Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Premiere

CLOSE ENCOUNTER OF THE DEPP KIND

I had begun working in NYC in early May while on break from school. Well 3 of my close friends happened to be in the city on the day of the Fear and Loathing premiere, although I had no idea it was going on. Well they got wind of it mid-day and hurried down (camera in hand) to capture the whole thing for me.

My friend Jesse, a sometimes over zealous fellow, somehow got into the press box at the premiere. He said that it had been getting late and he thought that maybe Johnny wasn’t coming. However, out from the last limo to arrive, stepped Johnny himself.

I will now tell the story as Jesse told it to me:

Johnny stepped from the limo wearing a dark suit and the appropriate dark sunglasses and began to walk the red carpet. By now the photographers and on-lookers were whipped up into a frenzied excitement. Jesse said that people were climbing all over each other, shouting his name. Jesse, who is usually calm, said that at this point even he was star struck. I guess he was swept up in the moment or something but he became obsessed with getting Johnny’s attention.

Jesse started taking pictures and shouting his name but did not think he could be heard over the photographers who were doing the same thing. Well just as Jesse was sure that Johnny was about to pass him–Johnny stopped with his back facing Jesse for the photographers. Jesse started shouting for Johnny’s autograph–and with that Johnny turned around–lowered his sunglasses, and as Jesse tells it looked “intensely” into his eyes. Jesse repeated his request and Johnny was polite and took his time signing an advertisement for Fear and Loathing that Jesse had taken from a magazine. Jesse thanked him and Johnny said “your welcome” and that concludes the close encounter—although I made Jesse tell it over a few times to make sure I had savored every detail.

I realize that this is not the most action packed meeting and although it comes to me second hand, I did make out with a few crazy little souvenirs (photos, autograph, etc.) that I enjoy. My favorite, however, is the blue sharpie marker Johnny used to sign with. He had put one end in his mouth and bit down when pulling off the cap leaving his teeth marks clearly defined on the other end. Ah…the little things that make me happy!

SKY, June 1990 – Baby Face

SKY, June 1990 – Baby Face

Title: Baby Face

Author: Tony Fletcher

Publication: SKY

Issue: June 1990

 

Photo1At the top of Johnny Depp’s lean and muscu­lar right arm, above the fading tattoo of an Indian chief’s headdress, are two words that were etched into the actor’s skin for all eternity only months ago. They read “Winona Forever”. A public and permanent declaration of the 26-year-old’s love for his pregnant fiancée, actress Winona Ryder.

But if Depp hopes that the tattoo will per­suade his legion of young female followers to search elsewhere for a hero, he is mistaken. The previous evening, at the premiere in Balti­more of the new John Waters movie Cry Baby, a high-camp musical comedy in which Depp has the title role, the star was mobbed by hordes of screaming girls. Waters’ decision to base all his films in his home city of Baltimore has made him something of a local hero, but on this occasion it was Depp who stole the lime­light. Even the sight of Winona Ryder clinging happily to his arm failed to deter the teeny-boppers from screaming out their undying love for this high school dropout and failed rock musician.

Depp’s co-stars in Cry Baby,a send-up of the teen rebel movie genre of the 50s that has Depp as a delinquent “Drape” determined to win the love of a stunning “Square” – are no less subtle in their admiration of his physique. Amy Locane, an innocent 18-year-old from a Catholic girls’ school in suburban New Jersey who plays his leading lady Allison, confesses that she almost fainted when required to do a love scene with Depp during the second day of rehearsals; Kim McGuire, who plays a convincingly ugly Drape called Hatchet Face, makes no secret of her desire to have been in Locane’s place. And Rikki Lake -the amiably hefty actress who found overnight success as Tracey Turnblad in Waters’ previous movie Hairspray – simply describes Depp as, “One of the most beautiful men I’ve ever seen”.

“Wow!” laughs Depp when confronted with these compliments. “I guess I must owe them money!” In torn jeans and T-shirt, his dishevel­led hair partly hidden by a bandanna, his face unshaven and his lips curled around a cigarette, Depp’s casual appearance only emphasises his desirable street-tough image. He seems out of place in the plush surround­ings of Baltimore’s luxury Harbor Court Hotel, where he is undertaking an arduous pro­motional schedule for Cry Baby, but as he relaxes on a sofa in a private suite he is the perfect gentleman; polite, attentive, modest and forthright.

The TV series 21 Jump Street has now enjoyed four stunningly successful seasons in the States, much of which is attributed to Depp’s role as Officer Tom Hanson, one of a group of young undercover cops assigned to watch over (and frequently infiltrate) high schools, youth clubs and gangs. Playing Han­son, Depp comes across as a younger, scruffier version of Miami Vice star Don Johnson, a good-looking tough guy with his finger on the trigger and one eye on the girls. It is a perform­ance that apparently garners around 10,000 fan letters a week, but one that Depp, frus­trated with his pin-up status, was determined not to perpetuate in his first starring role on the big screen.

Yet the majority of scripts he was presented with were designed for Hanson the character rather than Depp the actor. They were, he says, “the same thing that’s been done a hundred-and-fifty times over, which is the gun-toting, Lycra-bodysuited, girl-kissing, posing, action, fast cars blowing up, fighting, coiffed hair-type of guy. I just knew I didn’t want to do that.”

As Depp was despairing of being offered a decent role, far away from Los Angeles in the hip east coast community of Baltimore John Waters was searching for his very own James Dean. Waters, whose credits as a writer/ director include such bad taste cult classics as Mondo Trasho and Pink Flamingos (in which the late drag artist Divine achieved infamy by swallowing dog turds on camera), had finally entered the mainstream with the delightful Hairspray in 1988. Now he wanted to step further back in time from that film’s early 60s setting to 1954, when the seeds of rock ‘n’ roll were being sown by the first juvenile delinquents. For the leading role of Cry Baby, a rockabilly-obsessed, guitar-playing teenager who sheds a tear each day for his father (a crazed bomber sent to the electric chair). Waters wanted a genuine pin-up. While he was search­ing through the proliferation of American teen mags for inspiration, he was continually confronted by one face: that of Johnny Depp.

“I thought, ‘This guy looks great’,” recalls Waters, who was even more delighted to see Depp described in the teen press as a “juvenile delinquent”. When the pair met to discuss the part, Depp’s appearance sealed the role with­out the need for an audition. “He came in dres­sed completely in rags,” says Waters, “with Levi’s ripped to his underpants, boxer shorts hanging out through the holes, hair completely askew.. .and he looked really like a movie star.”

An enormous fan of Waters’ happy-go-lucky kitsch films, Depp’s only fear when offered the chance to star in one was that Cry Baby’s char­acter as the local tough guy and sex symbol was uncannily close to the public persona that he was determined to shake off.Photo2

“I said. If you want to get rid of it, make fun of if,” Waters explains. It was the same advice he had given ex-porn star Traci Lord, who plays a tough, sexy Drape in the movie. (In an inspired bout of casting, Cry Baby also includes former kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst, and punk grandfather Iggy Pop.) “All of them have to make fun of themselves a little bit to be in my movies,” Waters says.

Depp says he relished the opportunity to send up, “the labels and the image … that manufactured thing”, but admits that much of his younger audience might not appreciate the parody. The advertising campaign in particular seems to polish, rather than demolish, Depp’s image.

“It would seem that way, wouldn’t it,” the actor acknowledges, studying a promotional poster in which his face, accentuated by sharp cheekbones, embellished with a tear and rounded off by a dripping lock of greased hair, rests on Amy Locane’s reclining chest, her 50s-style torpedo bra jutting towards his chin. “Maybe it’s just the pastels – the pink and the turquoise together,” he says lightheartedly, while admitting that the catchphrase – “He’s a doll, he’s a dreamboat, he’s a delinquent” -also plays up his looks. “Yeah, it would appear that I’m doing ‘teen guy’ stuff,” he concludes. “But it’s really all a very big joke. And last night, at the premiere, I found out that we achieved what we wanted to achieve, which is that it was a joke, that it was funny. It reeks of John Waters, which is what I wanted. To me, Cry Baby is like Grease on psychedelics.”

Without knowing it, Depp has been in train­ing for the part of Cry Baby all his life. Born in Kentucky in 1963, his family moved to south Florida when he was eight. Four years later, his mother bought him his first guitar, from which point, “that was my whole life”. After fooling around with local garage bands, Depp and friends formed The Kids, a punk-influenced group who supported such established bands as U2, The Ramones, The B-52s, REM and Depp’s future uncle in Cry Baby, Iggy Pop.

His search for rock ‘n’ roll glory caused him to drop out of high school at the age of 18, but The Kids’ determination proved to be their very downfall. “We got caught up in that ‘big fish in a small pond syndrome’ and decided we weren’t really getting anywhere in Florida,” recalls Depp. So in 1983 they moved to LA. Despite the occasional decent support slot, The Kids, now called Six Gun Method and play­ing a U2/Big Country hybrid, were suddenly mere minnows in a very large pond, and Depp had to resort to selling ink pens over the phone to pay his rent. Even his hasty marriage, to a girl called Lori whom he met on his arrival in LA, collapsed within two years.

It was the classic Hollywood fairy tale gone wrong, but Depp had established a clique of friends, and one of them, the actor Nicolas Cage, suggested he meet his agent. She in turn immediately sent Depp out to audition for a low-budget horror movie by Wes Craven and, to his surprise, Depp landed a major part in A Nightmare On Elm Street as Glen, the heroine’s boyfriend who is swallowed up by his bed and spewed out as “a-hundred-and-ten gallons of cow blood, red dye and paint”.

