Initially known as a teen idol thanks to his role on 21 Jump Street and tortured pretty-boy looks, Johnny Depp survived the perils of adolescent heartthrob status to earn a reputation as a respected adult actor. His numerous collaborations with director Tim Burton, as well as solid performances in a number of critically acclaimed films, have allowed Depp to carve a niche for himself as a serious, if idiosyncratic performer, a real-life role that has continuously surprised critics intent on writing him off as just another photogenic Tiger Beat casualty. Born in Kentucky and raised in Florida,Depp had the kind of upbringing that would readily lend itself to his future portrayals of brooding lost boys. After his parents divorced when he was 16, he dropped out of school a year later in the hopes of making his way in the world as a musician. Depp fronted a series of garage bands; the most successful of these, The Kids, was once the opening act for Iggy Pop. During slack times in the music business, Depp sold pens by phone. He got introduced to acting after a visit to L.A. with his former wife, who introduced him to actor Nicolas Cage, who encouraged Depp to give it a try. The young actor made his film debut in 1984's A Nightmare on Elm Street (years after attaining stardom, Depp sentimentally played a cameo in the last of the Elm Street series), and his climb to fame was accelerated in 1987, when he replaced Jeff Yagher in the role of undercover cop Tommy Hanson in the Canadian-filmed TV series 21 Jump Street. Biding his time in "teen heartthrob" roles, Depp was first given a chance to exhibit his exhausting versatility in the title role of Tim Burton's fantasy Edward Scissorhands (1990).
Following the success of Edward Scissorhands, the actor made a conscious and successful effort never to repeat himself in his subsequent characterizations. He continued to gain critical acclaim and increasing popularity for his work, most notably in Benny & Joon (1993), in which he played a troubled young man who fancies himself the reincarnation of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, and What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), which cast him as its title character, a young man dissatisfied with the confines of his small-town life. Following Gilbert Grape, Depp outdid himself in Burton's Ed Wood (1994), with his outrageous but lovable portrayal of the angora-sweater-worshipping World's Worst Film Director. The same year, he further exercised his versatility playing a 19th century accountant in Dead Man, Jim Jarmusch's otherworldly Western. With his excellent portrayal of the titular undercover FBI agent in Mike Newell's 1997 Donnie Brasco, Depp continued to ascend the Hollywood ranks. After a starring turn as Hunter S. Thompson's alter ego in Terry Gilliam's trippy adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), Depp tried his hand at sci-fi horror with The Astronaut's Wife in 1999. That same year, he again collaborated with Burton on Sleepy Hollow, starring as a prim, driven Ichabod Crane in the remake of Washington Irving's classic tale of gothic terror. Appearing the following year in the small but popular romantic drama Chocolat, Depp jumped back into the big time with his role as real-life cocaine kingpin George Jung in Blow (2001) before gearing up for roles in the Jack the Ripper thriller From Hell (2001) and Robert Rodriguez's Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003). In what was perhaps his most surprising departure since Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Depp shed his oftentimes angst-ridden persona for a flamboyant role as a long undead pirate in 2003's Pirates of the Caribbean.
In addition to his acting, Depp has also gained a certain dose of fame for his romantic involvements with several female celebrities, including Winona Ryder, Sherilyn Fenn, and Kate Moss, and in 1999, fathered a daughter with French singer/actress Vanessa Paradis, as well as a son in 2002. He was also the owner of the Viper Room, a popular L.A. nightspot which gained notoriety when actor River Phoenix died of a drug overdose on its doorstep in 1993.
Johnny Depp was born on June 9, 1963, in Kentucky.
The 'Pirates of the Carribbean' are going yachting!
Pirates of the Caribbean stars Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley will now be surfing the sea as They gear up take part in a yacht race.
They will take turns to help crew a boat in the gruelling Volvo round-the-world contest, reports the Sun.
The yacht, named the Black Pearl after the film ship, will have a skull and crossbones sail. Each star will undergo training at the Portsmouth HQ of the event, which starts in November.
Johnny Depp voted 'Best Dressed Man at Oscars'
Johnny Depp's blue tuxedo with black shawl collar at the Oscars, has been voted as the best men's fashion statement at this year's Academy Awards, by an online poll conducted by Hello magazine.
The Finding Neverland star might have lost out on the Oscar for the best actor but his ensemble got him five times as many votes as his nearest challenger Jeremy Irons, who took the red carpet in a vintage Armani knee-length frock coat . Johnny Depp refused to betray the identity of his designer, though, he revealed that his pair of Twenties-style two-tone shoes, were "locally" made.
P Diddy stood third wearing one of his own designs while Tim Robbins, last year's best supporting actor, who donned a sharply- cut Versace affair with a peace symbol on the tie stood fourth and R&B heart-throb Usher had to settle for fifth in a white jacket and ruffled shirt.
