Johnny Depp is, if I had to sum him up in one word, elusive.
He does press, but he does it like he’s being chased by assassins. No matter how much the publicity teams on his films over the years have been helpful or reached out to me, actually scheduling time to sit down with Depp has never happened.
I’m actually glad that when it did finally happen a little over a week ago, it was for a movie I really liked, and one that is slightly left-of-center for a leading man movie star. I was a Depp fan during the days before “Pirates,” when he was just “that guy who appears to be completely allergic to movie stardom,” when he made interesting choices that seemed designed to please only him. As a result, the first film I had to ask him about as we were settling in for the interview was “Dead Man,” the unconventional western he made with Jim Jarmusch in 1995. I told him that he was the only man with enough clout to get Disney/Miramax to release the film on Blu-ray. I’ve actually learned since that someone else has picked up the rights and that the Blu-ray mastering is being done right now, so Depp doesn’t have to lean on the Mouse anymore.
But still, starting with “Dead Man” felt appropriate in many ways, since “Rango” is absolutely a western. And since Gore Verbinski always described the “Pirates” movies as westerns when we spoke, and since Verbinski and Depp are gearing up to reunite for “The Lone Ranger,” that genre was the main point of interest in our conversation.
I found Depp to be just about exactly what I expected as an interview subject. He’s charming, he’s got a nice dry sense of humor, and he responds best if you’re speaking to him like an adult and an artist, and not as a movie star or a widget. Would it be nice to have more time and actually chat with him about his body of work sometime? Sure. Do I think that will ever happen? Not likely. I don’t think he’s the kind of guy who likes to look back or spend time being introspective about what he’s already done. It seems like the work is the point, and the publicity is the awful necessity, and getting him to chat about himself isn’t high on his list of priorities.
I have more “Rango” interviews coming in the next few days, including one with Isla Fisher, one with Abagail Breslin, and one with director Gore Verbinski, and I’ll also have a review of the eccentric animated offering very soon.
“Rango” opens everywhere March 4th.