Venezia (ITALIAN ONLY!)

Francesca has her own website, where you can read the whole encounter: ifod! Below is a snippet and her pictures!

Un silenzio sospettoso avvolge il lido? solo il vento che muove violentemente i rami degli alberi non smetti di fiatare, ma questo succede solo per una frazione di secondo perch

Finding Neverland Set

(note: recently, when Ivy met Johnny, he told her he remembered the zone and he remembered his meeting with Irene!)

‘Adventures in Neverland’ – The Night I Met Johnny Depp
I had the privilege of meeting Johnny Depp during the filming of ‘Neverland’ in summer 2002. They were filming night shoots at the Richmond Theatre, Richmond-upon-Thames, Surrey, England on three consecutive nights: Sunday 18th to Tuesday 20 August ’02. On the first evening that I visited the filming location I had to leave before Johnny was due to show up on set. On my second visit, however, I had the incredible good fortune of being able to watch him at work for over 6 hours – an evening that culminated in meeting him at 3:15 in the morning! I don’t have any photographs of that extraordinary night, but I do have vivid and wonderful memories together with Johnny’s inscription for me in my little ‘Dead Man’ book.

The simplest way to tell my adventure is to Start at the Beginning and keep going until I reach The End and then Stop. My story’s a long one, but I hope you enjoy it.

:irene
August 2002

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CHAPTER ONE – Sunday 18th August 2002

I went over to Richmond-upon-Thames in Surrey yesterday, Sunday 18 August, to see if I could watch the ‘Neverland’ location filming that Reemi reported from the ‘Dark Horizons’ site. And I arrived about 6 hours too early, because they were doing NIGHT shoots!

2:00pm: Finding the location was easy enough – the big film lorries parked outside the Richmond Theatre were a bit of a giveaway, together with the notices from ‘Neverland Films’ apologising for the road closure. At first I thought I’d actually missed everything because nothing seemed to be happening, but after about an hour people began bringing props out of the theatre and decorating the roadway with them. So, having spent ages getting there, I decided to stay and wait for the action. Luckily I’d bought a good book with me, so I found a shady spot on Richmond Green and watched the set decorators in action between the chapters of my novel.

8:00pm: CUT to many hours later, and the little road outside the theatre has been transformed with glowing Victorian lamp-posts, greenery covering the few modern-day signs, earth-covered roads, a splendid mixture of horse-drawn gigs and flys and early motorcars, and a couple of ENORMOUS floating air balloons suspended 60 foot up, shining light down upon the scene. I was very surprised that there weren’t any big arc lights, or any of the other cumbersome equipment that you normally associate with film sets. The huge air balloons were lit up (with halogen gas? I don’t know), and the one suspended directly above the theatre steps looked like the full moon magnified x 10. Although these suspended lights were brilliant white, they cast a warm night-time glow upon everything.

The theatre has a little open green right in front of it (it’s actually called ‘Little Green’) so all the crew and the extras were parked there, and they’d slung up a tape barrier in the shape of a large ‘V’ for the public to stand behind. So there was plenty of space to stand and get a view – and even a couple of park benches to sit on if you were lucky!

The filming had been mentioned in this week’s local Richmond newspapers so there were quite a few people standing around the perimeter when I joined them again at sunset. I took up a position on the right, about 120 feet from the theatre, with a very good view of everything that was going on – except when some of the extras were standing in the way, or when an Edwardian motorcar drove past!

You can probably imagine what the next few hours were like.. I stayed and watched it for as long as I could, although they didn’t actually film very much. The director didn’t yell ‘Action!’ or ‘Cut!’ like I’d expected – all the main crew and security were hooked up to earpieces so they knew what was happening. Basically they did lots of rehearsals of the extras entering and leaving the theatre for the performance of one of JM Barrie’s plays. They had a little billboard on the pavement in front of the theatre, but I couldn’t read what play it was. And they’d erected big maroon signs on either side of the theatre entrance that read ‘Duke of Westminster’s Theatre’ (the real theatre is the ‘Duke of York’s’, so there must have been some sort of copyright problem with using the real name). The few times the cameras did roll, the extras did their bit and then suddenly there in their midst would be someone dressed in t-shirt & jeans, exiting the theatre with them, so you knew that the take was finished! The security guys stopped anyone who took pictures because the flash would show up on the film – even though they were scarcely filming anything.

Just before I left, Dustin Hoffman appeared and did a scene, standing on the upper steps and greeting the people as they were arriving. As far as I could tell they’d greyed his hair, but by that time my eyes were so sore with looking that I couldn’t have cared less if he’d been wearing a fruit bowl on his head a la Carmen Miranda. I then heard that Johnny wouldn’t be arriving to do his scenes until midnight.

Apparently they’ve been filming at the Richmond Theatre for a week now, but someone told me they’ve only been doing interior scenes inside the theatre. ‘Neverland’ is doing 2 more night shoots – today (Monday) & tomorrow, although the final night will be ‘foyer scenes’ so there won’t be much to see.

11:00pm: I had to push off home otherwise I’d have been stranded in Richmond overnight, but I’m going back today for another peek. Wish me better luck for tonight!!
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CHAPTER TWO – the evening of Monday 19th August 2002

8:40pm: I arrive at the theatre just after nightfall on Monday night, and the action’s already under way. Some extras are loading scenery into a Victorian removals van outside the theatre. When this little bit of action finishes, they unload all the props, take them back into the theatre, and start the process all over again.

Although the air-balloon lights are suspended high in the air, they’re using a big arc light and a white reflective sheet suspended between the trees for this scene. The first wonderful thing I notice is that tonight the camera is positioned in the little street right in front of the theatre, so they’ve set up the crowd tape barrier much closer to the theatre than on Sunday night!

I walk around & get a great position at centre-left, about 70 feet from the set. As well as giving me a superb uninterrupted view, I’d noticed that all the actors come on set from that direction, either walking or in cars, along the little roadway that disappears to our left between the houses.

I ask around to see if anything much has happened yet and someone tells me that they’ve been doing this same scene for the past half-hour!

The watching crowd is much, much smaller than on Sunday night – possibly because the novelty has worn off but also because it’s no longer the weekend. When I arrive there are only about 50 onlookers gathered around, and the numbers get smaller as the night wears on. I chat with a couple of people who I discover actually live on the Little Green, facing the theatre, and they’re a mine of information. They tell me that Sunday night’s filming went on until 4 o’clock in the morning, and they wrapped just as dawn was breaking! They also tell me that everyone living on Richmond Green had been sent a letter by Neverland Films, giving the dates of filming and apologising for the inconvenience, and that they’ve been filming inside the theatre for the past couple of weeks. I also discover that there hadn’t been any external filming on Saturday night: these night-shoots are just Sunday-Tuesday. That’s a good start to the evening, finding out that I hadn’t missed a whole night’s filming over the weekend.

I hit very lucky with these people because they have some really interesting titbits of information about the filming & they’re clearly delighted that their beautiful theatre is in the spotlight. They point out the buildings that have been specially done up for the film, and also tell me that the film company is using the college just up the little road to our left as the cast’s changing rooms. I figured this was the same place that the security men had mysteriously referred to as ‘base’ on my last visit – presumably to stop people from following their noses and taking a wander up there! Throughout all of this conversation, the extras repeat their scenery-shifting sequence endlessly?

Finally the replica Removals Van is hauled away, and things start moving again. Several cars arrive from the little side-road and pull up inside the tape barrier, the entrance of which is guarded constantly by a couple of security men. Lots of crew get out of the cars and meanwhile a group of extras walk down the road and mingle with them on the set. Amid all the comings-and-goings, I’m still chatting with the locals and generally looking at all the new activity. And then, quite suddenly, I involuntarily suck in my breath:

9:10pm: Johnny Depp is on the set!!!