Johnny Depp big ''Blow''
Johnny Depp tackles roles that few stars of his generation dare to deal with. In his latest film, Blow, Depp delivers another startling performance. Based upon the book, Blow: How a Small- Blow: How a Small-Town Boy Made $100 Million with the Medellin Cocaine Cartel and Lost it All by Bruce Porter, Blow is the story of George Jung, currently serving a 15 year sentence. This is the true story of Jung who worked for reputed drug kingpin Carlos Escobar, and is accused of single-handedly importing cocaine into the USA in the 1970's. Jung's rise and fall coincides with the switch from pot to cocaine as the drug of choice among the rich and famous.
CrankyCritic: Tell us about your meetings with the real George Jung...
Johnny Depp: I tried to steal as much of him as I possibly could. (Laughs) To sponge up as much of George as I could. He was very open with me about a lot of things. He was able to sort of spill his life to me in a very short period of time. We didn't really have all the time for like: How's the weather, how's life in prison treating you? It was more like: "Okay, we have two days, let's go.' He was very generous with his life. What I learned from him? (Pauses) He's a guy who's been rotting away in prison now for a number of years and he realizes his mistakes and I believe, he's paid his debt to society. Now, it would be nice to get him out of prison so he could try and pay his debt to his family, but he can't do it when he's bound and gagged. He's a heart-breaking guy. And a really smart guy.
CrankyCritic: Is there a certain responsibility playing a real person?
Johnny Depp: The responsibility I have as an actor is to really not think about how big the role is or what you're doing in terms of the whole film. My responsibility is to the character -- especially when you're dealing with a guy who, in fact, exists. A real guy. It certainly places a very intense kind of responsibility, because you want to do the best job you can for him. You want to do him justice. And you want him to be proud of it.
CrankyCritic: What attracted you to this movie?
Johnny Depp: I thought it was a really interesting angle on this type of film, on the drug genre. But really what was most attracted to me was; you know, it would be very easy to make a character you didn't like so much. The challenge was to make him human. I read all the material and I met George and it was very easy to see that - the great challenges are to present the facts in terms of George, is that he is a victim as much as anybody else. He's a product of where he came from, of what his parents had instilled in him. And also the thing that they call the AmericanDream, is to guzzle up as much as you possibly can and to take, take, take and to greed, greed, greed and glutton, glutton, glutton. That's how he ended up in prison.
CrankyCritic: Was it important to you that the film didn't judge?
Johnny Depp: Oh yeah. I mean, one of most interesting things about the story is that it doesn't judge, and it doesn't point the finger. Ultimately, we don't know who's wrong. We don't know why this is, we don't why people want to take drugs, really. So, it's important to let it just be one man's life. And to show the highest highs and the lowest lows and everything in between. Really, the thing which affects you is the reality. It's the heartbreak of what this guy has had to live.
CrankyCritic: Did you ever search as why people take drugs?
Johnny Depp: I remember in the 80's when there was the Just Say No, thing. War on drugs. I don't believe there really was a war on drugs. When prohibition happened, say there were a hundred bars in one town, as soon as they made alcohol illegal, the next week, there were two thousand bars in the same town. People who had never had a sip of alcohol, started guzzling Gin. That's just the nature of the beast. You tell someone don't do this, don't you dare do this, stay away from this, but you're not educating them on it, you're just saying, don't do this, it's forbidden. Bing! The first thing they do is run out and do it! That's human behavior. If I told you right now, "Don't think of a pink elephant" (laughs), it instantly comes into your head.
CrankyCritic: Didn't you have an experience with drugs?
Johnny Depp: Well drugs need to be understood and learned about. We need to be educated, we need to know what they are, and we need to know the hazards and the tragedies that can happen. But before that, shouldn't we find out why we want to take them. Shouldn't we know
why? Is it recreation? Should it just be used on the weekends and then go to the work nine to five everyday of the week. When we do that for recreation, to party? I doubt it. I don't think so. I think it has less to do with recreation and more to do with the fact that we need to escape from our brains. We need to escape from everyday life. We need to escape from the bad news on television. It's self-medication and that's the problem.
CrankyCritic: How do you escape from everyday life?
Johnny Depp: Well, I went through 35 years of a very strange and dark fog. I never really understood what the point was to anything, in life. I knew that I had some degree of luck and success in my chosen field, in my business and work. I knew that I was very lucky and my family, my mum, my sisters and my brother, my dad is okay. I had good friends and stuff like that. It wasn't until Vanessa and then the birth of our daughter, Lily-Rose, that I finally realized that there is something to live for. I then knew why I had to be alive. There was a reason to live.
CrankyCritic: How do you juggle fatherhood with all your traveling?
Johnny Depp: It's actually been really great, I've been really lucky, because whenever I'm away on location, they come and spend the majority of the time with me. We did Blow here in LA and they were with me. Then I was in the Czech Republic doing From Hell, they were there and in England for Chocolat.
CrankyCritic: Did being a father bring something more to your character in Blow?
