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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 Ltd 2005

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

Such a gallant man

In September 2001 Johnny Depp was in Deauville, in the Normandy region of France, to promote “Blow”. I live not very far from Deauville so I decided to go – after all, I’d been waiting for this day for 12 years!

After work I jumped into my car with my best friend and off we went. When we arrived in Deauville there were so many people — girls crossed France to see him. We waited for him for about an hour. At last he arrived and I was a little bit excited, but unfortunately he was so far from me and he went into the cinema screening room. I thought that I?d missed my chance to talk to him and I was very disappointed. I was about to leave to go back home, but then I thought “S**t, I ‘m going to wait until the end of the movie”, and I decided to go back to the cinema. After about 15 minutes I saw cameras flashing and a lot of people milling about inside. My best friend, who knew the town very well, told me “He’s going to take the underground passage”, so we ran towards the underground to wait for his car. Two other people had heard what she said and followed us.

Then Johnny stopped his car – oh my god he was so beautiful: long hair, a clear pink skirt and an arabian scarf, and his old, old famous hat! He was drinking a glass of wine and smoking a rolled cigarette. (Are you surprised by this? Our authentic Johnny as we love him.) A girl moved towards him and she told him about her favourite movies. I don’t know why but he was so distant with her, he just signed her picture, ouf!

Then it was my turn, but it was strange – I wasn’t under stress anymore; I got the impression that I?d always known him. I told him that I was a big fan for 12 years, and he looked at me very surprised (maybe because I look younger than I am). He caught my hand and kissed it, and he asked me “Are you OK? You didn’t want to see the movie?” (It was funny because he knew that we were French and he spoke in an easy English.) I explained that I will have time to see it but that I didn’t have time to buy a ticket and, yes, I was very fine! He took my paper and asked me my name. I started to spell it in English but he stopped me and told me: “In French please”. After this he took a lot of time to pronounce it. While he wrote I talked to him about the time that we saw each other very quickly at the end of Vanessa Paradis’ concert in Normandy; he remembered it and he laughed. “So, I read you what I’m writing for you: “elise = my best to you always = love johnny depp”. I asked him to kiss my hand again so I could get a picture, and he took my hand and put his lips on my hand, and waited so that my best friend could find a good moment to take the picture. Unfortunately you don’t see my face in the photo – only my hand and of course his tender touch. I thanked him for his simplicity and I told him “Carry on making us dream through your movies”, and he thanked me.

It was the most beautiful day in my life. I hope that I won’t have to wait another 12 years to meet him again!

January 2003


Isa’s report on the Deauville Film Festival, September 5, 2001

I went to Deauville to see Johnny on Tuesday but when I got there, I heard that he wasn’t coming until Wednesday. Actually, Johnny had changed his mind! On Friday he didn?t wanted to come at all. But then on Saturday morning he wanted to come but only on Wednesday! So the festival had to change the program between Tuesday and Wednesday. Anyway, he came down to the Royal Hotel at noon. He had lunch and then had to do some interviews inside. He came in a black mercedes car. He was seated near to the driver and he was wearing his hat. He waved “hi” with his hand. There were many people waiting for him and some security guys were there to keep us away from the car. We had to stay outside of the hotel and the car went into the park lot so we could hardly see him when he got of the car. Everybody was screaming, “Johnny! Johnny!” but he didn?t turn toward us. He just went in the hotel. He was supposed to go to the Canal Plus TV program but didn?t show up. He canceled it!

Then the press conference was at 5 pm, just after the photocall. I was in line for 1 hour, to go to the press conference! So many people wanted to get in! It was crazy! I fought, but I got in! Yeah! He was alone and Ted Demme was not there. He stayed for 20 minutes, speaking about the movie. I took as many pictures as I could!!! I probably took the first 36 pictures in a minute! Then, when he was speaking, a guy asked me not to take pictures, even without flash. But he had the very good idea of leaving me alone after a while, so I took more photos!!! Yeah! Of course, he was smoking?the whole time! He was so cute! Even if I didn?t really like his large pink shirt! Then at the end of the conference, many people came up to see him, to get some autographs. It was crazy! Then I left and ran to the corner of the street and I saw him in the car. He was going back to the hotel and the windows of the car were open! He waved “hi” again with his hand. It was fun! Then people saw him and started to run to the hotel!!! It was very funny! So I ran, too! But it was too late! When I got there, he had just gone inside!