He’s standing at the top of the theatre steps, on the right-hand side as you look at it. I have no idea how he got there – presumably he’d only just arrived in one of the cars and I was too busy chatting to notice [blush]. He’s dressed in mid-brown trousers, matching waistcoat with a cream satin back, and white shirt. And even though I’ve only just clapped eyes on him, this lithe slender figure is unmistakeably Johnny Depp.

He’s talking to a very tall bald young man (who I later figure out is the director, Marc Forster), and to a tall heavily-set man standing on Johnny’s right. JD is gesticulating about something – lots of hand and arm movements. Every time the heavy guy disappears inside the theatre, Johnny calls him out again. At first I wonder what’s going on & whether something’s wrong, and then my brain starts working again and I realise that they’re simply talking through the action for a scene! (As it later turns out, the heavily-set tall man was acting as a temporary stand-in for Dustin Hoffman, which is pretty funny when you recall what Hoffman is really like.)

While this pre-rehearsal is going on, the crew are taking down the big arc light and the white sheet, so we’re getting an even better view of the set! You can now see a small pavement-mounted billboard for ‘Peter Pan’.

Finally, everyone is satisfied with the talk-through and they do a couple of dry runs. JD stays at the top of the stairs on the right-hand side as you look at the theatre, and looks disconsolately up and down the road. A man dressed as a theatre usher comes out from the foyer, rings a silent bell, and calls out “Last call, ladies and gentlemen! Last call for the – “. He’s cut short by someone inside. Hoffman’s stand-in appears from the left-hand door of the foyer (as you look at the theatre) and speaks to the usher. They both go back inside. Then suddenly Johnny spots some movement in the street to his left, and whips around to lean over the banister to his right and call out “Charles!” Hoffman’s character comes outside again and Johnny indicates what’s happening in the street. The only dialogue I could hear is what I’ve included above; I couldn’t make out the rest of what they were saying. By the end of the night I was probably as familiar with this dialogue as were the actors themselves, since it’s almost the only scene that was filmed!

Everyone seems happy with the pre-rehearsals, and Johnny descends the stairs and talks to the crew. Then:

9:25pm: Johnny climbs into a big silver people-carrier [luxury SUV] and is driven back to ‘base’. I settle down for what I expect to be a long wait for his return.
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CHAPTER THREE – 9:25pm to 11:30pm

9:25pm: The crew settle down to rigging up different lights and repositioning the second air-balloon to give extra light to the set. I settle down on the grass to give my feet a rest for a while.

Something interesting finally happens when a tall slim dark-haired young man takes up the same position as Johnny had at the top-right of the theatre stairs. He’s dressed in grey t-shirt & jeans and is obviously JD’s stand-in. Two other people come to join him: a short, medium-built older man with a bushy beard [Dustin Hoffman’s stand-in] and a blonde woman who stands between the two men. I assume that she’s Kate Winslet’s stand-in, although Kate never appears on the set and the scene is played without her. Very curious! There’s endless checking and re-checking of lights, distances, etc while this trio stand still and let everything happen around them.

The mix of people in our crowd of onlookers is changing all the time. People arriving during this period of set-up don’t hang around too long. I chat to different people and happily give my expert advice on what the film’s about and who’s in it.

10:20pm: Johnny arrives back on set – and stays on set until 03:15 in the morning!!!

There’s the sound of motors in the little side-road to our left, and several cars emerge one after the other. Finally ‘Johnny’s’ big silver people-carrier moves slowly into view and keeps on going until it’s well inside the tape barrier. The doors open and several people emerge. And right in amongst them is JD! A few brave people in the crowd call out his name [this is England, remember, and we don’t really do that sort of thing over here!] but Johnny resolutely carries on chatting with the people he’s with, moving on to the set & towards the director & his crew. Anyone in the crowd who’s foolish enough to take out their camera is instantly pounced upon by one of the security men & told in no uncertain fashion that they can’t take any pictures whatsoever at any time. I subtly untwine my fingers from the camera that I’m just about to hike out of my bag and go back to taking notes in my head?

Having missed Johnny’s earlier entrance on to the set, this time I have a wonderful surprise coming. Instead of the brown ‘workaday’ outfit he was wearing earlier in the evening, he’s now decked out in immaculate Edwardian evening dress!

The one thing that particularly strikes me this time is his graceful way of moving. I remember reading an article recently where the journalist particularly noticed his poise and said that Johnny carries himself very straight and upright. That’s an accurate observation. To some extent, possibly, his costume is having its effect upon him, but whatever the cause for the rest of the evening he moves with an innate grace and elegance. He reminds me of Fred Astaire at his prime – and there’s a man who could really move! [In fact, at one point much later in the evening when things were clearly starting to drag, Johnny takes up a typical ‘Top Hat’ pose right in the middle of the pavement for a couple of seconds. It was a spectacular spot-on imitation of the great Astaire and I would have dearly loved to have captured that moment on camera! Anyway, I digress..]

Johnny climbs to the top of the theatre steps, takes up his position once again at the right-hand side, and things start to get under way. At some point Dustin Hoffman joins him but I can’t say I particularly noticed when that happened [blush]. There’s lots more discussion with the director, and eventually the wardrobe mistress comes up with JD’s black tailcoat and fits it on to him. And finally he’s given a gold-topped cane which he proceeds to play with, a la ‘Benny & Joon’, for the rest of the evening.

By this time it’s 11pm and the pubs are coming out, so there begins an endless troop of slightly-drunken youths across the green from various directions. Most of them stay for a while and just about every new group uses some variant on the phrase: “Johnny Depp! Is that Johnny Depp?! Really?! Cool!” For about the next 2 hours the mobile phone bill in Richmond-upon-Thames rises by 600% as everyone decides to hang out by the Green and call all their friends to explain what they’re up to. One young guy’s phone conversation which I found particularly funny ran like this: “Hey, guess where I am and who I’m looking at?!?The Richmond Theatre….Johnny Depp!!? Yeah, really!!? I dunno.. About 5’10, 5’11, I’d say?”

Some guys decide to be completely cool about the whole thing and intermittently play a noisy game of football behind us.

But my eyes (if not my ears) are focussed on one slender charismatic man rehearsing the same lines and actions over and over again; varying it this way; trying it out that way…
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CHAPTER FOUR – 11:30pm to 01:50am

Sometime after 11pm a big troop of children of all ages – from teeny tots to 10 year olds – arrive with their minders from ‘the base’ and join the set. The rehearsals now include these kids, all dressed up in Victorian garb, with a woman at their head. They queue up in an orderly line down the road from the theatre, out of camera shot.

And suddenly the scene starts to make more sense, as ‘Barrie’s’ reaction on the theatre steps is in response to seeing a load of children arriving at the last moment to watch his play. They troop up the steps in crocodile-fashion and enter the theatre as Johnny and Dustin watch them go in. Then ‘Barrie’ spots a boy standing alone on the pavement, off by himself. He walks down to greet this new boy and bends down to speak with him. Then he persuades the boy to run in and see the play. Barrie stands alone on the pavement, looking at the boy entering the theatre and twirling his cane in contemplation.

This scene gets rehearsed and filmed time and time again, with varying changes in the way things are played. It must have been way after midnight by the time the scene is safely in the can.

One thing I haven’t mentioned – I guess because it’s always reported from film sets anyway – is that, despite the boring repetition, JD and Dustin & other members of the crew often chat and share a joke. I witness a lot of that typical ducking-of-the-head that Johnny does when he’s laughing.

