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Johnny Depp becomes a star all over again

Johnny Depp Explains How He Got Into Acting & Talks Pirate of the Caribbean

 

During his testimony on Tuesday, Johnny Depp explained how he got into acting and Hollywood. He talks about how Nicolas Cage helped him in the beginning, his first movie role, Pirates of the Caribbean, and more.

 

 


 

another person almost
0:05

mr deb we’re going to talk about miss

0:07

hurt in a couple minutes but i’d like to

0:09

first talk about

0:10

um your career in hollywood and so could

0:13

you please tell the jury how you ended

0:15

up acting in the first place um

0:19

i ended up acting by accident

0:22

i

0:23

was a musician and i moved out to los

0:26

angeles with my

0:28

band uh when i was

0:31

20 years old

0:33

um

0:35

and then there were

0:36

a couple of

0:38

uh

0:40

things that happened

0:42

in the back where the band split up and

0:44

um

0:46

i remember i was filling out job

0:48

applications and then nick

0:51

with a friend of mine and who happens to

0:54

be

0:55

he was an actor

0:57

uh less known then than he is now

0:59

nicolas cage

1:02

and i was filling out job applications

1:04

at any you know video stores clothing

1:06

stores anything and just to

1:08

be able to pay the rent and

1:10

um

1:11

nick cage said uh you know why why don’t

1:14

you meet my agent you know uh

1:18

because i

1:19

i think you’re an actor i think you

1:20

could be an actor

1:23

and i said look i’ll meet anybody you

1:25

know i’ll do anything at this point

1:28

and so he sent me to his

1:30

his agent eileen feldman

1:32

and i met with her

1:33
[Music]
1:35

um

1:36

she sent me to read for a

1:40

casting director named annette benson

1:43

who was casting a film called the

1:44

nightmare on elm street

1:48

and

1:51

they brought me back to read for the

1:52

director wes craven

1:55

and

1:57

i read for wes

1:58

craven and

2:00

somehow got the job

2:02

but i mean i was by no means

2:05

an actor

2:06

i didn’t

2:07

have any desire to be an actor i was a

2:10

musician

2:11

uh but

2:14

the fact that these

2:16

people were going to pay me

2:19

what i

2:20

found to be a ludicrous sum of money

2:23

which was uh it was kind of the sag

2:25

minimum

2:27

uh it was twelve hundred and eighty four

2:29

dollars

2:31

a week

2:33

which i mean you know i’d never seen

2:36

that kind of dough

2:38

before in my life

2:41

um

2:42

and so

2:45

i i suddenly

2:47

you know then i did some other couple of

2:50

dumb movies because i i i

2:53

still in my mind i was

2:55

a musician and this was just a way to

2:58

pay the rent pay the bills live

3:01

um then suddenly i found myself

3:05

on that road i had been

3:07

placed on that road

3:11

uh as a

3:12

as an actor and then i

3:16

one thing led to another from film to

3:18

film and then i

3:20

was cast in a tv series called 21 jump

3:23

street

3:24

when i was 22

3:28

i believe

3:30

mr depp between the time that you um

3:33

were cast in nightmare on elm street and

3:35

you um were cast in 21 drums jump street

3:39

how did you enjoy acting during that

3:44

time it was foreign to me

3:48

it was foreign to me but i i didn’t

3:51

i didn’t have any great um

3:57

ambition

3:58

to be an actor i

4:01

i’m a

4:02

uh

4:04

naturally normally

4:09

i’m i’m uh

4:11

i’ve always been quite as shy person

4:14

i’ve always been quite introverted

4:17

and

4:18

so

4:21

there was a very strange

4:23

metamorphosis from