Then he went to the screening of the movie, at 8.30pm. He was late (of course! same for the press conference!). But he came in the car up to the entrance so only the people waiting there for hours could see him! He signed a lot of autographs for people and then went inside. I tried to go inside, but I couldn?t. It was more than full! Even some people with passes couldn?t get in! I heard on the radio that he was seated in the back of the theater and then came on stage to promote the movie but didn?t say anything on stage (usually all the people say something, but we all know he doesn?t like that very much). They said he needed more than 20 minutes to go on stage because he was signing autographs for everybody on his way to the stage! How cool!!!! Then he left the festival right after on the first plane. He didn?t go back to the hotel. He also said in an interview in Deauville that he thinks that smoking marijuana should be legal. Some guys on TV spoke about his declaration on TV! It wasn?t very appreciated! OK, I think that?s it! End of the day! I missed him when he came out of the theater.

So, see you later, Johnny! It was nice to see you, even if it was only for 20 minutes!!!


A sort of diary. To all the little solitary drops in this huge ocean.

Yes, I saw Him at the Venice Film Festival on September 8th, 2001. It was Saturday. My story, however, begins some time before. Almost one year before.

I have a friend, Edelweiss. She is a great fan of Matthew McConaughey. In a certain way we got closer and became friends because of our common passion for movie stars. In August 2000 she said to me that Mc and J would be in Venice for the Film Festival. If they would come on the same days? would we go too? Ok, I said. She found out they would be there on the same day. Well, I let her organize the whole trip. She arranged everything. She prepared also a little packet for Mc and so did I, for J of course. Who knows? We were travelling by train from Rome to Venice as she said: “You know? I heard J wouldn’t come? Sorry?” It’s ok, doesn’t matter. We will have fun. And after all I kept hoping it was only a rumor, a false piece of news. He will come. I was sure. I kept waiting and hoping all the time during the two days we spent at the Festival. How can I explain?? I felt Him in the air all around me. By a sudden chance just three days before we left I had seen in a very small cinema in Rome, Los Angeles Without A Map. I had felt a bit like the young hero. He spoke with a Dead Man poster. Sometimes I did the same at home with another photo. On that train I understood what the meaning of the movie was for me in that very moment: the only places where I would see or meet J was still my dreams and my fantasy for now. I brought to Venice a T-shirt I had made with J’s self-portrait printed on the front side. I wore it during our two days at the Film Festival. “If He won’t be here, His portrait will.” Only a few months after I read in an Italian magazine that Bardem had done the same with a photo of Reynaldo Arenas printed on the T-shirt he was wearing at Before Night Falls premiere in Ven-ice. The two days we spent at the Festival were special. We met a very young and kind journalist, she helped us, she told us all she knew about people landing to be interviewed or leaving the hotels and at what time. That way we discovered when we would see Mc and where and in which hotel he stayed. In the meanwhile there were people asking about J everywhere around us, young people and older and I was impressed how many they were. Will He come, will He not? We knew all about His past stay at the Festival: the party for The Man Who Cried, His hotel? but He didn’t come. They said He was on a set, I think it was From Hell. He couldn’t come, but everywhere I could feel His absence, wider than anyone else’s absence. And then? we were just waiting for Mc outside the Excelsior, the hotel where all the interviews took place, when suddenly I saw a very attractive tall guy coming out. I recognized him; I had seen him some months before in a TV-movie. I shouted his name and ran to him. I asked if I might take a photo of him and when I held out my hand to thank him he caught it, bowed over me and kissed me on my cheek. In the afternoon I read the program of the Festival more carefully and I learned why the guy was there. He played one of the main characters in Before Night Falls, one of the two competing movies J was playing in. How strange? J wasn’t there, but in a certain way I thought I couldn’t come closer to Him even if He would have come. I saw how strictly Mc and Bon Jovi and all the other stars were controlled and followed by bodyguards. They were like in a armored safe. Would I really like to see J like that? I considered all that and it seemed to me a little inhuman to come there and look at Him as if He was a kind of monument or something like that. We went to Mc’s hotel. We were lucky, they let us reach the hall from the delivery entrance and she left her packet for him. We saw where the receptionist put it. The key wasn’t there. Mc was in his room. She left her packet. I still had mine when I went home. She was very excited and tired in the same time. I was too. We had awaken very early in the morning just to be there. We sat then on a bench and we looked at the sea. The sun was setting, the light was so soft, the silence was complete. I saw a young man coming towards the hotel, he had such a gentle and lovely face, I thought he was one of them. Something in his way of walking let me think that. He brought a paper bag with Prada written on it. He seemed to be shy; he was walking without giving a glance all around him, low eyes, as if he didn’t want to be recognized. He was not alone, but they didn’t speak to each other. They were just walking and I thought for sure that the other one was a bodyguard. I kept looking at them without moving or speaking till they disappeared into the hotel entrance. A week or two after I saw in Rome Before Night Falls and I recognized the guy. He was the French actor Olivier Martines. I felt as if I had been into that movie too. Like J. This very night we went to the U-571 premiere. When we entered the cinema Mc was entering too, walking down a narrow passage through the crowd. We were almost two meter far from him. In some moments nearer and if we had stretched out our hands we had touched him? but we couldn’t. Plenty of bodyguards were controlling everything and everyone. We couldn’t even take some photos because we where so close to him. We just looked at him passing by and smiling to no one. We were speechless. Really, would I be strong enough to bear to see J like that?