Around 1am there’s quite a long break for the actors as the crew start re-setting for different camera angles and the continuation of the scene. We have a brief buzz of excitement as Johnny wanders over towards some crew members standing on the Green – he’s coming closer to us with each stride!! He chats to the crew, shaking people’s hands as he greets both old and new friends.

The watching crowd by this time includes a young couple beside me who’d managed to get a photo of Dustin Hoffman on the previous evening, when Dustin deliberately crossed over the tape barrier during a break to go and lie down for a few minutes on one of the park benches! This couple begin waving madly and calling Johnny’s name. Johnny looks over at our group, gives a big grin, and happily gives us a big double-arms wave in return, but he doesn’t come over. At the same moment the security men home in on us, in case any of us get the bright idea of stepping over the skimpy tape and heading towards JD. But we’re a well-behaved little bunch – plus by now we know that we’d get kicked off the green if we did anything as naughty as that.

JD soon returns to the main set area and goes and perches on the theatre steps alongside Dustin and several of the crew. One woman has two small children in tow and Johnny chats with them; he has pictures taken with some of the children and their mothers; he takes a couple of phone calls. In general there’s a lot of dallying around that looks very tedious for everyone.

Eventually he seems to get tired of being looked at (and who can blame him!) and he crouches down in the road with his back to us. Someone eventually lines up several directors chairs and offers him one, and although he’s fractionally nearer to us, all we can see now is the back of a beautifully-white shirt and a very neatly groomed head!

In the meantime I’m being entertained by a couple of new people who’ve arrived very late – or very early, given that it’s now Tuesday! It transpires that they both live on Richmond Green (the larger open space close by) and they’ve come along separately to see how the filming is getting on. I find out that they both happened to witness the Neverland crew’s flying visit to another house on Richmond Green in late June – the event that gave us Johnny’s picture with his duck friend. They said that nothing much really happened that day: Kate Winslet and Julie Christie came out of the house, went back in, and came out again – all day long!

Both of these people are welcome additions to our dwindling flock of onlookers – it’s now well past 1:30am and all but the strong-willed have packed it in and gone home to bed. The woman has a great admiration for Johnny’s work so we have lots to chat about; the man is a William Blake fan who’s determined to get an interview with Johnny to discuss “Dead Man Dead Man” (as he calls it).

We get acquainted when I tire of hearing him calling the film by the wrong title and leap up to give him a quick synopsis of the different themes in Jarmusch’s masterpiece and show him my little British Film Institute book at the same time.

He looks at me doubtfully as though he’s encountered a roving Dead Man fanatic.. and to a large extent he’s right!
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CHAPTER FIVE – 01:50am to 02:40am

At around 1:50am the set is ready for the next piece of action, which is to be played out on the pavement in front of the theatre.

First up, Johnny’s stand-in takes position on the pavement as the lighting, distances and camera angles are checked, and then finally JD steps up into place, swinging and twirling his cane while he’s waiting for the crew to finish their checks. It’s around this point that Johnny does his brilliant ‘Top Hat’ pose.

Suddenly there’s lots of ‘street action’ happening, as the horse-drawn carriages and ancient motorcars that have been parked up all night are brought into play.

Johnny retires back up to the top of the theatre steps as the little street becomes busy with the passing traffic and people strolling along. One particular horse-drawn fly [a vehicle with just two very large wheels and a little front-opening cabin for the passenger] approaches from the left and draws up in front of the theatre. The boy we’ve seen earlier climbs out and pays the driver. ‘Barrie’ notices his arrival, walks down the steps to meet him, and bends over and exchanges some words with the boy. Then the boy goes in to the theatre leaving ‘Barrie’ standing contemplating on the pavement next to the fly.

This scene is rehearsed and filmed over and over, before they move on to the next little section of the scene. By this stage there are only 4 spectators left: me, the two people from Richmond Green, and a young woman in her early 20s. She’s been sitting quietly by herself and one of the security guards has taken quite a shine to her! He brings her some coffee and sits on the grass chatting with her, while the other woman and I have a laugh about why we weren’t offered anything to drink. In the meantime, the William Blake fan is writing a long note for Johnny’s P.A, asking for an interview. I hope for his sake that he’s got the name of the film right this time…

Eventually the scene with the boy is done, and now Johnny turns to the cab driver, says a few words to him, then climbs into the cab of the fly. It moves off down the street to our right, out of camera range. After a lot of navigation the fly comes back up the street into position again. This scene is clearly going to take a little while to get right, so I decide that now would be a good time to take a quick break. I head off for my hotel and the Richmond Green woman decides that she’s going home to get warm.

2:40am: I return about 20 minutes later, hurrying back so I don’t miss too much. And when I reach the Little Green my heart almost stops.

All of the barrier tape has been taken down; the carriages and cars have gone; there are no spectators left; and the crew are packing gear and street props into the lorries parked around the corner. I get a cold feeling around my mouth and my feet feel like clay as I hurry onto the green? Have I missed meeting Johnny?
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CHAPTER SIX – 02:40am to 03:10 am

I run onto the deserted pathway, my heart thumping madly, all the while muttering “No, no, no?Please don’t say?!”. As I head around the trees on the darkened green, I spot the young girl spectator silhouetted against the set, sitting on one of the park benches close up beside the little road in front of the theatre. If she’s still here, then there’s hope..

My heart slows down a bit as I sit down beside her and ask what’s happening. She shrugs her shoulders. “Nothing much at the moment.” “Is Johnny Depp still here?” I ask, trying to keep the panic out of my voice. All the while my eyes are scouring the set – it’s so close to me now that it’s hard to take it all in. “I don’t know” she says, half-laughing. Apparently the security guard had invited her to sit with him on this privileged bench at the front, and he’d been talking to her so much that she’s not been able to follow the comings-and-goings too closely.

And what a privileged position it is too! As I gradually calm down and take in my surroundings, I realise that we’ve got the best seats in the house!! The bench is slap bang in line with the front of the theatre, and we’re within 20 feet of the stairs leading up to the entrance doors. The camera is now positioned near the top of the stairs, and there are still a few people milling around inside the brightly lit foyer. Then I notice a dark blue Jaguar parked very close to us on our right hand side and, just beyond it on the other side of the street, the big silver people-carrier. My heart does a little flip and I finally let out my breath. With any luck he’s still here.

The girl Caroline and I chat about the evening and why we’ve stuck it out until this time in the morning. She came along at 10:30pm to have a look at the filming and hasn’t been able to tear herself away! ‘Her’ security man arrives and does a bit of a double-take seeing me back on the scene, so I shift over to let him sit down and continue his courting.

And then something wonderful happens: the crew begin to emerge from the foyer and behind them comes Johnny! (and Dustin probably. Did I mention that Dustin Hoffman was on the set as well?) Johnny’s only about 25 feet away and he looks sensational: rich black brilliantined hair, combed straight back; immaculate and startlingly vivid black & white evening dress; and he’s laughing with someone as he comes through the theatre door.

He takes up his position to the right of the entrance, and the crew get ready to film close-ups. It’s exactly the same scene that I’d first witnessed 6 hours previously: the theatre usher emerges from the foyer, rings his silent bell, and calls out: “Last call, ladies and gentlemen! Last call for the – “. Even though I’m very close now, I still can’t make out any dialogue beyond Johnny calling for ‘Charles’ to come back outside. Either they have extraordinarily sensitive mikes or, since it’s a location shoot, they plan to dub in the dialogue later. (3rd theory: that I’m going deaf in my old age).