The film was a roaring success, but more so for its memorable villain Freddy Krueger than Depp’s performance. A bit part in the award-winning Platoon followed, but still Depp’s sights remained firmly set on music. Six Gun Method had split up in anger over Depp’s burgeoning acting career, so Depp played in a Stray Cats-style band called Rock City Angels before landing the role of Hanson in the new TV series 21 Jump Street.

At the time of its launch, Jump Street was considered radical, tackling “real” issues such as AIDS and racism and refusing to conform to television’s conventional “happy ending” syn­drome. Now, as Depp waits to hear about a fifth series – he is contractually obliged to appear in two more seasons if asked to – he seems determined to bad mouth the show into drop­ping him.

“It’s been great for me, it’s put me on the map, it’s given me a following of sorts, and I’m happy with that,” he says as a precursor to his attack on Jump Street. “But in my opinion, I feel that I’ve run the gamut of anything you can possibly do on that show. I don’t think I have anything more to offer on the show. I’ve had six nervous breakdowns – I’ve lost my father on the show, I’ve lost girlfriends who’ve been killed on the show, I’ve supposedly murdered a cop and went to prison for it… I don’t know that people wouldn’t have found me out after all that stuff! We’re heading into Fellini. And also, I don’t really agree with the idea of cops in high schools. Morally I don’t agree with it. I think it’s slightly unjust, I think it’s borderline fascism.”

Hastening to add that this is “just my opin­ion”, Depp acknowledges that his stubborn artistic nature – he has refused to appear in episodes that have conflicted with his per­sonal and political beliefs-has not endeared him to the show’s producers.

“The one thing I don’t think they like about me is that I’m honest about it. That type of hon­esty can make for problems. But I do respect them, and I do respect what the show has done. At the same time, if it gets repetitive it could be dangerous. If they’re going to tackle issues like racism they should really do it, instead of beating around the bush.”Photo3

Depp evidently also feels bitterness towards the show for creating the teen idol image he is now burdened with. “The people who wear the ties and sign the cheques needed to put a label on the product, so they went for the thing that would sell. And basically what they did was they took the personality of the character that I was playing on the TV series, associated it with my name, exploited that, and gave people this sold-and-stuffed-down-the-throats-of-America idea of what they thought I was. And they [Americans] bought it. And it’s not me at all.”

If Cry Baby sends up that image without quite destroying it, at least it has demon­strated the lucrative rewards of being such hot property, bringing Depp a million dollars up front for the chance to work with his heroes. “If they want to pay me that, I’ll take it,” he says with a wry grin. “But I couldn’t have paid for a better vacation.”

“All through the movie, he’d say John Waters made me a millionaire – whoever would have thought it?'” recounts Waters himself, who started out shooting black and white movies for under $10,000 on 8mm film. With an eight million budget, Cry Baby cost more than all his other 10 movies put together, but Waters has no qualms about working with Hol­lywood companies and million dollar stars. Depp “deserved every penny”, says Waters. “I’m completely for movie stars. That’s why I started making movies, and that’s why people go to the movies. I like the surrealness and the fakeness of being a movie star. I tell Johnny, keep working so much and eventually you’ll never be able to go out of the house.’ And that’s the goal.”

In Waters’ warped view of celluloid infamy, that might well be the goal, but in Depp’s sub­dued, reluctant acceptance of fame and for­tune, it definitely isn’t. “I don’t think any of us would have gotten into this business if we weren’t in one way or another starved of atten­tion,” he admits. “But it’s an uncomfortable feeling to be on display at all times. I try and keep my head down and not look at it. I figure if you don’t see it, it’s not there.”

Naturally, this approach fails completely. Depp is mobbed almost everywhere he goes. Rikki Lake says she understands why: “His persona is that of a movie star. He’s got that charisma. It’s plain to see.” But, perhaps as a result of his struggling rock’n’roll past, his actual personality is far from your typical spoilt movie brat. “He’s very much a man’s man,” says Traci Lords. “He doesn’t act like a star. He’s not egotistical, he’s not hung up, he’s not an idiot. He’s just very relaxed, very easy to work with, and very much in love right now.”

Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder’s affair is the sort of romance that tabloid newspapers dream of. The pair met on the set of Batman director Tim Burton’s new movie Edward Scissorhands, which Depp describes as, “a classic fable, almost like Beauty And The Beast or Pinocchio, about a guy who has scissors for fingers and his first steps in suburban life.” Once more Depp plays the title role, and by the time the film is released in the States this Christmas, he will be married to his leading lady and father of her child.

“They’re the perfect couple,” says Rikki Lake. “Physically, they look so similar, it’s amazing.” 21-year-old Lake, who plays Depp’s perpe­tually pregnant younger sister in Cry Baby, says she feels like his sibling in real life too. A friend of both Depp and Ryder she played a part in hooking the new family up.

“Rikki was definitely a cupid of sorts,” Depp acknowledges. “When we were doing Cry Baby she told me about Winona, and besides, she had also talked to Winona about me, which was pretty great of her.”

Discussion of Winona, who in the brilliant Heathers also starred in a send-up of the teen movie genre, gets Johnny Depp positively glassy-eyed. “I love her more than anything else in the whole world,” he says quite unashamedly. Which is just as well; with the new tattoo that he proudly shows off to all who ask, he will be living with Winona forever whether he likes it or not.

UK Sky 03/1990

UK Sky 03/1990

Johnny Depp – tough guy or cry baby?

baby face

 Johnny Depp is 26 but looks 18. The cop show 21Jump Street has made him America’s most  famous TV teen idol – so famous in fact that cult director John Waters paid him a million dollars for his first starring movie role, in Cry Baby, out this summer. Rock star good looks aside, Depp also boasts an intriguing bad boy past perfect credentials for another ready-made movie hero. Tony Fletcher meets him in Baltimore. 

At the top of Johnny Depp’s lean and muscular right arm, above the fading tattoo of an Indian chief’s headdress, are two words that were etched into the actor’s skin for all eternity only months ago. They read “Winona Forever”, a public and permanent declaration of the 26- year-old’s love for his pregnant fiancee, actress Winona Ryder.

But if Depp hopes that the tattoo will persuade his legion of young female followers to search elsewhere for a hero, he is mistaken. The previous evening, at the premiere in Baltimore of the new John Waters movie Cry Baby, a high-camp musical comedy in which Depp has the title role, the star was mobbed by hordes of screaming girls. Waters’ decision to base all his films in his home city of Baltimore has made him something of a local hero, but on this occasion it was Depp who stole the limelight. Even the sight of Winona Ryder clinging happily to his arm failed to deter the teenyboppers from screaming out their undying love for this high school dropout and failed rock musician.

Depp’s co-stars in Cry Baby, – a send-up of the teen rebel movie genre of the 50s that has Depp as a delinquent “Drape” determined to win the love of a stunning “Square” – are no less subtle in their admiration of his physique. Amy Locane, an innocent 18-yearold from a Catholic girls’ school in suburban New Jersey who plays his leading lady Allison, confesses that she almost fainted when required to do a love scene with Depp during the second day of rehearsals; Kim McGuire, who plays a convincingly ugly Drape called Hatchet Face, makes no secret of her desire to have been in Locane’s place. And Rikki Lakethe amiably hefty actress who found overnight success as Tracey Turnblad in Waters’ previous movie Hairspray – simply describes Depp as, “One of the most beautiful men I’ve ever seen”.

“Wow!” laughs Depp when confronted with these compliments. “I guess I must owe them money!” In torn jeans and T-shirt, his dishevelled hair partly hidden by a bandanna, his face unshaven and his lips curled around a cigarette, Depp’s casual appearance only emphasises his desirable street-tough image. He seems out of place in the plush surroundings of Baltimore’s luxury Harbor Court Hotel, where he is undertaking an arduous promotional schedule for Cry Baby, but as he relaxes on a sofa in a private suite he is the perfect gentleman; polite, attentive, modest and forthright.

The TV series 21 Jump Street has now enjoyed four stunningly successful seasons in the States, much of which is attributed to Depp’s role as Officer Tom Hanson, one of a group of young undercover cops assigned to watch over (and frequently infiltrate) high schools, youth clubs and gangs. Playing Hanson, Depp comes across as a younger, scruffier version of Miami Vice star Don Johnson, a good-looking tough guy with his finger on the trigger and one eye on the girls. It is a performance that apparently garners around 10,000 fan letters a week, but one that Depp, frustrated with his pin-up status, was determined not to perpetuate in his first starring role on the big screen.

Yet the majority of scripts he was presented with were designed for Hanson the character rather than Depp the actor. They were, he says, “the same thing that’s been done a hundredand-fifty times over, which is the gun-toting, Lycra-bodysuited, girl-kissing, posing, action, fast cars blowing up, fighting, coiffed hair-type of guy. I just knew I didn’t want to do that:’

As Depp was despairing of being offered a decent role, far away from Los Angeles in the hip east coast community of Baltimore John Waters was searching for his very own James Dean. Waters, whose credits as a writer/ director include such bad taste cult classics as Mondo Trasho and Pink Flamingos (in which the late drag artist Divine achieved infamy by swallowing dog turds on camera), had finally entered the mainstream with the delightful Hairspray in 1988. Now he wanted to step further back in time from that film’s early 60s setting to 1954, when the seeds of rock ‘n’ roll were beingsown by the first juvenile delinquents. For the leading role of Cry Baby, a rockabilly-obsessed, guitar-playing teenager who sheds a tear each day for his father (a crazed bomber sent to the electric chair), Waters wanted a genuine pin-up. While he was searching through the proliferation of American teen mags for inspiration, he was continually confronted by one face: that of Johnny Depp.