4:25

being one of four

4:27

that is to say

4:28

one

4:29

of four in a band where you have this

4:31

fraternity or this brotherhood

4:34

um

4:35

and you’re out there

4:37

fighting the world together to try to

4:39

get that record deal or whatever you’re

4:40

looking for and

4:44

when the

4:45

when i got on this series

4:49

and my life started to change in various

4:52

ways that is to say that people started

4:54

to you know you go into a restaurant

4:58

you’d see people whispering and pointing

5:00

and

5:01

all that i was uh

5:04

i was very uncomfortable with it i was

5:06

very uncomfortable with it and i didn’t

5:08

like it

5:09

um

5:11

just just because it

5:14

i

5:15

i never wanted to be the lead singer and

5:18

the guy out front and

5:21

get all the attention and i didn’t so

5:24

suddenly i was on my own and i was uh

5:28

having to deal with this uh

5:32

this this this newfound sort of

5:33

notoriety

5:36

and it was it was odd it was very odd

5:39

and it was

5:42

yeah it was a very uncomfortable thing i

5:44

mean it i don’t think it’s anything that

5:47

one can get used to i don’t i i would

5:50

i’m not i’m still not used to it now and

5:52

i which

5:54

i’m actually glad that i’m not used to

5:56

it

5:57

because if i were

5:58

i don’t think i’d be the same person

6:01

that i am

6:03

mr deb did there come a time when you

6:06

became passionate about acting

6:11

once i realized that i that that’s the

6:13

road that i was

6:15

on

6:16

and

6:18

that any attempt at going back to music

6:22

would

6:26

would be a

6:29

um

6:32

not

6:34

would have been

6:35

i hated the idea that

6:38

since the television series had

6:41

come out and i had been exposed as this

6:44

this character or this actor uh um i had

6:49

to realize in in my own

6:51

mind and heart that there was no going

6:54

back to music because i i didn’t want to

6:59

you know i didn’t want to

7:02

i didn’t want to

7:06

use

7:07

whatever

7:09

amount of success that i had

7:13

attained from the tv series and that

7:16

sort of thing

7:17

i didn’t want to use that

7:20

to

7:21

influence

7:23

um

7:26

you know some career in music i i i had

7:30

far too much respect for

7:32

uh music

7:34

um than to just to become what they

7:37

wanted me to become which was a you know

7:40

teen idol or a teeny you know that

7:43

that’s that sort of thing

7:45

i um i fought that with uh

7:48

with everything in my being

7:51

so

7:52

once i realized that music was no longer

7:56

uh an option

7:58

then

7:59

um i began to uh study

8:03

um

8:04

at various places in the loft studio

8:06

which is now long gone

8:09

um in in los angeles i studied with uh

8:14

some other teachers uh saunders c cat um

8:18

i read

8:22

all the books that you could read and

8:26

all that was great

8:28

but um you realize that

8:32

the only way to

8:34
[Music]
8:36

the only way to

8:37

learn or the only way to learn how to

8:42

it’s not act necessarily the only

8:46

way to learn how to react

8:49

and behave

8:51

because it’s just behavior and its

8:53

reaction

8:55

um

8:56

was to do it

8:58

you

8:59

it’s on the job training it’s trial by

9:01

fire

9:03

so um

9:05

i did my best to

9:07

to work up

9:08

work my work up my own

9:11

approach towards the towards uh

9:14

a character and such

9:17

and what were a couple of the first few

9:19

uh projects that you worked on where you

9:21

were really able to implement that

9:23

approach

9:25

i would say

9:30

