Johnny Depp: The Playboy Interviews (50 Years of the Playboy Interview)

Johnny Depp: The Playboy Interviews (50 Years of the Playboy Interview) by Playboy, Johnny Depp

Book: Johnny Depp: The Playboy Interviews (50 Years of the Playboy Interview) by Playboy, Johnny Depp Read Free Book Online
Authors: Playboy, Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp, January 1996

    Johnny Depp looks rotten. Or so he says. The women on Sunset Boulevard would surely disagree. Many of them would marry him on the spot. But then Depp seldom bows to majority opinion. As he lights another cigarette and drinks more coffee at a bookstore cafe on Sunset, his attention flits to a bee—a killer bee encased in Lucite. It’s one of many oddball souvenirs he receives from friends and admirers. Bugs are serious business to Depp, who collects exotic paraphernalia. His career—the other subject under discussion at the table—is taken more lightly. Acting, he explains, is nothing but “making faces for cash.” Others take his work more seriously. Depp is “one of the great young actors,” says European director Emir Kusturica. Marlon Brando, Vincent Price and Faye Dunaway have said the same. Brando says that Depp should do Shakespeare, while Dunaway claims he is both a superb actor and a super kisser. The on-screen Depp is the world’s greatest lover; offscreen he’s a famed romancer of actresses and supermodels. “He doesn’t belong in show business,” his “Ed Wood” co-star Sarah Jessica Parker once remarked. “He belongs somewhere better.” Lasse Hallstrom, who directed him in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” says, “He has real ambitions, but he is deeply afraid of being considered pretentious.”
    And one other thing: He looks great in a dress.
    At 32, Johnny Depp is entering the heart of what he calls, with casual self-deprecation, “my quote-unquote career.” His is a goofy oeuvre, perhaps most impressive because he’s carved a unique niche without making a box office hit. Thus far, the Kentucky-born Depp has made misfit movies. He was a boy monster in “Edward Scissorhands,” top-hatted oddball in “Benny & Joon,” keeper of a retarded brother in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” and the un-sinkable cross-dressing director in “Ed Wood.” Nobody plays human frailty like Depp. Even though he made women swoon in “Don Juan DeMarco,” he played the fabled lover as a committed loon.
    His new films are John Badham’s “Nick of Time,” in which he plays an accountant turned assassin, and “Dead Man,” an eerie Jim Jarmusch Western that is scheduled for release later this year. Even after opting for “Dead Man” over the slick epic “Mobsters,” a choice that cost him millions of dollars, he was criticized when he signed to star in Badham’s thriller. Industry watchers thought he was doing “the Keanu thing,” forgoing his traditional quirky roles for a commercial blockbuster. But for Depp, “Nick of Time” is no typical action flick. It’s one of the first films since Hitchcock’s “Rope” to tell its tale in real time, each screen minute equaling 60 seconds of his character’s strife. And it’s his task in the film to gun down a female governor. Still, thriller is as thriller seems, and if the film is a hit, Depp will probably be charged with cynicism.
    That’s one crime he has not committed. Drug use and hotel abuse, perhaps, but not calculation. Which may be why Depp made the difficult transition from teen hunk on TV’s “21 Jump Street” eight years ago to film star. Along the way, he has escaped the trivia heap by making brave, eccentric movie choices. Imagine David Cassidy as Gilbert Grape. Picture Kirk Cameron as an assassin. Or better yet, consider Richard Grieco, Depp’s megacool “Jump Street” co-star, as a name anyone would recognize.
    Depp can be equally defined by the roles he didn’t take. He reportedly spurned Keanu Reeves’ part in “Speed,” Brad Pitt’s role in “Legends of the Fall” and Lestat in “Interview With the Vampire.” Of course, Tom Cruise played Lestat—a neat twist, because Cruise is said to have refused the role of Edward Scissorhands because Edward, while cutting edge, wasn’t handsome.
    Depp says he respects Cruise but has no interest in “the Tom Cruise thing”—box office godhood.

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