The security man has gone off again so Caroline and I have a short whispered talk in between the rehearsals and takes. She’s a JD fan too, and we debate whether we’ll be brave enough to ask for his autograph when the time comes – if the time comes! I’m starting to fret about how close his car is to the set, and whether he’ll make a dive into it before we can reach him. But I’ve read so many times of how gracious and generous he is about giving autographs to fans that I put that thought firmly aside, and concentrate instead on whether I’ll have the nerve to approach him (not a very clever move given my failing confidence). To try and give myself some courage I take my little ‘Dead Man’ book and a biro from my bag and make myself a promise that I won’t put them back until I’ve got his signature!

I glance up and catch Johnny yawning – after all, it’s gone 3am and he must be dead tired. And then suddenly he’s looking straight at the both of us, sitting there on the park bench watching him, and I’m completely unnerved. I feel like screaming “Mummy!” at the top of my voice and making a run for it. But I gamely hold my position and do my best to continue watching him doing his scenes, even though I’m now acutely uncomfortable that he’s aware of our presence.

Finally, finally the last take is in the can and Marc Forster calls out: “OK, thank you, that’s a wrap!” The lights inside the foyer are immediately dimmed, and everyone breaks position. The director then continues by thanking certain people (I couldn’t catch their names) and everyone laughs and applauds. Caroline and I join in with the clapping, laughing together at the strangeness of our situation. There’s good-humoured chat as the set breaks up, and Johnny and Dustin come down the stairs and stand talking together on the pavement. I’m half-inclined to finally take out my camera to try and get a shot, but by this time Johnny is embracing Dustin and it’s clear that they’re saying their farewells, so I think better of the idea.

And now that the moment for autograph-hunting is upon us, my heart and my stomach seem to have swapped places inside of me. I turn to Caroline. “I don’t know if I can do this.” She looks at me for a moment and then says “If you don’t, you’ll always regret it won’t you?” I think about that. “True”, I say, “Come on then.” And gripping my little Dead Man book firmly in my hand like a talisman, we stand up.

One of the friendliest security guards comes over and indicates that we can move further on to the set. I ask him if it’s OK to get an autograph and he says “Sure. His car’s right here”, indicating the Jag. “All you have to do is wait because he’ll be coming round to this side.” I’m a bit stunned by this, and size up the dark blue Jag and the silver people-carrier beyond it…and suddenly realise that he thinks I’m after Dustin Hoffman’s autograph! (Security guards obviously categorize fans by their age group.) When I explain that it’s Johnny’s autograph we want, he points out a big blond guy standing in the roadway. “That’s his minder. Go and ask him.” So I set off across the road, Caroline following gamely behind me, trying to avoid all the cables and gear. I’m actually on the set at last!

The big blond man has disappeared so, with time running out, we head round to the other side of Johnny’s car and look in. It’s already fully loaded with 5 men – there’s just one vacant seat right in front of me. Johnny’s seat. I ask the minder if it’s OK to get Mr Depp’s autograph, to which he shrugs his shoulders and says “It’s not up to me.”

So it’s down to us having the nerve to ask Johnny ourselves – and my nerve failed me 10 minutes ago! We step back from the car and wait, and I just want the ground to open right there and swallow me up.

And suddenly here he is: walking rapidly towards the car and looking ahead and to his right, his focus far way across the green. It’s now or never.. Here we go…
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CHAPTER SEVEN – 03:10am to 03:15am

As Johnny heads towards us I decide right there and then that ‘hero worship’ and ‘nerves’ are both evils of the first water. I mean, you follow someone’s comings & goings, dying to have the chance to meet them, and kick yourself hard when you miss an appearance somewhere in your own back yard? And then, finally, finally when you get that once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet your hero offered up to you on a plate, you completely lose it. And I do mean completely. With a capital ‘C’. Your intelligence deserts you; your sense of humour hides in your boots until the whole thing’s over; and all those bright, interesting questions that you’ve carefully prepared just float away through the top of your head in little invisible bubbles? I can hear them bursting in the quiet night air as Johnny approaches where we’re standing.

He’s still in full evening dress, and the black & white contrast of his clothes, face and hair is even more startling up close. But I’m so nervous I can hardly focus on him, because my do-or-die moment is upon me… “Mr Depp, would you mind signing this for me?” My voice comes out as a hard-edged strangled squeak because my throat’s so contracted with nerves. “Sure.” Oh! That’s his voice!! And he’s talking to me!!!

I thrust my ‘Dead Man’ book into his hand, already opened ready for him to sign, and give him my biro. Then I realise that I should have explained what the book was – don’t want him to think that he’s being duped into signing something completely inappropriate! – so I grab the book back out of his hand and turn the cover back for him to read the title. (Great start, irene.) It’s not very likely that he can read the title in this half-light anyway, and I’ve probably done it too fast for him to focus on it. “It’s a book on Dead Man – it’s my favourite film of yours.” “Oh, OK.” [He’s probably thinking: ‘I made that film 7 years ago. Doesn’t she like anything more recent than that?’]

He takes the book back and holds it up to sign it, and suddenly there’s this weird white light shining on the open pages of the book? I look up and realise that one of the biggest security men is standing right beside us, holding a tiny flashlight over the proceedings. These guys think of everything!

“Who shall I make it out to?” Johnny asks me, with the biro poised above the page. He’s looking right at me and in the gloom his eyes are completely black and fathomless. I’m both shocked and delighted that he’s actually going to personalise it, and I think of what I want written. Shall I ask him to make it out ‘to Irene and everyone at the Zone’? Or do I want this just for little me?.. If I mention the Zone, he might ask what that’s about and then things might start to get complicated.. And after all, it is my little book?Hmmm, decisions, decisions.. and the inside of my head is spinning so fast that I can’t seem to get a grip on an answer. In the meantime Johnny is waiting patiently, biro poised, no doubt thinking ‘For heaven’s sake, this woman is so petrified she can’t even remember her own name.’ Finally I spit out “To Irene. Please. Thank you.”

Johnny starts writing. But rather than savour the moment, I decide that it’s time to say the only thing that’s still stored in the left-luggage locker that used to be my brain. “And about 100 people have asked me to say thank you for making all of your movies. We really love them.” He glances up and makes that characteristic protesting noise that he does whenever he’s complimented on his work. “Oh no.. Well.. That’s very sweet. Thank you.” And his mouth twitches briefly at the corners before he resumes writing his inscription.

Now is the first time I’ve really had the chance to look at him, and I’m both surprised and fascinated by what I see. The word that immediately springs into my head is ‘ethereal’. And the second is ‘delicate’ – which comes as the surprise given that he’s such a lithe, active man. And the third is ‘incredibly fine-boned’. I feel like a lumbering giant beside him although he’s a lot taller than me. He’s looking down as he writes but I can scarcely bear to look at his face because I feel it’s almost cheating to do that. So I look mainly at his hands. Such fine artistic fingers! Very creative, delicate hands…

And suddenly Johnny’s finished writing and he looks up and hands the book back to me. I mumble some idiotic thanks and he turns to Caroline to do the same for her. And once he’s done that he shakes her hand. I hurriedly shift my book to my left hand because I’d love to be able to shake his hand too and thank him properly, and I can tell by the slight shift of his head that he’s immediately aware of that. He turns back to me and shakes my hand, saying “Nice to have met you.” This is the time when Caroline and I should be diving in with loads of questions and he pauses, waiting for us to say something more. But both of us just stand there, grinning inanely and thanking him. I’m very aware of the men waiting for him in the car, and that it’s 3am and he must be exhausted from the night’s shoot. Plus my brain is now running on empty since I made my little speech earlier on.

So Johnny gets into the car, glancing back at us in case there’s one last thing we want to say, and they close the door on him. The window’s already turned down, and as the car moves slowly away he leans out to wave back to us. But we haven’t rediscovered our courage or our humour enough yet to wave back or shout goodbye.

