely any of Depp’s teen magazine-reading fans ever saw the movie, the right people obviously got the joke because that same year (1990) Depp was cast in the highly sought-after role of Edward Scissorhands. “I didn’t even want to meet Tim Burton [who was just coming off Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and Beetlejuice],” Depp recalls. “I wanted to but I thought it was pointless. Tracy [Jacobs, Depp’s agent] forced me to. I just said, ‘No way, it’s embarrassing.’ You know, something you want so badly and he’s never gonna see me as that, never. He’s gonna think, ‘Aaw, fuckin’ TV actor s**t.’ Everybody wanted that fuckin’ role, so I just thought, ‘Hell, why would he give it to me?'”
Burton did give it to him, and subsequently added to the image-smearing process that Waters had started. After Depp had gone overboard proving what he wasn’t in Cry Baby, he found in Edward a character that he truly identified with. “I just knew the guy, I knew the character. I knew everything,” he says. “I remember it was the 89th day–right before I did my last shot on the movie which was doing the ice sculpture with Kim, Winona’s character. And I remember getting the makeup on, and everything, and looking in the mirror before I went to set, and I’m thinking, ‘f**k, this is the last time I’m gonna see this guy,’ you know, this is it, this is the last time. It was like saying goodbye. It fuckin’ made me cry, it was weird, it was bizarre. I really, really, really miss him.”
Did you know there’s a porno called Edward Penishands?
“Yeah, I’ve seen it,” Depp says. “It’s great, it’s really funny. It’s the same deal, y’know, Edward, the fuckin’ hair and everything, and the suit, the black thing, but instead of scissors for hands, he’s got these massive fuckin’ penises, just huge dicks on each hand–huge, though. He’s real timid and all that stuff, and girls come to him and really like him a lot, and, y’know, he can f**k three women–he’s got one here, one here, and then he’s got his own.”
What feature do you look for in a woman?
How do you feel about feet?
“Feet are very important. Feet are very, very important.”
Are they pretty high up on the priority list?
“Way up, yeah, about top two.”
What would be an example of bad feet?
“Bad feet, let’s see. Long toenails. Horrible, can’t even think about it. Long toenails is a bad move. It’s just an awful image, y’know.”
What if the second toe is longer than the first toe?
“That’s okay. It depends, y’know, the aesthetic of the…there should be a certain symmetry to feet. And I’m not a big symmetry fan. I like things a bit asymmetrical–in fact I need that–but feet, there’s gotta be a certain symmetry to the feet. Feet say a lot. If a girl doesn’t take care of her feet, there may be problems elsewhere.”
Do you think it’s important to be able to fart in front of each other in a relationship?
“I’m not so sure.”
She shouldn’t
“I’m not sure she should.”
Should you?
“I’m not sure it’s the kind of thing that boys and girls should be doing together. Some things should be private, you know?”
“Johnny has a Porsche, right, and he had to pick Marlon Brando up from his house–they were going somewhere–and Brando was like, ‘John, I’m so disappointed, I can’t believe you have a Porsche, I don’t want to be seen with you in this car, how can you possibly…'” recalls Jarmusch. “This whole thing with Brando–‘I’m not riding in a Porsche with John’–he was really putting it down, it was really funny.”
Depp’s black Porsche Carrera 4 is parked near a sealed green gate in the Hollywood Hills. There is a security key pad next to the gate and a camera to see who’s pressing the buttons. The doors open, and I look around what was once Bela Lugosi’s backyard (Depp bought the house in 1995 for $2.3 million). It looks gothic and intricate, like a dirty Hollywood castle that was scrubbed clean. A big metal, yellow gorilla stands near the edge of the property with a large, semi-erect penis spewing forth a stream of water that, I’m told, is sometimes cranked up and pointed into the neighbor’s yard. The words “You Can Run But You Can’t Hide” are spray painted in black letters across his chest. “Something they did annoyed him so he rigged it up so it would piss on them,” Jarmusch says, “which is very Johnny. He has this adolescent kind of humor, and that prankster-style revenge.”