At the end of July 2001 I was spending some days with Edelweiss at her home. A friend of her called and said: “Girls… don’t you know? Depp will be in Venice?” She started searching in the net if Mc would be there too. I left her and I was walking down a narrow street in Rome carrying my suitcase, when I saw him again, the tall guy I had met outside the Excelsior. “O my God, o my God?”, I could only repeat. Andrea Di Stefano was coming out from a travel agency. He also recognized me, I think. We had met once again some months before, always in Rome, always in a narrow street near my office. In that occasion I had asked him for an autograph. He was always the same kind guy I remembered from Venice, so kind that I almost forgot how handsome he is. The first thing I asked him was if he would go in Venice again. He said no, but he added: “If you go, have fun!” Thanks. I’ll have. I would do my best to make his wish come true. But some days after we learned that 13 Conversations About A Thing, the movie with Mc and Turturro competing at the Festival, and From Hell would be presented in different days. So we couldn’t go together. It would last too long and cost us a lot. I had to find another companion for the days of J’s supposed stay in Venice. I asked my friend Lilly and arranged the whole thing. I booked the hotel and the train. Every two days I was searching for information at official Film Festival web site. At the end of August Edelweiss called me and said: “I still don’t know if Mc will come or not, but I’ll go in two days. I’m so sorry, they said on the radio J won’t come?” What? Once again? You see? If J comes to Italy I have to go and see. But now? Anyhow I wasn’t sad at first. Two days after I was angry and a little disappointed. I had all arranged. I didn’t let myself get discouraged. I was going to spend some wonderful days in Venice, in this very strange town, built on a fish shaped island whose veins are its many canals, and its other islands, such as San Michele, where the cemetery is, the Giudecca, where Cipriani Hotel is, the hotel where Edelweiss and I had left that packet the year before, and the Lido, a long and narrow island that seems to protect Venice from the sea and where the Film Festival takes place every year. This strange town without bus or subway; if you want to visit it you must walk and walk or take the steamboat and when you land you feel as if you are still on board, the ground seems to move under your feet. This very strange town whose map I had been studying for two weeks in order to find the right hotel for me and Lilly. O God? He won’t come! But? Di Stefano had said: “Have fun!” I would have.

We got to Venice on September 6th. I had planned to see Jude Law, who was expected that night for the A.I. premiere. At the last minute he said he wouldn’t come. I decided to make the best of a bad bargain. I accompanied my friend through the town and I nearly forgot the Festival. She is a passionate photographer and brought a very heavy bag and a very big camera. The year before I had been at the Lido only and I hadn’t seen anything of the town. This time I saw the gondolas and the monuments. The whole town was made of art, beauty and tourists and I understood why they say: “Save Venice.” I had heard that this town is a lasting paradox: usually a lagoon doesn’t last so long. Either it becomes a piece of land or the sea floods it. This town is a kind of lasting miracle and a kind of trap for tourists, with its many souvenirs stores, confectioners, its many restaurants and pizzerias and ice cream parlors. But this very town is able to surprise you with its sudden silences. You just need to leave the main street and enter one of these narrow ways leading to nowhere, ending on a canal where the gondolas glide without a sound. If a gondolier is singing or explaining something to the tourists it usually happens on the main canals. Not here. So it’s not so strange that while I was in Venice I heard nothing about the Film Festival, as if it was taking place in Hong Kong or in Honolulu, not at the Lido. I just watched the final news on TV at night, as if I was home 600 km far from there. On September 7th morning we separated. We wanted to see different parts of the town. We should meet for lunch at 1.30pm in a restaurant. We were just having a typical Venetian lunch as she got a message on the phone from her boyfriend: “Depp is at the Lido.” Oh, I thought, he’s joking. What a bad joke? Anyhow I tried to find out something, but really Venice seemed not to be interested in what was happening at the Lido. The tourist office in Piazza San Marco, where I had got some information about the Festival the day before, was closed. We had no radio. When we came back to the hotel we turned the TV on and I found out the guy in Rome was not joking. J was in Venice. He had been at the Lido to be interviewed. O Christ! That night I saw one of these interviews on TV. He talked with His very voice with subtitles. I looked at Him and I didn’t understand anything. He is here! And I was walking like a stupid tourist the whole day. My friend got very angry with me. She said I should have been informed. I was informed. I had connected to Internet just the day before we left: He shouldn’t have come. It looked as if it was my fault that He had come. I was so disappointed as she was. Perhaps more. Why didn’t she understand? I thought: “Now we have to organize for tomorrow.” I tried not to think of anything else.

