Saturday, September 27, 2008
The many hats of Johnny Depp
From fedoras, trilbies, and panamas to berets, newsboy caps, and beanies: from Edward Scissorhands, Gilbert Grape, and Don Juan to Willy Wonka, Jack Sparrow, and Sweeney Todd: from matinee idol, TV star, and quirky actor to world's sexiest, father of two, and Academy Award nominee.
Too much already said about the guy. This time, let's hear it from him.
There was a part of me that was just like, Fuck it. I don't want to be stared at, I don't want to be poked at, I don't want to be prodded. You just want to live simply and not be fucked with. So it just mounted and mounted and I socked a vase or something. It felt good, felt right. It just seemed like the right thing to do, smash a couple of things. And it was.
I'm going to do everything I can – fight tooth and nail – to not be put in some teen-idol category.
Maybe I was just too dumb to sell out.
I'm shy, paranoid, whatever word you want to use. I hate fame. I've done everything I can to avoid it.
I find it comforting not knowing new films, not knowing what’s happening out there.
I've never had an allergy to the idea of commercial success. When you put a movie out and it's successful, that's great. I just wanted to get there in the right way, in a way that's not too compromising or demeaning or ugly.
When asked what attracted him to funny hats: I don't know, maybe I just read too much Dr. Seuss as a kid.
I was three years old and my mom and dad dressed me up as a hobo for Halloween. The only difference between now and then is that then they drew more beard on me than I can actually grow.
For a lot of years, I was really freaked out. Maybe I took it all too seriously, you know? I was freaked out about being turned into a product. That really used to bug me. Now, more and more, I enjoy the process.
I'm 30 different people sometimes. One day you wake up and you're somebody else, nowhere near who you were when you went to sleep. Unfortunately, I feel more comfortable in front of the movie camera than I do in real life.
There's something about the painted face and the fake smile. There seems to be a darkness lurking under the surface.
With any part you play, there is a certain amount of yourself in it. There has to be, otherwise it's just not acting. It's lying.
In your teens and your 20s, you're immortal, you're untouchable. It's only later that you begin to realize you are mortal.
There’s one of (Jean-Michel Basquiat’s) paintings called Riding With Death. That’s my favorite.
I'm not a Blockbuster boy, I never wanted to be.
Nobody really knows what you're feeling, what you're really going for, what you're really trying to do. Hell, I didn't even know what I was going for. I just knew that I didn't want to be assembly line.
During (“Edward Scissorhands”) I got the phone call saying I was out of ("21 Jump Street"). I felt like, “Ah, possibilities.” I was freed up. I swore to myself that I would never again compromise to the degree that I had. I swore that I wouldn't just follow the commercial road.
I do have an affinity for damaged people, in life, in roles. I don’t know why. We’re all damaged in our own way. Nobody’s perfect. I think we are all somewhat screwy, every single one of us.
I can remember when I finished "Edward Scissorhands", looking in the mirror as the girl was doing my make-up for the last time and thinking, it was like the 90th or 89th day of shooting and I remember looking and going “Wow, this is it. I'm saying goodbye to this guy, I'm saying goodbye to Edward Scissorhands.” You know, it was kind of sad. But in fact, I think they're all still somehow in there.
For me, ambition has become a dirty word. I prefer hunger. To be hungry-great. To have hopes, dreams-great.
Always when I read a script and…these images come to me, you know. Images of things, people I have known. Gilbert is a guy who is tied to his home, something I can relate to, in a way. Similar to the way I grew up. Gilbert reminded me of a guy who once saved my life. Red hair, skew teeth, thin.
When you walk into a room of 250 naked women it's very strange. There's so many girls and they're so nude. It's impossible to focus on it. It almost doesn't register in a way. It's like wallpaper.
I'm not sure I'm adult yet.
There was a close-up where I had to kiss her (Emmanuelle Seigner) and Polanski was standing behind the camera, at exactly ten centimeters distance. I was looking at him and I was saying to myself, "Is this thing gonna end up in a love triangle?"