i i i would say that the

9:34

first

9:35

film that i had done

9:38

that i really took um

9:42

where i really felt okay

9:44

i’ve done the work i i i

9:48

know what i need to do

9:50

um

9:51

i would say that was that without

9:54

where i considered myself an actor i

9:56

suppose was was was when um

9:58

oliver stone cast me in uh

10:01

platoon in

10:03

1986

10:08

how did you come to be cast in pirates

10:10

of the caribbean

10:13

uh

10:14

well that’s that’s many years later but

10:16

uh

10:18

i

10:19

i had been um disney had offered me a

10:22

film

10:25

called

10:27

hidalgo

10:29

when it was about a man

10:31

his horse in the desert and stuff and i

10:34

i read the uh the screenplay

10:37

and i just didn’t think it was for me

10:40

um but

10:42

i wanted to have a meeting with them

10:44

because

10:45

i at that point i had a um two-year-old

10:49

uh

10:49

yeah two two

10:51

two and a half-year-old daughter

10:53

and

10:54

so or three and and and

10:57

for three years i watched nothing but

11:03

animated

11:04

films

11:07

cartoons from texas avery to bugs bunny

11:10

to

11:12

um that that was all i i watched with my

11:18

with my

11:19

little girl

11:22

and

11:24

i received the screenplay for pirates

11:28

and

11:30

it was i i somehow in my mind i saw this

11:36

opportunity like a way to mesh

11:42

characters

11:44

like

11:45

cart black cartoon characters for

11:47

example

11:49

wiley coyote gets a boulder dropped on

11:51

his head

11:53

and he’s completely crushed but in the

11:55

they cut to the next scene and he’s just

11:57

got a little bandage on his head

12:00

so i i started thinking about the the

12:03

parameters

12:05

uh that are that were available to

12:08

cartoon characters

12:10

and

12:11

if they were available to cartoon

12:13

characters

12:15

and and and

12:18

nobody ever asked a question whether you

12:20

were 5 or 95 you didn’t ask a question

12:23

oh wiley of course he’s still alive

12:26

so i tried to

12:28

incorporate

12:30

these uh

12:31

these kind of ideas into the character

12:34

of captain jack sparrow

12:37

so that

12:41

so

12:43

so that

12:45

i could try to push those parameters

12:48

and

12:50

and and control the sort of suspension

12:52

of disbelief the to be able to control

12:55

the

12:57

um characters

12:59

actions words movements

13:02

and put them in a place where

13:07

the things that he would do or say were

13:10

so

13:11

either ludicrous

13:14

or

13:15

um

13:16

mainly something that

13:18

also something

13:21

the cartoon characters can get away with

13:23

things we can’t

13:25

captain jack sparrow can do things that

13:28

i could never do he could say things

13:31

that i could never say

13:34

so it was for me

13:36

a way to

13:38

stretch the parameters of of a character

13:41

and

13:43

and take uh take a risk

13:46

in doing that but if it if it panned out

13:50

i i i and i felt i was on a

13:53

pretty good mission

13:55

if it panned out i thought that it might

13:57

be a character

13:59

who would be accepted by

14:02

five-year-olds and

14:05

45 year olds and

14:07

65 year olds and 85 year olds and

14:11

in the same way that bugs bunny is uh

14:14

you know

14:16

you mentioned that sorry you mentioned

14:18

that you received the script when was

14:19

that i’m sorry

14:21

when did you first receive the script

14:23

for pirates of the caribbean uh the

14:26

the first screenplay i i received was uh

14:29

2002 i believe yeah 2002.

