Johnny Depp, Hollywood’s hottest eccentric, meets his match playing Willy Wonka in Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. How sweet is that? By Sean Smith. Newsweek, July 4 issue.
Playing Willy Wonka is not for the timid. It requires courage, imagination and flawless fashion sense. “I like these heels,” Johnny Depp says, pulling up his pant cuff to reveal a sleek boot emblazoned with a swirly W. “I wanted Wonka to be this long, string-beany kind of figure, and give him these unbelievable cha-cha heels.”
To build the character, Depp began thinking about the kind of folks who host game shows and children’s TV programs. “Not like Captain Kangaroo, but like that guy on the local cable station in Podunk, Idaho,” Depp says. “Wonka had sheltered himself from the outside world, and television would have been a good friend to him.” Depp also decided to make Wonka a perfectionist and a germ-a-phobe. As for his look, that flawless pale skin, perfect pageboy and slightly feminine air have had some people wondering whether Depp found inspiration in Michael Jackson. “That never crossed my mind,” he says. “I never thought about it once, honestly. But it’s interesting, people’s perceptions.”