The next morning we woke up very early. We took the boat and went to the Lido. We had some breakfast. It was still very early. We bought some newspapers. We read He was at Cipriani, the hotel on Giudecca Island where Mc had stayed the year before. But newspapers don’t always say the truth. They are a little superficial, sometimes. So I tried to enter the hotel Des Bains, where J should have had to stay the year before. I just had a look at the reception and what I saw let me breathless. I knew it was the hotel where Thomas Mann had set his tale Death in Venice and Luchino Visconti had filmed the movie version. I asked if Mr. Depp was there. I just wanted to leave the packet I had prepared for Him. Although what I had learned before leaving I had still kept a little faith and prepared a new packet for Him, much smaller than the one I had planned at first. I also brought my T-shirt with His portrait printed on, but this time I left it in my suitcase. The polite elegant employee let me repeat the name. He wanted me to spell it. He checked up in his PC. No, there’s no one called like that. Thanks. I pretended to be more sure and resolute than I was, as if it was usual for me to enter such wonderful places, places where you need a lot of money to lodge in. Ok. Then we went to the Excelsior. Similar scene, different elegant uniforms. J didn’t stay there. They said He had been there the day before for the interview. He did just one? Really? Very strange? They said they didn’t know if He would come again. My friend was still very angry with me. She said we had to go to His hotel. I didn’t dare to propose it myself. I knew how far the hotel was. She didn’t know. Then it happened something that made us lose some precious time. The girl at the boat ticket window thought she had to explain me carefully why I had to buy just the tickets I wanted to buy. My friend changed color. Her face took on a very unusual red shade. I tried to keep being calm. I was struck by the way the girl could speak about nothing. At the end I was so nervous that I bought more tickets than we had needed, if only we had been a little more experienced in Venetian boats. At last we reached the hotel. Same way as the year before, same bench. Not the same silence. I tried to go into the hall. A guard asked me what I was looking for. I was very simple; I said him the same as I said in the other hotels. O, what a mistake! At first he said that J didn’t stay there. I pretended once more to be very resolute. I insisted I knew He was there. When I said: “I don’t understand why you are making so many difficulties? Last year you let me enter!” he replied: “Who let you enter? Tell me the name!” I looked at him a little ironic. I hoped he understood how stupid his question was. As if I could know all the people working in that hotel only for entering it once? He said he couldn’t me let in. I had to wait till his colleague would come and ask him. O God, I just want to go in the hall and leave this packet. It’s just a letter with a request for an autograph. I had some strange thoughts in my mind when I saw the two maids entering the door. My friend was a little far, but she noticed my strange glance. My patience was going to give up. I would be the most headstrong. I had came up to there; He was in the hotel, somewhere over or around me. I couldn’t go away now. Another guard went out of a room. A taller and finer one. I explained again as calm as I could and I added: “What if I had sent it by express mail?” “Great – he said – send it!” He was so fine and tall, but I think I looked at him as if I would soon lose my temper. He went into the room, he came out again and said: “He has gone to the Lido right now.” Calm, be calm? “I don’t want to see Him – I was lying unashamed and, after all, I thought they were just trying to get rid of me – I only want to leave this packet!” The tall guy took it and said: “I will try to give it to the receptionist for you. I don’t make you any promise. It depends on him.” He put his coat on and disappeared through the narrow passage that leads to the reception. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Now I only had to trust him, to hope the receptionist would be so kind as the guard was, to hope that He too? I remembered what Marta, the Spanish girl who had met Him in Toledo during the filming of The Ninth Gate, had written. I knew how gentle He had been. I had much to hope. Would my faith be strong enough?