“I thought, ‘This guy looks great’;’ recalls Waters, who was even more delighted to see Depp described in the teen press as a “juvenile delinquent”. When the pair met to discuss the part, Depp’s appearance sealed the role without the need for an audition. “He came in dressed completely in rags;’ says Waters, “with Levi’s ripped to his underpants, boxer shorts hanging outthrough the holes, hair completely askew … and he looked really like a movie star.”

An enormous fan of Waters’ happy-go-lucky kitsch films, Depp’s only fear when offered the chance to star in one was that Cry Baby’s character as the local tough guy and sex symbol was uncannily close to the public persona that he was determined to shake off.

“I said, ‘If you want to get rid of it, make fun of it’;’ Waters explains. It was the same advice he had given ex-porn star Traci Lord, who plays a tough, sexy Drape in the movie. (In an inspired bout of casting, Cry Baby also includes former kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst, and punk grandfather Iggy Pop.) “All of them have to make fun of themselves a little bit to be in my movies;’ Waters says.

Depp says he relished the opportunity to send up, “the labels and the image … that manufactured thing”, but admits that much of his younger audience might not appreciate the parody. The advertising campaign in particular seems to polish, rather than demolish, Depp’s image.

“It would seem that way, wouldn’t it;’ the actor acknowledges, studying a promotional poster in which his face, accentuated by sharp cheekbones, embellished with a tear and rounded off by a dripping lock of greased hair, rests on Amy Locane’s reclining chest, her 50s-style torpedo bra jutting towards his chin. “Maybe it’s just the pastels – the pink and the turquoise together;’ he says lightheartedly, whi Ie adm itting that the catchphrase – “He’s a doll, he’s a dreamboat, he’s a delinquent” – also plays up his looks. “Yeah, it would appear that I’m doing ‘teen guy’ stuff;’ he concludes. “But it’s really all a very big joke. And last night, at the premiere, I found out that we achieved what we wanted to achieve, which is that it was a joke, that it was funny. It reeks of John Waters, which is what I wanted. To me, Cry Baby is like Grease on psychedelics:’

TOUGH GUISE: Depp in his new film, Cry Baby

Without knowing it, Depp has been in training for the part of Cry Baby all his life. Born in Kentucky in 1963, his family moved to south Florida when he was eight. Four years later, his mother bought him his first guitar, from which point, “that was my whole life”. After fooling around with local garage bands, Depp and friends formed The Kids, a punk-influenced group who supported such established bands as U2, The Ramones, The B-52s, REM and Depp’s future uncle in Cry Baby,lggy Pop.

His search for rock’n’ roll glory caused himto drop out of high school at the age of 18, but The Kids’ determination proved to be their very downfall. “We got caught up in that ‘big fish in a small pond syndrome’ and decided we weren’t really getting anywhere in Florida,” recalls Depp. So in 1983 they moved to LA. Despite the occasional decent support slot, The Kids, now called Six Gun Method and playing a U2/Big Country hybrid, were suddenly mere minnows in a very large pond, and Depp had to resort to selling ink pens overthe phone to pay his rent. Even his hasty marriage, to a girl called Lori whom he met on his arrival in LA, collapsed within two years.

It was the classic Hollywood fairy tale gone wrong, but Depp had established a clique of friends, and one of them, the actor Nicolas Cage, suggested he meet his agent. She in turn immediately sent Depp out to audition for a low-budget horror movie by Wes Craven and, to his surprise, Depp landed a major part in A Nightmare On Elm Street as Glen, the heroine’s boyfriend who is swallowed tip by his bed and spewed out as “a-hundred-andten gallons of cow blood, red dye and paint”.

The film was a roaring success, but more so for its memorable villain Freddy Krueger than Depp’s performance. A bit part in the awardwinning Platoon followed, but still Depp’s sights remained firmly set on music. Six Gun Method had split up in anger over Depp’s burgeoning acting career, so Depp played in a Stray Cats-style band called Rock City Angels before landing the role of Hanson in the new TV series 21Jump Street. 

At the time of its launch, Jump Street was considered radical, tackling “real” issues such as AIDS and racism and refusing to conform to television’s conventional “happy ending” syndrome. Now, as Depp waits to hear about a fifth series – he is contractually obliged to appear in two more seasons if asked to – he seems determined to bad mouth the show into dropping him.

“It’s been great for me, it’s put me on the map, it’s given me a following of sorts, and I’m happy with that;’ he says as a precursor to his attack on Jump Street. “But in my opinion, I feel that I’ve run the gamut of anything you can possibly do on that show. I don’t think I have anything more to offer on the show. I’ve had six nervous breakdowns – I’ve lost my father on the show, I’ve lost girlfriends whdve been killed on the show, I’ve supposedly murdered a cop and went to prison for it … I don’t know that people wouldn’t have found me out after all that stuff! We’re heading into FelIinLAnd also, I don’t really agree with the idea of cops in high schools. Morally I don’t agree with it. I think it’s slightly unjust, I think it’s borderline fascism:’

Hastening to add that this is “just my opinion”, Depp acknowledges that his stubborn artistic nature – he has refused to appear in episodes that have conflicted with his personal and political beliefs – has not endeared him to the show’s producers.

“The one thing I don’t think they like about me is that I’m honest about it. That type of honesty can make for problems. But I do respect _ them, and I do respect what the show has done. ~ At the same time, if it gets repetitive it could be dangerous. If they’re going to tackle issues like racism they should really do it, instead of beating around the bush:’

Depp evidently also feels bitterness towards the show for creating the teen idol image he is now burdened with. ‘The people who wear the ties and sign the cheques needed to put a label on the product, so they went for the thing that would sell.And basically what they did was they took the personality of the character that I was playing on the TV series, associated it with my name, exploited that, and gave people this sold-and-stuffeddown-the-throats-of-America idea of what they thought I was. And they [Americans] bought it. And it’s not me at all:’ 

If Cry Baby sends up that image without quite destroying it, at least it has demonstrated the lucrative rewards of being such hot property, bringing Depp a million dollars up front for the chance to work with his heroes. “If they want to pay me that, I’ll take it;’ he says with a wry grin. “But I couldn’t have paid for a better vacation:’

“All through the movie, he’d say ‘John Waters made me a millionaire – whoever would have thought it?” recounts Waters himself, who started out shooting black and white movies for under $10,000 on 8mm film. With an $eight million budget, Cry Baby cost more than all his other 10 movies put together, but Waters has no qualms about working with Hollywood companies and million dollar stars. Depp “deserved every penny”, says Waters. “l’rn completely for movie stars. That’s why I started making movies, and that’s why people go to the movies. I like the surrealness and the fakeness of being a movie star. I tell Johnny, ‘Keep working so much and eventually you’ll never be able to go out ofthe house: And that’s the goal:’ .

In Waters’ warped view of celluloid infamy, that might well be the goal, but in Depp’s subdued, reluctant acceptance of fame and fortune, it definitely isn’t. “I don’t think any of us would have gotten into this business if we weren’t in one way or another starved of attention,” he admits. “But it’s an uncomfortable feeling to be on display at all times. I try and keep my head down and not look at it. I figure if you don’t see it, it’s not there:’

Naturally, this approach fails completely.

Depp is mobbed almost everywhere he goes. Rikki Lake says she understands why: “His persona is that of a movie star. He’s got that charisma. It’s plain to see:’ But, perhaps as a result of his struggling rock’n’roll past, his actual personality is far from your typical spoilt movie brat. “He’s very much a man’s man;’ says Traci Lords. “He doesn’t act like a star. He’s not egotistical, he’s not hung up, he’s not an idiot. He’s just very relaxed, very easy to work with, and very much in love right now:’

Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder’s affair is the sort of romance that tabloid newspapers dream of. The pair met on the set of Batman director Tim Burton’s new movie Edward Scissorhands, which Depp describes as, “a classic fable, almost like Beauty And The Beast or Pinocchio, about a guy who has scissors for fingers and his first steps in suburban life:’ Once more Depp plays the title role, and by the time the film is released in the States this Christmas, he will be married to his leading lady and father of her chi Id.

“They’re the perfect couple;’ says Rikki Lake.

“Physically, they look so similar, it’s amazing:’ 21-year-old Lake, who plays Depp’s perpetually pregnant younger sister in Cry Baby, says she feels like his sibling in real life too. A friend of both Depp and Ryder she played a part in hooking the new family up.

“Rikki was definitely a cupid of sorts;’ Depp acknowledges. “When we were doing Cry Baby she told me about Winona, and besides, she had also talked to Winona about me, which was pretty great of her:’

Discussion of Winona, who in the brilliant Heathers also starred in a send-up of the teen movie genre, gets Johnny Depp positively glassy-eyed. “I love her more than anything else in the whole world;’ he says quite unashamedly. Which is just as well; with the new tattoo that he proudly shows off to all who ask, he will be living with Winona forever whether he likes it or not.

copied from Johnny-Depp.org

Charles meets Johnny in a bar

I had the pleasure to make small talk with Johnny a few years back, while waiting for a beer to arrive from a, lucky for me, “Slow as Moses” bartender. The talk was an amusing attack on the bar’s population all looking exactly the same (fake tits and bleached blonde hair, mixed with the polished GQ Smooth look of fancy hotel toilet bowl)! I guess you had to be there to really savor the statement’s full impact. In any event, he ended up buying my beer and, after my cigarette lighter failed to spark a flame, he lit a match and shared the flame with me.