The security camera is connected to a four-part black-and-white monitor that sits in what could otherwise be a kitchen in a Better Homes and Gardens spread (aside from the few cans of Drum tobacco on the kitchen table. There is a basket of fruit, boxes of cereal, stacks of books, pots, pans, and candles. There is a bottle of Cuervo 1800 on the window sill, a black-and-white pit-bull mix names Moo (a gift from Moss, who Depp met in February 1994 and dated until recently), Palmolive by the sink and a man, Mr. Pink (who lives in the guest house), making a salad that Johnny apparently adores. This is the brightest room in the house.
The bar is off the kitchen. There are beers on draft, a stocked wall of booze, a sound system, and low-dipping leather chairs placed around an old table. In the corner are the steel painted scissorhands displayed in a glass case, as well as a prototype for an Edward Scissorhands doll that never got made, and the wispy wig for his part in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. On the walls hang paintings, the Wanted poster from Dead Man, a personalized record plaque from Oasis, pictures of Kerouac, Burroughs, Cocteau.
Sitting deep in a chair, Depp is rolling and smoking Drum after Drum and telling me how people have called him Johnny his whole like. “My grandfather would call me Big John, but my mom and dad and sisters and brother, they always called me Johnny. People always say it sounds fake–Johnny Depp. I remember when I was with my first agent and she said, ‘Um, what do you want your name to be?’ It was such an odd question, I said, ‘What do you mean?’ And she said, ‘You know, in the credits and stuff.’ And I said, “Johnny, I guess. Johnny Depp. Why?’ ‘Are you sure you don’t want to be John Depp or John Christopher Depp or John Depp II or John Christopher Depp II?'”
The youngest of four children (two sisters, one brother), Depp grew up in the working-class suburb of Owensboro, Kentucky. Their house and neighborhood, Depp says, were similar to the 1950s pastel land of Edward Scissorhands: tract housing, neat lawns, quiet streets. John Depp Sr. was a public servant working as a civil engineer, and his wife, Betty Sue (whose name Johnny had tattooed on his left bicep), was a waitress at a local restaurant–she gave birth to her most famous child on June 9, 1963. “My mom is one of my best friends in the world,” Depp says. “It’s interesting, my dad’s a big guy, a really fuckin’ tough-looking guy, but the advice [on how to fight] came from my mom. I’ll never forget it; she told me when I was little: ‘Lookit, you get in a fight with somebody, and they’re bigger than you, you pick up the biggest fuckin’ brick you can find and you lay ’em out, you just fuckin’ knock ’em out.'”
When Depp was seven, the family moved to Miramar, Florida, a small town near Miami. They lived in a motel for a year before his father found work as a public works official. It was in Miramar that Depp would meet Sal Jenco, his best friend since then who now runs Depp’s Hollywood club, the Viper Room (opened in August 1993)–and the inspiration for the name of Iggy Pop’s cross-dressing character in Dead Man.
Depp was always more interested in rock ‘n’ roll types than sports figures, but says that when he was a kid, he could tell you every player on the Miami Dolphins. “I can remember being a little kid in Florida and loving Jim Kick,” he says. “It was Kick and Csonka, they were the running backs. And I loved Jim Kick. Not because he was a brilliant player–he was a good back, he was solid–but I loved him because he was the first guy in the NFL to have long hair and a Fu Manchu, you know? I liked him because he was an outsider.”
Despite a face that one might assume would automatically put Depp in the popular clique of his high school, he maintains that, like Kick, he was an outsider. “High school can be fun I guess, hang out with girls, make friends and all that s**t, but that just wasn’t for me,” he says. “There were sort of different classes of people–I guess it still exists. There are the jocks, and the smart kids with good grades and stuff, and there was like rednecks or something, and then there are the burnouts. I was considered a burnout. I was just, you know, kid of a weed-head.”
He avoids specifics, but says that he went through a difficult period when he was 15 years old and his parents got divorced. “I had issues, major problems with that, how [my father] left and what-not. So we had a little bit of a rough spot, but we cleared it up and we’re good now, now we get along real well. Yeah, I love my pop. And I love–you know, I worship my mom.”
Though as a kid he liked to flip through the channels looking for old black-and white movies, especially Dracula and Frankenstein, Depp says he never even considered a career in film. He remembers his older brother Dan introducing him to A Clockwork Orange and Last Tango in Paris (his first glimpse at Brando) when he was 13, but it was the guitar his mother bought him that same year that would have the greatest impact on the youngest Depp. He learned to play sitting in his room, and when he was 17, he joined a local band called The Kids. They became well known in the South Florida punk rock scene–opening for Iggy Pop, Talking Heads, the Pretenders, The Ramones–and Depp truly thought that they were going to make it. He says the music was “kind of loud, aggressive power pop–at the time I would’ve compared it to early U2.”