Johnny Depp: Oh, I think I probably couldn't have avoided that anyway at all. There's no way to avoid what now lives inside of me, that feeling. There are certainly things you can access - your own emotions in your own life, use in your work. Not to say, little Emma Roberts (an actress in Blow and daughter of Eric), made it incredibly easy, because she was just such a sweet kid. Really smart. Really funny. And free.
CrankyCritic: So, you are happy with yourself now?
Johnny Depp: Yeah. Get over yourself you know. When my daughter was born it was it was absolutely without question the first selfless moment I had ever had. And what a gift that is, to be able to step outside yourself and go:
"You know what, I didn't have the greatest childhood, things didn't go the way I wanted them to here and there, but you know, tough shit. So what? There are plenty of people who've been through much harder and much more difficult, and much more devastating things you have and get through it. Just keep walking forward and that's all that matters." That whole thing of wanting to do drugs and wanting to numb yourself, it's just postponing the inevitable, which is that one day when you're going to have to meet the demon and acknowledge that he's there and say, ---- You!
CrankyCritic: Have you made a conscious decision to live in Europe?
Johnny Depp: I live in Europe pretty much all the time. I go back and forth. The majority of my time is spent in Europe. I would like to say I moved to France so I could smoke in peace. It's more than that you know. I always felt very drawn to France, and that culture and I was never really clear why. Now I'm convinced that it was some sort of grand plan that was drawing me there to meet Vanessa. That was kind of a strange, and beautiful destiny. The good thing is, if I want to see a lot of violence on television, or if you want to experience school kids going in and shooting up their classmates and shooting their teachers, or a guy going to the Jewish community center banging away on his rifle - there's always CNN.
CrankyCritic: Have you campaigned for George's release?
Johnny Depp: We have Ted Demme and myself. We've all investigated the possibilities of going before whomever we have to go before and talking to them about George. We talked to some people in the FBI. It is possible to take up arms in that fight and maybe even get some kind of good news out of it, but the amount of red tape and stacks and files and papers, is unbelievable. It's staggering really. The rules and regulations and everything are pretty amazing.
CrankyCritic: Will people help him get back into society when he is released?
Johnny Depp: Oh absolutely. George really more than anything, I'm not sure prison rehabilitated him, but he's rehabilitated. He's the man he started out being before he lost himself.
CrankyCritic: Has anyone contacted his daughter to reconcile him or her together?
Johnny Depp: There are certain places where you don't have any business going. It's kind of one of those things where you would like to do what you can to help, but it's really none of my business. I met her and she's a great girl. She went through whatever she went through. They deserve a shot to be together definitely. He's desperate to see her.
Johnny Depp: 'From Hell'
Johnny Depp was looking calmly somber when we met. Just a few hours after news reports on johnny depp in from hellthe first American bombing campaign in Afghanistan, a serene Depp questioned the validity of doing press for his latest film, From Hell. "Do you find it strange to be here, talking about this?" he quietly questions. Impeccably attired in a dark brown pin strip suit and fiery red shirt, Depp is rolling a cigarette while considering his own response. Often publicity shy at best, Depp admits to being "confused" about being in Los Angeles doing interviews for a movie. "It just seems very odd to me to be talking about movies in the wake of everything that's happening and everything that's going to happen." On the other hand, while the world remains in turmoil, Depp also agrees that it remains important to maintain the old 'show must go on' front. "I certainly think it is important for all of us to be marching forward, but I still find it difficult to talk seriously about films even if it's something that I'm proud of, such as From Hell."
In From Hell, set in 1888 London, Depp plays an opium-addicted police inspector on the trail of the vicious Jack the Ripper. Asked if it is the right kind of film to be released at this point in time, Depp is circumspect. "I think that movies, if they do anything at all, provide a degree of escape from reality for a couple of hours. I'm not so sure that this is the one that people will necessarily want to escape to. But it is, after all, only a movie." Depp feels at home playing this nineteenth century character. No stranger to appearing in period films, one of his attractions for this project was its historical setting. "I have a great affinity with the past", the actor explains. "I'm a history freak and always wanted to travel back in time, so period films give me that opportunity." He adds that "walking onto the Whitechapel set they built in Prague was about the closest opportunity yet for me to step back in time." From Hell, which was directed by the very urban Hughes Brothers, offers yet another hypothesis on the identity of Jack the Ripper. Depp admits that "there have been so many solid Ripper theories, but I think this one was one of the more intelligent and well executed theories."
In a career spanning close to 20 years, Depp has consistently defined himself by his choice of
diverse characters. Making his screen debut in the original Nightmare on Elm Street and achieving initial fame on television's 21 Jump Street, Depp's gallery of screen roles range from the title character in Tim Burton's whimsical Edward Scissorhands, through to diverse characters in the likes of Cry-Baby, Ed Wood, Dead Man, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Sleepy Hollow, and more recently, in Before Night Falls, Chocolat and Blow. While he gently scoffs at being labeled an A-list Hollywood star, there is no denying that there is no such thing as a 'Johnny Depp movie', and the actor couldn't be happier with the definition, despite likely pressure from his agents for him to go more mainstream. "I'm sure it would have made their job a whole lot easier had I done some of the things that were proposed to me over the years," he says smilingly. "But I got very lucky when I met my agent [Tracey Jacobs] of 14 years when some of the top brass at some of the agencies were pretty vocal at some of the choices I'd made and Tracey supported me all the way down the road."