We came back to the Lido. We had lost a lot of time on the Giudecca. When we reached the little terrace opposite the Excelsior there was a little crowd. I asked what had happened or what was going to happen, the usual question in such an occasion, and two girls said to us: “He is come! We saw Him.” “Who?” “Johnny Depp!” “When?” “More or less twenty minutes ago. Maybe ten.” I didn’t look at Lilly’s face. He was into the Excelsior to be interviewed again. The guard told me the truth then? I can trust him. I must. I have no other possibility now. He was inside. But I felt as if He was miles and miles away from there, from that terrace where we were going to spend the next six or seven hours. The front of the Excelsior faces on the road, but the stars usually enter from under, they land from the taxi-boats on a little wharf on the other side of the road and people can look down at them. We stayed there till He came out. To be more exact: she stayed there without moving, with her camera ready and the powerful zoom on. I went once into the hotel. I left everything to her, entered and asked about the toilet. I wanted to investigate. It was 1.00pm and if He was having His lunch I thought we could go and have some lunch too. Right opposite the toilet I notice the room for the interviews. They were changing the lights or the posters’ disposition. I don’t know. I tried to have a look. I didn’t see Him. I tried to behave as natural as I could. I didn’t want people to realize I was just a fan, an unauthorized one. They might lose all their politeness or make some trouble. Who knows?? The first guard at Cipriani hotel was not very kind with me. I know he was only doing his job. But in that moment I wasn’t able to think like that. I could only think of my packet. Two young women were sitting on a bench near the toilet. They seemed to be waiting for something. I asked them what was happening in the front room as if I was not interested at all. “The interview with Johnny Depp.” “Really? – I said and I pretended to know more than they knew – But? I heard He’s having His lunch at the hotel restaurant?” “That’s impossible! He’s going to be interviewed. We have to interview Him?” “Ah, maybe I misunderstood?” I went to the toilet and then out. I told all to my friend. After a while someone came out under the terrace and showed to the taxi-drivers waiting there an open hand, as to say: “Five” or “At five”. My friend said: “I’ll stay here till He comes out.” We spent the time talking with a lot of people passing by there. They stayed for a while and then went away to dine or to see some movie. We stayed. I couldn’t leave her alone. She couldn’t get angrier than she already was. She kept saying: “If we go away and He comes out right then? We missed Him yesterday. We missed Him this morning. I don’t want to miss Him again. He must come out. I’ll wait for Him? I’ll catch Him? I’ll take my photos!” So we stayed. Someone told us that the day before leaving the press conference, just while we were eating our typical Venetian food, He had signed almost forty autographs. I preferred not to look into Lilly’s eyes. We watched the boats coming and going away. We made some suppositions about which boat He would take to leave. All of a sudden there was a little bustle on the road. We alerted our senses. A woman said there was Roger Smith. Such a lovely actor, she said. I didn’t know him and we were not interested in find out who he was and how lovely he was. We couldn’t leave our position. Nothing could distract our attention. People kept landing. Journalists. Starlets. Photographers. Some famous Italian personalities arrived. Some went away. From time to time I thought I really didn’t envy Him at that moment. We were waiting for Him, we were tired, but He wasn’t either having fun. All that time giving interviews, always listening to the same questions, always repeating the same answers. We hadn’t had any lunch, but I knew He hadn’t had any lunch too. It was five o’ clock and nothing happened. I ate some biscuits I had in my bag and drank some fruit juice. Lilly kept watching the wharf. When the light began to get dimmer she began to complaint about the light. The black dressed elegant tall bodyguards were coming and going. They talked with the taxi-drivers. They laughed. We spied all those signs. I was growing in nervousness. My hands began to tremble. Suddenly He came out. No wind. No flash. He just came out. We saw Him from above. My friend said: “I go down and I beat Him. Is that the way to get dressed?” She looked a little longer to Him and said: “O God! He walks like my boyfriend does!” He had that famous old Panama all the newspaper in Venice had talked about. Black pants with braces hanging on His hips. Black shirt. A large dark kefiah on His shoulders. I was surprised how delicate He seemed to be. It was as if He was trying to hide Himself. I don’t know how to explain? He had the grace of a dancer. He seemed not to move through the air, He glided and the air seemed to shift aside to let Him pass, as if they didn’t want to disturb each other. He was not very physical, at least in the way Mc had been the year before. He was the star there and He wasn’t playing the star. Or He was playing it in a very personal way. I was speechless. The year before I had been shouting all the time from that terrace Mc’s name so that he would turn to my camera. Now I couldn’t bring myself to take some photos. I wanted to do. I looked at Him into the camera and I saw Him bigger, but I felt as if I really didn’t see Him. I just saw His image through the lenses. He got near the little partition for the photographers. We had watched them; our cameras were bigger and more powerful than theirs were. For sure they were there just to see Him. Friends or relatives of someone working in the hotel or for the TV. He signed some autographs. I tried not to think of my poor letter waiting for Him at His hotel. Then He went on board. He waved. We had guessed which boat He would go on. We were in the right place. The boat turned. He sat on the back. We could see Him very well although He was rather far. He smiled, waved His hat and we looked at Him vanishing in the distance. Lilly said He waved to us. It all lasted five or ten minutes. We had been waiting for hours and now all took place so quick. Had I really seen Him? Lilly confirmed it to me. When I would be home I should have the photos to see and realize that all was true. But now? I was beside myself. Was I disap-pointed? No, I don’t think. It was all exactly as I had imagined it would be. Perhaps I hoped something more, but I knew it would all go as it went. It was six o’clock. At half past nine He would came back for the premiere. We had only a few hours to eat something, to go to the toilet and to find a convenient place by the partition. At 7.30pm we had chosen our point of observation. She prepared her camera, with zoom and flash. I had mine, simpler than hers. She had given it to me the year before, just for my first Venetian trip. I had used it then to take some photos of Mc, the same that Edelweiss had sent to the Mc’s fan site. It was the Festival closing night. We saw people coming for the awarding of prices. Loudspeakers filled the air with music. I recognized some of the songs and the voice of Tracy Chapman. Her words found their way through my brain: “Give me one reason to stay here?” I thought of J. I was tired. Lilly was tired. J was our reason to stay there. We had had to chose if we wanted to see From Hell at nine o’clock in a different cinema or Him walking on the platform outside the Palazzo del Cinema at half past nine. The showing had to be public, but this very morning we came to know it was only for invited ones. They began to enter; some of them were dressed like circus artists. Some were welcomed with hisses. No wind. No flash. Suddenly they came. He walked first holding Vanessa’s hand in His hand, as if He needed this contact to go till the end of the platform where the photographers were waiting for them aligned like a firing squad. Dressed and combed very similar: black coat, black pants and put up hair, the only difference between Him and her was that she was smiling much more than He was. Lilly looked into her zoom and said: “How beautiful He is! And how nervous and strained. I can see it by the way He clenches His jaw.” He stopped and turned to the photographers and I thought how patient and respectful for other people’s work He was. She kept smiling gently and seemed to be looking at us. I knew there were Graham and Holm and the Hugues brothers too, but I’m sorry, I had eyes only for the two of them. I tried to take some photos. I had no flash. I hoped the light would be enough and my hand steady. Then He turned to the crowd behind the partition and smiled. I think He was not at ease, He had to do what He was doing. It really seemed as if He would like to be everywhere but there, as if would prefer to be working on any set, on a mountain, in the desert, on a boat, wherever but there. This feeling I had made me understand the depth of His sense of responsibility. They entered the cinema. We went home. Disappointed? No, I knew I couldn’t have more than that. I was just a little sad. I almost felt a little guilty for I had come there to see Him as if He was a monument and not a human being. A human being shouldn’t stay under the light like this so that people can see him and take photos, as if he is such a fantastic monster or an animal, a strange thing to be shown. I can understand one loses his temper if he’s always regarded like that. Especially when he’s very young.