And, of course, as soon as he’s disappeared up the road we both relax and start talking twenty to the dozen! And the questions I wanted to ask him about ‘Neverland’ come pouring back into my brain. Drat! And Double-drat!!

We both head back to the bench and cross-check our impressions of meeting Johnny. I try to read the inscription that he’s written in my book but I can hardly make it out in the gloom, so Caroline reads it out for me. And she jokingly compares Johnny’s signature with the one on her paper to confirm they’re the same.

I check my watch and we conclude that we got to meet the great Johnny Depp at 03:15am on Tuesday 20th August 2002. A date to be entered in my perpetual calendar, I think.

==================================

from johnnydeppzone

2003 – June 17 – Paris

Johnny came to Paris 2 days ago (6/18) for the Pirates promotion ! I couldn’t believe it ! I thought he was in montreal !!!! A friend called me saying that he was there and getting ready to leave ! I showed up but needed 1 hour to go to Paris , I did it in half an hour ! (Hopeing not to be caught by the police … ) and I saw him. It was so cool I haven’t seen him for such a long time. I was so happy. It was really quick and we didn’t had the time to speak really… many people were there. He just asked me what I was doing, and I didn’t even remember what the hell I was doing of my life !!!!!!! Shame on me ! Gladly he didn’t ask for my name I wouldn’t have remember !!!!!!!!!!!!! I want to see him again. A bus driver stop by when I was with Johnny, opened the window and scream, “An authograph for the bus driver !!!” , and Johnny walked in the street, reached through the bus window and sign the paper for the guy !!! That was so umbelievable ! I may have a pic of that but I?m not sure it?s gonna be a great one ! I?ll see ? It was greater at the deauville film festival, I had many pictures to share…

An American in Paris

We trekked to France tracking down the always offbeat Johnny Depp to see if family life has settled him down — or if he’s still living on the edge – By Gregory Katz.

“I didn’t have a life before. Until I had kids … I just didn’t get it.”

Imagine a doting dad playing Barbies on the floor with his 4-year-old daughter while he gives his baby boy a bottle early on a Sunday morning. Now move the scene to a farmhouse in the south of France, picture the father as a somewhat disheveled but darkly handsome long-haired man with mysterious gold caps on his teeth, and you have a glimpse into the life of daddy Johnny Depp.

But the former teen heartthrob — remember “21 Jump Street”? — isn’t quite your average father. At 40, Depp loves to play loud electric guitar, wears clothes that could use a cleaning, occasionally orders $18,000 bottles of wine in restaurants, and pals around with Rolling Stones bad boys Keith Richards and Ron Wood.

Copyright 2005 USA WEEKEND. All rights reserved.

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

Sasha from Kentucky: Her Encounter with Johnny Depp on 6/18/03

When I found out that Johnny Depp was for sure going to be on the David Lettermen show, I decided then and there I was going to NYC to see him.

I luckily have a friend (thank you Wes!) who knew how I could get a ticket to the Letterman taping. I knew all this was risky, but I was determined and willing to take the risk. My mother, who has always supported my Johnny Depp ?habit? was wonderful enough to go with me and help him out with the long drive (thank you Mummy!). She knew how much this meant to me and probably wanted it to happen for me so I might shut-up about seeing him. Let me say here, I don?t know why I NEEDED to see him, or meet him?but I just HAD to. My fascination with Johnny has never been a sexual one, yes he is attractive, but I honestly fell in love with his acting and brave choices he made in his career and unique personality. The Kentucky connection also drew me in. I can?t tell you how many times I?ve heard Johnny stories around here about people seeing him, talking to, so many stories?that would have to be an entry of it?s own. Sorry, now back to my encounter. I arrived in NYC city (about 12 hours on the road) late Tuesday night. On Wednesday afternoon I got my tickets for Letterman and went back to the hotel room to freshen-up for the evening and had a hysterical moment. I cried a bit and got all flustered knowing I was about to see the Johnny Depp in a few hours. Hey, I was emotional and had to get it out then so I wouldn?t freak out later in front of him. We arrived at the Ed Sullivan Theatre (where Letterman is taped) and I found a crowd of autograph hounds and press where the guests enter/exit the Letterman show. I joined the crowd and waited for Johnny to arrive holding my French Studio magazine with Johnny?s self-portrait on the cover (best Johnny magazine ever) hoping he would see it as unique for someone to have him sign and catch his attention. As I waited, I realized I was the only Johnny Depp fan there?that I knew of…..or could tell. Sorry if a fan was there, I didn?t see you. It was all the HORRIBLE STINKY LOUD MEAN ANNOYING autograph hounds with tons of Johnny photos and Pirates posters wanting them to be signed to sell on ebay and stuff. I was disgusted by them, except three autographs hounds from Chicago. They were great, funny, and very helpful to me later. They said that Johnny always signs every autograph and is always kind to the crowd. I waited a little over an hour, and then he arrived and he was late. The crowd went wild, yelling at him, pushing to get his autograph. I was amazed I was seeing him, and you can see what the scene was like in the Letterman press pics. I was being held up a bit so I could see him better and try to get his attention (you can see me in the far left corner of the Letterman press pics in the background) I yelled over and over again ?I drove from Kentucky to see you!?, but he didn?t hear me. Like I said, he was late?so he didn?t get to stay long and sign, then he went in the building. I was sad I didn?t get pictures or an autograph, but I was thrilled I got to see him. Then I ran to the Ed Sullivan theatre and was late (?cause of waiting for Johnny, but that?s ok) and was the very last person to be seated, I barely made it. I watched the Johnny segment and as soon as he left, I got up and asked if I could leave?actually begged to. I don?t think they like for the guests to leave, but they let me go. I once again ran around the corner to where I was standing before to see if I could get to him a second time around. I asked the Chicago trio I met if he had come out yet and they said no. We waited a bit longer and there he was again. This time the crowd went even more wild and knocked over the police barricade and surrounded him. I went with it and I was standing behind the bodyguard guy and he started walking backwards stepping all over my toes trying to get Johnny into his vehicle. I was still yelling my ?I drove from Kentucky to see you!? but he still couldn?t hear me. Then I realized Johnny?s face was just inches from mine in the crowd?I froze?and then he was in the vehicle. I missed my chance again. I stood there outside the vehicle holding my little magazine with this pitiful look of sadness on my face about to cry?I still wonder if Johnny could see me there outside his window. I looked for my Chicago pals that I lost in the crowd and the next thing I know they are in a van and yelled for me and said they were going to follow Johnny to his hotel. I paused for a moment wondering if I should go with them or not . For one, I barely knew them. Two, I felt uncomfortable following Johnny like the paparazzi or something. Then again, I did drive 12 hours to see him and was determined to at least get a autograph?.I mean?I came all that way! What would you have done? So, I jumped in the van. We were not the only ones following him, about two or three more cars were doing the same. Let me point out here, these were not fans?these were the disgusting autograph hounds (but I loved my Chicago trio). Johnny?s vehicle made through a red light before we could and our driver said we should just get out and run?so I did. There I was, running to the entrance of his hotel in my little Nine West leather slide sandals on a sidewalk of New York City. Johnny had made it inside the hotel and was behind glass double doors of the hotel. The two Chicago guys with me helped me push my way to the front where the doors were and they were yelling ?She came from Kentucky to see him! Let her through!? and I made it to the doors. I put my magazine up to the door and the only thing separating Johnny and I was a thin glass door. I looked at him and said though the glass ?I drove from Kentucky to see you!? he said smiled and said ?What part??, I said ?Eastern?Pikeville, KY.? He laughed, smiled and shook his head in acknowledgement and motion for me to get my magazine to him. I gave it to the bodyguard in the front of the door (mind you, it was still loud and chaotic behind me). Johnny got it and asked me my name. I told him and he signed my magazine ?SASHA- with my best- Johnny Depp.? You are going to think I?m nuts, if you haven?t already, but we said some things to each other through the glass as he was signing but I can?t remember any of it. I was in shock and couldn?t think straight, sorry. Although, I did ask him ?I?m sorry, but do you mind if I get a picture with you?? he said ?Sure!? and told the bodyguard ?Let the girl in.? The bodyguard put his arm around my shoulders to safely get me in and there I was standing alone with Johnny and some guy in the foyer of the hotel. I was the only one who got in! Well, I was the only fan there (that I know of) and the only girl there. Johnny took my camera and asked the guy (maybe a friend of his??) if he would take the picture and he said yes. Johnny put he arm around me and I put my arm around his back, I could feel the puffiness of his tucked in shirt under his coat. The guy took the picture and said ?I?ll take another to be safe?, but my stupid camera was stalling and I was just waiting there holding on to Johnny. Johnny said ?It probably needs to reset.? and we let go of each other and I got the camera and turned it on and off as Johnny continued to sign more autographs. I talked to the friend a bit about the crazy crowd outside and some small talk as we waited for Johnny to get finished signing. Then Johnny turned around to us and asked ?Ready?? we said yes and out his arm around me again, but tighter this time. If you look in the pictures of us (the second one) you can see his hand on my shoulder touching my neck and hair!!!! After the picture I thanked him a million times and expressed how much it meant to me. He smiled and said something like no problem, or not a problem….I can?t remember. The he hugged me ..a great big nice hug?.and said ?You welcome, sweetheart.? and kissed me on the cheek as he hugged me !!!!!! KISSED ME ON THE CHEEK!!!!! It wasn?t lusty or anything, it was just a tiny brush on my cheek. I felt his face and stubble against my face. I was stunned. I walked out of the hotel as Johnny headed to lobby and that was the last of his signing. The End. He was so so kind and nice to me and he smiled lots. I was distracted by the gold teeth and could barley look him in the eye I was so scared. I know I am a lucky girl, but I didn?t just run into him…I basically chased him down! It was perfect, I couldn?t have asked for it to have went any better unless he asked me to hang out with him or something and we know that probably would never happen. I do wish I could have said more to him. I have so many questions and things to say to him, but my mind was gone and I couldn?t think of any of them. Maybe one day I?ll get to have that conversation, in the meantime I?ll live in the glow of an incredible meeting that I will always think of fondly. It feels like a dream, it?s hard for me to believe. I was the happiest girl in the world for that moment and am when I think of it. Thank you, Johnny.

