He is one of the most talented actors in Hollywood and a bit kink. With a great sense of humor Johnny Depp talks to us in a hotel in LA where he confesseshis passion for Mexico and Spain. This month the actor premieres the movie Dark Shadows, the latest Johnny Depp/Tim Burton collaboration.
After being buried underground for two centuries, vampire Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) is inadvertently released into the strange world of the 1970s. Returning to his ancestral home, Barnabas finds that his dysfunctional descendents very much need his protection. At 48, Depp's face remains, if no longer quite ethereal, then still breathtakingly beautiful – creamy smooth, freakishly symmetrical, with a thick chop of chocolate hair untroubled by any trace of grey. The actor has spent most of his career trying to abdicate from the position of Hollywood sex symbol, but there appears to be nothing he can do about the tenacity of his beauty. And yet he doesn’t see himself like that.
Q: I read you learnt Spanish shooting Pirates 4 with Penelope Cruz.
A: What she did was teaching me the raunchiest Spanish. I know some Spanish but very poorly.
Q: You were supposed to learn two years Spanish to shoot Pancho Villa?
A: But I’m not doing the movie so I didn’t have to learn in the end. Nor that I don’t want, but is difficult to find the time. Living in California is very useful to know Spanish.
Q: Is there something you like from the Spanish culture?
A: I love “El día de los muertos” in Mexico and some wines from Spain (Laughs)
Q: What’s the weirdest thing a famous actor as you can find in California?
A: Paparazzi. I still had paparazzi chasing my tail, so it was the weirdest thing in the world. Everywhere you went you were on display. It was always some kind of strange attack on the senses; I was never able to embrace it. So self-medication for a while was just to be able to deal with it. It's a very privileged opportunity I've been given, obviously. You know, the benefits are certainly very good. But there is a trade-off, as with anything. Somebody's always going to bring you the bill. The invoice comes. I just don't go out. I just don't go anywhere. Just don't leave home
Q: Johnny, people have said that you’re in this Marlon Brando phase of your career, making these very eccentric characters come to life. Having directed and worked with Marlon Brando, do you see that as a valid comparison?
A: I couldn’t imagine my name and Marlon’s in the same sentence, in terms of the work. He was a great friend of mine, and certainly a great inspiration and a great mentor. I don’t know.
Q: If you had to stay one of your characters for the rest of your life, who would it be?
A: Probably the Earl of Rochester from The Libertine.
Q: Do you believe in love at first sight?
A: Sure. Oh I can remember somewhere in the neighborhood of 13 years ago, being here in Paris where I was living, I was doing a film with Roman Polanski, The Ninth Gate, and across the room I saw this back and I saw this neck attached to the back, and I was sort of fascinated by it, cause it was a very beautiful, sculptural thing and then it suddenly, the back and the neck turned, and it had a face, and it was Vanessa, and it looked at me, and walked across the room and said hi, do you remember me? Cause I had met her years before, and at that moment, before I even said hi, how are you, I knew it was over, I was done. (Laughs) I was in big trouble from that second on.
Q: Will you do something about Keith Richards one day, I know the two of you are friends, but is it just up in the air or is it going to happen?
A: Actually Keith has been amazing, he granted me permission to start working on kind of a documentary, I can’t say that it’s your normal documentary, but he gave me permission to do some work on a film about him, and we shot a couple of installments so far and we shot about 35 hours of footage thus far and we’ve got thousands of hours of old footage of the Stones, old footage of Keith, and it’s a project that we are really just going to take our time with, and hone it down to the right sort of tone. But yeah, we’ve begun shooting, and I’m sure probably the beginning of next year, after the holidays, we will do another installment.
Q: How do you see yourself at Keith Richards age?
A: (laughs) it’s not very far away.
Q: How will your kids react to the fact that you are so famous, your wife is so famous, and are they used to people following you, are they used to people approaching you? Is it something you get used to, did you talk to them about that?
A: Most definitely, but I mean, my kids have grown up with that as a part of their life, but they are so cool about it, it doesn’t really phase them, cause at the same time, we don’t, Vanessa and I and our kids, we don’t have the same kind of weight on our shoulders that Angie and Brad do, for some reason and I’m happy about it, but we don’t have that kind of pressure. We are able to actually go to a restaurant now and again, have dinner with our kiddies and for the most part, people have been respectful, very respectful with regards to our life and our kids, also, we just don’t really go out very much.
Q: What is your definition of a woman’s beauty?
A: Well, I’d have to say the most beautiful thing about a woman is her sense of self, her sense of and her strength, when you see a woman like Angie, when you see a woman like Vanessa, and taking control, getting with that maternal sort of instinct kicks in and they become this incredible and grounded and wise being, I say that’s probably the most beautiful a woman can be.
Q: What about the men, you are one of the sexiest men, but what kind of man is sexy for a good man?
A: Really? (Laughter) Who’s sexy?
Q: Keith Richards.
R: Keith is sexy, there I said it. I mean, Marlon Brando had, there was something that he had that was unexplainable, it was just this, and it was that thing, whatever charisma, Marlon definitely had it. Keith certainly has it, there are a number of guys out there, Tom Waits, Hunter had it, it’s this thing that you can’t quite put your hand on, and you can’t get tangible…
Q: You are the producer of your last movie Dark Shadows. Why you decide to produce?
A: It’s impossible to consider myself a producer. I can barely produce an English muffin, in the morning. That’s the producer [in me]. But, just as a fan of the show, our initial conversation about the thing was during Sweeney Todd, where I just blurted out, in mid-conversation, -God, we should do a vampire movie together, where you have a vampire that looks like a vampire- Dark Shadows was looming on the periphery, and then Tim and I started talking about it. When we got together, Tim and I started figuring out how it should be shaped. And then, (screenwriter) Seth [Grahame-Smith] came on board and the three of us just riffed. One thing led to another, and it basically dictated to us what it wanted to be, in a sense, certainly with Tim at the forefront, leading the troops.
Q:Johnny, what was the key to playing Barnabas Collins?
A: There is some kind of thread throughout all these characters. The idea of this very elegant, upper-echelon, well-schooled gentleman, who was cursed in the 18th Century and is brought back to the most surreal era of our time – the 1970s, with 1972 – and how he would react to things and how radically different things were, not just with regard to technology and automobiles, but actual items of enjoyment for people, like pet rocks, fake flowers, plastic fruit, troll dolls, lava lamps and macrame owls. Those were my favorite.
Q: What do you think people find so tempting about vampires?
A: It’s a strange thing because, as a child, I certainly had a fascination with monsters and vampires, as did Tim. There’s this darkness, this mystery, this intrigue. And then, as you get older, you recognize the erotic nature of the vampire and the idea of the undead. What was most interesting, in terms of Barnabas, was the combination. It was a real challenge, probably more for Tim than me, to make that vampire, who is clearly a vampire, fit back into this odd society and this dysfunctional family, and I think he did it rather seamlessly.
(c) America Reads Spanish