Licia’s Encounter

Hello, this is Lica. I’m a elementary teacher.

i’m very interested in cinema and movies and in particular my passion’s name is: JOHNNY DEPP!i’ve been following him for 11 years and i always loved his performances…what i really love of him , even if i don’t know him deeply, it’s his sincere smile..i love his simplicity and the sincere way he lets the fans ge close to him…he doesn’t feel to be a great movie star…and he doesn’t want anyone to consider him like that…
he’s spontaneous in everything he says and does…and that’s the reason why i0m not surprised that the gold world of Hollywood that he can’t bear described him as a rebel…
he’s not fake …ha doesn’t conform to hypocrisy and star system…
i lived all this at the 2001 venice film festival, when i met him, the 8 spetember 2001…and from that moment on everything i had always thought had a confirm.
until that moment i was not so convinced to meet him…i’ve never loved the autographs, the pics together…because i think that a glance could give me more than anything else!
and it was like that…
a few days before leaving my cousin phoned me to tell me she had the tickets for the from hell premiere…
i was really excited, but i was sad too, ’cause i didn’t know if i was going to meet him or not…
the 7 september 2004 i left for venice with a friend fan of depp, excited and confused…
the night i never slept, thinking at him, fearing i would make some “gaffes”, i wuld not talk…

that day in venice we were lots of fans, all waiting for him with pens and cameras, and my heart was beating very fast…
Johnny arrived a bit late, with the beautiful Heather Graham next to him…his look made me going crazy and i started trembling…he always smiled and neversaid no to requests of photos and autographs by the fans…
he was getting close to us, stretching hands, giving kisses…autographs, pics…and here he comes..”say something” i thought, “this is your chance!” but when i found him so close to me i couldn’t help stretching my hand towards him and started crying…
and he took my hand with infinite sweetness and i said ?thank you johnny?…he smiled as only him can do and put his hand on his heart doing a little “bow”…and he went away slowly…

in that moment, my life changed and i really understood what is the face of love…

By

Licia

‘Festival d’Istres’, South of France

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. 🙂

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: http://www.chez.com/vparadis/

PEOPLE, May 14, 2001 – Johnny depp

PEOPLE, May 14, 2001 – Johnny depp

Title: Johnny depp

Publication: PEOPLE

Issue: May 14, 2001

 

Photo1ACTOR Onetime teen idol Johnny Depp has gone out of his way to lose the dreamboat label. He keeps his hair long and lank, wears ratty clothes and has made his body what he calls a “journal of skin” by acquiring mul­tiple tattoos—including one that says “Wino Forever,” amended after his 1993 breakup with fiancee Winona Ryder. “I jot down life experiences that mean something to me— jot them down permanently.” Depp. 37. told The New York Times last month. The tattoos “just add to his whole gypsy mystique.” says Ted Demme, director of Depp’s latest film, Blow. “He looks like he’s on the outside, like he’s doing what he wants.”

Demme’s right on both counts. The Kentucky-born actor has been snubbing Holly­wood since his 1998 move to France, where he shares a Paris apartment and a farm­house near Saint-Tropez with actress-singer Vanessa Paradis, 28, and their daughter Lily-Rose, who turns 2 this month. Depp doesn’t work the red carpet on award nights, nor does he routinely hype his films on the talk show circuit. Yet the parts—and the plaudits—keep coming.

In the past year Depp has played two bohernian roles, in the historical drama The Man Who Cried and in the Oscar-nominated fable Choco­lat. That film’s director, Lasse Hallstrom, says the part of Roux, the Irish wanderer who woos Juliette Binoche’s Vianne, was “a perfect fit” for Depp and, at long last, his first all-out romantic lead. “I think in the past he’s been hiding a bit be­hind eccentric characters.” They’ve included a Kabuki-faced oddball with blades for fingers (1990’s Ed­ward Scissorhands). a misfit who models himself after silent movie comic Buster Keaton (1993’s Benny & Joon) and a Cuban drag queen (in last year’s Before Night Falls). “He doesn’t want to rely on his looks, and he doesn’t need to,” says Hallstrom.

But, try as he might, the 5’11” actor can’t disguise his assets. “He is so damn good-looking,” says director Demme. “Johnny’s cheek­bones are insane!” Actress Leslie Caron, who worked with Depp on Chocolat, adds. “He’s almost pretty, like a girl.” On the set of Blow, female crew members gathered around the monitors for his close-up shots. “When I called ‘Cut,’ I would hear this collective sigh going on behind my back,” says Demme.

Photo2They were just looking, of course; Depp has become a family man. Last May he took time off from the Chocolat set to fly home for his daughter’s first birthday. He loathes being apart from Lily-Rose and Par­adis. “The most we’ve ever gone is 17 days,” he recently said, “and by then I was chewing my hand off.” That’s quite a turnaround from a man who, after becoming the breakout star of the TV series P1 Jump Street in the late ’80s, gained a reputation for club-hopping and brawling. “I heard he was a hell-raiser, but I saw none of that,” says Caron. “He just charms you immediately.”

Not just another pretty face

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 Salon.com

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

‘Festival d’Istres’, South of France

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. 🙂

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: http://www.chez.com/vparadis/

INSIDE – INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO

[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 TVGuideOnline.com, 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. 😎 This has been a very long post. I hope you enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it today.

Movie Idols, January 2001 – Johnny Depp

Movie Idols, January 2001 – Johnny Depp

Title: Johnny Depp

Publication: : Movie Idols

Issue: January 2001

 

Photo1JOHNNY DEPP is an interesting man. As an actor he has that rare chameleonic quality that allows him to inhabit a role and convince you that what you see on screen isn’t a performance but a possession. Yet if you see or hear him being interviewed he can seem inarticulate, hesitant, something of a cipher. So you may conclude that he is one of those performers who, lacking a clearly defined character of their own is able to put on new characters like a suit of clothes. Then again, if you were to read any of the articles he has written about his influences and heroes, or pick out key quotes from printed interviews, he seems to be a deep thinker, a true eccentric, a strong and unique individual.

He is, in short, not an easy man to profile, a figure of apparent contradictions and paradoxes. Only one thing is certain – he is probably the finest actor of his generation. You can be assured that whatever film he is in it will be worth watching for him alone. Also, the fact that he has chosen to make it indicates that it has something in the script or the vision that will make it outstanding on one level or another. He doesn’t make popcorn trash, he is a genuine artist and his choices command respect.