i’m home from letterman (6/18/03) and still grinning ear to ear

hi depp fan folks,

i just got back from the letterman taping and wanted to get my report down while everything is still fresh.

i was very lucky to get a ticket. as you might know, i work for a newspaper and at one time i did the daily tv and local event listings for the sports section. one part of my job was to keep in contact with the publicity people for the different networks. i always had a good relationship with them and it was that relationship than enabled me to get a letterman ticket. last week i called one of my old contacts and asked her if she could help me. well, she busted her ass for me! it took her a few days but yesterday morning she told me she had been successful and she got me a ticket. all i had to do was show up this afternoon with my confirmation letter and a photo i.d. of myself and i was in.

johnny was already iniside when i got to the theater. i hope those outside were able to see him. the production assistant greeting people at the door told me that since i was a guest of cbs i would have one of the best seats in the house. that was a surprise because i had thought that there would be a mad scramble for seats. the cbs guests, 40 or 50 of us i estimate, were taken to the balcony and seated in order in the front rows of the balcony. i got worried at one point because they were running out of seats in the front rows of the center section and stopped seating people when i was number 3 in line. they sent up back over to the left side, where they had already started seating people who had been behind me in line. i was almost ready to protest, when the usher asked me how many were in my party. i told him i was alone, so he smiled and pointed to a single seat on the aisle — in the front row — wow! i had been worried for nothing. i wanted to go to the bathroom so badly, but i had to wait until they finished filling the balcony. non-cbs guests got the seats in the back. i also found out that the seats on the floor level weren’t as good as i had thought they would be. camera men and cue-card men and the director and other floor workers were running around blocking the view. but i hurried to the bathroom and got back in time for the warm-up. you know, when they tell you to laugh at everything whether it’s funny or not. then they introduced the orchestra. we had a special treat because b.b. king was sitting in with the orchestra. so during the commercial breaks we had the pleasure of listening to him sing and play. having him there was an extra special attraction that i hadn’t planned on. he was terrific.

they tape the show straight through without stopping so they whole thing was over in an hour. but it seemed like 3 or 4 hours before johnny came out. he was the first guest after all that silly comedy stuff and my heart certainly skipped a beat or two when he finally walked across the stage to meet dave. i think the stage actually got brighter when he came out. he was dressed in baggy pants and was wearing a vest over a plaid long-sleeved shirt, blue and green i think. he had a gold watch chain hanging out of his front pants pocket and was wearing rings on both hands. the one on the right hand was very shiny. he had on glasses with dark frames, brown, or tortoise-shell, it was a little hard to tell; but they suited him very well. he had neat facial hair in a goatee style. but the fabulous thing was his hair. it was blond, a very natural looking soft blond color, not white. and, it was gleeming. it would swing loosely whenever he moved his head. i loved that hair. needless to say, he was absolutely stunning and completely adorable. dave asked him about his gold teeth, which he said he hadn’t had time to remove yet and they talked about dental problems, aparently johnny has had some root canal problems lately. he said he had to have one done during the potc filming. he had to be knocked out completely for it, 5 or 6 hours, he said. he also had a bit of a cold and was a little nasal. dave asked him about the children and he told a funny story about lily-rose asking him questions about god. i won’t ruin it for those of you who will watch him tonight. he also told another funny story about going through customs with some “vitamin powder” that had exploded in his luggage. they showed a clip from potc with johnny and orlando bloom sword fighting. they discussed france a little and johnny actually made a political statement or two. again i don’t want to give it all away.

sadly his time on stage wasn’t long enough for me. but they were in commerical when he actually left the stage, so tv viewers probably won’t see him waving to all of us and shaking hands with letterman and the crew and waving to the band members. all in all, he was totally charming, sweet, relaxed and absolutely beautiful. i was truly blessed to be that close to him. he was definitely a “presence” in the room. letterman again told the audience that johnny was the “coolest guest we ever had” and he certainly was.

unfortunately, by the time we got out of the theater, he had gone so i didn’t get to meet him but i consider myself truly lucky to have been in the same place with him and it’s a memory i’ll carry with me always. i only hope that all his fans can have the same experience at some point. he’s a treasure.

i didn’t want to give too much away last night since the show hadn’t aired but now that americans have had a chance to see it, i’ll be gladl to tell you more. i know that some people in the u.k. will see it later today, so don’t read any more if you want to be surprised.

johnny said he’d just flown in from portugal and france and that he had a 3 day cold, which he said would be a 4 day cold tomorrow. he and dave had some banter about how long the cold would last. and then he talked about customs coming on the private plane he was flying on. he said he always felt a little nervous and “guilty” under those circumstances and told about meeting the big customs man and, because of his cold, he sniffed. of course, everybody laughed at the drug reference. dave asked him about former customs experiences and he told a story about flying in from peru and being immediately stopped by customs and asked what was in the bag he was carrying. “piranhas,” he told the agent. he explained to dave that he had some shellacked pirahnas in the bag and a vampire bat. “dead,” he said. then he told about also having a bottle of “vitamin powder” which had exploded during the flight and when the customs agent unzipped his bag the powder poofed up the the man’s face. he was very charming telling that story and quite funny. his economy with words makes his stories even funnier than they would be ordinarily.

