He may be one of the most gifted actors of his generation,
but Johnny Depp is not about to use that gift rashly. The
37 year old, Kentucky born actor has built an impressive body
of work by choosing his roles judiciously and selecting directors
he wanted to work with just as carefully. Review Graveyard
caught up with him as his latest movie, From Hell, is
released on rental video from 20th Century Fox Entertainment...
From Hell could easily have fulfilled the criteria
he has diligently applied to his other film roles, the subject
matter was undoubtedly too tempting for him to refuse. For
the sweet natured, angelic looking actor admits he is a bit
of a Jack The Ripper buff, and has been for years.
been fascinated by the Ripper case since I was a kid," he
explains. "I read tons of books on it, and have learned about
all the various theories about who did it. But the From Hell
comic book was amazingly thorough in its research, and was
beautifully done. Really painstakingly done. I was impressed
by that. But that book is really amazing really, really impressive.
It's a great theory that they come up with, and mathematically
it works. It's very well done."
comic book by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell forms the basis
of the film by Allen and Albert Hughes, one that may not offer
any particularly fresh insight into the deadly doings in Victorian
Whitechapel, but which had stylishly drawn a whole new generation
into the dark deeds of the Ripper. Following his murderous
path with some frustration, Inspector Frederick Abberline
(Depp) risks everything to expose the man he believes to be
the culprit, risking his career and the carefully structured
society of late 19th century England to do so.
Hughes Brothers' film builds up the tension and achieves a
stunning atmosphere, despite the fact that they had to recreate
the mean streets of old London town in the increasingly popular
movie location of Prague.
were about 14 other productions shooting while we were there,"
Depp adds. "In fact there was one time when we were driving
to set, and you would see the trucks and we saw the trailers
and trucks up ahead and started to get out, and someone said:
'That's not us, man, we're two blocks down'. It's amazing
of the Prague nightlife, Depp - for some time now a resident
of Paris, along with girlfriend Vanessa Paradis and their
daughter Lily-Rose Melody - found the time to enjoy himself
despite a gruelling shooting schedule. "I didn't go out too
much because I was working pretty heavily," he insists, before
adding: "But there were a couple of good restaurants that
I found. I found one place that had some good French wine."
get the feeling that Johnny Depp simply has a good time simply
being Johnny Depp. And if the by-product is that he turns
in some impressive performances in a wide variety of films
then why not? But by his own admission he is not the most
ambitious actor you will ever meet. "I'm not," he shrugs.
"I don't set myself some sort of target and go for it. And
I don't watch too many movies either. I just know I'd love
to work with Tim Burton again or Terry Gilliam, or the Hughes
Brothers. I've been real lucky in the people I've worked with."
criteria is always something that challenges him artistically,
and appeals to him emotionally. Since he has become a Dad
Depp appreciates the whole notion of leaving some kind of
legacy behind him is an increasing preoccupation.
you think in terms of being able to leave something behind
when you escape this world, and leave something for your kids,
or your grandchildren, something that they can say 'for a
certain amount of time Dad - or Granddad - didn't compromise,
he did what he wanted to do. He was trying to do something
hasn't got too much easier. I'll never understand it, the
animal, the machine, Hollywood, and that business. All that.
I don't want to understand it. It's like joining a club, a
clique, just because everyone else is in it. You don't have
any particular interest in it."
has nothing to do with who you are as a person, you just join
it because that's the in thing to do. The job that I have,
making movies and being able to act in movies, and the opportunities
I've been given have really been great. It's a terrific job,
I've enjoyed myself. It's certainly a privileged position
to be in."
is not one to get sucked into the whole big star mentality,
Johnny Depp. The work he does is in direct response to his
own taste, the satisfaction all the greater for the collaborations
he gets to embark on being crucial to his choices.
don't regret making any films," he explains, "Not even the
worst of them. I'm sure there's a number of bad ones, but
I don't see them all. I worked on a television series for
three and half years, I think I was in probably 75 episodes
and I saw about five of them. So I'm sure there's some questionable
work in there, throughout. Over the years I'm sure I've done
some goofy things.
I don't read reviews. If you read good reviews you have to
read bad reviews. You got to read them all. It's none of my
business what happens after the film is released. My job is
done. And I've been so lucky to have worked the guys that
I've worked with."
long as the subjects of films he is offered continue to reflect
his personal, quirky tastes then we will be able to see Johnny
Depp doing good work. But few are likely to come along that
have so strong an echo for him as a script about the pursuit
of Jack The Ripper. From Hell has, in a sense, been Heaven
for a distinctive and highly individual actor.
thanks to Louise Gray at DSA