Depp has also been lucky in his private life. The actor divides time between homes in Los Angeles and France, where he lives with longtime girlfriend, actress Vanessa Paradis, and one-year old daughter Lily-Rose. Fatherhood, gushes Depp, has certainly changed his life. "When I saw my daughter being born, it was the first really totally selfless moment I'd had," he recalls. "I want 100 more children. If Vanessa is willing, I'll certainly try." The 37-year old Depp remains genuinely happy. "I had always wanted kids, but it didn't seem to be working out for me. My siblings already had children and I was in my thirties with no real prospects of it happening for me."
Depp admits that he his criteria for choosing roles haven't necessarily changed since becoming a dad. "There are two ways I look at it. On the one hand, I do select roles differently because I think I started making choices all those years ago with regard to what I might be able to leave for my kids when the day comes that I don't breathe anymore. I started making films that my kids would one day want to be proud of." But at the same time, Depp adds, "there's not one particular area that I'm staying in, like action movies, so I think it's important for an actor to explore all kinds of areas."
As happy as he is, living in Europe doesn't make him feel safer, given recent events. "While generations before me certainly remember where they were when Kennedy was shot, my generation will remember exactly where they were on September 11." Depp was in Venice, promoting From Hell at the Venice Film Festival. "I was on the phone to my sister, discussing flight arrangements for the next day, when she said that a plane had just gone into the World Trade Center." Depp's initial reaction, he recalls quietly, "was one of such utter devastation and confusion. But then I suddenly felt oddly patriotic, felt immediately American, and wanted to be home on American soil. It was very strange not being able to get home." While in Los Angeles promoting From Hell, his girlfriend and daughter are back in France "because to be honest, I couldn't bring myself to put them on an airplane." He is, of course, anxious to join them. "I want to be with them every second of the day." Asked how hard it is to bring up in a child in these uncertain times, Depp pauses. "She's the purest angel that I've ever seen in my life, so when you are glued to the television set trying to make sense of all of this information, and then you look at this pure little being, as much as you can feel what's happening right now and the victims of this tragedy, I can't help but feel about the future of my baby, for all of our children and what that's going to be like for them if this war lasts for God knows how long." No wonder it is difficult to remain optimistic, he ponders. "I'm more a realist than a pessimist. All you can do is keep going and keep moving forward, hope for the best, stay with your family and be strong."
Johnny Depp speaks about Sleepy Hollow
Still sporting a gold tooth from shooting The Man Who Cried, his next flick (which also stars Sleepy Hollow's Christina Ricci), actor Johnny Depp settled down in front of our microphones to talk about scarey movies past and present and his ongoing working relationship with director Tim Burton. Sleepy Hollow is their third collaboration, with Ed Wood and Edward Scissorhands preceding this one. While Ed Wood was based on a real person, many of us totally illiterate film types have an image of Ichabod Crane seared into our memories by the animated flick that Disney did years ago. Not Depp, who didn't bring up the "D" word even once. . .
Johnny Depp: I lived with the creation of Washington Irving, first. I thought I'd wear a prosthetic nose but the Paramount people, bless their cotton socks, weren't very enthusiastic about that [laughs]. My approach was to take the Ichabod Crane that existed and elasticize him a little bit. I kind of thought of Ichabod as being maybe a little too in touch with his feminine side. Maybe like a nine year old girl trapped in a grown man's body.
CrankyCritic: Which explains a scene where he jump at the sight of a spider?
Johnny Depp: I don't recall that being in the script, but we jumped at every opportunity for me to be a complete ham and kind of a glutton for twisted humor. I did my best to throw in things like that at every opportunity. Tim, also, would find places for these things to happen and he was real good about it.
CrankyCritic: Tim is comfortable with you going improv?
Johnny Depp: I always like doing that. I think that it's important for an actor to understand that nothing is set in stone and you don't really know what's going to happen until you're on the set. More important, you don't really know what's going to happen until the camera starts rolling. You leave a lot of things open for the possibility of chance. Mistakes, accidents, things like that. Sometimes those are the greatest things in the film. I remember one particular instance in this film: young Maspeth and I were walking towards the crone's cave and we're approaching the cave gingerly. Ichabod reaches for his gun and puts his arm around young Maspeth in a protective way. During the take it happened that I put my arm around the kid and I pushed him in front of me as a shield [laughs]. It just seemed like the right thing to do. Tim liked it and we laughed like fiends. We kept it in.
CrankyCritic: Is it that you really like working with Tim Burton or did you lose a big poker bet to him and are now indebted to him for life?