dave asked him about his gold teeth, which he said he “forgot” to have removed before he left l.a. after filming potc and would have removed next week. then they talked about why he hadn’t shown up for the show during his promotions for blow. he had had a root canal and wasn’t feeling well. he said it was a double root canal and that he had had another double root canal during the filming of potc. but had been knocked out for that since it took 6-8 hours. again, his telling of the root canal story was quite funny. he told about getting an i.v., which he hadn’t wanted, to be put out for the procedure. he started counting backwards, “ninety-nine, ninety-eight, — three.”

he talked a little about being an american in france and about how the american government wanted to change the name of french fries to freedom fries. he said he wanted to write a letter thanking the government for proving “globally” that they were “imbeciles.” that got a big laugh. fortunately the other guest for the evening, christine todd whitman, who is a member of george w. bush’s cabinet, wasn’t on stage at the time.

then dave asked him about being a father. of course, his face lit up. when dave asked him what it was like he said it was like “hanging around with a miniture drunk.” “you have to hold on to them, they bump into things, they laugh, they cry, they urinate, they vomit.” dave asked about his daughter, his face lit up again and he told a story about lily-rose sitting him down and asking him if god was afraid of dogs, if god had seen the dinosaurs, and if god had a maid. i hope you’ll be able to see the tape, because there’s no way i can convey to you how funny and touching johnny was talking about how “profound” his 4-year-old daughter is.

they talked about filming potc. dave said it’s a pirate story and also a ghost story, isn’t it. johnny said, “i think so. i haven’t seen it yet.” they got ready to show a clip and dave asked him if he knew what the clip was going to be. johnny said that somebody told him something back stage, but “i don’t remember.” again, lots of laughter. then they showed a clip of johnny and orlando bloom sword fighting.

unfortunately that was all there was. and they didn’t cut any of it, so the only thing you’ll miss when you see the tape is johnny leaving the stage, waving to all of us and shaking hands with the people on stage. that was done during a commerical break.

like i said, there’s no way i can convey to you how charming and truly funny he is by only telling you about it. you need to see him. so much of his humor is in the way he talks, not in just what he says. i’m sure you know that by things you’ve seen in the past. hopefully someone can make a tape for those of you in europe. in case you haven’t heard already, he will be on abc’s 20/20 this friday and on the tonight show with jay leno next friday. there are other interview coming up, too. it’s going to be hard to keep up with him the next couple of weeks.

love,
elsie

This encounter has been posted first on Johnnydeppfan, and has been transcripted here with permission

Anna’s Encounter

I met him two years ago and it was wonderful! I was at work and a friend of mine told me he was in the city doing an interview with David Letterman. So Iran down to the studio and waited outside until he got there. He showed up and a lot of fans were there screaming and asking for autographs and pictures and I was just frozen staring at him.
He noticed that I was pregnant so he came right over to me, took my hand and said “Thank you for waiting here just to see me.” And I don’t remember what the hell I said. I think I told him that I loved him or something. I just thought he was such a gentleman for coming straight to me and that I might have the baby right then and there, I was so excited! LOL!
I never got to take any pictures because I didn’t have a camera with me but I did get his autograph on a picture I had with me in my purse. I’ll never forget meeting him. He was so sweet! And next time I hope I at least have my camera with me!

Anna has a lovely website, Got Depp! Be sure to pay it a visit!

IT WAS WORTH THE WAIT!

I have just had the most exceptionally wonderful, beautiful…almost surreal experience a fan can have. I met Johnny!! Wow, I can’t believe I’m typing these words. I’m absolutely floating right now so forgive me if this is a bit loopy. My friend Jesse (who collects autographs as a hobby) took me down to Letterman’s studios to try and see him. I really didn’t know what to expect…all or nothing. I’ll skip over the 8 hours of standing out in the freezing cold because what comes next supersedes any discomfort I might have felt. When Johnny first went into the building there was a rush of people and I only saw his head for about a split second and then he was gone. That was surreal enough. Next came about 2 hours of waiting I brought a bouquet of roses with a little note with me and all though there were a lot of people there clamoring & waiting for autographs people were nice enough to let me get to the front of the police barricades. God bless Jesse who helped me negotiate the crowds and get to the front. Next came about 2 hours of waiting with my head spinning and my hands freezing and then boom! the doors opened and there he was. First may I say (and this might have actually slipped out of my mouth) he looked exceptionally beautiful. I really must say he looked BETTER in person then on film(and this from someone who has found him exceedingly handsome on film). He really was spectacular…breathtaking. He was clean shaven, had on a long black coat and a striped knit cap.

Okay…deep breath…here’s what happened next and what I’ve been screaming with my friends about for the last few hours. He began signing autographs on my side of the barricades. I saw my friend Jesse getting an autograph. He began working his way over to me and the guy standing next to me said “This girl had been here for 10 hours (slight exaggeration on his part :-)) and has some roses for you”. Another deep breath…Johnny looked at me and smiled and said “That’s so sweet…thank you” and took the roses from me. I said “Johnny I’m a great fan of yours, I really appreciate you’re work” and he said “Thank you darlin'” and smiled. !!!!!!!!! I shook his hand and this is the part I’m embarrassed about and that I had hoped I wouldn’t do but I heard myself say “I love you” and he smiled, looked back at me and said “me too.” What a sweetheart!!! I couldn’t believe I said that. He put the roses (gently!!) into the back seat of his car which was parked right there at the end of the barricades. The guy next to me, who really WAS a sweetheart, asked if I could get a picture with him and Johnny kindly said “sure” and leaned in toward me and put his arm around me (!!!) and asked “which camera?” where I pointed to my friend Jesse who then snapped it!!!!!!!

After signing many more autographs around me, someone told him that they should be going and he said that he had to get the other side. He then went to the other side of the barricades.

This was the end of my personal contact with him but I just watched the rest with my head swirling about. He was so amazingly sweet to everyone around us. He took special care to sign for a guy in a wheel chair who was off in the corner. He took a picture with him and made sure to get the guy’s name when signing the autograph. He smiled for photos and posed with anyone who asked even though the people with him seemed to be trying to get him to leave. By the way, people who were with him included Jonathan Shaw (his tattoo artist friend) and a strikingly beautiful, somewhat pouty women who MAY have been Vanessa Paradis. I couldn’t tell…I really only glanced at her twice…couldn’t tear my eyes off of Johnny. He must have signed about 60 autographs. At the very end my friend Jesse tried for another autograph and reached over a crowd of people to which Johnny said “nice reach, man” and signed again.

Now I was in a state of shock and trying to be fully aware of what was happening. Security started to push people away, saying it was getting out of control but Johnny still posed with yet more fans.

Johnny got in his car and waved to everyone as he was leaving. Then my last glimpses of him were of him rolling down his window and talking to a homeless man who was following Johnny’s car on a bike.

Everyone was going on about how sweet and wonderful he was and I had a full freak out session on the way to the car, in the car, at my friend’s apartment and I think it’s still going on now :-).

It was just an absolutely wonderful experience. Johnny is truly a giving and kind human being. At least from what I’ve seen today, there is big and beautiful heart beating in that chest. I had no idea what to expect from this outing today and what occurred exceeded any and all expectations. Johnny, if you’re out there, you have done a fan’s heart good.

A special ?thank you? goes out to Jesse for with out his help I would have never been able to have had this experience. Jesse stood out in the cold, shivering with me hours and worked the camera for me as my hands were too frozen to move. This is all testament to yet another big and beautiful heart. Thank you Jesse!!