John Christopher Depp III was born on the June 9, 1963 in Owensboro, Kentucky. Yes, he’s nearly 40 years old, though you’d never guess it from looking at him. His mother was a waitress, his father an engineer, and Johnny was one of three children. His childhood was one of constant change. “By the time I was 15,” he revealed, “we had lived in about 20 houses.”

They moved house almost at the drop of a hat, although they stayed roughly in the same area, so he didn’t have to change schools too often. There’s a sense from interviews that this lack of stability and predictability in his life left him restless, rootless and looking for some sort of certainty to hold onto. “To this day, I hate it when I have to move from location to location.”

He was a difficult and mischievous kid. “I hung around with bad crowds,” he said. “We used to break and enter places. We’d break into the school and destroy a room or something. 1 used to steal things from stores.”

He liked tape-recording people when they didn’t know. He dug a huge tunnel in his front yard, trying to reach his bedroom and “pretty much any drug you can name, I’ve done it,” he claimed. He lost his virginity at 13 and dropped out of school at 16, the same year his parents divorced.

At this time, his best friend Sal found himself homeless and living in a car, a ’67 Impala. Johnny joined him, and they filled the car with empty beer cans and lived off sandwiches. It wasn’t the most auspicious of starts in life – high school dropout from a broken home living in a car at 16, playing around with drugs and petty crime. For many people this would have been the beginning of a long, slow decline.Photo2

“When I was a kid, I did drugs when I freaked out… They were hurting me physically and mentally. Drugs were dragging me down. They were killing me. I quit.”

Simple as that. No rehab, no trauma. He just decided to stop and did so. This strength of spirit, refusing to give in and go down the self-destructive path that seemed so set, would stand him in good stead. “Everybody puts a label on it and calls me a bad boy or a delinquent or a rebel or one of those horrible terms, 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.”

But Depp eventually found one certainty that kept him focused – music. When he was only 12 years old, he bought himself an electric guitar for $25, and from that moment on he devoted a lot of his time to practicing and playing. He skipped classes, actually with the help of his music teacher who allowed him to use a rehearsal room, and when he went home in the evening he would lock himself in his room and practice.

But even though he was devoted to music he couldn’t quite quit the habit of changing and moving that his parents had instilled in him. In just a few years he notched up a grand total of 15 different bands. Finally, he ended up playing lead guitar in The Kids, and he thought this could be his ticket to stardom. The band moved from Florida to LA in 1983 and started playing the club scene, looking for the big break. Depp is phlegmatic about their lack of success. “We didn’t make it, although we loved music. And 1 still do. I guess it happens.”

It was at about this time that he got married, to Lori Anne Allison, but the marriage only lasted two years and in 1985 they were divorced. Johnny and Lori remained on good terms and she soon started seeing Nicolas Cage, who made friends with Depp and suggested that he try his hand at acting. Realizing that his musical career had stalled – he was stuck telemarketing ballpoint pens – Depp decided he’d give it a try.

“Nick set up a meeting for me with his agent and she sent me to read for a movie,” he said. “They gave me a script to study. Two days later, I read for it and they gave me the role. That was Nightmare on Elm Street.”

During the two days between getting the script and giving the audition Depp had an actor friend stay at his home and help him prepare and learn his lines. Once he got the part he never looked back.

Photo3Depp had no experience or training as an actor. He’d never even been in a school play. His entire experience of performance was as part of a band, a collective, four people playing together as one. Now he had no one to rely on – he had to learn his lines, hit a mark, give a performance all on his own. It was a huge leap in the dark with huge potential for failure. And he knew it.

“Doing Nightmare On Elm Street was a trial by fire. The fact that it was totally new to me was a tremendous challenge. I found it was just me. It all depended on me and my own choices.”

Happily, his choices were sound. Wes Craven, the director of Nightmare, recalls why he cast an unknown quantity. “He just had a very powerful and yet subtle personality, there was some sort of charisma about him. He really had sort of a James Dean attraction.”

The fact that Craven’s teenage daughter, on set at the time, “flipped out” for Depp, may also have had some bearing on things!

Nightmare on Elm Street was a huge hit and Depp decided to stick with acting and see where it led him. Unfortunately it led him nowhere fast. A couple of TV guest spots kept him afloat for a year but his next movie project was a dire teen sex comedy called Private Resort. It bombed, and for a while he seemed to be suffering as a result of his lack of training and experience. His Private Resort co-star. Northern Exposure’s Rob Morrow, said that Johnny “had no idea what he was doing, yet he had an understanding of how people operate. He had obstacles, but he was aware of them.”

Next came a small part in another smash hit. Platoon, which gave his profile a much-needed boost. Part of the problem was that Depp didn’t want to do TV. “Television is a little frustrating for me,” says Depp. “There’s no time for preparation. In features, you have loads of time to do the work. And the work is the most important thing of all.”

Immediately upon returning from three-and-a-haJf months filming Platoon in the Philippines he got his big break, in TV.

21 Jump Street was a show about a group of young cops who help sort out troubled kids and teach them the error of their ways. Depp was approached but refused to even look at the script. “It wasn’t that I was snubbing television or anything, but I wasn’t ready for that kind of commitment,” he said.Photo4

Another actor was given the role and Depp continued pursuing movie roles. Three weeks later the other actor left the show and Depp was approached again. This time he agreed to read the script. He liked it and was on the set by the end of the week. “People weren’t banging my door down with scripts, 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? So I decided to do it.”

He didn’t, however, consider it a big deal. “I thought it would go for one season, tops.” A bit of experience, a bit of exposure, another rung on the ladder and then back to movies, that was the plan. Unfortunately, the show was a runaway success and eventually ran for five seasons, making Depp a teen idol and a small-screen superstar.

He had to adjust to being greeted everywhere by crowds of screaming teenage girls. “After we’d shot the first season, it got a little strange. I don’t hate it; I don’t mind it; it’s not an ugly thing, but it’s a little strange.”

His love life then came under scrutiny, which did make him more than a little uncomfortable. For the record, he was engaged to Twin Peaks star Sherilyn Fenn for three years, and then to Dirty Dancing’s Jennifer Grey before Winona Ryder came on the scene and thrust Depp into the tabloid big league.

Back on Jump Street, Depp earned $45,000 an episode but when the show’s creator left at the end of the second season Depp came to question the morality of the show and the fact that scripts were often watered down to keep advertisers happy.