After sharing his match with me, and going our seperate ways, Johnny and I bumped into each other again that same night as we, and the people we were with, were leaving. He asked if I had a good time, I said I did, then introduced my guests to him, which he shook their hands, then he patted me on the back and handed me his book of matches which are “VIPER ROOM” issue (Black book, with a green pair of dice and a female serpent woman on the cover). Telling me that “it might be a long night, and a night without fire should be a crime.” On the inside of the cover, a hand written message reads “Call Tim, Monday”.

JESSY MEETS JOHNNY WHILE FILMING CRY BABY

When my family lived in California, my brother and I both did some acting. I was hopeless and managed only a few small parts in commercials and stuff. My brother was the one with the talent and to this day I think that if we hadn’t move to New Zealand, he would have made it big.

A few days after my seventeenth b-day, we both got a call saying we were to be extras in the movie Cry Baby! At first I was bumbed cause I wanted a big part, but I got over that and was all psyched to be in a big movie! OF course, I didn’t know Johnny Depp was in it until just before filming started.

I was supposed to be a drape, so was my bro, but at the last minute they dropped me saying they had ‘over casted’. My brother got to keep his role, and when he came home and told me who was in the movie I almost died! My bro is in heaps of scenes. The part were Cry Baby sings ‘Tear Drops are Falling’ and he’s in the crowd when he does the cry baby song. In fact he is in a lot more than that, but you don’t see him in the others. He met Johnny heaps of times, and they even had a smoke together while waiting for filming to start one day.

On the last day of filming, I was spilling over with stories about Johnny my bro had told me. Like how when at the end were Alison comes to the jail and they are doing that bit were she’s rubbing up against the glass, Johnny kept on laughing and the chick got really pissed off! I think that’s so cool! And also the rumours about Johnny and the woman playing Alison falling in love was complete bull, because they didn’t really get along at all, in fact, apparently when they were filming, they hardly said a word to each other!

But on the last day of filming, the whole cast, including extras, were invited to a little party to say thanks and goodbye. I was so jealous he got to go socialize with the spunkiest guy ever, until he told me I could go!! Apparently he had told the director, and Johnny about how I had been dropped, and how disappointed I was, so they said I could come and meet every body!!!AHHHH!

Now be honest, wouldn’t you spend half a year trying to make your self look gorg so one look and Johnny would fall madly in love with you? Well I would have liked to, but my darling brother told me about three seconds before he left, so I left the house in a pair of baggy, holey jeans, and a little tank top! I must have looked like crap but I probably would have gone in a pair of PJs to meet Johnny-god-how-could-he-be-that-fine-Depp!

When we got there, it wasn’t like I had thought it would be, all there was was a few tables set out under a tent thing, with heaps of food and drink. I was the only one there who wasn’t dressed to kill, well, out of the girls anyway! They must have had the same thing, or person, on their minds, and were using all their acting ability to try not to act like they were drooling over Johnny who sat quietly in the corner with the director. We stood around a few minutes, then the director said a few words which I didn’t really care about considering I was in the same room with the love of my life!*S*(Hey, I was seventeen!)

Just before we left, everyone went around shaking hands with cast, and producers etc, including me because I guess they just thought I was one of the extras they hadn’t noticed before. We shook hands with the stars, like the woman who played Hatchet Face (who’s not so bad looking in real life by the way) and Alison, who was really nice and said ‘hi how are you’s’ to every one.

When Johnny was like a meter away from me I started panicking, if he shock my hand I would never be able to love another because I would always compare them to Johnny! But nevertheless as he got closer I decided I would have to take that chance!*S* To my surprise, when he got to my brother he proved that he hadn’t been full of it when he said he had talked to him. JOHNNY DEPP SHOCK MY BROTHERS HAND AND GOES: “Hey Jake(My bro), how’s it going man…” My brother didn’t even flinch, just turned to me and goes. “This is my sister…” I could have killed him! I thought he was going to say some thing like “She’s such a loser she made me bring her”. But instead Johnny smiled at me! AHHHH!!! And goes. “Nice to meet you. Your brother told me you got kicked off the extras list…” He held out his hand and I felt about two feet tall. Yah, I thought, this is a good impression. I took his hand and he added; “Don’t worry about it, this business can be shit like that, just keep your foot in the door, and some one will notice you…” Then he said some thing else to my bro that I didn’t hear cause he said it softly and the room was noisy, but my brother recons he goes… “She’s pretty, she’ll go far” But I think he’s full of it. Still, wouldn’t it be cool if it was what he said?

As he was about to walk off he goes “Remember, keep trying okay…?” I nodded, and all I could think of to say was “Yeah, okay, thanks…” He smiled again and was lost in the crowd. Just like that. That was the most romantic experience I thought I could ever have at seventeen, but as I stood there like a moron looking after him, my brother goes “He knows your name, and the director has our number, so maybe he’l call you!” I turned to him and scouled. “Shut up! As if Johnny Depp is going to call me, he doesn’t even know me!’ Then he told me what he had supposedly said and I almost passed out. For like two months after that ever time the phone rang I dived at it, and answered it in my most sophisticated voice. However, he never called, and to this day, when the phone rings I have to be the first to answer it! 🙂

Jessy

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US Magazine, June 26, 1989

US Magazine, June 26, 1989

US Magazine, June 26, 1989
By Steve Pond
Photos by Greg Gorman

Depp Perception

He has been compared to James Dean, Marlon Brando, all those tough-but sensitive outsider guys. He has a hit TV series (21 Jump Street) on which he plays an undercover cop. He wears battered clothes and combat boots. He has two tattoos. He rides a Harley-Davidson.

But forget about all that tough-guy stuff for now. On a warm afternoon in the San Fernando Valley, Johnny Depp is tapping his foot, chain-smoking, eating a slice of pepperoni pizza, drinking a Coke and talking about one of his favorite movie stars, and it’s not James or Marlon or anyone known for driving fast or wearing tight T-shirts. Right now, Johnny Depp is talking PIA.

As in Zadora. As in The Lonely Lady, the flick Entertainment Tonight’s movie critic, Leonard Maltin, calls “rock-bottom stuff, not even fun on a trash level.” “I think we can learn from the movie,” Depp says.

Sure he has a little grin on his face as he’s praising the movie, but at the same time he’s clearly got a real fondness for this stuff. “You know,” he says with a shrug, “people trash Pia Zadora and make fun of her. But
I think she’s got a lot of balls. I saw her sing live once, and I was very impressed. She’s Pia.”

As he goes on about Pia, it becomes clearer why Depp, who probably could have had his pick of several high-profile Hollywood movies (“Movies where I play this tough guy or I pull out a handgun and shoot at people”), is spending his summer hiatus making a small film called Cry-Baby. The movie’s writer/director is John Waters, the cultster who made his name with aggressively trashy films such as Pink Flamingos and Desperate Living before the more mainstream success of last year’s Hairspray (in which Zadora had a cameo as a poetry-spouting beatnik chick).

Waters, who wrote the role of bad boy Wade “Cry-Baby” Walker with Depp in mind, doesn’t think he and his star make for an odd artistic pairing. “I don’t think there’s anyone else who could play it,” he says. “Johnny’s not a bad boy in real life, but he’s had some wild moments in the past which come in handy.”

As the title character, the leader of a gang of Fifties hoodlums, Depp, 26, has his first major movie role since becoming a TV star. It puts him under a lot of pressure, but he swears that he is looking forward to spending his summer in Waters’ considerably less glamorous (next to L.A., that is) hometown of Baltimore. “The big thing is crab cakes and thrift stores,” he says happily. “So I’m pretty excited.”

 Depp, of course, doesn’t need crab cakes and thrift stores; he can afford to eat fancier foods and shop in more upscale environs. His $45,000-per-episode deal with Jump Street and the cool million he is pulling in for Cry-Baby could conceivably buy truckloads of caviar and designer duds. But today he is dressed de rigueur for Depp: torn jeans, black boots and a plaid shirt unbuttoned far enough to show off a chain from which a cross and a medallion hang (actually, it’s a pop top from a Japanese Coca-Cola can). Glamorous, he’s not.

But he is something else: He doesn’t like to think about it or talk about it and he would rather journalists didn’t write about it, but Depp is indeed a full fledged sex symbol, and a teen idol to boot. Jump Street turned the trick. Each week, he comes on screen with his perpetually disheveled, offhand cool. As undercover cop Tom Hanson, he’s the tough kid who looks a little lost underneath the cool.

“When I first saw Johnny,” says 21 Jump Street producer Joan Carson, “he had a felt hat pulled down and these deep brown eyes peering out, with a coat that went to the floor. He was cute as a bug’s ear, but he looked like a waif. And I think that is part of his appeal: He can be waiflike, but his charisma comes through.

Waters concurs. “First of all, he’s a good actor, ” he says, “but secondly, he’s handsome in a real way. He’s just got that thing that makes a star.”

