Johnny Depp has a new interview with the Daily Mail, given at his rented regal estate in London along with The Rum Diary’s director and screenwriter, Bruce Robinson. Depp gets tipsy and shoots the sh*t with the two, but he just waxes philosophical most of the time and doesn’t say anything offensive or dumb, like he did when he got wasted with the journalist from Vanity Fair. It’s a very long article and an interesting read if you have the time and inclination. Johnny tells some crazy anecdotes about his friendships with the late journalist Hunter S. Thompson, and with the remarkably still alive Keith Richards. He also discusses what fame means to him, and how it makes his everyday dealings bizarre and unreal. It’s clear that he cherishes his fans, though, and that he’s proud to have made a difference for them, in his way.
On how fame is difficult for him
At the height of his fame, Depp, now 48, has become increasingly reclusive. He says he doesn’t enjoy the attention of paparazzi or fans with camera phones. Out in public he feels uneasy. He’s more at home, ironically more ‘himself’, on set in front of a camera.
‘I don’t know when it happened exactly,’ he says, removing his thick-rimmed black glasses and placing them on the table in front of him.
‘Outside in life people are looking and staring at you. You see them taking your picture all the time with their iPhones. You become a kind of novelty in the world.
‘At some point, it became more honest for me on set. I understand it – everything is defined. Here are the lights, here’s the scene I have to do. It has become very natural, while the outside world has become unnatural. It’s bizarre, because I’ve done interviews where there’s a camera on and I still feel uncomfortable. Yet if it’s a scene and I’m in character, then I’m not.’
On being an individual and being touched by a young fan’s story
‘I was all over the place and always the new kid at school, which is never easy,’ he says.
‘And now I go out and meet kids at premieres to say thank you and sign autographs. I remember many years ago this one kid, a little girl with glasses, maybe 12 or 13, said, “Thank you for making glasses cool.” You imagine the history of haranguing this poor kid had endured – four-eyes, or whatever they called her. It really got to me.
‘If someone is being bullied or feels like an outsider and they relate to something that I’ve done, even if it’s just igniting a spark, that’s great. I had that feeling as a kid. I was messed with no end. And then you fight back – and that’s the rage that’s just under the surface, and in the end it comes out.
‘I find it disheartening these days that everybody is like everybody else. Less and less you see real individuals. They all wear their trousers down below their crotch. I don’t understand that kind of lemming mentality.’
On his friendships with outsiders
‘The common link with these people is that they’re all outsiders, straight shooters. My grandfather was too (he was a moonshine bootlegger during the Depression); he was a great guy.’
On filming Pirates… with Richards, he says, ‘I’d have my glass of wine and he would have his usual. I’ve no idea what that is, because it looks like nuclear waste. We’d just hang out.
‘I’ve had relationships with amazing people in my life, individuals who play by their own rules, who in a way are totally indefinable. Hunter was intimidating. He could decimate people. He had an allergy to bull**** and I can’t stand it either.’
On finding The Rum Diary manuscript among a bunch of junk in Hunter S. Thompson’s basement
Depp would visit Thompson and his wife Anita at their unorthodox home – Owl Farm in Woody Creek.
‘One time I was using the ashtray next to the bed and discovered my night-stand was a keg of gunpowder. It would have blown us to the Moon! After having used it for some time, I figured out what it was and brought Hunter down and said, “Do you realise what that is?” And do you know what he said? “Oh, that’s where it is!”
‘The same night I found a brown recluse spider in the corner. It eats your skin away and causes horrible necrosis.’
Later that same night Depp unearthed the unpublished manuscript.
‘It was about 3am. I was staying with Hunter preparing for Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, looking at stuff in boxes in the War Room, which was in his basement next to the room where I slept. There was all sorts of stuff in there – cocktail napkins, toothpicks, old hotel bills, God knows what else – and I found this folder with a rubber band around it, and it just said The Rum Diary.
‘I started reading it and said to Hunter, “What’s the matter with you? Publish the thing – it’s great.” It was that night that he said, “Maybe we should make this into a movie together…”’
The Rum Diary was published in 1998 and Depp and Thompson began the process of securing backers to finance the film.
Then, on February 20, 2005, came the news that Thompson, 67, had shot himself.
[From The Daily Mail]
Maybe the outside world seems unnatural because he’s drunk out of his skull whenever he goes out. Johnny’s an interesting guy. At some point though his kind of outsider personality started to become a gimmick and overshadow what a great guy he’s been known as. Like it’s clear to me he’s caught up in the Hollywood game again, as much as he professes to find it hard to deal with. Maybe that’s what we do to our celebrities now, we can’t stand to see them on top for so long so we look at the chinks and we pick at them until they seem to take over the person we’ve come to know for years. I want to be wrong, I want to like him again, but sadly his popularity may be waning. The Rum Diary underperformed at the box office on this opening weekend, placing fifth with just a $5 million take, behind Footloose in its third week and Paranormal Activity in its second. Puss in Boots was number 1 with a $34 million opening. I find this pretty surprising, since I’ve been seeing ads for Rum Diary all over the place and Johnny has been a box office draw in the past.
Johnny is shown on 10/26 outside The Late Show and on 10/25 signing for fans at the NY premiere of Rum Diary. How drunk does he look there? Credit: WENN.com