Photo5By the middle of the third season, he became so outraged by some of the scripts that in one instance he simply refused to appear in an episode. This forced the programme-makers to create a new supporting character specifically designed to do the things Depp didn’t want to do. Depp wanted to leave, but he was their star so he was held to his contract. There was a lot of on-set strife, rumours flew, things got bitter and angry and eventually, at the end of the fourth year, Depp was able to leave the show.

A lot of Depp’s subsequent movie choices are clearly dictated by the lessons he learnt at this time. His desire for offbeat, independent, uncompromising, quirky roles in films helmed by auteurs and visionaries comes from learning early on how easily art can be compromised, sullied and sold out in the commerce-driven Hollywood hills. During his time on 21 Jump Street Depp had been able to make a couple of movies in order to begin building the reputation that he hoped would support him when he inevitably left the show. That the films he made were Cry-Baby, for iconoclastic camera loony John Waters, and Edward Scissorhands for gothic genius Tim Burton, both give some idea of the risks he was willing to take. That’s not all; they show how much he wanted to balance the production-line working in TV with exciting and challenging big-screen work. It’s also a testament to Depp’s talent that such intriguing creators were anxious to work with someone who was, after all, just the star of a flashy kids TV show.

Having been so entirely trapped by commercial considerations for so long, so early in his career, Johnny Depp vowed never to fall into that trap again. He was going to forge his own path.Photo5

 

Four Johnny Depp films you’ve probably never seen but really should!

 

ARIZONA DREAM

The most eccentric and impenetrable of Depp’s early films, it’s a heady mix of magic realism and family drama. There’s a flying halibut, some sledging, a little bit of flying, Jerry Lewis, and a turtle. Depp is Axel, a fish counter worker from New York (Depp describes Axel as a “more positive Holden Caulfield”) who is summoned to Arizona by his uncle, Lewis, who wants him to take over the family business, a Cadillac dealership, and marry a local girl. Unfortunately, Axel is more interested in the dreams of fish. Depp chose to work with Yugoslav director Kusturica alter seeing his earlier film, Time of the Gypsies, which moved him to declare, “If this film doesn’t affect you, you have no pulse.” If you can just go with the flow, the film is a total delight, and it won the special jury prize at the 1993 Berlin International Film Festival. Depp’s verdict: “Arizona Dream was the first time I watched myself where I didn’t feel sick.”

To go and make such a surreal film after the box-office hit Edward Scissorhands was incomprehensible to Hollywood’s money men but says Depp, “It’s refreshing to know now what I knew then, which really is, who cares about the numbers? When you’re able to, experience something like this, and live through something like this, and be involved with something as magical as this. You forget about how much a movie made in the box-office.” (1993)

 

DEAD MAN

A Western filmed in black-and-white that dances along the edge of incomprehension. Jarmusch’s film is an irony-free journey that is almost existential in its pointlessness and poetry. Depp plays William Blake, an accountant not a poet, who arrives in the town of Machine in the 1870 to take up a post that no longer exists. Turfed out of the factory that had offered him the job, he meets a young girl, shoots, and is shot by, her jealous lover. He then goes on the run, pursued for the man’s murder. He is befriended by an Indian who believes he is the poet Blake, even though he insists he isn’t and so wander off in search of Blake’s destiny. Depp is sweet and clueless as Blake, and Robert Mitchum makes his final screen appearance as the factory owner and father of the man Blake kills. Depp’s main co-star, Gary Farmer said that it’s “sort of a road movie with a horse”. Depp is, said Farmer, “pretty much half dead for most of the movie. It takes a lot of patience to be half dead. Especially for someone like Johnny.” Jarmusch claimed that Depp is “one of the most precise and focused people I’ve ever worked with… I’m more familiar with seeing him fall asleep on the couch with the TV on all night. But it somehow fits; he’s full of paradoxes.” (1995)

 

NICK OF TIME

A man’s daughter has been kidnapped and unless he assassinates a US State Governor she will be killed. To save the day the would-be patsy must rescue his daughter, try to keep the governor alive, and defeat the bad guy who, it transpires, has merely been hired by more powerful backers. And to add extra suspense the film takes place in real time, giving it a palpable air of tension and threat. No, I’m not talking about 24, but a forgotten Depp gem from 1995, which saw him cast as an ordinary Joe, an accountant – again – and father, caught up in extraordinary circumstances.

Depp makes an interesting action hero, never entirely comfortable holding a weapon and constantly trying to outwit rather than outfight his foes. This man is no John McLane. That his nemesis is played to the hilt with a marvelously unhinged performance from Christopher Walken only adds to the value. Not a great film, but it showed the way for 24 and gave Depp a chance to some something very different for a change -be ordinary. He was accused of selling out but he refutes that. “I read the screenplay and liked it a lot. I was on the edge of my seat when I read this thing. I wanted to do it, and I wanted to work with John Badham. I also wanted to work with Christopher Walken, whom I’ve always admired.” He also insists it was nice to play someone normal for a change. “What happened to me for a while is that people started calling me

‘oddball’. They thought I could only play these outcasts. So, this was a chance to play something really straight.” (1995)

 

THE MAN WHO CRIED

Depp plays a character with almost no dialogue in a haunting vision of Paris before and after Nazi occupation as seen through the eyes of a Russian emigrge, played by long-time Depp co-star Christina Ricci. Depp wanders enigmatically in and out of the film, a gypsy character riding a large white horse, and doesn’t really do a huge amount except look broody and magnificent. It’s almost as if he’s making a silent movie, and it’s startling how much he can communicate with just his face and eyes. This is a visually rich movie from director Sally Potter, full of subtext and muted character that manages to be both silent and operatic. (2000)

THE DEVIL & MR. DEPP

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 Contactmusic.com Ltd 2005

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

Empire, January 2000 – Village of the Damned!

Empire, January 2000 – Village of the Damned!

Title: Village of the Damned!

Author: Simon Braud

Publication: Empire

Issue: January 2000

 

Photo1AFTER TREKKING UP THE MUDDIEST FOREST TRACK in the entire history of mud (and, no doubt, tracks), Empire finally crests a densely wooded hill to be met with an arresting and slightly unsettling sight: occupying a clearing in the trees some 300 meters below is a tiny, perfectly formed 18th century village which appears to be under attack from alien spacecraft. Hovering above the spiky church, ramshackle half-timbered cottages and suspiciously bijou bridge is a collection of vast, incandescent slabs which are bathing the settlement below in a pale and unearthly light. It looks like the type of tableau you might find gracing the interior of an enormously expensive snow globe.