14:33

and what did you think of that script

14:35

when you received it

14:37

um

14:38

i thought that it had all the

14:42

kind of hallmarks of a of a

14:46

of a disney film that is to say

14:48

a kind of a predict predictable

14:52

predictable three-act structure

14:55

um

14:56

with um

14:59

with

15:00

and the character

15:01

of captain jack was

15:04

was more um

15:06

he was more like a swashbuckler type

15:08

that would kind of swing in

15:11

shirtless and

15:13

you know be the hero um

15:16

and i

15:18

i had quite different ideas about the

15:20

characters so i

15:22

incorporated

15:24

my

15:26

notes into character and

15:28

brought that character to life

15:30

um much to the chagrin of disney

15:34

initially

15:36

now when you say you made changes to the

15:38

character how did you do that

15:42

um just

15:44

you know in preparation you know

15:48

the same the very same way that i’ve

15:50

ever approached any character you you

15:53

you look for a back history you base it

15:55

on

15:56

um

15:58

you know it could be anything like

16:00

edward scissorhands for example was

16:03

i based on a

16:06

dog that i’d had and uh

16:09

newborn

16:11

babies

16:12

my sister had a couple of new babies and

16:15

i watched them you know

16:17

because i thought that edward would see

16:19

things

16:20

from the this sort of

16:22

unc the

16:26

from a place of innocence

16:28

um and

16:30

not knowing

16:32

exactly what things

16:35

meant or were

16:37

and and also that that

16:39

look of

16:41

a

16:42

a pure

16:44

innocent

16:45

child when they experienced something

16:47

for the first time

16:50

those those were the

16:52

the two main ingredients that i

16:54

thought would

16:56

serve the character

16:58

and with

17:00

captain jack

17:02

again the cartoons

17:04

you know the

17:06

pepe le pew it was it was a

17:09

um

17:10

it’s like it’s like making a soup

17:14

you know it’s ingredients it’s just

17:16

ingredients um

17:19

there’s some pepula pew

17:22

in there there’s some keith richards in

17:24

there

17:25

um

17:27

there’s a bit of a

17:29

you you know i figured this is a guy

17:31

who’s been on the sea

17:33

for the majority of his life

17:35

quite possibly his brains may have been

17:38

scrambled a bit by the sun

17:41

and also i thought that he’d been on the

17:43

sea for so long that he had his sea legs

17:46

but when he got on land he just didn’t

17:49

have his land legs so he could never

17:52

quite

17:54

stand still

17:58

how did the film ultimately turn out in

17:59

your view

18:02

um i didn’t see it

18:05

but uh i

18:07

believe that the film

18:09

well i mean the film did

18:12

pretty well apparently and uh

18:15

and uh they wanted to keep going uh

18:18

making uh making more and i was

18:21

fine to do that uh

18:23

as uh it was

18:26

it there’s great freedom in

18:29

in

18:31

being able to

18:33

it’s not like you become that person but

18:35

if you if you know that character

18:42

to the degree that i did because

18:44

he was not what the writers wrote

18:46

so they really

18:48

weren’t able to write for him

18:51

so once you know a character better than

18:53

the writers

18:55

that’s when you

18:56

um

18:58

you have to uh be true to the character

19:01

and add your words at the rewrites um

19:07

i was

19:11

yeah i know i i i believed in the

19:13

character wholeheartedly and

19:16

the uh

19:21

initially the

19:22

disney uh folks were

19:25

somewhat upset

19:30

now you mentioned that the film was to

19:32

your understanding a great success how

19:34

did your life change after the first

19:36

pirates of the caribbean movie came out

19:39

um

19:41

though i’d been around for many years

19:42

already and

19:43
[Music]
19:45

people people knew who i was and

19:48

all that

19:50

after pirates one came out

19:54

there was a

19:55

completely different it was a completely

19:57

different uh

19:59

way of life was was was being sort of

20:04

you know

20:05

my family and i were being plunged into

20:08

that is to say you know

20:10

at our house in los angeles you would

20:13

have

20:15

you would have people trying to climb

20:17

the gates

20:18

to get into

20:20

sea captain jack sparrow

20:23

um you would you would have people

20:25

trying to

20:26

bust in the gates

20:28

dressed as captain jack sparrow you

20:30

would have

20:31

it and

20:33

follow you or follow you and your family

20:35

so that was that was the moment when

20:38

um

20:42

there was no

20:43

other way

20:45

but to uh we had to hire more security

20:49

guards and i was certainly worried for

20:51

my kids

20:52

um safety

20:54

and so then we that’s when the

20:58

instead of just the one guy there were

21:02

there you know they were start there

21:04

became several security people

21:07

because i

21:09

wanted to make sure that my kids were

21:12

safe when they went to school or when

21:14

they went to disneyland or when they

21:16

went to

21:17

the mall or

21:19

whatever

21:21

um

21:22

so yes more security and you know then

21:25

just getting followed

21:28

you know by hordes of paparazzi and

21:30

things like that it’s it’s it’s uh

21:34

i’ve had worse jobs certainly i can’t

21:37

complain about it

21:39

but um

21:41

yeah

21:42

uh after a while you realize that

21:46

uh

21:48

um anonymity

21:50

uh has left the building

21:52

a long time ago you know the anonymity’s

21:54

gone

21:56

um

21:57

and that’s it that’s an odd thing to

21:58

deal with

22:00

um

22:02

when you just

22:04

i mean you can’t just drive down to the

22:06

diner and get a cup of coffee or

22:08

something it’s not

22:10

possible it turns into something else

22:12

altogether

22:14

so it’s

22:16

you know

22:18

it’s acceptance and there’s of course

22:19

there’s a bit of sacrifice

22:22

uh involved i i can’t complain

22:26

about the

22:28

work

22:29

that i’ve been given

22:31

i can’t complain about any of that

22:34

i have no right to

22:37

but

22:41

it does make you have to think very

22:43

creatively

22:46

with

22:47

when you’ve got little kids about how to

22:49

take them to the park

22:51

or you know to the swings or to this or

22:54

that movie or you know

22:56

it becomes uh it becomes a strategic

23:00

mission

23:02

and and and and that’s what happened

23:04

after pirates

23:06

now you mentioned your family who did

23:07

your family consist of at that time

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