Johnny Depp: [laughs] It's just amazing. For me going back to work with Tim is like returning home after war. It just feels so comfortable. Aside from the fact that he's one of the great visionary filmmakers of all time, he's a dream for an actor. He's not particularly rigid in the sense that you have no room to move or you have no opportunity to try things. He inspires you to go out there and do whatever you feel like doing. He trusts you, which the most important thing. If you go too far, as some of us have the tendency to do sometimes, he pulls you back in to the area where you need to be. That's an actor's dream.
CrankyCritic: Let's talk horror films...
Johnny Depp: I can remember being totally fascinated with Bela Lugosi and the Dracula films when I was five years old. I can remember sitting in class in first grade getting in trouble for drawing pictures of Dracula and Frankenstein. I remember it like yesterday. When I was 5 or 6 years old, I was totally, utterly obsessed with a television show called Dark Shadows. I wanted to be Barnabas Collins. I wanted the cane with the wolf's head on it. I'm sure that, for my parents, that must have been a really scary thing. [laughs]
CrankyCritic: So it must have been a blast working with Christopher Lee in Sleepy Hollow.
Johnny Depp: Oh yeah. What a presence that guy has.
CrankyCritic: Did you have a big exposure to the Hammer films?
Johnny Depp: I knew quite a bit of the Hammer stuff and dove into more when we got there. Tim turned me on to a lot of the more obscure films. Yeah, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, unbelievable guys.
CrankyCritic: Then, of the vampires: Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Jonathan Frid, the best vampire is...
Johnny Depp: Well, there's also Jack Palance. [pause] and George Hamilton [everybody laughs, loudly] I think they're all different in their own ways. Lugosi is always going to be ... that beautiful, dark Tod Browning film is shining in my memory. But Christopher Lee was a great Dracula. When you're doing a scene with this guy and he's staring down at you and just about to jump down your throat; screaming at you, it's frightening. You're thinking "My god, that's Dracula!" He's amazing!
CrankyCritic: Every actor has an idea of how he wants his character to look on the screen. When you first watched Sleepy Hollow...
Johnny Depp: I haven't seen it yet
CrankyCritic: You haven't?
Johnny Depp: I'm a total masochist. I wait until the last second because I get ill. I can't watch myself.
CrankyCritic: Do you not go back and watch your older movies?
Johnny Depp: Oh, no. It's just very uncomfortable. I don't know. I've a tendency like most people to think "Oh, I should've done that..." and nitpick. I kind of conditioned myself over the years to believe that once my job is done, once you've done a scene, that scene is dead. You have to move on. Once my job is done what happens after that is somehow none of my business. What the director does with the cutting; you give it to him and hopefully the performance is good.
CrankyCritic: Then to the future. Is there any particular role you'd love to play?
Johnny Depp: Fortunately I've played everything I've wanted so far. In terms of historical figures, Rasputin.
CrankyCritic: Do you feel lucky to have gotten every role that you've wanted?
Johnny Depp: Blessed. Yeah, really really lucky.
CrankyCritic: Are you going to keep the gold tooth?
Johnny Depp: The process of taking them off is a little bit violent and I do my best to avoid any trip to the dentist.
Johnny Depp: The Dapper Buccaneer Spills Secrets on Wonka, Keith and--Yes!--Porn
Okay, so Johnny Depp didn't get the Oscar. He never expected to win the damn thing anyway. When interviewed two days before the ceremony, he still hadn't quite recovered from the shock of being nominated for playing a pirate--one modeled after a degenerate rock star and a cartoon skunk, no less.
Now, though, he's channeling a Beach Boy in Secret Window, a thriller about a successful writer whom a psychotic hillbilly accuses of plagiarism. For Depp, it's another left turn in a career of interesting choices. Next up, he plays Willy Wonka in Tim Burton's adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Here, the 40-year-old dishes on his inspirations, favorite things about France and a certain, er, homage to one of his films.
You always model your characters on famous people. Pirates of the Caribbean's Captain Jack Sparrow was a mix of Keith Richards and Pepe Le Pew. Ed Wood: Charlie McCarthy and Ronald Reagan. Who inspired the layabout writer you play in Secret Window?
Brian Wilson. I remember hearing those famous stories, or maybe myths, about him in this very reclusive period where he didn't leave his house and had sand brought in to cover his living-room floor. Then he dropped the baby grand on top of that and wrote these great beach classics. That was the level of reclusiveness I was looking for.
Did you ever plagiarize in school?
Never papers. You know what I used to do? It's horrible. When I was a little kid, and I guess all kids do it, I copied other people's test answers. It was a question of survival. You do what you've got to do. At least, that's what it felt like to me. I couldn't take another failing grade.
Isn't it irresponsible to portray pirates as likable?
Well, how do we know they weren't? [Laughs.] Irresponsible? Hmmm...maybe. It might very well be. But who wouldn't want to take to the high seas and wave a sword? What a ball that would be. That's why I'd love to play [Jack Sparrow] again. It'd be purely for selfish reasons; he's such a fun guy.
Did Keith Richards ever ask for royalties off your Pirates performance?