What is also rather eerie is that earlier in the day Empire inspected exactly the same scene, complete with glowing monoliths, meticulously rendered in miniature in a model shop at Leavesden Studios. And to add a further prickle of unease, as we set off down the mercifully less soggy path that leads to the cluster of buildings below, it occurs to us that this Is precisely how New York constable lchabod Crane first enters the Hudson Valley hamlet of Sleepy Hollow to investigate a series of grisly murders. And it’s here that he first encounters the local legend of the headless horseman.

THERE’S NO CAUSE FOR ALARM, OF COURSE. THE village is hardly more substantial than the cranially-challenged equestrian spook who haunts it. It is in fact, the setting for director Tim Burton’s cinematic retelling of the Washington Irving classic, The Headless Horseman Of Sleepy Hollow; the menacing illuminated blocks overhead are a vast lighting rig designed to provide the requisite ethereal hue during night shoots. And obvious that the set is vintage Burton. Based initially on early Dutch settlements in upstate New York, where the real town of Sleepy Hollow is located — its ostensible quaintness is undermined by a hint of stylised gothic: the houses are slightly too tall and slightly too thin, and they crowd together slightly too tightly. It’s an artful, almost comical corruption of cosiness — this is a community huddling together in fear of the spectre which stalks the dark woods that surround it.

Irving’s much loved supernatural yarn (renamed Sleepy Hollow for the screen) is perfect material for Burton. Set in 1799, it’s a dream-like mix of horror, fantasy and romance that tells the tale of awkward loner lchabod Crane — a schoolteacher in the book, a policeman in the film — who is sent to Sleepy Hollow after several of its inhabitants have been mysteriously decapitated by, he soon learns, the monstrous figure of a headless black rider. “lchabod is someone who is basically behind the times and ahead of the times,” says Burton, “and it’s the contradictory aspects aspects of his character which are always fun and interesting. One of the original images that I had in my mind is a character who lives in his head versus a character with no head, which I always thought was a wonderful symbol.” While pitting his expertise in forensics against the terrifying horseman, lchabod also manages to fall in love with Katrina Van Tassel, the daughter of the town’s most eminent family. Thus the stage is set for a perfectly Burtonesquc fairytale and the eccentric director has assembled something of a dream team to flesh out his typically phantasmagorical vision: Johnny Depp — in a piece of casting that was surely engineered by God plays lchabod; Christina Ricci is similarly blessed with the role of Katrina; Casper Van Dien plays Ichabod’s brutish love rival and, providing icing on an already tantalising cake, is the eminently strange Christopher Walken as the horseman. And in a nod to Burton’s beloved Hammer Horrors, the great Christopher Lee makes a cameo appearance as the New York burgermeister who orders lchabod to Sleepy Hollow. And just to whet your, no doubt by now, keenly honed appetites still further, the screenplay comes courtesy of Seven’s Andrew Kevin Walker, music is by long-time Burton collaborator Danny Elfman and, hot off his movie-stealing turn as Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace, Ray Park stands in as Walker’s double for the fight scenes. That alone should lead you to suspect plenty of blood and thunder alongside the misty romance.

THE LAST TIME EMPIRE ENCOUNTERED JOHNNY DEPP was when he sauntered onto the terrace of the Hotel Du Cap at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival. Sporting a superbly unusual suit and smoking a cheroot, his perfect features adorned by a moustache roughly as wide as a crack in a coffee mug, he was every inch the movie star, captured in his natural habitat. Now, seated at a rough trestle table in an arctic catering tent as night-time rain pounds the canvas roof, he is dressed in a flowing white shirt, ample of cuff, and an embroidered full-length waistcoat. The pencil-thin stogie has been replaced by liquorice roll-ups and his facial hair is a less raffish goatee. He looks tiny, unreal, like a Dresden figurine come to life. Seated next to him, Christina Ricci appears even more as if she has wafted in from some enchanted waking vision. Her saucer-eyed, elfin features are framed by lustrous blond hair. They are a mesmerising apparition.

Following Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood. Sleepy Hollow marks Depp’s third collaboration with Burton, and for him this reunion is definitely a Good Thing. “Going back to working with Tim for me is like recharging the batteries,” he says, directing his whispery drawl towards his feet. “I can go out and do other things and I start to question why I do them and what the point of certain things is, so coming back to Tim is a rejuvenating experience. It makes me understand why I do this and what it’s all about.” But this being Johnny Depp, a man whose predilection for all things off-the-wall is legendary, other incentives were of course involved.

“I love the story,” he says, simply. “I’ve been familiar with it since I was a little kid — it’s just one of those great American stories. And I think the character is very interesting. It’s a challenge to play someone who fills the role of the leading man, but to not play him as a standard hero.”

Photo2In that respect, lchabod is a character very in keeping with many others in the Depp cannon, particularly those he has played for Burton. Edward Scissorhands has the most obvious parallels, but even the delusional-yet-lovable Ed Wood provides plenty of evidence of Depp’s predilection for society’s waifs and strays.

“Yeah, Ichabod’s a freak,” he chuckles. “He’s very much an outsider. He’s definitely got his problems, his weird ticks, stuff like that.” And Depp is perfectly frank about why he is constantly drawn to endearing weirdos. “I’m an idiot,” he says, smiling. “No, I don’t know ,.. It’s like, yeah, there are a lot of characters I’ve played who seem to be related in some way. It’s kind of like a painting in a way; like something that you’re trying to achieve, something that you’re trying to say that’s never quite finished. I don’t know if a painter ever really finishes a painting. Maybe that’s what it is with me — I’m exploring this arena and I haven’t finished exploring it yet.”

In creating Ichabod Crane, Depp drew on a rich, if slightly perplexing, store of influences. There’s a great deal of Roddy McDowell in there (the late actor was a close friend of Depp’s), but, he alleges, he also pilfered freely from the classic Basil Rarhbone/Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes films. Not surprisingly, he was also persuaded to take in a few Hammer Horrors to get him in the mood.

“Yeah. Did you watch any of those?” he says to Ricci. She shakes her head. “No, you said you were going to give me some but you never did.”

“I lied” he says. “I lied to Christina. I said I’d give her some films and I lied. I was familiar with some of them just from being a horror fan in general. Tim gave me a couple of Hammer tapes initially and we talked about the style. What I find fascinating about them is that there’s a style of acting that’s borderline bad, but it’s so borderline that it’s actually brilliant. I find that very interesting. I think Peter Cushing was a master craftsman, and Christopher Lee definitely is, and it’s a style of acting that I find very interesting.”