Talk like this makes Depp nervous, although sitting on a couch in the den of his publicist’s Sherman Oaks, California, house, he initially seems comfortable and relaxed. Perhaps that’s because he spent most of last summer on this very couch after subletting his own L.A. digs. A year later, he still doesn’t have an apartment; nor does he own a house. And while he once lived in his best friend’s car when they were teenagers, that option isn’t open to him today because? You guessed it. He doesn’t own a car (his vintage Harley-Davidson sits idle in Vancouver, British Columbia).

He is friendly and talkative when the conversation concerns rock & roll, his occasionally wild teen years or his dissatisfaction with some recent Jump Street episodes. But when the talk turns to his stardom, and especially the sex symbol/teen idol stuff, he fidgets more and says less, the pauses get longer, the answers shorter.

“After we’d shot the first season, it got a little strange,” he says quietly, lighting another cigarette and running a hand through his trademark tangled hair. “I don’t hate it; I don’t mind it; it’s not an ugly thing,” he says, perhaps considering the fluttery girls who show up at his personal appearances and the sacks of fan letters (more than 10,000 a month). “But it’s a little strange. I’m still not used to it.”

Nor is he used to the invasion of privacy that comes with having a recognizable mug. As a result, Depp said little during his three-year (1985/88) engagement to actress Sherilyn Fenn of Two Moors Junction fame; or of his most recent engagement to Dirty Dancing star Jennifer Grey. When the relationship with Grey ended this spring, he admitted it was over but declined to elaborate. (Friends attribute the breakup to geography; with Depp in Vancouver and Grey in Los Angeles, they simply didn’t see each other very often.)

“It’s like when you’re in high school,” he allows, “and you’re going steady with someone, and your friends say, ‘Hey, man, are you seeing this girl?’ and they start razzing you. If you love this girl, you’re not gonna tell your friends. I think you have to shield things; otherwise we’d all be out there cutting our arms open and showing you. ‘Here’s my blood. Have a vein.'”

Ask the private Johnny Depp to discuss his love life, and you get the impression that this is one young man who doesn’t like to wear his heart on his sleeve. But when he rolls up that sleeve, a heart is exactly what you see: a bright red, lavishly decorated heart bedecked with a banner that says Betty Sue. It is the latest of Depp’s two tattoos (a large Indian head adorns his other biceps; he is part Cherokee), and it’s a tribute not to any of Depp’s girlfriends, but to his mother.

“She’s the greatest lady in the world,” says Depp, proudly hiking up his sleeve. “Best friend, coolest thing in the world . . . just unbelievable. Her whole life she’s been a waitress, but I won’t let her wait tables anymore.”

For a while, Depp moved his mother to Vancouver to be closer to him while he was shooting 21 Jump Street. Now, she is back in South Florida, where Johnny’s dad, John Christopher Depp Sr., an engineer, moved his family from Kentucky in 1970, when John Christopher Depp Jr. was only 7. Though they are divorced and have remarried, both his parents still live in that area, as do his two older married sisters, Debbie, 33, and Christie, 28. Brother Danny, 35, is a writer who lives in Kentucky.

“Man, family is the most important thing in the world,” says Depp softly. “Without that, you have nothing. It’s the tightest bond you’ll ever have. When you’re in your teens, family’s family. You think it’s always gonna be there. You think, ‘I want friends and I want cars and I wanna do things different.'” He laughs. “But there’s a certain age you hit when you realize, ‘What am I doing? This is my family.'”

And when did he realize that? “When my parents split up was when I think I realized these are the most important people in my life, and you know, I’d die for these people. I was 15, and it just sort of happened. You just deal with it, but there’s no escaping the hurt. I mean, it definitely hurts, man.”

Before that, Depp had been more concerned with keeping himself entertained than staying close to home. The entertainment took some serious forms: He started taking drugs at age 11, got involved in petty theft and vandalism around the same time and had his first sexual experience at 13.

 “Everybody puts a label on it and calls me a bad boy or a delinquent or a rebel or one of those horrible terms,” he says. “But to me, it was much more curiosity. It wasn’t like I was some malicious kid who wanted to kick an old lady in the shin and run, you know? I just wanted to find out what was out there.

“The only reason why any of my past came out is because I brought it out,” he continues. “And the reason is that, hopefully, people can learn from it. Kids can say, ‘Jesus, he went through the same thing I’m going through now. Maybe I’m not a bad kid like everybody says.'”

Depp’s “bad kid” phase was mostly over by the time he was about 16. But all the same, after his parents’ divorce he dropped out of high school in his junior year and devoted more of his time to his real passion, rock & roll. A self-taught guitarist and occasional singer, he moved through a succession of garage bands before becoming part of the Kids, one of the most successful bands in South Florida. In 1983, when Depp was 20, the group pulled up stakes and moved to Los Angeles in search of the big time.

Instead, they found a club scene chock-full of bands in similar circumstances, all of them desperately scrambling for a few low-paying gigs. To support himself–and his new wife, Lori Allison, the sister of a musician friend?- he sold ballpoint pens over the phone.

He grins and says: “I got very good at it. But guilt started to get me; I felt like I was ripping people off. The last couple of times I did it I just said, ‘Listen, you don’t want this stuff, man.'”

Depp’s marriage didn’t last much longer than the job: Married at 20, he was divorced at 22. But he and his exwife stayed in touch, and when she later dated actor Nicolas Cage (Moonstruck), Depp and Cage became friends. Cage then suggested that the struggling musician meet his agent, Ilene Feldman.

Once again it was his looks that impressed. “He came in with long hair and an earring and a T-shirt with cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve,” says Feldman. “He was not what someone usually looks like when they’re coming in to look for an agent, which is what was so great about him: He just wasn’t into it.”

She sent him to see horror director Wes Craven, then casting the original A Nightmare on Elm Street. Craven, who had been auditioning beach-boy types, took notice when Depp walked in. “Johnny was a chain-smoker; he had yellowish skin,” he recalls. “But he really had sort of a James Dean attraction-?that quiet charisma that none of the other actors had.” The director’s daughter and a friend were also at the auditions, and when Craven casually asked the girls whom he should cast, they both said, “Johnny Depp.” That clinched it.

While he was shooting Elm Street, Depp’s band members went their separate ways, and he figured, ” ‘Well, I have no band, I’ve had some pretty good luck with this, so why don’t I see what this acting stuff is about and just give it a shot?'”

Sure enough, he quickly won the lead in another movie, the ghastly teen sexploitation comedy Private Resort. His costar New York-based actor Rob Morrow says that although Depp still had a lot to learn about the movie business, he displayed a natural talent. “He had no idea what he was doing,” recalls Morrow. “Yet he had an understanding of how people operate. He had obstacles, but he was aware of them.”

While neither actor looks back on the movie as one of life’s most memorable moments, they had a few good times together. Take, for instance, their scam to get into a test screening of the picture. “Nobody affiliated with the film could go, but Depp and I heard about it and wanted to see it,” Morrow explains. “So we dressed up in the weirdest possible way. He had dorky glasses and a knit hat on and I put cotton in my mouth so my face puffed out. We walked right past all the execs who knew us.”

Depp may have hated the movie, but it was when he was making Private Resort that he began to think seriously about his acting future. “It wasn’t like I ever kissed the guitar good-bye,” he explains, “but I seemed to be having more steam with acting.”

He took some acting lessons, read a lot of books on the subject, went looking for work and didn’t find much–one episode of Hotel, another of Lady Blue, the made-for-cable movie Slow Burn and an American Film Institute student film. Just as he started to wonder if he had made the right decision after all, director Oliver Stone cast him as the interpreter, Lerner, in Platoon. The experience was great, he befriended costars such as Charlie Sheen, the movie won lots of awards, including 1986’s Best Picture Oscar, and Depp figured his career was back on track.

And then 21 Jump Street came calling. The first time the show’s creator, Patrick Hasburgh, approached Depp, the young actor declined without ever reading the script: on the heels of prestigious Platoon, the last thing he wanted to do was a TV series. “It wasn’t that I was snubbing television or anything,” he insists, “but I wasn’t ready for that kind of commitment.”

So Hasburgh hired an actor named Jeff Yagher (from TV’s V series) for the role, while Depp sat around and waited for better offers. But he discovered that even an appearance in a prestigious movie didn’t make him a hot property. Luckily for him, destiny intervened. Yagher didn’t work out on Jump Street and Hasburgh approached Depp a second time. Suddenly, Depp was more receptive to the idea.

“People weren’t banging my door down with scripts,” he admits, “and the pilot was very good, had a lot of strong possibilities. Plus, the average life of a TV series is not a long one, you know?” He laughs. “So I decided to do it.”

To the surprise of many, the show turned into a hit, and Depp found himself signed to a show that looked as if it would stay on the air for years. And now, at the end of the third season, that longevity is beginning to bother him.

“The first season we hit a lot of good issues,” he says, “The second season, the same. We dealt with AIDS, sexual molestation, child molestation, things like that. Unfortunately, Patrick [Hasburgh] left the show after the second season, and the direction seemed to change.”

“I don’t wanna bite the hand that feeds me or anything,” he adds quickly, “and the show has done a tremendous amount for me. It put me on the map. But in a lot of instances the people pushing the pens have been very irresponsible. And that’s scary.”

For instance, he says, one episode showed a student building an electric chair in shop class. In another, a high school student is murdered because he was wrongly suspected of being a narc; Johnny’s character, the actual narc has to prove to the students he is not the narc. “I wanted no part of that one,” says Depp, who refused to appear in the episode. In his place, the producers brought in new cast member Richard Grieco (who plays Dennis Booker).

