Johnny Depp spent some time over the weekend doing some promotional work for Alice in Wonderland. On Friday, he attended the Walt Disney Pictures & Buena Vista Records Alice in Wonderland Fan Event in Los Angeles, which is where these photos are from. I’ve seen other photos of Johnny dutifully signing autographs outside of the event as well, so when Depp turns it on, it’s on. He’s a promoting machine! Except not really. Johnny eschewed most of the magazines who would have given carte blanche for an interview, and instead sat down with the site Coming Soon for an extensive interview about everything from Tim Burton to the Mad Hatter (his role in Wonderland) to his project with Angelina Jolie, The Tourist. The full interview is here, and here are some of the highlights:
Q: When [Tim Burton] came to you and said the Mad Hatter, what was your reaction to that?
Depp: Well, I mean to be honest he could’ve said Alice and I would’ve said [yes]. I would’ve done whatever character Tim wanted, but yeah, certainly the fact that it was the Mad Hatter was a bonus. It was because of the great challenge to try and find this guy and not to just sort of be rubber ball heaved into an empty room and watch it bounce all over the place. So to find that part of that character but also a little more history or gravity to the guy.
Q: There’s kind of a tragic nature to the Mad Hatter’s background in this, too, that I’ve never seen before in an “Alice in Wonderland.” Can you talk about that?
Depp: Well, I think that part of it, there’s the whole Hatter’s dilemma really, which is where the term ‘mad as a hatter’ came from; the amount of mercury that they used in the glue to make the hats and everything was damaging. So in terms of The Hatter, looking at him from that perspective, it’s this guy who’s, yeah, literally damaged goods. He’s physically damaged. He’s emotionally a little obtuse. It was kind of taking that and deciding that he should be as opposed to just this hyper and nutty guy, he should explore all sides of the personality at an extreme level. So he could go from one second being very highfalutin and with a lot of levity and then straight into some kind of dangerous potential rage and then tragedy. So, yeah, it was interesting. Trying to map it out was really interesting.
Q: Did you think you would have such a successful career when you started?
Depp: No, not at all. I had no idea where anything was going but you can’t. It’s almost impossible to predict anything like that. I had no idea. I had hoped. I mean, truly, after having, or I felt like after I’d done “Cry-Baby” with John Waters and “Edward Scissorhands” with Tim that they were going to cut me off right then. I felt at that point that I was on solid ground and I knew where I was going or where I wanted to go and I was sure that they would nix me out of the gate. But I’m luckily still here.
Q: You and Tim have collaborated on so many projects. How did you see your relationship, both personal and professional, grow on this film? Tim said that each time he works with you that you surprise him. Do you feel the same way?
Depp: Yeah, each time out of the gate with Tim the initial thing for me is to obviously come up with a character but then you start thinking that there’s a certain amount of pressure where you go, “Jesus, will this be the one where I disappoint him?” I try to really hard, especially early on to just come up with something that’s very different that he hasn’t experienced before, that we haven’t experienced together before and that I think will stimulate him and inspire him to make choices based on that character. So I basically try not to embarrass him.
Q: If the next project was motion capture for you, would you don a suit like they did in “Avatar”?
Depp: I don’t know. What color is the suit?
Depp: Black? It matches my eyes. I suppose. Look, I’ll put anything on. It doesn’t matter to me, obviously. Look at me. Yeah, no. I don’t mind.
Q: Of all the characters and all the movies that you’ve worked on with Tim, which one of them has been your children’s favorite?
Depp: My children’s favorite, and it’s funny because they’ve seen it but they have a difficult time watching it because it’s their dad and they make that connection, but it’s “Edward Scissorhands.” That’s by far my kid’s favorite.
Q: Why is that?
Depp: They just connect with the character and also they see something, their dad feeling that isolation, feeling that loneliness. He’s a tragic character and so I think it’s hard for them. They bawl when they see that movie.
Q: Can you talk a little about what you’re doing on “The Tourist” and how you’re enjoying working with Angelina Jolie?
Depp: Well, I haven’t done anything yet.
Q: When do you start shooting?
Depp: I think Tuesday.
Q: What was it about the project that made you want to sign on?
Depp: I liked the French version, the French film. I liked it a lot. My friend played the part in that and I liked it and I thought, yeah, it might be interesting to explore this kind of character. But I mean you never know what’s going to happen. I suspect there might be a few paparazzi in Venice.
Q: Johnny, we heard that there’s not going to be any Keira Knightley or Orlando Bloom in the next “Pirates.” Is it going to be more Jack Sparrow front and center?
Depp: Yeah, there’s no Keira or Orlando in there. I don’t know. I don’t think we’d ever throw too much Jack Sparrow in there. It’ll be everybody.
[From Coming Soon]
Johnny also talked to Fox News about going to Europe to work with Jolie, saying “You never know what’s going to happen. I suspect there may be a few paparazzis in Venice.” Then he said it will be “swell” to work with Angelina. Sigh… seriously, Vanessa Paradis and Brad Pitt are going to have to watch their backs. It’s going to be epic.
Oh, one last note about Johnny: he narrates the new documentary about The Doors called When You’re Strange: A Film About the Doors. Depp said in a press release: “As a rock ‘n’ roll documentary, or any kind of documentary for that matter, it simply doesn’t get any better than this. What an honor to have been involved. I am as proud of this as anything I have ever done.”