Sleepy Hollow is the second film that Depp has made with Christina Ricci — she had a small role in Terry Gilliam’s Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas — and it’s another re-match that he seems inordinately happy about.

“When Tim brought it up that he was casting Christina as Katrina I was very excited about going to work with her again, and about having more stuff to do together. I think Christina is one of the few actresses out there who is making brave choices — not just in the films she chooses, but in the work she’s doing. I think she’s terrific. She’s the real thing, and there’s a lot of fakes out there.” The fact that Ricci is sitting in very close proximity to him and there are still several more weeks of filming ahead of them shouldn’t lead you to doubt his sincerity. And he fiddles with his Zippo in a quite charming, “Aw, shucks” fashion as Ricci enthusiastically returns the compliment. “He’s amazing,” she says with feeling. “When we were doing rehearsals he would just slip into things. Like, he’d remember things from Ed Wood and he’d just start doing his Ed Wood thing. And we work together really well and he’s just really-genuine. I mean, I first met him when I was nine years old and he’s always been so kind. He remembers my mother’s name every time he meets her, which makes her life worth living. He’s also an amazing actor and look at him — he’s beautiful.”

On paper this comes over as unadulterated gush, but in fact, it’s very sweet and to his credit, Depp looks as if he’s about to suffer bashful meltdown. And if nothing else, it points to some highly convincing on-screen slushiness.

“Oh, I think that’s gonna be fine,” says Depp. “But certainly one of the first things that popped into my head was that, “My God, I’ve known her since she was nine years old and we’re going to be kissing and stuff!’ That was a little odd at first. But, you know, we’re both pretty calm, we’re not walking bags of neurosis — or if we are, we don’t bring our neuroses to work with us.” Oh no. That kind of thing, as we know, is reserved for snooty Mayfair restaurants and is traditionally accompanied by swinging planks of wood at intrusive paparazzi and yelling in an inexplicable Irish accent. Although Heaven forbid we should go into that here.

ONE OF THE DELIGHTS OF VISITING A MOVIE SET, APART from wallowing in mud and gawping at extras in period costume reading The Daily Mail, is that while you’re waning, you get shown all kinds of interesting behind-the-scenes stuff to fill the time. Today, we are taken to meet the horses. This turns out to be an unexpectedly terrifying experience, and not one we’d like to repeat anytime soon. Banish from your thoughts any notion of petting velvety noses and administering sugar lumps to four-legged friends, and imagine instead standing three feet away from a gigantic fiery steed which is stamping its anvil-sized hooves and blowing great clouds of steam out of its gaping nostrils — at one point, it even rears up on its hind legs and whinnies like a steam train. This is the headless horseman’s horse, and frankly, he’s fucking welcome to it.

Standing somewhat forlornly beside this colossal, highly-strung beast is Ichabod’s ride. This is a dumpy, docile old mare, hilariously broad in the beam and short in the leg who looks as if her rearing up days are a dim and distant memory. Again, it’s perfect casting.

Back with the talent of the two-legged variety and Johnny Depp appears as wary of the equinties as Empire. But apparently for entirely different reasons.

“We have a kind of edgy relationship.” says Depp guardedly, when informed of our harrowing ordeal. “One day she can be fine and the next she can be a little . . . peculiar.”

“He gives you hours of amusement,” chimes in Ricci. “Johnny loses it every time the horse farts.”

“Yeah,” he says seriously, “and the horse farts constantly. I take it as her statement about movies in general. She just doesn’t give a shit about what’s going on. She farts constantly and shits all over the set,” he smiles. “I like that horse very, very much …”

UK, Premiere December 1999

UK, Premiere December 1999

England There is no ground; there is only mudthick, oozing, inches deep, and alive. Put your foot in and pull it out, and you can hear it breathe. Above the dark woods, the sky is a flat piece of black construction paper. Perfectly, uniformly, almost unnaturally black. Somewhere between the mud and the sky isjohnny Depp. ‘l’hat`s about as specific as he likes to get. It`s the middle of the night in the middle of March in the middle of England, which means it`s raining. And cold. Tim Burton, the director of movies in which night is never far away (two of them, Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood, with Depp) is shooting his latest collaboration with the actor: Sleepy Hollow, a creepier, more violent take on Washingtori Irving`s tale ofthe Headless Ilorseman. Burton and his crew have built an entire18th-  century village in an isolated valley about an hour’s drive from London. There are fully constructed houses, shops. an inn, a pub, and a covered bridge with a rooster weather vane. All are beautihilly crumbling outside and mere shells inside, empty but for the fog.

The fog is a character in Sleepy Hollow as are the mud and the rain and the natterjack toads that clack in the dark like monster crickets. lt wraps itself ‘around you, soaks you to the skin. It softens the edges ofeverything: the crewin their fleece jackets; the extras in spattered gowns or tricornered hats; the scaffolds and generators and trucks parked on sheets of metal so that they don’t sinkinto the muck and disappear forever. And the fog does great things, really English things, to the graveyard behind the village, where headstones tilt out of the hillside like teeth in a skull. Everyone is in church. At this point in the story. the Headless Horseman has decapitated half the town and is out gto claim the rest, including Katrina Van Tassel (Christina Ricci), her father (Michael Gambon, of the acclaimed BBC series The Singing Detective), and a passel of elders played—as in all Burton films—by relentlessly talented character actors:Jeffrey Jones (Beetlejuice), Ian McDiarmid (Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace), Christopher Lee ‘ (whose Dracula movies of the 50´s and 60´s Depp, 36, grew up watching).