“I don’t always agree with him, but I see where he’s coming from,” says Jump Street producer Carson. “He fights hard for what he believes in, and he has a tendency to fight for other people as well, which sometimes puts another strand of gray in my hair.”

Depp is still under contract to do the show next season, and despite rumors to the contrary, says he doesn’t plan to break the contract. All the same, he sounds a cautionary note: “If they want to make the show I signed up for three years ago, I’ll be there. And if not . . . I’ll definitely be there to talk about it.”

Depp, of course, has made his feelings known on the Jump Street set. Late in the season, gossip columns were suddenly full of reports of Depp’s on-set tantrums, misbehavior and egotism. If one were to believe the reports, Depp was not a well-liked man in Vancouver. In March he was arrested and charged with assault and mischief in conjunction with a noisy party he attended; the charges were dropped.

According to Depp, one ought not to believe the reports. “I have a couple of ideas where they came from. I think that there are a couple of people,” he leans forward and speaks directly into the tape recorder, “and you know who you are, who don’t like the fact that I am outspoken about certain things. But, as far as temper
tantrums and throwing punches at my producers, it’s such bulls that it’s hilarious.”

Carson agrees that Depp’s fights on the set have all been over the work, that there is little truth to the reports that he has turned into a prima donna. And not surprising, Depp concurs.

“I don’t think my ideas or my principles have changed,” he claims. “But I’ve learned a lot about this business, how political it is, and how people manipulate other people. It’s scary, man. Power is a scary thing.”

If movie stars wield more power than TV stars, Depp should be scared to death when Cry-Baby hits the screens early next year. The movie is his first real chance to break out of the image he created via Jump Street. It is perhaps a surprising choice of role; at the very least, it is not the accepted path for a youngster in his position.

“Given a certain amount of luck and opportunity,” he says with a shrug, “I think anybody could do movies and continue to play the same character and make tons of money and buy a big old house in Bel Air and, like, smoke cigars and eat eggs all the time. But, you know, I’m not so much interested in that.”

Instead, he’ll star in an offbeat John Waters film and dream about making movies from Jack Kerouac’s Beat era travelogue, On the Road, and Danny Sugarman’s recent autobiography about sex, drugs and rock & roll, Wonderland Avenue.

For now, of course, Johnny Depp can fall back on his 21 Jump Street success, family, money, movies, motorcycles and, oh yeah, those Pia Zadora videotapes. And, it seems, an idyllic vision of the distant future.

“I made a point, I wrote it down when I got this tattoo,” he says, fingering the Betty Sue art on his left biceps. “When I’m 90, and I’m sitting around with, like, my grand kids and my great grand kids, and they go, ‘Gramps, when did you get that?’ I want to be able to say, ‘May 31, 1988.'”

He pictures the scene, and laughs. “And then they can go, ‘Wow, Gramps! You’re really old!'”

Teen Beat, May 1989

Teen Beat, May 1989

Teen Beat, May 1989

A Day on the Set of Johnny Depp’s New Movie

(Baltimore, MD) Have you ever wondered what if would be like to spend a day on the set of a new movie? Would you like to spend an entire day with Johnny Depp? Of course! You’ve dreamed about these things. Well, TEEN BEAT recently spent a day with Johnny on the set of his new movie, Cry-Baby, and we knew you’d like an inside look.

6:00 pm There is a general buzz of excitement among the cast and crew as Johnny arrives on the Baltimore, Maryland set. He is the star of writer/director John Waters’ “1950s juvenile delinquent rock musical” and, from the moment he arrives on the set, it is obvious that Johnny is a true professional. It would generally take the film’s makeup crew about 30 minutes to grease and style Johnny’s hair for his role as Wade “Cry-Baby” Walker, the leader of a tough Baltimore street gang. Yet, today, Johnny has fixed his own hair before leaving the hotel where he lives during the filming. He is obviously getting into the part!

6:30 pm Johnny emerges from his private, air-conditioned trailer on the set. Nearby, the girls on the set giggle nervously as he walks by, giving them a smile. For today’s scenes, Johnny is wearing tight blue jeans, a white t-shirt, black leather motorcycle boots, and a black leather jacket. Fonzie never looked so good!

7:30 pm On the set for rehearsals. Johnny and the cast walk through the first of three scenes they will be shooting today. The other actors in this scene include Ricki Lake (from Hairspray), Traci Lords and punk rocker Iggy Pop, and, as they prepare to shoot the scene, the actors often refer to their scripts. But not Johnny. He has already memorized his lines before he arrived!

8:00 – 10:10 pm The first scene shows “Cry-Baby” and his friends at a dance, and takes over two hours to film even though the scene is only seven minutes long! The director and crew must get every shot just right, and they sometimes take as long as 20 minutes to set up a single shot. The highlight of the scene occurs at the end of one song, when everyone at the dance grabs their partner for a passionate kiss. While Johnny’s character is not featured in this part of the scene, we can tell you it is exciting and hilarious to watch. Some of the actors were really getting into it! They didn’t even mind when the director made them shoot the scene five times!

10:10 – 10:30 pm While the crew quickly sets up the second scene, most of the actors return to their private trailers. Not Johnny. He stays on the set. As you’ve probably heard, some stars demand the spotlight at all times, but Johnny isn’t like that. He never uses the “star’s” chair reserved for him; instead, he prefers sitting alone on a picnic table. As the crew sets up the next scene, many people walk by and speak with Johnny. It seems like everybody on the set wants to sit down next to him, to talk with him…just to be near him. Even though he would prefer to sit alone and prepare for his next scene, he takes time to smile and joke with everyone. It is clear that this is one star who does not think he is more important than other people!

11:00 pm – 12:45 am The second scene, featuring an electrifying dance solo by rocker Iggy Pop is easier to film and goes much more quickly than the first scene. Even though Johnny has no lines in this shot, he remains energetic and in character. Some actors only give 100% when their characters are “on,” but Johnny always gives it his all.

1:00 – 2:00 am While the rest of us are asleep, dreaming of our favorite stars, Johnny and the Cry-Baby crew are taking a break for LUNCH! A fully catered meal is available for everybody on the set, including a variety of chicken, burgers, sandwiches and drinks, as well as fruit juices and vegetables. Today, Johnny takes some fruit and spring water back to his trailer, where he prepares for the final scene of the day.

2:30 am There is elaborate preparation for the third scene (the technicians must simulate a “moon”), forcing a delay on the set, and most of the actors return once more to rest in their trailers. On the way to his trailer, however, Johnny passes a crew member arriving on a brand new, shining black Harley motorcycle. An avid cyclist himself, Johnny and the technician spend the entire break talking excitedly about their motorcycles. Johnny even sits on the big black machine. Astride the motorcycle, with his slicked-back hair and black leather jacket, Johnny looks like a young James Dean–tough, but sensitive…and so very sexy!

3:15 -5:30 am Johnny shoots the final scene of the day with actresses Ricki Lake and Traci Lords. By this time everyone on the set is very tired…and a little slap-happy. When Ricki and Traci keep messing up their lines, Johnny and the crew find it difficult to stop laughing, and the four-minute scene takes over two hours to film! By the time the scene is complete, Johnny has been on the set for nearly twelve hours! While most of you are getting out of bed for school, Johnny’s day on the set has just ended. He heads home to the nearby Baltimore hotel suite provided for him by the film’s producers.

Tomorrow will be more of the same, as the cast and crew will film the big fight scene between the “Drapes” (Johnny’s gang) and the “Squares” at a local high school. In fact, Johnny is scheduled to be on the set again from 1:00 pm to 2:00 am.

The long hours and hard work will be worth it, though, as Johnny’s fans will be treated to his exciting starring role as Wade “Cry-Baby” Walker! Although he has been seen in small parts in Nightmare On Elm Street, Private Resort, and Platoon, this is definitely the part that will make the world realize what teens already know: Johnny Depp is an exciting and talented young actor!

Cry-Baby is scheduled to be released around February 1990. We can’t wait!

Super Teen Super Special, 1998 – Has Johnny Caught Your Eye?

Super Teen Super Special, 1998 – Has Johnny Caught Your Eye?

Title: Has Johnny Caught Your Eye?

Publication: Super Teen Super Special

Issue: 1998

 

Photo1Johnny Depp always had an inkling that he would be famous. But when he was signed to co-star on the hot new TV series 21 Jump Street last year, he was astounded. Johnny had expected that his route to renown would be through rock n roll, not through acting!

It was music that had been Johnny’s lifelong passion. Born In Kentucky in 1963. Johnny found early on that he had a sharp, solid instinct for rock “n” roll. His family moved to Miramar. Florida when Johnny was 6, and it was in that town that he learned to play the guitar. Soon his dreams came to center around that instrument and the band that he and his friends formed, called The Kids. Well these particular “kids” were very grown up when it came to big plans, and after they had all graduated from high school, the guys pooled their resources and moved to Los Angeles. Visions of instant stardom flashed bright in each pair of eager eyes. It was 1983, and Johnny Depp felt ready for the Big Time.

But the Big Let Down is what Johnny and his fellow band members experienced. In order to keep going, Johnny had to take any job he could get. The one he took? 1 sold pens over the telephone. I guess it’s called telemarketing. I needed the money to pay the rent—on an awful, shabby place I was renting.” he recalls.

