Jack Sparrow is back! And, his
creator, Johnny Depp, has put a little extra jig-like dance into
his step that will make you giddy with laughter. This time, there’s
no doubt about it, Jack is Captain of Pirates
of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.
The first Pirates of the Caribbean,
Curse of the Black Pearl was the biggest – most
surprising – hit of 2003. In fact the studio immediately
set into motion two more films. They’ve decided upon a trilogy.
Part two, Dead Man’s Chest, is a combination of
visual spectacle and hand held old fashioned movie making. The
film is loaded with spirit and soul, humor and popcorn moments
one expects in a Bruckheimer blockbuster summer soiree.
The franchise’s success
has been highly credited to Johnny Depp’s unorthodox version
of a pirate. Johnny has said, his character of Jack Sparrow was
based on,” Keith Richards and Pepe LePew.” His Jack
Sparrow is a combination of swagger, confidence and charm, mixed
in with a rebellious sense of mischief. Audiences everywhere loved
him, and embraced "Jack's" idiosyncrasies. Depp himself
has a few; he doesn't do his own stunts -ever- he ,"prefers
they pull in for the close up and leave that jumping about to
The world is in love with Johnny
Depp at present. Once the beau of indie and off-beat films, Johnny's
been more “commercial” lately. (That horrific faux
pas about the syphilis ridden 18th century bad boy The Libertine
aside. Depp was good, it was just the film around him that was
remarkably strange and down right rotten - I digress.) In
Pirates of the Caribbean, even within a studio big budget behemoth
with many restraints, Depp took a risk and managed to bring depth
to an otherwise generic pirate character, and launch a trilogy.
A tangible testament to his talents to be sure.
Johnny stopped by a Hollywood hotel, decked out in
a gray fedora, and wearing runway chic grunge, with bobbly scarves,
oodles of necklaces, and looking uber sharp in his decidedly pirate
infused street gear. We sat down and talked a bit about the film
and life in general.
Emily: How are you?
Johnny: Great. How 'bout you.
Nice to see a familiar face.
Emily: Your teeth are looking
a tad more golden this time around. Can you talk a bit about your
Johnny: Well, I've had many problems
over the years. I’ve had many tooth issues throughout the
years…a few root canals. One time they found an 8mm drill
tip in my tooth - that was a six hour ordeal. [laughs] For the
pirate teeth they do some sort of filing to make the tooth surface
rough like a normal kind of bar moving thing for and then hot
glue or laser them on onto my own choppers. And to take them off
sometimes it’s just [makes a ding-ping sound] and they pop
off. And others you have to really address the issue more intensely.
I don’t really notice them any more. They're only on until
the end of last filming, and I then I have to go through the whole
process of removing them again. But, there are not staying on
after the last scene though. [laughter]
Emily: Was it fun to revisit,
Jack sparrow. You seem to have such a ball playing this man.
Johnny: I kind of like everything
about playing him. He’s just fun to play. Ted [Elliot- writer]
and Terry [Rossio – writer] and Gore [Verbinski –
director] kind of set a course; in terms of the story and all
that. Then you take that those really strong bones of the structure
and I get to play around with it a little bit. Add stuff. Try
things and get away with it. I’ve been very lucky
so far. He's just a fun character. I wasn’t ready to say
good by to him... after Pirates one, there was more fun to be
Emily: You seem even more flouncy – Keith after a bingish
this time around. Jack had a certain spring in his step and many
folks are wondering if Jack is gay.
Johnny: [laughter] Right. Ya know
it probably helped in the lightness that I wasn’t getting
those worried phone calls. Like the first time around. You know
the panicked phone calls, “You’re ruining the film.
What the hell are you doing?” I didn’t get those and
it may have helped. I haven’t seen the spring – but
I haven't seen the film. I am afraid to see it – now [laughter].
Polite way of putting it, "spring in the step." [laughter]
Subtle. No, it might just be happening naturally. God only knows
what's on the horizon -- Johnny Depp in the Mae West story. [laughter]
no, I didn't make an effort to put a spring a step in Jack's walk
etc. or to make him more gay. But gay used to mean something else
didn't it. Who knows maybe Jack is gay [laughter]. I'll check
and a get back to you.
Emily: Do you sit around at the Depp abode and watch Pirates with
Johnny: Oh god no [laughter] Nononononono.
For awhile there, but not so much these days my kiddies have seen
it a zillion times, but for a while I’d walk into the room
and hear the familiar score, or voice and just exit
as quickly as possible, so I didn't have to see it again. Not
that the movie the movie itself isn't incredible. I just don't
enjoy seeing myself..
Emily: Does it affect your relationship
with the kids in a strange way to see their father constantly
playing different characters in moving pictures?
Johnny: No no. It's kind of normal
and expected at this point for them to see pappa on television.
You know, or on a DVD cover. We keep him away from the magazines.
It’s not weird to them at all -- they can go from sort of
watching the movie to the dinner table, and not mention the film
at all. Besides, thankfully they’ve kind of graduated to
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and my son’s
into Spiderman now. Once in awhile, like recently my
daughter asked about something about Willy Wonka, she said, “What
was that line” about the hep cats and motor bike riders
– will you do the voice papa.” I’ll do the voice
and she’ll say then thank you and we’ll move on.