To set the scene, smoke machines churn and a crew member runs around removing the protective Styrofoam cups that cover the spikes on the iron chandeliers, while someone else ignites the candles with a blowtorch. Outside, a three·ton light box the size ofa Manhattan studio is rising into the sky atop a crane. “0h, that rig can hold 225 tons,” one of the safety engineers says. “This is like hoisting a bag of peanuts.” The “first time the light box was raised, people in the surrounding villages phoned the police to report a UFO. At the exact moment when the light box has been swung over the steeple, and the extras have packed their muskets with gunpowder, and the white, wooden church has tilled with choking smoke, its double doors bang open and ]ohnny Depp walks in. At nearly six feet, he is taller than people think, spindly as a tree branch, and possessed of a handsomeness that is almost otherworldly: big, burning eyes; soft, elegantly mussed hair; strong yet delicate hands. The hollows of his cheekbones have hollows. He is wearing a black frock coat and pants tucked into muddy, calf-high boots; he is smoking a thin cigarette (he hand-rolls them in brown, licorice- flavored paper); and he looks spectacular. “W’e really wanted to evoke the spirit of the old Hammer horror films, Vincent Price movies, Roger Corman’s work,” Burton says. “The heroes in those films are always kind of separate, ambiguous, absorbed in their work. They’ re there, but you don’t know much about them. Andjohnny is perfect for that; he radiates like a silent—movie actor. He hardly has to say anything. It’s something you can’t manufacture?
Depp’s Ichabod Crane is not, as in the Irving story, a schoolteacher; instead, he’s a fussy police constable brought up from New York City who insists for too long that the grisly murders in Sleepy Hollow have an earthbound explanation. At first, Depp resisted the idea that Ichabod be a cop —· but it grew on him.

He loved the notion of a detective “who has a facade of bravado, but in fact would be on the verge of tears, like, if an insect
comes near him,” he says later. “You’d feel his butt cheeks clench. I just liked that the hero of the story, whom one would expect to be romantic, I liked the idea that he’s more than half a woman.” For example, Depp knew he’d found Ichabod’s true character the day he shot a scene in which Crane and his 12—year—old assistant, Masbeth (newcomer Marc Pickering), investigate a cave. As Ichabod, Depp slipped an arm around Masbeth, supposedly to protect him, and actually ended up pushing the boy forward as a human shield. “So it’s beyond cowardly,” he says.

No actor has ever fought against playing a conventional romantic lead as fiercely as Depp. He thinks it’s been done enough. “There are plenty of people who do that. And do it well, I guess,” he says. “And do very well by doing it. It’s not that interesting to me. I’m interested in all the things that go on underneath? “Johnny has an outlaw personality. He identifies with the outlaw image in what he reads, the movies he makes. He’s not faking it,” says his friend, the writer Hunter S. Thompson. (Depp played the king of gonzo journal- in Terry Gilliam’s adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.) “Johnny’s particular path in life is to constantly nudge people awake,” Gilliam says. “The films he chooses force you to reconsider what you , think ofthe worId.”  In tonight’s scene, Ichabod has abandoned all pretense of bravery and  cowers in church with the rest—”Ichabod Crane, girl detective,” Depp  
zooms im again,  believing that the Horseman, being unholy, cannot enter. In fact, over the next 20 hours, Depp will utter only that line on camera:  “He cannot enter? Everything else, all the darting panic and desperate suppression of it, he does with his eyes. After the townsmen tuck their cell  phones into their breeches and line up at the church windows for a master shot, Depp strides in and implores, “He cannot enter? Then he jumps into  an idling jeep and is whisked half a mile down the road to his cozy trailer, where he practices an acceptance speech, in French, for the lifetime- achievement César (the French Oscar) he will receive that weekend. 

Meanwhile, the extras, many children and old people, trek through the  mud into a tent to huddle around space heaters and Styrofoam cups of tea.  When Gambon, jones, and McDiarmid have finished setting up their two-shots, Depp zooms in again, looks pleadingly at them, says the line- “He cannot enter? —then slips back into the fog. Throughout the long night, while Gambon et al. stand in a loose circle by the altar, adjusting their ascots, trading dirty jokes, and roaring with laughter; while Tim Burton—looking happy and prosperous, in black from head—to-toe (beret, goatee, pea coat, pants) — paces back and forth behind the camera, framing  shots with his hands like a silent-film director; while tough-guy producer Scott Rudin, working three separate cell phones, calls backward across the globe (to Tom Stoppard in London, Mike Nichols in New York, then .
Vince Vaughn, Richard Donner, and Curtis Hanson in Los Angeles); while the stunt Horseman tries to keep his Andalusian stallion—as big, black, and spooky as you imagined when you first heard the story as a kid  from bolting into the graveyard, Depp will yo-yo in and out, saying, “He cannot enter.’” and melting away.   
He does have a long chat with a young female extra named Helena, who, with her brother james and  their mom, is visiting the set courtesy of the Make- A-Wish Foundation, the group that helps seriously ill children realize a dream. Depp has worked with
the foundation for iz years, since his days on the teen cop show 21 Jump Street.  “The most courageous people I’ve ever met have   
been nine years old, I5 years old,” Depp says later. “The strength that they have—that`s some kind of strength. I don`t know it.” On Helena’s last night as  an extra, Depp sticks around until she’s released,  then gently helps her on with her coat.

Occasionally Depp also hangs out with the old pros in the cast, whom he clearly reveres. He slouches beside them on the church pews, legs stuck out and ‘ bent like a spider’s, rolling his cigarettes and smiling sweetly as they talk. And Depp and Burton, who are as easy as brothers, frequently reduce each other to tears of laughter. Currently, they`re mutually obsessed with the late entertainer Georgie jessel; a few takes get off to a slow start because Burton yells “Action.’”’ in Jessel’s trademark chipmunk—with-marbles—in-his- mouth whine, which paralyzes Depp. Depp and Burton have a few off-kilter, Jessel esque qualities of their own. Both feel deeply “that the things that are considered completely normal and are totally accepted by society are, in fact, absurd,” A Depp says. “The characters I’ve played in Tim’s films are all related in the sense that they are”-—he pauses-   “kind ofdeeply damaged.” He laughs. “Which I think of as a good thing. The damaged individual dealing  with the world. That is probably, at its very root, why  Tim does what he does, and why I do what I do.” “Johnny knows as well as anyone could that Be things are not what they seem,” Burton says. “He makes you see the world from a different perspective. And even though this is the third film we’ve done together, we never fall into, ‘Let’s go back  to formula A or B.’ He’ll always explore each thing on its own, and he does  it so well. It`s why you want to be in movies.” Over the next few nights, Depp’s disappearing act continues. For the  few seconds that we`re in the same room, he is cordial and friendly. (I interviewed him eight years ago.) But he’s antsier, crankier than I remember- more fed up. He has an unnerving habit of vaporizing: He stands before you, yet he is elsewhere; you could put your arm right through him. “He can be intensely self-protective,“ Thompson says. “He’s perfected thejohn Wayne stare, where you walk through a room full ofpeople and never look at anybody.” It’s been made clear that Depp is busy, that he wants only two things.  The first is to think about his work, which is undergoing a sea change.