Sam

This tale has been taken from Johnnydeppfan and reproduced here with permission.

FEBRUARY 25TH, “THE NEW SCHOOL”(12th street 6th avenue) NEW YORK CITY

FEBRUARY 25TH, “THE NEW SCHOOL”(12th street 6th avenue) NEW YORK CITY, 11:00PM eastern time:
In a hunt that would make Fred Abberline, Dean Corso, and Ichabod Crane proud. In a mere 3 1/2 hours I pieced together the great mystery of the “Inside The Actors Studio” taping. In this conundrum I managed to meet, and chat(well sort of), with Johnny Depp! My first time or even close since I tried to get on the phone with him on Howard Stern.

Let me preface this by saying the IAS taping was more vague than JD’s Blockbuster acceptance speech and in real life he seems more frail/distracted than a Taco Bell Hard taco value meal. I never actually got into the taping(due to the blatant lack of promotion and the fact it’s totally reserved for NEW SCHOOL film snobs/students) but I tracked down his exit to the awaiting car at the last minute for a very fascinating/terrifying 2 minutes which seemed like 4 hours.

IAS did a masterful job of keeping this taping a major covert secret. Like most of you I couldn’t find out a fricken thing besides that damn FEB 25th date, whatever that meant, and I live in NYC? Were they taping it that day or was it to air that day? Well, they in fact taped it this day(Feb 25th) for what was 7pm to 11pm eastern time(Also where JD ate his meals with Sal Jenco in 1983, 7-11). This I found out virtually through excruciating leg work, LUCK and TODAY at the last minute.

During a 5 mile run I mistakenly read(picked up off the ground out of boredom) the NY post and they printed ambiguous info on the JD taping for IAS it reads “it was the hottest ticket in town you can’t buy seats for”. I thought “we’ll see about that”. While drinking Starbucks at 7:30pm, and just finishing a five mile run, I decide to track it down(I figure NO WAY is there a chance in HELL I’m catching him or it, but I have to try?). I go to IAS spot 1, 44th street and 10th Ave(Manhattan),it’s closed. I go to MAN RAY(15th street and 7th ave), figuring he owns the place lives in France, he has to check in at some point SHIT!! it’s closed too. I go to IAS spot two, Bleeker and Laguardia(Greenwich Village) I find a Jamaican guard playing chess, and I ask him about the taping. He says “Oh movie star taping down there on 12th and 6th avenue.” I sardonically tell the guard he “runs a tight ship”, and move on. Now it’s 10:30 pm and I’ve been walking for 3 hours now. I just say fuck it, lets see if he’s right(but what are my chances?). I trudge up to the spot, low and behold there is a massive production truck and as JD puts it a “gaggle of paparazzi” awaiting but small(12 or so) in comparison because of the subterfuge like efforts to keep it hush hush. I’m about one of 5 fans that weren’t paparazzi waiting outside, in the know. Again you couldn’t research this, it can’t be looked up. The fricken elusive taping is going on as I wait(It’s edited severely and is 4 hours originally, OUCH!) The doors fly open and here comes the undeserving access, weenie, talentless, delusional, film students(11:00pm)exiting, that got to see the taping, and lets’ face it, didn’t deserve to! I’m not bitter when I say if that homage were about Shaquille O’Neal praising his work on Kazaam, Blue Chips and Steel, the students and James Lipton alike still would have gotten to see it with the same fascination. Everyone a buzz outside. I’m perched in a tree like Sam in the beginning of Benny & Joon to get a DEPPSeye view.

30 minutes later things clear and I’m one of 25 people(A diminished 150) remaining waiting for JD to exit, or so we figured? Now I move inside the studio and remove a sign that said “PLEASE QUIET ACTORS STUDIO TAPING IN PROGRESS” for potential autograph purposes(I’m not big on autographs but how can’t I now?). The set is being torn down and people are still milling around. I pace over to the car that I believe Depp is going make his get away in and memorize the license plate (NEW YORK, BLS-28), a black tinted windowed, Lincoln Navigator SUV with a bigass tough looking black driver with the motor running(Still you can’t be sure it’s his?).

Now, ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE. Depp emerges from the set, head down(drained), making his way towards THIS SAME CAR! He is flanked by two guards, a little old lady, and another attractive brunette who I believe was Tracey Jacobs or Kim Gass. The paparazzi just lunges, in his face snapping photos, literally 4 inches away from him, screaming bizarre requests for photo opts “LOOK UP Johnny”, “OVER HERE Johnny” over and over, ad nauseum(it made me sick and angry). Depp graciously bashes on and signs everything in his path with his head down, hair calculated and in his eyes, as if he has put himmself in a paparazzi trance(no eye contact). Depp DEPPliberately didn’t look up or speak once TO ANYONE, I suspect to lower the value of those parasites shots, so they never get an actual picture, penalizing them for their neanderthal rudeness(as it turns out, none were printed in the NYC papers! He did his job). I positioned myself in the mix with my paper out, feeling creepy because JD DID NOT utter a word to anyone or pickled with paparazzi psychosis. Like I said I improved this whole endeavor. I was wearing my running clothes, a red bandana, Major league baseball windbreaker, and running pants I say softly “Please don’t ever give up acting, it’s the only reason I go the movies anymore/my salvation, and are you doing Howard Stern tomorrow?” I try to rattle him with a blast from the past “Johnny it’s your old friend BONES, glad to see you not on fire!” and “Is Chucky O’Hara’s bio your next film or what?(my nephew, funnyass name, and a big Depp fan). He doesn’t/can’t hear a thing from anyone he has numbed himmself from ALL sound. He signs my sheet without looking(Ala Eddie Rebel), and continues on his way. My fandom quickly turned to almost family like anger concern/love when I saw the press and their psychotic aggression. I literally like a great basketball rebounder boxed out three or so paparazzi angrily clearing a path(throwing elbows). Trust me it is SOOO FREAKY/surreal, as Johnny says “they’re just aggressive beasts”(you almost feel guilty being there). You lose all respect for them instantly, when you see them in action. Depp’s England wooden plank rage is totally validated when you see this for yourself.

Depp looked soooo uncomfortable/fragile/mummefied and just wiped out from the ordeal as he seemed to be floating into the awaiting SUV. Sporting plain brown long hair(no blonde streak) and his standard goatee, he looked just like the Details cover recently. He heads for the exact car/SUV I targeted. He gets in the back left seat(exasperated) with the baby safety seat waiting for him, no seatbelt(hahaheh), and Jacobs riding shotgun. The hulking black driver just lights up his tires REEEEK seriously nearly plowing over 5 paparazzi, spilling out onto 12th street towards 5th avenue.

I drifted over to the hotel hot spots to see if I could strike lightening twice. Nothing but wannabee models/posers/cheechboys, so I retreated home, to check out MAN RAY and Howard Stern tomorrow.

I’ll add more as I think of more. I’m exhausted! Questions are of course welcome. THIS IS ALL 100% FACT!

Love,
– John “ARM” Bogdan

JACK-O-PANDERIN’

A vivid yet distinctly fictitious recreation of the crime-plagued gutters of 19th Century London, the Jack the Ripper thriller “From Hell” is quite a homage to the dense graphic novel from which it was spawned – by Rob Blackwelder.

Depp’s performance carries the movie, to a certain extent, because his is the only character with tangible depth. We witness Abberline’s disturbing visions, and the drug-fueled process that brings them about. We know of his unhappy past (his wife died while delivering their stillborn daughter) and understand his determination.

Copyright Contactmusic.com Ltd 2005

This is an article excerpt. To view the article in it’s entirety, please visit the ContactMusic website.

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