Emily: Are you glad they are branching
out and watching Spiderman and not just DeppTV or does
it hurt your feelings a bit?
Johnny: I am absolutely fine with
it. They have to branch out and explore other worlds. Can you
imagine? It would be horrible to be that guy who’s like,
“Hey hey you put that film BACK on…put that film
back on right now…” [laughter]
Emily: What’s it like to
have Disney’s famous ride revamped with you highlighted
as Jack Sparrow among the half century old legendary ride?
Johnny: It’s totally surreal.
You know teetering on absurd. But I mean, it's a kind of great
absurd. I mean I’m honored. But really who’d have
ever thunk it. I mean really “who’d have thunk.”
Emily: Can you talk about “being
slimed” by the Kraken in the film? That seemed really brave
of you frankly.
Johnny: Yes, he was really strange.
Basically, they dump, you know, kind of a large amount of an incredibly
foreign substance. You don't know what to expect until it hits
you. [Blech] You don't really rehearse that kind of thing do you?
So there's a part of you that starts saying, “god I hope
this doesn't you know, shoot up my nostrils or down my throat."
And you just inhale the stuff really, you know, it's like being
drowned in slime -- on film -- so yeah that scene was a little
bit of concern.[laughter]
Emily: What was it that made you
want to reach for the stars, was it something someone said to
you, or someone that influenced you.
Johnny: I don't know. It really
wasn't. There wasn't any one person or anything. Yes, yes I know
what happened. I was about 12 years old, I guess. When I really
felt like I found my calling -- it was when I start to play the
guitar. I taught myself and got pretty good. I had a good feeling!
For that to me the guitar was my life. I felt as if I finally
found myself and it touched something deep inside. I felt like
I was going to do good with / and persevered until my early 20s.
Then that spun out, and I was put on a different road. And I've
been walking that road ever since. I don't know, really. I don't
know if I had anything to do with any of it. My parents were always
supportive. Why not? The guitar got me out of their hair [laughter]
and completely got me through puberty. I don't even remember puberty.
I just remember, constantly playing and changing guitar strings
and listening to records and learning songs off records.
Emily: Well, glad you took that
road. It hasn't always been easy for you. I understand that Tim
Burton openly fought for you to get into his films. Things have
certainly changed. How does that feel?
Johnny: I can't, lie it's nice
to not have to have a director fight tooth and nail to get you
in a movie - particularly for the number of years like Tim did.
To have him say what he did was very special. And now it's very
special. I don't have to fight. And It wasn't like that for a
long long time, so if it's like this for a bit. That's great.
But the chances are pretty good that at some time or another it
will be like it was again. Which is okay to me, if the studios
didn't want to hire me. I was kind of known as box office poison.
But honestly, I was still able to do the things I want to. I was
still able to do all those films that mean so much to me. So,
if I'm a "decent flavor." this week and next in three
weeks that changes, well I am okay with that. I've been where
it's OK. [laughter].
Emily: while Pirates of the Caribbean
big blockbuster budget studio film. For those fans that still
think of Johnny Depp, from Benny and June. Tell me has
Johnny Depp sold out?
Johnny: People can say, and think
what they want, but I know it as good as the experience was on
say, '21 Jump St', where I was thrown into the whole start of
thing if you will. But '21 Jump St,' that was my college.
Great training; five days a week and constantly in front of the
camera. Learning learning learning, it was great schooling. But
the show was also pushing in a direction that I was not going.
I really hated the idea of being a product on someone else's firms.
I'm savvy enough to understand that there is a business side to
all of this, but I swore to myself back then, I would do what
a need to do. If I fail, I fail. If it works, it works But I'll
stick with it. So for many years now, I have done just that. I
know, doing Pirates of the Caribbean, Charlie the
Chocolate Factory, where the movies are more commercial -
things seem strange. But it is totally consistent with everything
I've done since Crybaby, as far as I'm concerned. There's
never a moment when I said, “All this would be a good career
move.” Or I commit to a project, because I can make whole
slew of cash and escape for while. I haven't changed any of my
sort of processes or personal policies. I'm still dedicated to
the same thing.
Emily: Bavo. So what's this I
hear about you, and Tim Burton, reuniting? A musical film version
of Sweeney Todd?
Johnny: Yes. That's something
that Tim and I talked about talked about years and years ago.
We've been speaking here and there are recently, and it looks
like it's looking very good. We gotten together and talked about
stuff seriously. But it still takes drawing. Because then there's
that setting off of a whole domino effect where all these other
people having to do stuff that Tim and I don't know how to do.
So it's looking very good, and I sure hope it happens. God, just
to go back to working with Tim. It would be our sixth movie --
very exciting. Very very exciting
Emily: And finally what's this
about a collection of shanties on one album to tell.
Johnny: Yeah, Gore and I sort
of had talked about how great it would be to get some of those
old hundred centuries old shanties then have all contemporary
artists to do them. And it happened and it's just amazing. It's
one of the greatest records, I have ever heard of my life and
really a shocking, shocking. I am super excited about it.