I ran into him in New York a couple of months after Pirates was released. He was great about it. We've known each other for a long time...he is a pirate. Apparently, he's even on the DVD. That's really sweet of him. And how cool is it that Keith Richards is on a Disney DVD? That's a coup in itself.
Where's the best Mexican food in France?
You know what? It's at my house. Yeah. My girl's a good cook; she can make burritos, tacos, whatever you want. Otherwise, you can't find good Mexican food in France. No Mexican food and no doughnuts in Paris. Not that I'm a big doughnut fan. Anyway, there's other stuff there that's just as bad for you.
Now that everybody--audiences, critics--likes you, do you like everybody?
I've always liked everybody. [Laughs.] I'm not sure everybody likes me. Everybody thinks that I don't live in the United States anymore, that I live in France, which is not true. I just happen to have a home in France, as well, because my kids are half French. And that interview where suddenly I'm anti-American? It was untrue. It blew over quick, but it was an ugly moment. You don't want people believing that stuff. If I had said it, I'd take full responsibility. But it wasn't what I meant.
What's tastier, Mr. Wonka: Scrumdidilyumptious Bars or Everlasting Gobstoppers?
Scrumdidilyumptious Bars. But there's one even better, the Willy Wonka Scrunch Bar. They don't make it anymore. It was just unbelievable. If I have anything to do with it, the Scrunch Bar will be coming back--with my mug on it. Why not?
Okay, we're talking two days before the Oscars, but this interview won't run until after the ceremony. Um...anybody else you wanna thank?
[Laughs.] God. Being nominated was such a surprise, such a shock. Nothing like that had ever happened to me before. Being nominated is plenty, actually. I'd just thank the people out there who have been with my up-and-down, weird-road, strange career and supported me and stuck with me all these years. I mean, they're my boss. That's what keeps me working.
Quick--name your favorite painting in the Louvre.
Does it have to be the Louvre? Oh...there's too many. The painting I'm unbelievably fascinated with at the moment is Picasso's Guernica. I think it's in Madrid. In the Louvre...well, of course, the Mona Lisa. You look at it and go,"Yes. It's great, especially for its time." But when you read about it, the thing really starts to take shape and come alive. It still fascinates me.
Did you ever seen the porn flick Edward Penishands?
I certainly did. I absolutely did. And there was a sequel as well--Edward Penishands 2. I think it was either Tim [Burton] or John Waters who sent it to me. It might have been both. Tim and I were both quite proud they decided to do that. It was low budget and cheesy, but it was hilarious to watch. Those hands...they served him well.
Depp Deals Hollywood A Blow
Playing a drug dealer in his latest film Blow served as a reminder for actor Johnny Depp of the dangers of narcotics.
In 1993, Depp's friend River Phoenix died of an overdose outside Depp's LA club The Viper Room and the actor best known for his roles in quirky films such as Edward Scissorhands and Sleepy Hollow admits he narrowly escaped becoming a victim of the drugs scene himself.
"Had things not worked out in my life the way they did, had I not found music when I was young, there's a possibility I could have gone in a similar direction," says the guitar-playing actor.
Early on in his career, Depp earned himself a reputation as a hellraiser but nowadays leads a largely clean life, apart from his cigarette habit. He claims his decision to move out of Hollywood to live with girlfriend Vanessa Paradis and their baby daughter Lily-Rose in the South of France, saved his sanity and he has no intention of returning.
"I will never raise my daughter in America," he says firmly. "I will never raise any child I have there, never. I just turned on the TV to watch CNN and there was another shooting at a high school.
"It's pure selfishness and ignorance and greed. There are no proper values in America, it's gonna explode, it should explode," he adds, his voice full of anger.
The 37-year old star who before meeting Paradis, was engaged to Winona Ryder and British model Kate Moss, says fatherhood has not only altered his views about his former homeland, but also profoundly changed him as a person.
"It's changed everything," he smiles, "It's the greatest thing. It's not enough to say that - it's the only thing. I went through 35 years in a very strange and dark fog and I never really understood what the point was to anything in life. It wasn't until Vanessa and the birth of Lily-Rose that I finally realised there's something to live for.
"I love our house in the country. I can walk to the village and have a coffee and no-one pays any notice. I'm just another dad with his daughter."
Now Depp insists his family travel with him whenever possible despite a busier than ever schedule. In fact part of the reason he agreed to make a recent foray back to Hollywood for his latest movie Blow, was because they were close by.
"I was in LA making Blow at the same time my girl was doing her record in Los Angeles," he says referring affectionately to Paradis.
Blow also stars Hollywood's latest golden girl Penelope Cruz. It tells the true story of George Jung (Depp), the infamous drugs dealer who was responsible for bringing the cocaine trade from Columbia to the US in the 70s and 80s.
It's a controversial tale which some critics argue glamorises the drugs trade but Depp believes it's a story that had to be told.
"It's a cautionary story and you learn from other people's mistakes," he reasons.