Weary and increasingly disillusioned, the Kids played on. One of the people who heard them, actor Nicholas Cage, became first a fan, and then a friend One day Nicholas took Johnny aside and said. “Why don’t you give acting a chance?” Stunned. Johnny replied that he didn’t know how to go about it. In short order. Nicholas found Johnny an agent—and the agent found Johnny a job. He was sent to audition for a role in Nightmare on Elm Street even though I figured there’s no way in the world I’m going to get a part in this movie! “Nightmare on Elm Street if you don’t already know, became Johnny first acting role!

The gorgeous brown-eyed guy then quickly went on to roles in Platoon, Private Resort and the cable TV movie Slow Burn. He was asked to read for the part of undercover police investigator Tommy Hanson on 21 Jump Street by a producer who saw him in Private Resort By that time, The Kids had broken up, and Johnny future was clearly (and happily!) re­routed to acting. He related to “Tommy” from the beginning: “1 can understand the difficulties the show deals with because I was always getting into mischief when I was in high school!” But beyond that, Johnny loves the music on each show (it’s always a different, hot new album), the super-trendy clothes, and the warmth and friendship of Jumps four young co-stars.

Johnny divides his time between his family’s home in Florida, an apartment in LA. and a new place he bought in Vancouver Canada, where the series is filmed. He’s also back to playing in a band (the Rock City Angels), when he’s in LA. He’s become serious about his acting—and not yet serious about settling down. But why should he— Johnny Depp’s potential is only Just beginning to be explored. Stay tuned, fans!

ROLLING STONE December, 1988 – JOHNNY DEPP: GIRLS’ BEST FRIEND

“I hope this isn’t going to be about that teen-idol bullshit. We’re really sick of that shit.”~ Jeff Ballard, press agent for Johnny Depp

Bobby Sherman. David Cassidy. Davy Jones. Shaun Cassidy. Each name is a step in the funeral march of burned-out television heartthrobs. Johnny Depp, 25, currently holds the pole position in budding fantasies all over North America, thanks to his lead role on the Fox Broadcasting Company’s baby-cop show 21 Jump Street. As Tom Hanson, a cop who goes undercover in high schools to break up drug gangs and pornography rings, Depp is a sexy guidance counselor, the older guy in every neighborhood who takes you around and shows you the ropes but keeps you out of real trouble. And he has everything that makes little girls wriggle: a forest of eyelashes, sensitive eyes, spiked locks stiffened with several hair-care products of the Eighties, dangly earrings.

But Depp doesn’t want to be a teen idol. “I don’t want to make a career of taking my shirt off,” he says. “I’d like to shave off all my hair, even my eyebrows, try it that way. I don’t fault the TV stars who do teen magazines. They took a hold of their situations, took offers that gave them the big money fast, but they were dead in two years. I don’t want that.” The ironic thing is that Depp didn’t have to do TV. Four years ago, with no acting experience or training, two days after his first audition ever, he got a lead role in A Nightmare on Elm Street, followed by a small part in Platoon. So why TV?

“I’ve been asking myself that question for a long time,” Depp says. “To be honest, I took Jump Street because I thought it would only last a year. I liked the pilot, and I wanted to work with Frederic Forrest [who was in the original cast], so I said yes.” Surprise, surprise, the show is a hit, Forest leaves the first season, and Depp is locked into a contract. “I wouldn’t do another TV series,” he says, “but at least this one means something. It’s not another three-kids-sit-in-a-bathroom sitcom. The scripts help people. But the minute they make a Jump Street lunchbox, I’m gone.”

“Historically, when a show becomes really popular, actors turn into giant assholes, but not Johnny,” says Patrick Hasburgh, creator of Jump Street. “He once lit his underwear on fire in the middle of the set, but that was because no one had cleaned up his motor home in a long time. The show’s success may prevent Johnny from taking features offers, but he’s being cool about it, cooler than I’d be in his shoes. And if I were his age and looked like he does, I’d be dead by now. Girls follow him everywhere, screaming.”

Boys buy posters of their idols. Girls put it in writing. “More than Mike Fox, more than Charlie Sheen, more than Rob Lowe, Johnny Depp gets the greatest volume of mail of any of our clients,” says Spanky Taylor of Fan-Handle, a Los Angeles mail service. “I’d say 10,000-plus pieces a month. Of course, TV guys always get more than film guys.”

It’s not all pictures of girls in their underwear (or less), though Depp has gotten a few of those. “I’ve also gotten weird letters, suicide letters, girls threatening to jump if I don’t get in touch with them. So you think, ‘This is bullshit,’ but then you think, ‘What if it’s not? Who wants to take that chance? I write them back, tell them to hang in there’, if things are that bad, they have to get better. But I’m not altogether stable myself, so who am I to give advice?”

“I lost my virginity somewhere around age thirteen. I did every kind of drug there was by fourteen, swiped a few six-packs, broke into a few classrooms, just to see what was on the other side of that locked door. Eventually you see where it’s headed and you get out.”

Born in Kentucky, raised in Florida by an engineer father and a housewife mother (now divorced), Depp bought a guitar at age twelve, joined his first band at thirteen, dropped out of school at sixteen, took his fifteenth band, the Kids, to Los Angeles, survived a failed marriage (“It wasn’t working out, so we took care of it”) and lucked into the movies. Now he hangs out with Nicolas Cage and Charlie Sheen, sleeps late, wears motorcycle jackets and ripped jeans and bangs out “loud, raunchy blues” on his guitar. His answering machine message recently was a hung-over-sounding voice mumbling, “I’m out out out out out out out out.”

But Jeff Ballard is right: ultimately, this teen-idol shit isn’t very interesting. The really big question about Johnny Depp is whether he can ride it out, whether he can be Frank Sinatra instead of Frankie Avalon. “Everybody compares everyone to James Dean these days,” Depp says. “If you’re lucky, they mention Brando or De Niro or Sean Penn. It’s like they have to compare you to somebody. They invite you to put on an instant image.”

For now, Depp seems content to date around, hang out, work on the show and reject bad offers. “It’s easy to make a million bucks in this business doing stuff that would exploit the piss out of you,” he says. “It’s like fast food. Get in frame, get the product out there, and sell it quick.” Instead, he directs public-service announcements (his first ran after an AIDS-related Jump Street), and he is about to make his first film, a fifteen-minute short titled Every Cake, Neil, from a script he co-wrote; it’s about “the things people can do to screw each other up.” He wants to make a movie of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and eventually cut a record. “I could do a Bruce Willis thing and make a record now,” Depp says, “but it would just milk my teen-boy, pop-idol image. I’d rather do nothing than do that.”

Maybe all those dreamy little girls are on to something. Somehow they sense that in an unpretentious, unself-conscious way, Depp doesn’t mind what anybody thinks. He likes himself, something most long-term adolescents never do. “My face,” he says. “I see it in the mirror when I wash it every morning. It’s an okay face.” And it’s not all bad, this teen-idol bullshit. “Budding fantasies, huh?” Depp says slowly, not unhappily. “Yeah, budding fantasies.” If starring in the restless daydreams of a thousand fourteen-year-old girls will get Depp where he’s going, then that’s what he’ll do. It’s all just part of the job.

Model December, 1988 – HERE’S JOHNNY!

Two teenagers are standing in front of the Daley Plaza government building in Chicago, whimpering and waiting. On this murky, muggy Saturday morning, Trish and Rhonda – all of 15 years old – clutch ripped, jagged-edged magazine pages in vice grips. “But do you really think we’ll get close enough to touch him?” Trish whispers, knowing full well that the odds are hovering around slim-to-none. Rhonda is shaking her head in mock angst. “Maybe we’ll get an autograph,” she laments, “but face it. We’ll never get to touch Johnny Depp.”

It’s 10:30 a.m. “Who do you want?” shouts local Fox-TV anchor Robin Brantley to some 7,000 high school and college females who have gathered in an otherwise deserted part of down-town Chicago.

“Johnny!”
“Johnny!”
“Johnny!”
“Johnny!”
They chant in unison. Welcome to the Windy City’s yearly “Be Good. Go to School. Say No to Drugs!” youth pep festival which today seems like some weird religious event. “Johnny who?” taunts Brantley, buying some time while the cast of Fox’s 21 Jump Street – Depp, Holly Robinson, Dustin Nguyen, Peter DeLuise and Steven Williams – waltz out of the Daley Center high rise and onto a makeshift stage flanked by police and two-ton security guards.

“Hello, I’m Johnny Depp,” he says, approaching the mike to a roar of applause. “My basic message is simple: Protect your mind. Protect your heart. And take care of yourself.” He runs a hand through longish ink-black hair and smiles.

Time out, please. Let the record show that anchor Robin Brantley had a valid question when she asked, “Johnny who?” In a nutshell, Depp is a failed musician who once upon a time sold ballpoint pens over the phone to pay the rent on his meager Los Angles digs. That was only five years ago, and since then he has appeared in one critically acclaimed film, Platoon, and a gaggle of low-budget features, including A Nightmare on Elm Street. But now Depp stars on 21 Jump Street, which is one of the Fox Network’s two hits (Married With Children is the other), but was ranked just 140th on A.C. Nielsen’s list of the 163 highest-rated shows of last season. So, put all the pieces together: No movie career; no hit television show; no singing career. Yet Johnny Depp is a star. His face is plastered on teen magazines from coast to coast. Us magazine voted him one of Hollywood’s hottest bachelors. And more and more Jump Street episodes are featuring heavy doses of Depp and less of the other up-and-comers.

Johnny Depp has arrived. Sort of. If you spend the entire day in Chicago on his tail, it’s easy to conclude that “arriving” – in the most basic sense of the word – is not on his top ten list of accomplishments.

