Inside the Actors Studio: Johnny Depp
December 18, 2007
Johnny Depp has always seemed like a character actor trapped in a leading man’s body. He was initially cast as a teen heart throb in the popular television show, 21 Jump Street – a role he grew uncomfortable with because he saw himself being transformed into a commodity for a corporation. So, he decided to deconstruct this image by starring in cult filmmaker John Waters Cry-Baby (1990). He never looked back, starring in a number of diverse films that saw him playing a colourful assortment of oddball outsiders, from Dead Man (1995) to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998).
Depp finally sat down with James Lipton in 2002 for an episode of Inside the Actors Studio. It seems rather odd that he would get a career perspective so early in his life, but he has assembled an impressive resume which this show skims broadly over. Depp talks about how he got into music, joined a band and how this led to his first acting gig in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). Unfortunately, Lipton skips over Depp’s pivotal role in Cry-Baby and instead delves into his first collaboration with Tim Burton with Edward Scissorhands (1990). The actor talks about his relationship with the director.
Depp also talks about how he got the role in Ed Wood (1994) and how he approached the character as well as what influenced his performance: a mix of Ronald Reagan, the Tin Man and Casey Kasem. Lipton and Depp touch upon his more mainstream films, like Don Juan DeMarco (1995) and Donnie Brasco (1997) and working with legends like Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, respectively.
Thankfully, they cover Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and talk about how he got involved in the project and how he lived with Hunter S. Thompson in order to portray him accurately. Sadly, some of his other films, like Dead Man and The Ninth Gate (1999), aren’t discussed leaving you wanting for more. This is certainly not a comprehensive profile but rather a primer on Depp’s life and career.