Monday, June 26, 2006

Johnny Depp Returns as Jack Sparrow! (Q&A)


As mentioned in the Orlando Bloom piece below, I worked the Pirates of the Caribbean junket last week; here's what went down with the Johnny Depp segment of the whole thing...he's the man, really down to earth an' shite...


Q: So talk about your teeth.

Johnny Depp: About my teeth? Well, I've had many problems over the years, several root canals -- once they found an 8 mm tip of a drill bit in one of the canals, that was horrible -- that was a six hour ordeal.

Q: -- and for Jack Sparrow's teeth in the film?

JD: What they do is some sort of filing, they do something to make the surface of the teeth rough and then they hot-glue and laser these things onto my own choppers and the process of taking them off can be ugly. Sometimes they just shoot off and at other times you've got to really address the issue of [removal] -- you know, I don't even notice them anymore. I'm kind of used to them now.

Q: You wearing them now?

JD: ...only until we're done filming 3, then I'll have to go through that process of yanking them (out).

Q: What do you personally enjoy about playing Jack Sparrow?

JD: I kind of like everything about playing him. I feel like it's just good fun to play him. Ted Elliot, Terry Russo (writers) and Gore [Verbinsky] (director) certainly set a course, in terms of the story and all that...you take the very solid bones of that structure and you get to run with it, play around with it a little bit -- add stuff and try things. And get away with it -- just to see what you can get away with...He's just a fun character. I certainly wasn't ready to say goodbye to him after part 1, there was a lot more that could be done, more fun to be had.

Q: Did you go back and look at the first Pirates movie to get continuity for the character at all?
JD: No, oh God no. For a while there, no so much these days, but for a while there my kiddies were watching Pirates a lot -- they're taking a break from that now and they've moved on to Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, I sense them going on to Spider Man and stuff like that now -- but for a while there they were watching Pirates 1 and you sort of walk into a room looking for something and then suddenly you hear that familiar score and I'd just exit as quickly as possible so that I didn't have to see it again -- see me again, really. The movie itself is good fun, I just don't have the stomach to enjoy looking at myself onscreen.

Q: Does seeing you in movies effect the relationship that you have with your children at all?
JD: Not so much as you might think because to them it's normal. You know, seeing papa on television or a DVD cover. It's not weird to them at all. They can go from watching one of my movies to the dinner table and not mention the film at all. Then again there are other times where my daughter will say 'what was that line in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory about hepcats and motorbike riders?' I'll do that voice and that line and she'll go 'okay great, thanks' and she moves on to the next thing.

Q: Is that a rite of passage for you though, when your kids stop watching papa's movies and begin watching Spider Man?

JD: I'm fine with it, absolutely fine with it -- you know, they've got to branch out. They've got to explore other worlds. It'd be horrible if I walked in and was like 'hey, hey -- you put my back on. You put that film back on, right now!' (laughter)

Q: You were talking about seeing what you could get away with while playing the role and noticed a bit more of a spring in Jack Sparrow's step in this second installment...one wonders what was the perspective you were bringing to the portrayal of his personality.

JD: I don't know. All of the things that are happening in the world, or in your world, are effecting the way that you approach your day -- it can't help but seep into your work, I guess. It probably made it a litte easier that I wasn't getting the panicked, worried phone calls from the studios [asking] 'what in the hell are you doing? You're ruining the movie!' I didn't get those this time, so that might've helped add a little bit more of a spring to his step. I haven't seen the spring -- I haven't seen the film yet.

Q: What about when you're covered in that goo -- are you still able to focus on what you're doing -- how does that effect your acting?

JD: Oh, when I got slimed? Oh, you can still focus...when they dump a large amount of an incredibly foreign substance in your face and you don't know what to expect until it hits you -- you don't really rehearse for that sort of thing -- there's a part of you going, 'I hope this doesn't shoot up into my nostrils,' you just inhale this stuff -- drowned on slime. So that was a little bit of a concern.

Q: This weekend, you're doing the premiere for Pirates in town is it wierd at all seeing the billboards, etc. everywhere?

JD: Oh, it's totally surreal, teetering on absurd -- a kind of a great absurd, I'm honored -- at the same time it's like who'd ever thunk it, kind of thing. Who'd ever thunk? It's exciting, it's exciting. I don't know what to expect -- I'll just have to take the ride and see it. I don't know if that sort of thing will ever make sense, at least to me. It may make sense to someone else but not to me -- it's always a bit surprising.