He’s never been a huge draw at the box office. “I’m no treat for marketing departments,” he admits. But in the past few years, Depp has moved away from the roles that gave him a reputation (oversimplified, but it stuck) for playing wide—eyed waifs— in Cry-Baby, Edward Scissorhands, Benny and joon, Whats Eating Gilbert Grape, Don Juan DeMarco, and Dead Man—toward more adult, ambivalent characters. In Donnie Braseo, he is a disillusioned undercover agent opposite Al Pacino`s tragic, aging mobster. In The Astronauts Wife
released in August, he plays a space cowboy possessed by an alien. And in his upcoming The Ninth Gate, he is a corruptible rare-book
dealer hired to find satanic texts; it was directed by Roman Polanski, who also invoked the devil in Rosemary? Baby. –

“You know, it’s weird,” Depp says later. “When I did Donnie Brasco, people within the industry said, ‘He finally played a man.’ And I didn’t particularly get it. It’s like, why was I a man? Because I punched a couple of guys? Because I kissed a girl, had sex? Iguess that’s it. I was sort of fascinated by that.” “I find it surprising that people don’t think of johnny as a leading man. He’s the most gorgeous, talented man in the world,” says Anne Heche, who played Brasco’s wife. “I wouldn’t have trouble buying him as anything. Most actors play different versions of themselves. Not Johnny— you never think he’s going to do whatever his next movie is.” “What amazes me is that the critics are always surprised by Johnny,” Gilliam says. “It’s like they don’t really watch what’s there. They don’t understand how good an actor he is. He doesn’t cheat by giving you all those cheap emotions. He won’t make you comfortable —- for him that would be a foot in the grave.” At first glance, Depp’s recent films seem to be allover the map. But look closer, and they are linked by his urgent desire to subvert otu‘ notion of who the good guys are. In The Astronauts Wife, in particular, Depp takes great delight in gathering up the qualities that are widely considered to be heroic and flipping them the bird. “I liked the idea of playing, on the surface, what looks like a leading—man type: white teeth, sun-kissed hair, healthy Southern boy, sort of all-American,” Depp says. “But the way I looked at it, being taken over by an alien just allowed him to be exactly who he was, in fact: a filthy shithead, just a full-on scumbag.” The second big thing Depp wants right now is simply to be left alone. His recent history has been A tumultuous: The end of his long-term relationship with model Kate Moss overlapped with a move to France and the beginning of his life with French actress—pop singer——superstar Vanessa Paradis, 27, who became pregnant. Last winter, Depp grabbed a piece of wood and attacked a half-dozen paparazzi who were waiting outside a London restaurant to snap a photo of the expectant couple. He was hauled off to jail in handcuffs, where he spent five hours. When Paradis was in labor (Lily-Rose Melody Depp was born on May 27), photographers lined up outside her Paris hospital window. Depp had to skulk behind an umbrella to have a smoke, “so they didn’t get a photograph of johnny Depp waiting for his baby to be born,” he says, sneering as he pronounces _his own name. “Now, that’s no way to live. That’s a sick thing to have mixed in with the most beautiful memories of your life. It’s like a jail.” At this moment, being left alone is the central quest in Depp’s life. So I’m not surprised when one night I search for him to say goodbye, only to discover that he left three hours earlier, and is probably home in bed. You’re not supposed to go to Paris in August. No one is there, people say—at least no Parisians. But the truth is, there are Parisians aplenty: African-Parisians, Indo-Parisians, Asian—Parisians, swinging down the street in groups of two or three, smiling madly because
those other Parisians are out of their hair. Depp loves Paris in August. “Europe becomes him,” says Polanski, who also makes Paris his home. “He doesn’t look expatriated. He looks as though he really lives here. He’s very much at ease.” Our meeting is scheduled, if somewhat vaguely, for tomorrow, so tonight is a good time to wander around and look for traces of Depp in his new hometown. It’s easy to see why he likes it: It is, well, Paris —beautiful A and full of art and good red wine, one of his favorite indulgences.

More importantly, in Paris Depp can disappear. There are dozens of gentle-looking brown—haired boys with dark eyes and fabulous bone structure strolling around the Marais and the Left Bank and Montmartre, where Depp, until recently, kept an apartment (he now has a house just outside the city). It’s very, very far from L.A. “I’m happy to be removed,” Depp says later. “I’m happy that I made the decision to stop looking at magazines, that I don’t see many movies, that I don’t know who people are, in terms of the movie executives, or other actors and actresses.” The only celebrity anyone is rushing to photograph at the Louvre is the “Mona Lisa,” who faces down the constant flashbulbs of the tourist paparazzi from behind her glass case. She looks friendly, patient, secretive. She looks a bit, in fact, like Depp. There is no trace of the actor at Man Ray, the restaurant off the Champs—Elysées that he co-owns with a few pals, including Sean Penn and Bono. The decor is underwater Thai eclectic—massive wooden figures, gold-flecked mosaic tiles, orange and green Iighting—and the menu is a lumpy list of everything—not—French. Has the waiter, valiantly struggling’ to grow his first beard, ever seen Johnny? “At the movies, yes. Here, no,”he says. And the lovely, model—ready maitre’d, has she seen Johnny? “Once we made a party for Puff Daddy,” she says. (Actually, being French, she says Puff Daddy, which is what he should call himself from now on.) “I was not here, but I heard Johnny was.” In fact, Depp is not here at all. In Paris, that is. He was supposed to be here. Or someone thought he was. He was here a couple of days ago. He may or may not be back soon. He may have one to the south of France, where he ind Paradis have a house by a vineyard near the sea. He may have gone to London. The only thing that anyone knows is that no one knows anything.
So 24 hours after arriving in Paris, I leave. People seem upset about this, especially Depp’s publicist and his sister Christi, who handles his affairs from her home in Florida. Later, Depp himself will apologize, though he swears he had no idea a meeting was scheduled. I, however, float along ’ on a cloud of nonchalance, in a kind ~of sleepy, Zen—like, privileged peace  induced by jet lag and spending copi-
ous amounts of someone else’s money.  Though I didn’t talk tojohnny Depp, I think I learned something about him: I felt, for a moment, what it’s like to be him. Or at least the part of  him who never answers his phone, who is put onstage at the MTV Video Music Awards to utter exactly eight  “words (“Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Nine Inch Nails”), who gavors certain decisions (what to read what to look at, what to smell) while jutterly surrendering others (financial affairs, itineraries, business details).In that moment, tickets and phone calls and hotel reservations and taxi drivers swirled around my head, but I didn’t see them. All I had to think about was being exactly where I was. Depp goes to great lengths to hangonto this state of mind. I have to tell i you, it felt good.