When he was 20, Depp moved to L.A. with the band (renamed Six Gun Method because they weren’t kids anymore) in search of “the almighty record deal.” They did okay, but their presence was nothing compared to what it was in Florida. “It was real difficult out in L.A.–we’d play at these little clubs,” he says. “We were trying to build a following and stuff, but you make no money. You’d make literally, like, 25 bucks.” To supplement his income, Depp took to selling pens over the phone, “My first experience with acting,” he says.
Before long, “the band sort of stopped. We were all homesick and the majority of them split. I was sort of left hanging with no band,” Depp says, “and I was just going to make the movie.”
The movie was Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street. Depp’s ex-wife Lori had introduced him to Nicolas Cage, who convinced him to go on his first casting call in front of the director, whose young daughter happened to be there watching and seems to have been instrumental in getting Depp the job. He earned $1,200 a week–“shocking money,” he says–and made his screen debut as Glen Lantz, the main character’s preppy boyfriend who falls asleep and gets swallowed by a bed and then spit up with a stream of blood. The aspiring rock ‘n’ roller was now an actor.
“To me he’s more a rock ‘n’ roll-type guy than a Hollywood guy,” Jarmusch says, a perception that is only strengthened by Depp’s high-profile girlfriends, his association with bands like Oasis, the Butthole Surfers, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the fact that he got caught tossing things around a hotel room. In September 1994, Depp made all the papers when he was arrested at New York’s Mark Hotel and charged with two counts of criminal mischief after allegedly trashing the hotel room where he was staying with Moss. It was perhaps his biggest–and most ironic–media moment: The boy who became a household face playing a copy on TV, then satirized the copy by getting arrested in Cry Baby, was now in the pages of People wearing a ski hat and sunglasses, being escorted to the 19th Precinct in handcuffs.
“People did a piece on me like I was some kind of hellion on the road to ruin,” Depp says. “And they went out and found the picture that made me look the most unhealthy and debauched and put it on the cover. Such disgusting pigs.”
Have you ever spent a fair amount of time with a writer, trusted them, and then they twisted the story around and wrote some slasher piece about you?
“Absolutely,” Depp says.
Want to yell at anyone?
“There was this cretin at Esquire magazine–and they were cunts, man–it was after the Mark incident, and this guy had a hard-on for me in the worst way, it was so apparent, he wore it all over his face and his clothing–it was all over him. And when I showed up for the photo shoot, they had built an entire hotel suite on stage. And this fuckin’ weak pathetic photographer–this glorified paparazzi–was going along with this idea. And I said, ‘What’s this for?’ and he said, ‘Well, we thought, or the magazine thought, you might enjoy taking the piss out of the incident and just beating the s**t out of this hotel room and just f**king destroying it.’ I said. ‘Wow, this must have cost you a lot of money, building this.’ ‘Yeah, it really did,’ he said. And I said, ‘I’m not f**king touching it.'”
Back at the table in the bar of Depp’s house, I pull out a copy of a cheezy unauthorized biography called Johnny Depp: A Modern Rebel. There is a picture of him as Cry Baby on the cover–leather jacket, Elvis hair, a tattooed tear dripping from his left eye–but the irony of Waters’ creation is completely lost in this context. It looks earnest.
Getting arrested in front of a camera may have been the most effective scene in Depp’s image-killing campaign, but the incident launched a whole new set of labels. “A modern rebel,” Depp says, laughing, holding the book. “Someone showed this to me, and at first I was like, ‘Oh f**k.’ But then–check this out…” He turns to the introduction and points to the first photo in the book. It’s a full-page shot: gelled hair, face half-buried in the crook of his arm, one eye peeking out at the reader. It isn’t him. Depp laughs and says the guy in the photo looks like he’s from New Jersey or something, that he has never tight-rolled his jeans like that, and most importantly, the guy in the picture can grow a beard–Depp can’t. He hands the book back to me with a smile that seems almost proud. “That’s what makes this book f**king genius.”