Flashback to sometime in June when the creative minds at the Fox Network decided that hauling the cast members of Jump Street to select cities would be an exciting, hip way to boost ratings. From the start, Robinson, Nguyen, DeLuise and Williams wanted in. Depp wasn’t so sure.

After all, Depp has been pegged as television’s latest rebel, and was taking the role to heart. The rest of the cast arrived in Chicago on a bleak, dismal Wednesday night for advance promo interviews. Depp had made it known earlier in the week that he might not attend this fest. But, then again, he might. Just when Las Vegas wouldn’t touch these odds, he hopped a Red Eye on Friday night, causing several publicists to advance to the intermediate stages of text-book nervous breakdown. “Yeah, Chicago,” Depp said in his best James Dean-esque tone. “I decided it might be fun.” That was night one.

9:30 a.m. Saturday morning. In an un-air-conditioned, stuffy government planning room, flanked by dark wooden paneling and the necessary spread of donuts, cast members are schmoozing with Chicago Mayor Eugene Sawyer and other local luminaries. Everyone is there except Depp.

10:15 a.m. Grumblings are heard over the publicist’s walkie-talkie and members of the Fox Network start slapping each other high-fives. Johnny is finally here. In the flesh. Of course, he manages to vanish into thin air for another nervous five minutes, but all is instantly forgiven when he comes popping through the elevator doors to greet Mayor Sawyer with a surprise: Her name is Jennifer – as in Dirty Dancing’s Jennifer Grey. In an army green T-shirt and worn jeans with Depp’s baseball cap in the back pocket, Grey steps out of the elevator half smiling. Depp, in all his virgin-rebel wonder stares at his toes.

“It’s absolutely true,” he says in a throaty voice, about his clothing which is strictly L.A. chic (a white cut-off T-shirt with a strange arrangement of black skulls, a tattered red plaid shirt wrapped around his waist and a handsome black leather jacket). “I always dress like this,” he says proudly. “This is Johnny Depp.” In the flesh.

Why should someone who walks and breathes the mystery-rebel image want to associate himself with an event – heck, forget the event; how about a show – that spreads such grounded sentiments? Don’t drink. Don’t do drugs. Don’t cut class. For God’s sake, practice safe sex.

For those who eat out on Sundays, here’s Jump Street’s story line: A group of young cops infiltrate circles of nasty teenage criminals by posing as students themselves. Depp’s Tom Hanson really feels for these kids on the rocks. His character is fond of such phrases as, “Man, do we really have to bust the kids” “Is busting them necessary?” “I guess it’s really for the best.”

Depp also feels for his audience. “I really do appreciate the audience,” he says with conviction. “Our show deals with important themes like drugs, suicide, life and death. The most important thing is telling the kids to stay away from drugs,” he says. “Drugs are the worst. I just tell people to stay far away from them. I would also like to tell people to stay in school. That’s equally important.”

It might seem strange for Depp to be handing out all this free, solid advice. Some might say that at age 25, he isn’t old enough to know about life. But those critics couldn’t be more wrong. Depp’s childhood wasn’t exactly an episode of Leave It to Beaver. Born in Owensboro, Kentucky, Depp’ s family relocated to Miramar, Florida when he was six. Depp’s own teenage years could be the model for a rip-roaring Jump Street episode, with Depp firmly on the other side of the law.

“I experimented with drugs and I experimented with everything that little boys do,” Depp has told the press. “Vandalism, throwing eggs at cars, breaking and entering schools and destroying a room. But I finally got to a point where I looked around and said, ‘This is not getting me anywhere. I’m stagnating with these guys.’ They were getting drunk and high every weekend. I got out.”

Depp was also once fond of telling the press that he lost his virginity at 13 and dropped out of high school at 16. Today he’s more of the guarded young star. He simply shrugs off the bad times by noting how art does not imitate real life: “I was always getting into mischief as a high schooler, and now I’m on the other side of the fence, enforcing the law.”

High noon. Marshall Field’s department store, located on busy State Street in the heart of downtown. One advantage of shopping at Field’s is a direct connection to the subway system through a lone door that leads into the store’s basement. Steam usually rises from that subway station, but not today, since 5,000 people of all ages are packed into the underground terminal waiting for the 21 Jump Street cast to sign autographs at 2 p.m.

No one expected the turnout. No one expected that every nearby street entrance to the subways would be blocked by Johnny Depp fans. No one expected Chicago’s mass transit system to be crippled by crowds of young women like Debbie and Diana, two suburban high schoolers who gave excuses at their fast food jobs and endured a 50-minute train ride into the city to gaze at Depp. “He’s just worth it,” they gush, adjusting black minis and tank tops. “He’s soooo cool.”

The girls melt into the crowd. Meanwhile Depp is busy lunching with Jennifer Grey in another part of the city. He will miss the first 45 minutes of autographs in Field’s basement. He will ditch a Jump Street lunch with contest winning fans. He will chuck the press conference with both local and national print and television media.

Perhaps the service at lunch was slow. Or perhaps it’s Depp’s rock-star mentality. Guide Depp back to his past, and he will talk with glee about his pre-actor, post-dropout days, which pretty much took the usual path of construction jobs. Like a million other rebel types floating around Southern California, Depp had a plan. A Big Plan.

More than anything, he wanted to be a rock star. At age12, he paid $25 for an electric guitar, holed up in his bedroom and taught himself how to play. A few months later, Depp set out to form one of the 15 rock groups he’s been with over the years. In 1983 he was 19. Depp figured that his band-of-the hour called The Kids could be his ticket. Despite his lead guitar work, the kids behind The Kids found life in the fast lane of Los Angeles very tough.

The Kids weren’t happening. “We didn’t make it, although we loved music. And I still do,” says Depp. “I guess it happens.” Meanwhile, he supported himself by living poor in Hollywood. He got married. He got divorced. Most people would get depressed.

Depp didn’t. Instead, he met fate which went by the name of actor Nicolas Cage, co-star of Moonstruck. “I was broke and Nick asked me if I needed a job. I did and he told me I should try acting. I met with an agent Nick knew and she has this part to cast,” Depp recalls.

The part up for grabs was in one of the most successful films in movie history. “The agent sent me to audition for A Nightmare on Elm Street,” Depp says. “Two days later I had the part of Glenn and my acting career was launched.”

One part in an Elm Street does not a career make, and Depp has seen the acting pits. He had a role in the critical and popular flop Private Resort. His resume also includes a bit in Platoon, a guest starring role in the cable movie Slow Burn and the obligatory episodic work in shows like Hotel. That’s just about when Fox called about Jump Street. At first, he wasn’t interested in TV, and Fox proceeded to cast actor Jeff Yagher (of V), but three weeks into production Yagher was gone, and Depp’s name popped up again. This time, Depp read the script and got the part.

One year down the road and he is hotter than the rest. Some say that his impact on the show goes beyond image. “Johnny had a lot to do with the suicide episode we ran last season,” says Jump Street producer Bill Nuss.

“I just wanted to make it very clear that I’m not out there saving someone’s life just because I’m Johnny Depp,” says Depp. “That’s not how it goes in real life. In real life, I won’t be sitting next to the world solving its problems. People forget that this is a show and I’m just an actor. So instead of me being the cure I wanted to show people how to handle their own problems.”

2 p.m. Marshall Field’s basement area is a mix of crying, laughing, smiling, out-of-their-minds fans who shake Johnny Depp’s hand, often walking right past the other Jump Street cast members.

“You have to understand what it’s like for 10,000 or 25,000 people to yell your name. Think about it for a minute. Then think of what it is like for Johnny Depp,” says Nuss. “I think it scares him sometimes. But I think he senses a responsibility to these people. He doesn’t want to appear irresponsible.”

“It’s hard for Johnny to be cool about all this, but he is one of the coolest people I know,” says co-star Holly Robinson who plays Officer Judy Hoffs. “On the set, he’s a different guy than what you see in public. He plays guitar. He’s the leader of the Jump Street garage band. We have water pistol fights. That’s Johnny Depp.”

“Life is wild,” Depp says. “There are so many people at an event like this one. This is both a good and bad thing. So many people see you and they just go crazy.”

3:30 p.m. The autograph session is winding down and the national anchor of Fox News attempts to corner Depp with a few questions. Since Jump Street is a Fox show, the anchor doesn’t figure a one-minute bit with the star will be a big problem. But, then again, this is Johnny Depp. The mike is shoved in his face: Depp’s punky hairstyle is slicked back once again.

He takes a bite out of the mike. “Is this thing working? Are you sure it’s working?” asks Depp, making a face and grabbing Jennifer Grey’s hand. He’s ready for the big escape. The anchor stands back – alone and baffled. Meanwhile, Depp hangs his sunglasses off one ear. He makes more strange faces. He requests his baseball cap from Grey.

3:45 p.m. Standing in the tunneled garage area waiting for his limo, Depp’s lips are sealed. Someone mentions that he really is far more relaxed at home in Vancouver, British Columbia, where the show is filmed.

A good day in Vancouver, he says, is taking his vintage Harley motorcycle out for a ride. Just imagine: One cool cycle. Two tattooed arms (Depp has his mom’s name, Betty Sue, on his left arm surrounded by a big red heart, and a large Indian chief is sunken in to his right). One leather jacket.

It’s a fitting image for a rebel. It’s a fitting image for a fledgling star who makes young girls whimper and wait.

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