Q: Johnny, you've been doing this for a long time --

JD: -- I should retire, shouldn't I?

Q: No, when you were a kid, maybe 9 or 10 years old what was it inside you that made you want to reach for the stars? Was it something someone said to you and if so what was it?

JD: There wasn't any one person or anything. I don't know what happened. When I was about 12 years old, I guess, was when I really found my calling -- when I started to play the guitar. I taught myself how to play guitar, I learned and got pretty good -- I had a good feel for it -- that, to me, was my life. I dedicated myself, then and there, to that. I felt like somehow, very deep inside, I felt like I was going to do good with it. And then somewhere in my early 20s that spun out and I was put onto a different road and I've walking that road every since. I don't know if I had anything to do with any of it.

Q: Was your family supportive of your choices?

JD: Oh yeah, yeah. They actually were, the guitar got me out of their hair, it got me through puberty. I remember puberty and I just remember playing and changing guitar strings and listening to records and learning songs and stuff.

Q: You feel like these commercially successful movies you've been in lately have validated you in the eyes of the studios in Hollywood, where -- I know Tim Burton fought to get you onto some of his projects --

JD: -- He sure did --

Q: -- how did it make you feel to get Academy nominations and to have the industry recognize you in that way?

JD: I can't lie and say it's not nice at the moment, you know what I mean? It is nice not to have the director fight tooth and nail to get you into his movie when he did for a number of years like Tim did. I don't know, I think I have a relatively sane outlook on all of it - I just feel like, it wasn't like that for a long, long time and, so, if it's like this for a bit then that's great. But the chances are good that at some time or another it will be like it was again which is okay too. Even when studios didn't want to hire me, you know when I was kind of box office poison and all that stuff, I was still able to do all of the things I wanted to do. I was still able to do all of those films that mean so much to me. So, if I'm a decent flavor of the week and then next week it changes, I know how to do that -- I've been there, it's okay.

Q: Back when you had the textbook "commercial success" with 21 Jumpstreet, you mentioned how that jarred you and you were concerned about how that would affect your approach to the work...can you mould commercial success into your artistic sensibility?

JD: I think people can say and think what they want but I know, for me, that as good as that (21 Jumpstreet) experience and opportunity was for me, in terms of the long run, that was my college. That was great training, five days a week, nine months out of the year in front of a camera. Learning, learning, learning -- it was great schooling. But also, they were pushing me in a direction that I really didn't want to. I really hated the idea of being a product on someone else's terms. I mean, I savvy enough to know that there's a business aspect to all of this but I swore to myself back then that I'll do the things that I need to do and if I fail, I fail; if it works it works but I'll stick with it. So for me, I know that doing Pirates of the Caribbean, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory or any of these other things is totally consistent with everything I've done since Crybaby as far as I'm concerned. There was never a moment where I went 'this would be a good career move or I could make a whole slew of cash and escape for a little while' -- I haven't changed any of my processes or beliefs. I'm still dedicated to the same thing.

Q: There's been some talk about town of you and Tim Burton reuniting for Sweeney Todd is there any truth to that?

JD: ...that's something that Tim and I had talked about years and years and years ago. And we'd been speaking about it here recently and it's looking really good. Once Tim and I get together and talk about stuff then that sets off the whole domino effect of other people doing stuff that Tim and I don't know how to do -- it's looking very good, I actually hope it happens; that would mean that I'd get to go back and work with Tim again and it'd be our sixth movie together. It's very, very exciting.

Q: Jack Sparrow just looks gay in this movie -- was that the desired effect?

JD: -- well, thank you very much. [laughter]

Q: - did you make a conscious effort to --

JD: -- be more gay? [laughter] No, it just might be happening naturally...God only knows what's on the horizon. The Mae West Story...I didn't make a conscious effort to put a spring in his step or to try to make him more 'gay' -- but gay used to mean something else, didn't it? We'll have to see...maybe he is gay, I'll check in. I'll let you know...Again, for an actor, it's so important to challenge yourself, I think it's important to be right at the brink of absolute flopdom because otherwise you just become complacent. And sort of stick to a formula and say 'well, this is my niche and this works and I can stay on this and safely, as the clock is ticking, do my work and get out while I can. Who knows, I may be a horrible singer but that might work for the character, you never know.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest opens July 7th

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