The next morning we left Venice and went to Trentino, a very peaceful mountain region south of Austria. We spent a day with some friends of hers. I made some strange dreams. I had no time to think about the last two days. I confused the day life with the dream. I felt I was missing something. If I was aware of what it was, I didn’t confess it to myself. I should have faith in the human kindness and sincerity. I knew that when I would be home I would begin to wait again, like on that terrace. Hoping. Despairing.

On Monday night I was home. On Thursday I went to work. When I came back I asked my mother as usual if we had got mail. She said a little absent-minded: “It’s on your bed.” I recognized at once the yellow envelope I had put into the packet with my address written on it. It was perfectly closed with a tape. I called Lilly. I opened the letter on the phone with her. My heart was beating loud, my hands trembling a little. I recognized His writing; I knew it from the February 2000 issue of French magazine Studio. It seemed as if He had used the same pen. If I look at the photos in that article I can imagine Him writing to me with a different hat. I held that piece of paper in my hands. My fingerprints were on it, confused with His. I thought once again: “I couldn’t get closer to Him?” I read the letter to Lilly without understanding anything, so excited I was. I owed it her for all we had got through together. Once we had been almost near to quarrel. I called Edelweiss too and one or two other friends. No more. Not everyone is so open minded to accept all your weaknesses. I felt I would like to tell it to the whole world and at the same time I wanted to keep it for me as a secret, as a precious thing, as the most precious gift I could have from Him. I realized how good the world could be. There was a chain of kind people under that letter. And He? He didn’t know I would tell the whole story. I didn’t know myself. I have been wondering long if I had to do it or not. I just told what I saw with my eyes and my heart. His answer was something out of the lights of the show, almost private, it touched me very much, for in that very tiring and busy days He was so kind to find a while for me. He had written only a few words, but every word was saying to me: “I read your letter.” He paid attention to me, He treated me respectfully, He treated me as a human being. Who am I? Just a little drop in the ocean of His admirers, the faint echo of a step following Him on His “very strange road”? Thank You.

