Now I speak! Johnny Depp
Violence, divorce, debt, alcohol, anorexia, depression – rumors about Johnny Depp do not stop. What is really going on with the “Pirates oft he Caribbean” star? TV Movie met him in Hamburg.
IN: It is nice that you are visibly better. Recently, there has been a lot of speculation about what illness you might suffer from because you are so emaciated/ because you lost so much weight?
JD: Not long ago, it was said, I was bloated. Allegedly, I rant confusedly or have even a word-finding disorder. I always thought, I speak slowly … leisurely. Whatever I do, major headlines all report a problem. That’s why I do not read what’s written about me anymore. Because creativity needs distance from the circus, with which others want to make money in (with) your life.
IN: Is that the reason you are not on social media?
JD: Honestly, I do not know how Facebook and Co. work, so I would have to hire someone to choreograph my presence on social media. The find idea that more people would buy movie tickets if I post pictures of my breakfast on Instagram, silly. I have been standing in the limelight long enough to remember careers without Twitter and I enjoy not having to fish for likes and retweets day or night.
IN: So is it all slander, what is heard and read about you … by envious people?
JD: If I thought about it … maybe. For example, I have spent a lot of money on cool guitars in recent years. The question whether I deserve a Gibson Lee that has the worth of a family home, comes up as soon as my guitar can be seen on photos or on stage.
IN: Are we now talking about guitars?
JD: I am. What do you want to talk about?
IN: For example, about your absolutely legendary wine consumption – supposedly for $ 30,000 a month?
JD: Those who store dusty bottles in temperature-controlled rooms, secure their pension, but don’t understand the spirit of the wine. A filled wine cellar makes sense for me, if you like to drink those noble drops that you did not buy for a handful of dollars at the discount store with your guests. Good wine belongs in the glass, not in the bottle, and a great guitar belongs on stage, just as a sports car belongs on the street.
IN: It has been said, that you are broke. Is that correct/true?
JD: There is something I have learned in life: money doesn’t make anyone happy. At least not if it’s in your bank account and in today’s times that doesn’t even pay out interest anymore. Possessions that you accumulate don’t make you rich. You are only rich when you share your possessions with others.
IN: So you rather spend your money?
JD: I invest in the quality of life in the here and now, rather than in an uncertain future.
IN: Your body is covered in tattoos – is that something for the eternity?
JD: That would be really nice, but we know at least since my “Wino forever” tattoo, that that’s not so (Editor’s note: After the separation from Winona Ryder Depp shortened his tattoo “Winona forever” to “Wino forever”). For me, my skin is not the only one, but is definitely a mirror of my soul. A canvas on which I can express my feelings.
IN: And (what happens) when (your) feelings change for a woman immortalized on your skin?
JD: (In that case) my skin shows scars that even the best tattoo artist leaves when he needs to make corrections to a design. But scars tell much more interesting stories from a life than a flawless skin.
IN: You rock/play worldwide on stages with Alice Cooper, Slash, Paul McCartney and the Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry as Hollywood Vampires. Is this (path) leading you away from acting?
JD: No! As a guitarist and occasional singer I’m not the most exalted poser on stage. We, the Hollywood Vampires, are not musical stars or a geriatric/outdated boy band. There is no conductor, no choreographer or director. Each of us presents himself on stage as he pleases. We enjoy playing as friends songs that we love and (allow us to) bathe in emotions. This is true luxury, because no one can buy such an experience.
IN: How did you discover music?
JD: My mother gave me my first guitar when I was 12 years old. We moved a lot during my childhood and the guitar wasn’t my only one but it was (certainly) my best friend. It stayed that way when we finally settled in Miramar, Florida, and I soon played in various bands.
IN: Were you good?
JD: I thought (at the time) that I was pretty good … but I’m not sure today if that was really the case.
IN: As the lead guitarist of The Kids, you moved to Los Angeles with the band to become a rock star…
JD: We changed our (band) name and became Six Gun Method, but the deal with a major label didn’t work out.
IN: Why not?
JD: I probably should not have married the sister of our bassist and singer. Not that Lori (Ann Allison) was our Yoko Ono. On the contrary. She worked as a make-up artist while I was trying to sell pens and watches at a call center. But Lori introduced me to Nicolas Cage, who gave me the advice to try it as an actor.
IN: Was that (acting) easier?
JD: No. But actors are responsible for (the own) success or failure alone; that appeals to me more. In the band collective a lot can go wrong. In front of the camera it worked. In 1984 I was pulled into a waterbed by Freddy Kruger and the rest of my acting career is, as the saying goes, history.
IN: A year later you and Lori divorced. What went wrong?
JD: I was constantly broke and probably not as charming as on our first date.
IN: Is career success and money important for a relationship?
JD: I believed in my dream, but belief alone didn’t give my wife the assurance our relationship needed.
IN: Do you today still believe in great/true love (in love with capital L)?
JD: Absolutely. However I wonder nowadays if I am able to recognize true love, be worthy of it, or even hold on to it.
IN: Is there an example of true love in your life?