As part of his research Depp went to visit Jung, who is currently serving a prison sentence in the States and admits he was surprised by the man he came face to face with.
"There were a lot of clanging metal doors, it was really uncomfortable," he recalls of the prison visit. "You have to empty your pockets and go through metal detectors and get checked out. But Jung was a very charming and smart guy, he's doing his time. I thought, 'Yeah he did a lot of horrible things, but in a way I saw him as a victim of his upbringing as we all are'."
Depp also says he connected with Jung's inability to handle fame. Even now, the notoriously private actor says he cannot come to terms with being in the public eye - another reason he chooses to live in Europe.
"I feel much more comfortable in Europe," he says. "There was one time I was away from LA for about two years and I had to go back to do something.
"I arrived after 12 hours on the plane went to a bar to have a quick drink with a friend and within 45 minutes of being off that plane I was approached by two people with a couple of different script ideas. They began to do the song and dance for me, they were like, 'It'll be a huge hit, it's going to be great'.
"Just hours before I'd been in Europe discussing when the grapes are right. You know there's a huge difference," he continues. "I will never understand the animal, the machine of Hollywood. The beast of it all. I don't want to understand it."
Depp says the only way he's learned to deal with his fame is to ignore it and never read anything that's written about him - including reviews.
So often it's made up anyway," he says with a wry smile. "The most bizarre thing I ever read was that I flew into Miami and had a wild fling with Madonna. They went into great detail about how I showed up at the front door, ripped my shirt off then we dived into her pool. I'd never even met her," he adds with a laugh.
Depp's healthy sense of humour also helps him cope. Despite being associated with mainly dark roles, the actor is always up for a laugh, as he proved with his recent appearance on TV's The Fast Show.
Depp, DiCaprio Named Generation's Top Actors
As evidenced by his second Oscar nomination in as many years, Johnny Depp isn't just good-looking, he can act as well.
The Oscar-nominated "Finding Neverland" star and nine of his peers have landed on GQ's list of the Top 10 greatest actors of our generation.
The magazine's March issue, on newsstands now, praises the 41-year-old Depp for only taking roles that he's wanted, whether they're for offbeat indie flicks or big-budget studio franchises, such as his upcoming "Pirates of the Caribbean" sequels.
Other actors nominated for Oscars this year who made the cut include: "The Aviator" star Leonardo DiCaprio, "Hotel Rwanda's" Don Cheadle and supporting actor nominee Clive Owen for "Closer." The 77th Academy Awards ceremony will be televised live from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood on Sunday, Feb. 27.
Not nominated this year, but still rounding out the Top 10 are: Oscar winners Russell Crowe ("Gladiator"), Benicio Del Toro ("Traffic") and Nicolas Cage ("Leaving Las Vegas"); "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events'" rubber-faced star Jim Carrey; "Motorcycle Diaries" actor Gael Garcia Bernal; and "Chicago's" Oscar-nominated supporting actor John C. Reilly.
None of the stars are resting on their laurels and already have projects lined up for 2005. Upcoming films opening this year include Depp's Tim Burton double-header "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "The Corpse Bride"; the ensemble comic book drama "Sin City," which stars both Owen and Del Toro; Reilly's "Dark Water"; Crowe's boxing drama "Cinderella Man"; Cage's "Weather Man" and Carrey's "Fun with Dick and Jane."
DiCaprio will reunite with "Aviator" director Martin Scorsese to film "The Departed" with Matt Damon, while Cheadle has plans to helm and co-star in the Elmore Leonard film adaptation of "Tishomingo Blues" with Matthew McConaughey. Currently filming are Bernal in Michel Gondry's "The Science of Sleep" and Cage in "Ghost Rider."
Johnny Depp: Finding Neverland
Now 41, the ever youthful Johnny Depp adopts an effortless Scottish accent and steps into the role of JM Barrie, the playwright who created the archetypal eternal child Peter Pan, in Finding Neverland. Could this be the one that brings Depp Oscar glory?
Finding Neverland celebrates the imagination. Is there room for fantasy today?
If you turn on the television and see the horrors that are happening to people in the world right now, I think there's no better time to strive to have some kind of hope through imagination. I think it's a time to close your eyes and try to make a change, or at least hope to make a change, or we're going to explode.
Would you like to stay young forever like Peter Pan?
I suppose nowadays it's all a question of surgery, isn't it? Of course the notion is beautiful, the idea of staying a boy and a child forever, and I think you can. I have known plenty of people who, in their later years, had the energy of children and the kind of curiosity and fascination with things like little children. I think we can keep that, and I think it's important to keep that part of staying young. But I also think it's great fun growing old.
Grown men have been crying at screenings of this film. Was there that kind of emotion on the set, too?
On a film you start to get closer and closer with the people you're working with, and it becomes like this circus act or this travelling family. I remember on the last day of the shoot, being with the boys, and especially Freddie [Highmore, who plays Peter] - my pal Freddie - we were sort of saying goodbye, see you later, and not able to look each other in the eye because you just start welling up. Especially something like this with little kids - emotions are sort of ricocheting all over the place. So it was really heavy.