Further comments on From Hell/Venice

I read only now Aries’ accurate report. She was right in everything, Vanessa is amazingly beautiful, Johnny has such an unbelievable charisma. This is the 2nd time I was close to him but no chance to speak with him. Hard luck? I dunno, but smelling his energy is inspiring. I had a brief chat with the Hughes brothers, telling them that I enjoyed the movie and the visionary shape of it. They smiled and both shook my hand. Well, Johnny, maybe next time? How do you say, close but no cigar??
cheers Luca

Back from hell: a report of my adventure in Venice

I arrived from Venice very late last night and I was so tired that I just had the strength to crawl into my bed, and that’s why my report arrives so late. Sorry! Here’s what happened in Venice on Sept, 8 2001:Venice:

Venice: Well, what to say? It’s unique, extraordinary! As Johnny said, it’s shocking. I arrived by train at 6 o’clock in the morning as it was clearing up. You have the impression that the train is floating on the sea and before you appears a skyline of colorful, medieval houses immersed in the water. It’s a vision you never forget. Every corner of the town is a jewel, you walk on through small streets and every few steps you find a wonderful bridge on an amazing channel shaded by ancient buildings, so beautiful it cannot be described. And the Venetians are so warm, kind and helpful. Really stunning!!

The Festival of Venice: If you love movies and cinema…forget it! It’s a circus, a horrible merry-go-round organized only for journalists, producers and politicians. The audience is completely ignored and kept apart. You imagine it’s a cultural event, a celebration of the cinema, and you have a very bad surprise! Ok, I won’t go into details because it would be boring, but really, if you like cinema, avoid the festivals!

The Premiere: When I arrived in Venice, I first went to the ticket office to buy the tickets for the Premiere. The poor dreamer! The two girls who worked there killed every illusion. The tickets for the premiere were not for sale. Someone decided that only the ones with invitations would be allowed to enter. Moreover, only a few accredited would have entered, if there were seats left. Of course I had no invitation and I was not accredited, so my last hopes disappeared. Another projection was scheduled the same evening for the audience in another theater, but of course the start time was an half hour earlier than the premiere, so if I had decided to go there I would have also missed Johnny entering the movie theater. What a dilemma! I was shattered. Anyway, I bought two tickets for the second projection (one for me and one for Luca) and went visiting the Palace of Cinema. At 10 o’clock in the morning, Luca calls me on the mobile and tells me his friend in Venice has found two invitations. Suddenly I jumped “From Hell” to “Paradis” 😉 I couldn’t believe my ears…and I was right! Because when Luca arrived we found out that actually there was only one invitation! OK, by that time I decided that the life of the fan was not for me! You must have a strong heart and iron nerves to get by; instead I just felt I was about to breakdown! But not everything was lost. Luca’s friend (a girl whose name is now impressed with fire letters on my heart) said: “OK, I will lend you my accredidation and you’ll try to enter”. I looked at the picture on the badge…well, maybe it could work with a little imagination and a pair of glasses, in the crowd and the darkness of the entrance and with a BIG, BIG, BIG luck!

Well, after two hours of waiting in an incredible crowd at the entrance of the theater, with pushes and elbows in the back and without even breathing, the horrible security men begin to let small groups of people go in, one step forward, two steps forward, another small group, at last I’m in the next group or so it seems. Another ten minutes of endless wait and then they let other people enter. I’m the next one, when the two assholes join their fists exactly before my chest and scream “Stop! Nobody else”. What ???? I think. And for the first time I really took advantage of my small stature, I bow and manage to pass under their arms; they try to lower the hands to stop me going… but it’s too late, I’m in the theater. I fly near the girl who checks the accredidation badges with a finger on the photo and run into the room…I’m so confused and increduluous that I don’t know where to go… I stand in the center without knowing what to do, when a girl comes near to me and says “Miss, you have to sit down, please” I turn back to her “But he? Where is he?” She smiles and says “He’s there!” And points her finger some rows upstairs. I follow her direction and…he was there.

Johnny: I stood there before him trying to let every second, every instant last forever. He was there, surrounded by a magnetic aura which cannot be described by words. You can see thousands of his best pictures but not one of them gives you the least idea of what he looks like in person. Pictures and cameras put a filter which dims the power, the fire which burns into his eyes. You suddenly understand at once without any doubt left why he became what he is and why he made all he made. You look into those eyes and see what John Waters, Tim Burton, Jim Jarmusch, Terry Gilliam and the others have seen, and you understand why he’s special, different, unique. You also understand that he’s not happy, that he feels uncomfortable, dressed like a prince with every eye on him. He never stops moving, he tries not to look at the audience, talks with the directors, holds firmly Vanessa’s hand, touches his face. You almost feel guilty to be there, because this is a torture for him and you know that it’s because of you, because you want to see him and he cannot help it. Suddenly the speaker calls the directors names, the audience applauds, then Heather Graham’s name, another applause, then Johnny’s…the room bursts, standing ovation, everybody screams his name, he tries to disappear in the seat, but someone tells him he has to stand. He stands up for one second and seats again with the most embarrased smile I have ever seen, and you feel again you shouldn’t be there.