Los Angeles  When I finally do see Depp again, I can barely see him at all. I wait for him at a small, subterranean bar inside the Viper Room, the Sunset Boulevard nightclub he has owned for nearly a decade. He is running late. The lights are turned down low and the air is
dense with the smoky-sweet smell of the lilies, which spill out of their vases at every table; the steady, thumping bass of the band doing a soundcheck on the floor above rattles the ceiling. Depp glides into this scene silently, as if on a cushion of air. His hair is longer and lanker than it was in England, shoved under a fishing cap that he could have borrowed from an old man. He wears giant plastic sunglasses, a cotton shirt that buttons up the front, frayed work pants, and construction boots. Two medals-one depicting Shiva, the other Che Guevaradangle from chains around his neck. He looks like a beautiful kook. His voice, which sounds like gravel being poured through chocolate pudding, is so quiet that one has to lean forward to hear him, and he speaks so haltingly it’s as if each sentence has its own apartment. Honestly, it’s like meeting some mystic in a mountain cave. Though we are in a bar, Depp consumes only water and a roll of Spree candy, in between countless cigarettes. (“ Really, he smokes too rnuch,”Polanski says. “I once said to him, ‘You should stop,’ and he replied, ‘Why stop something I do so well?’ “) His manners are courtly, almost quaint; when a tiny bit of my water spills, he insists upon taking it for himself and gets me a new bottle. He’s funny and charming and present, but his longing to be elsewhere is so palpable, it practically makes a sound. Clearly, he’s aching for his (then) three-month-old baby, whose birth is still fresh in his mind. “Yeah, labor’s a very strange thing,” he says. “You learn a lot in a very short period of time. Minute:. The first thing you learn
is that women are far superior to men. The amount of work, the amount  of determination required — a man could not do it. A man would fold.” Depp tried to do his part: ‘I`hough he never wears a watch, he kept vowing to buy one so he could time Paradis’s contractions. Finally he did, “but when the contractions started coming, I was useless. I kept fumbling with these hideous little buttons,” he says. “But I tell you what, it’s a powerful thing. If a man goes into that room and watches his girl do that, it does not get any heav-
ier. Certainly I’ve never seen anything as strong as a woman during those moments.” He made sure he was the one to cut the umbilical cord. He didn’t want a stranger breaking the tie that holds mother and child together.“Oh, he’s pathetic,” Gilliam says, giggling madly. “Totally doting, as if she’s the only child ever born. ‘She’s got a skin rash—oh my God!’ He loses all his wit and sharpness around her; she’s reduced him to b!ancmange.” “Look, I don’t think that I lived before. This baby has given me life,” Depp says, unabashedly. “I worked be fore, sure, I lived, but mostly I just existed. I see this amazing, beautiful, pure angel-thing wake up in the morning and smile, and nothing can touch that. She gives me the opportunity to experience something new every day. And to love, so deeply. She is the only reason to wake up in the morning, the only reason to take a breath. Everything else is checkers.” About Lily-Rose’s mother, however, Depp is totally circumspect. He says Paradis is a natural at motherhood, she’s a great girl, she has a nice family (parents, still married, plus a younger sister) who live nearby. That’s it. Nothing about whether she makes him laugh, what she likes about him, what they have in common—other than a desire to avoid the praying eyes of the press, hint hint. Only once does he step up to stamp something concrete about Paradis onto the record. Told that in the public realm, her pregnancy was thought to be an accident that derailed Depp’s return to Kate Moss, he adamantly denies it. “That couldn’t be more untrue,” he says firmly. “I was not put in a situation where I was obligated to do something. Obligation is no way to begin your career as a father. I would never do that to the girl that I’m in-
volved with, to my kid. I wouldn’t live that Iie.”He plans to raise Lily-Rose in France. “I used to think, maybe you i could do it in the middle of the States, Colorado or somewhere. But no. Not when you’ve got cretins going into schools and shooting children.
This country is out of control. It’s become dirty. I think it’s imploding.”Here Depp launches into a string of tirades. About politics: “I always thought politics was horseshit. Never voted once in my life, never. Now, at 36, I’m starting to think it’s more grave. It affects me
now.” About NATO: “If they wanted to take Milosevic out, they could, very easily. Same with Saddam Hussein. But they didn’t. They need a bad guy so they can be the good guys.” And about Clinton. Especially Clinton. Depp hates hypocrisy, and he seems to take Clinton’s waffling personally. “For about zo seconds I thought, That guy’s all right. From Arkansas, an outsider,” Depp says. “But
then it’s like [be mimic: a Clinton accent], ‘I didn’t inhale) You . . . what did he say? Did he say he didnt inhale?” He’s on a roll now; the cigarette he’s about to light is jouncing up and down in the corner of his mouth. “You know what I find really strange?” he asks. “When
Bill Clinton comes off of Air Force One, he salutes the marine standing at the base of the stairs. I remember something about Clinton’s not going to Vietnam, whatever sticky weirdness it was. And instead of just saying, ‘I didn’t want to go to Vietnam because I didn’t
believe in it,’ or ‘I was scared shitless,’ he made up some kind of smarmy story. But now he walks down those steps and salutes that marine. Suddenly he believes in the army, when he doesn’t have to go fight. Fuck that.”But what irks Depp the most right now is his own
fame. (“He would come to work shattered sometimes, because the photographers would make his and Vanessa’s life miserable,” Polanski says.) He’s not sorry that he picked up that two—by—four outside the London restaurant. In fact, he’s more than a little proud of it.
“They wanted a photograph of me and my pregnant girlfriend. And that angered me — that they would take something so sacred and try to turn it into a product,”he says. He told the photographers waiting by the exit that, for just this one night, he couldn’t be what they
wanted him to be —“novelty boy, a product.” He asked them, like a gentleman, to go away. “And they said no—We’ll be here waiting for you.’ ” Depp snapped. He grabbed the wood, rapped one photographer in the knuckles, and told them, “N0wn take the picture. I’m fucking begging you. Because the first flash I see, the guy is gonna be the recipient of this.” He pauses. “Six guys. Nobody took one picture. The beauty, the poetry of the fear in their eyes, in these filthy little maggots’ faces, was so worth it. I didn’t mind going to jail for, what, five, six hours? It was absolutely worth it.”

 

Page 294 of 299 1 291 292 293 294 295 296 297 299