The scene near the end of the film where you and Freddie are on the park bench is profoundly moving. Was it tough to do?
It was very rough. We had done about a dozen takes or something, with Freddie having to refuel and let go each time, and then we found out there had been a problem with the remote-control camera so we had to go back and reshoot it. I remember Marc [Forster] approaching Freddie and saying, "I'm really sorry, but I think we have to do this again. Is it OK?" Freddie was really happy. He said, "Great, I don't think I did it so good first time." But doing a scene with a kid like that, you really have to try to hold back the waterworks. My job at that point was just to let Freddie do his thing, because if you start flooding a scene it becomes real messy.
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I'm working on Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, with Freddie Highmore actually, and Tim Burton directing. Before that I completed The Libertine, with Samantha Morton and John Malkovich, and then I guess after we finish Charlie And The Chocolate Factory I will do the sequel to Pirates Of The Caribbean. So yeah, they got me hammering away pretty steady.
Johnny Depp: Once Upon a Time in Mexico
Having turned Jack Sparrow into a piratical Keith Richards in "Pirates of the Caribbean", Johnny Depp now does odd things with a ruthless, three-armed CIA agent in Robert Rodriguez's ballistic action epic, "Once Upon a Time in Mexico".
What did you bring to your portrayal of Agent Sands that wasn't in the script?
Well, when I said I was in, I told him [director Robert Rodriguez] the kind of direction I would like to go with the character. I said, "Tell me if this feels alright. I don't want to go somewhere you don't want to go." I brought up the idea of the eternal tourist. The unhappy tourist. The bitter tourist. Of someone who has a penchant for bad T-shirts and fanny packs.
I saw him as a guy who's such a badass, he would wear obviously fake disguises just to try to make someone comment on his disguise, so he could kill them. [Points his fingers like a gun] Pop! It's over.
Did you base him on anyone?
Yeah, there was a part that reminded me of someone I had known in Hollywood. He was very, very soft-spoken, and on the outside very, very charming, but at his very core, at the base of his very existence, he was a monster. So that's the kind of direction I went with the guy. I thought every word would be measured, and he would never say a curse word because that would send him to Hell, but he can kill somebody, no problem.
It seems like you're keeping your integrity by doing your own thing even in big budget movies...
Well, you know, when I started "Pirates" there was plenty of whispering on the sidelines and confusion, with people saying, "What is he doing with the character? Why is he saying those words? They're not in the script!" My whole point was: "You hired me to do the part. You hired me to inhabit and invent this character. You've seen the stuff I've done before, what did you think I was going to do?" They must have had some idea.
Rodriguez shot the film using digital cameras. Did that affect the way you worked?
I felt very puritanical at first and thought, "He's shooting in high-def, that's got to be weird; 35mm, that's the way to go. It's celluloid. It's got depth, textures." But he just made it sound so experimental. It's almost like getting together with a bunch of guys with a video camera and saying, "Let's see what happens."
I really like that approach where it's so loose that anything is possible. That's kind of what I got from Robert: that it was going to be loose, that he'd use the script as a structure, as a skeleton, and go in and play around. I was shocked, man, about the high-def. The quality's really up. It's amazing.
Johnny Depp: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Johnny Depp has come a long way from 21 Jump Street - the US TV show which lumbered him with teen idol status. Since then he's worked with director Tim Burton on numerous occasions - their most recent collaboration being "Sleepy Hollow". Depp has also worked with oddball helmer Terry Gilliam for "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas", and famously dragged it up for "Ed Wood". It's all helped mould his quirky persona, as well as earning him a reputation as one of America's finest young character actors. While still demonstrating that offbeat air, swashbuckling adventure "Pirates of the Caribbean" is perhaps his most 'mainstream' film to date.
You based your character on Rolling Stone Keith Richards. Why's that?
I thought of Keith because he's a guy I've admired for many, many years. I didn't want to do an imitation of Keith, or a character study, just a kind of salute to him, you know, to show him I appreciate him. I was thinking about the pirates of the 18th century, about how they were the rocks stars of their day. So I thought: Who's the greatest rock and roll star who ever lived? And to me, it's Keith Richards hands down. Keith is a bit of a pirate himself!
What was it like to have Geoffrey Rush play your nemesis?
He was great fun. It's always a worry when you go into a film and you don't know someone. You worry that he won't have a sense of humour, that he'll be really intense about his work. But Geoffrey's nuts! He has a great sense of humour.
There's obviously a lot of swordplay in the movie. How tough was that to learn?
That was very intense, actually. Probably the most intense part of pre-production and the production itself was the sword fighting. We had these fantastic sword masters who took us through our moves and forced us to work. Which was a good thing, because losing a finger or losing an eye was always a possibility.
What about the gold teeth? You've still got them...
Well, there's a little gold and a little platinum. It didn't go over very well with the Disney executives actually. Initially, they were a little freaked out about it.