At the end of the projection, when the lights turn on, another standing ovation, he has already his cigarette in his hand, tries to smile at the audience, then grabs Vanessa’s hand (the most intimate gesture I have ever seen) and they go away.

Vanessa: We have always said: What a lucky woman she is. Now, I say: What a lucky man Johnny is. Her beauty is amazing. That kind of beauty that makes you feel better. The perfection of her face, which is completely distorted by the pictures, is spectacular. But this is the minor aspect. She is a powerful woman. As soon as you look at her, you would like to know her better, to talk to her. Her intelligence is something that you can perceive just by looking at her. I was stunned! She was there in all her beauty and elegance just to support him. That was his night, and she didn’t care to appear, to be photographed, she was there only to help him. I almost had the impression that she directed him, there was an amazing contrast between his anxiety and her utmost composure. The class of that woman is not something you can describe. I was so happy for Johnny! And I hope, really hope, that she will be patient forever and look after our boy, because she’s really the kind of woman he needs. The love that surrounds that stunning couple radiates like the sun on a summer day!

From Hell: The movie is extraordinary, unique!! Johnny-fans will find all the answers to their secret dreams and new breeds of fans will be born from it. I must say that watching a Johnny movie knowing that you’re watching it with him is a one-time experience. But in my case, instead of distracting me, all my senses were awake and sharpened, and I watched every scene as though I could comment on it with him. I almost felt his breath behind me. In the role of Inspector Abberline, he is in a state of grace! He could make the mistake of proposing again Ichabod Crane, but he reinvented a brand-new character with all the features we all love. He explores the depth of a damaged man who has an utmost complex personality, conveying all the nuances of a great soul with only the power of his eyes. This is the kind of movies in which he stops being an actor and becomes a poet, if we intend for poets that special category of persons who are able to express universal feelings, like the love and pain, in a unique way. The atmosphere of London at the end of the 19th Century is perfectly rebuilt, the plot is brilliant and the rythem is breathtaking. Heather Graham is a good actress, but she suffers Johnny’s titanic interpretation. Ian Holmes is, instead, a great counterpart. Also the soundtrack is wonderful.

Inspector Abberline is in the line of Johnny’s characters who are cursed, because they are destined to SEE. I thought about the myth of Cassandra, the priestess of the ancient Troja, who was a seer and forecasted the ruins of her people, but nobody trusted her and her own people repudiated her. Abberline is a seer, too, and for this reason he is destined to suffer. So if you wonder why Johnny accepted this role, I think this is one answer. Nobody else is able like him to express the suffering of the ones who can look and read into other people’s souls. And the movie is also a wonderful love-story, the kind of story that Johnny feels very deep inside. So, once again: thank you, Johnny!

The most moving thing: One minute after the end of the movie, I saw a little girl of 7 or 8, hand-in-hand with her mother. She was about to burst into tears and screamed to her mother: “Oh mum, please let’s go and look for Johnny.” I’m sure that if Johnny had seen her, he would have kissed her on her cheek and promised to marry her one day.

The funniest thing: Outside the Palace of cinema there was a message board on which you could write all you wanted about the Festival. One message read: Johnny, we left work and all to come here and see you. Please, show up!

It seems that all Johnny-fans have the same problems.

Acknowledgements: My endless gratitude to Luca and his friend in Venice. Without these two wonderful people I would have never been able to see Johnny and enjoy the movie with him. I really hope I will be able to do something in return, one day.

Conclusions: Well, I learned a great lesson: I love and respect Johnny too much to chase him again. I will never do it again. If you have a great admiration for a painter, a look at his paintings is enough. And so it should be for Johnny, he talks to us through his movies and those should be enough for me for the rest of my life.

This whole experience and the vision of him in Venice inspired me to write this small poem I would like to share with you:

From Hell

After seeing Johnny in Venice

And now be happy

the way you don’t know

Wearthat face and the smile

they will hardly forget

They tell you to go

and you walk on

They ask you to stop

and you turn back

But in the evening

alone in your room

you hang the face on the wall

and with the hands on your eyes

you think of nowhere

With all my love,


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…



‘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:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Copyright Ltd 2005

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