I remember reading the book in school. It's a very dark (book) for a little kid. I hated having to wake up in the middle of the night to walk to my bathroom – where suddenly there was a six-foot-seven-inch, headless figure with a sword and a horse!
For me, working with Tim is like going home. It is a house made of risk, but in that risk, there is comfort. Great comfort. There are no saftey-nets, for anyone, but that is how you were raised in that house. What one has to rely on is simply trust, which is the key to everything.
America is dumb, it's like a dumb puppy that has big teeth that can bite and hurt you, aggressive. My daughter is four, my boy is one. I'd like them to see America as a toy, a broken toy. Investigate it a little, check it out, get this feeling and then get out. (Depp claims this was misquoted.)
I went through a decompression period after the first film. If you're really connected with a character, you always do to some degree. You miss the guy. You miss being that person. The only thing that was in the back of my mind was the hope that there would be a sequel some day, so that I could meet him again.
The way I walked, well, it was a couple of things. To me, it was like this guy who had spent a very, very long time on the ocean battling the elements. It was a guy who had spent way too much time in the sun, so maybe his brain was literally cooked a bit. And he was way more comfortable on the deck of a ship in terms of the rhythm of the ocean than he was on dry land...I thought he would hate being on land.
Life's pretty good, and why wouldnt it be? I'm a pirate, after all.
I never had the brightest view of human nature. I think humanity – society, at least – is violent. It's not getting any better. I don't think I'm cynical, but I do think maybe the world is more... sinful than ever before.
The experience of shooting the film with Tim was as good as anything gets. To me, it felt as if our brains were connected by a blistering hot wire that could have generated sparks at any minute. There were moments in certain scenes where we'd find ourselves precariously high on an unbelievably thin thread, trying to work out just how far the limits were...
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, were like little kids and had the energy of children, and the kind of curiosity and fascination with things like little children. I think we can keep that. I think it’s important to keep that part of staying young. I also think it’s great fun growing old. I think it’s great.
(I don't think the image on the left is from the same film, but what the heck.)
There's always that moment on every movie where you just go, "Okay, this is that moment. I'm about to potentially fall flat on my face, and I might as well just dive in and see what happens." That's how it was when I started singing the songs for the first time. I just felt like an idiot. It was one of the most exposing, bizarre things I've ever done. I mean, at forty-three years old, it's the first time I'd sung a song all the way through.
After being asked: But you work all the time. How could they (Hollywood) not like you?
I don't know. I just get that feeling. Maybe I'm paranoid.
It's here on my arm. It was the kind of thing you do on the spur of the moment - Fuck it, lets do it. Then you break up, but it's still there: a girl's name on my arm…It can turn a situation a little sticky. I changed it to Wino Forever, which is actually a bit more accurate.
I don't regret any of the things I didn't do, and I certainly don't regret any of the thing I did do, down to the dumbest. Everything happened the way it should happen, even ridiculous things that I did in the beginning. I don't regret any of it.
I was ecstatic they re-named "French Fries" as "Freedom Fries". Grown men and women in positions of power in the US government showing themselves as idiots.
A group of friends all have the same (skull) ring. A ring for life, a reminder of life, and of death, I guess… it's more a “you are here now” thing – cherish it because in five minutes it could be over.
I have a few quirks like being interested in insects and odd smells and stuff like that. More than that I’m not telling.
It is almost impossible to speak about his (Jean-Michel Basquiat's) works without it becoming a crude dissection of the man. On any canvas or drawing, he spilled himself...maybe even without wanting to. His thoughts, his feelings – however fleeting, unfinished or incomplete are captured in that moment when he connected with his target.
I’m attracted to the extreme light and the extreme dark. I’m interested in the human condition and what makes people tick. I’m interested in the things people try to hide.
I don't buy into him (talking about himself). He's overrated! No, no. But if I walked into the movie theater and I saw the movie and I left there and went, "Boy, I really nailed it!" If I was completely and totally over the moon about my work and I was satisfied. I would get out of the business immediately. I would leave this work behind. Because I think, for me as an actor, if you get to a place where you're satisfied, you're happy with it, then you're dead. It's over. You're not hungry anymore. You won't try things anymore.
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.