JD: Two (examples). My kids Lily (Lily-Rose Melody Depp) and Jack (John Christopher Depp III).
IN: Which you have with singer Vanessa Paradis; separation and tattoo change came after 14 years of wild marriage…
JD: Yes, but that didn’t tarnish the relationship with my children. Despite their chaotic father, the two are the best thing that has happened in my life. They have made me a better person.
IN: Your daughter was quite ill – after her recovery you donated one million pounds to the London clinic. Why?
JD: That was supposed to be a secret, but it ultimately motivated other donors to support this hospital. In the end everything turned out for the better.
IN: An earlier quote from you: “Friendship is more important to a man than love!“
JD: I would not endorse that today. However, I believe that a friendship between two men is much less complicated than love between a man and a woman. And when my heart goes on roller coaster again, friendships are extremely important.
IN: Friendships? Plural?
JD: Correct, but they (friendships) are fewer and fewer.
IN: A few last wishes by your deceased friends have cost you a ton of money and brought you much trouble…
JD: True. Making last wishes become a reality really feels right to me. But I noticed some time ago that I did not have as much money as I thought. So, my lawyers demanded a lot of money back from my financial advisors and we ended up not only in court, but "anonymous sources” informed the media in detail about how much money I had allegedly spent on all sorts of things.
IN: Including the three million dollars (you spent) for the funeral of the US journalist Hunter S. Thompson?
JD: Yes – and the wine we talked about at the beginning of this interview.
IN: You find yourself in court more often?
JD: That is difficult to avoid in a society where it can be extremely lucrative to accuse a man like me.
IN: Are you really always innocent?
JD: I am emotional, confrontational and I give potential opponents/enemies good ammunition. I don’t mind if allegations against me are investigated by police, prosecutors and courts. Only that way can fact be separated from fiction.
IN: Do you like to play the hero in a movie?
JD: Classical/Typical hero roles have never interested me. The fact is that our culture has a thing for Bad Boys. That’s why I always play my roles a little schizoid. My heroes have their dark sides, that make them so interesting to me.
IN: Would schizoid be a good description for roles like Captain Jack Sparrow?
JD: Jack is a pirate who simply does not share the conventions of our society in terms of property, law and order. When Jack lands in a harbor, he steals a ship in order to achieve his goal.
IN: How important is the truth to you?
JD: In front of a camera, I’m interested in a good story – it does not matter if it’s true or not. That’s why, with a few exceptions, I don’t make documentary films.
IN: Are you a moral person?
JD: I am not entitled to this judgment. Unfortunately, I don’t always live up to my own moral standards and I use my guilt – or whatever you want to call it – as fuel/impetus to give my roles strength and truth.
IN: For your casting as Gellert Grindelwald in “Fantastic Beasts 2” (Cinema release: 15.11.) you have received protest from the MeToo camp. How do you feel when you are again and again being targeted by public opinion?
JD: I take a deep breath and try to go my way. There is no excuse for violence against women. Every accusation, every allegation must be carefully examined by the relevant police authority.
IN: Speaking of violence against women: the LAPD spokesperson merely confirmed that on May 21, 2016, a patrol car drove to your South Broadway apartment because an emergency call had alerted the police about domestic violence. Arriving there, the police interrogated all those present, examined the rooms and decided that no criminally relevant action had occurred. Nevertheless, your then wife Amber Heard obtained a court order forbidding you to approach her – and she filed for divorce…
JD: I have to interrupt you here. You have certainly come to know during your research …
IN: … that there is a clause, as part of your divorce agreement, that silences all those involved.
JD: Like the police at the scene, a judge has ruled during our divorce (proceedings) to what extent Amber’s allegations against me were legitimate and legally relevant. Today it is of no use, to publicly bring up accusations or defense (the rejection of those accusations) again and again.
IN: Mind you, the restraining order prohibiting you from approaching Amber Heard was withdrawn shortly afterwards – after your lawyers negotiated the essentials, especially the financial details of your divorce.
JD: Can we please talk again about guitars, music and movies?
IN: How do you deal with such or other problems that can obviously can’t be solved by you and maybe can’t be solved at all?
JD: With patience. I think every problem can be solved with patience. Every dream can come true. I never gave up on my dream of being a guitarist on the big stage – not even while I was working on my acting career. No matter where I was, I always had a good guitar within my reach. I know that people have often laughed at me, or even ridiculed me behind my back. I can ignore that. Because my dream didn’t come true, because fate meant it well with me. My dream came true because I made it true with my friends. So I continue on my own path and do my job. No matter if I play Gellert Grindelwald in a movie, or compose new songs with the Hollywood Vampires and record them in the studio. It doesn’t matter if I get some of my lost fortune back or if I have to earn it all again. I get up again, knock the dust off my clothes and continue on my path/journey.
The interview with Johnny Depp was done by the journalist Jerry Wagner in the context of the summer concert of the Hollywood Vampires in the Hamburg city park. Wagner talked to Depp at the Hyatt Hotel and in the backstage area. Both know each other from previous meetings: “But this time I was impressed by Johnny’s openness, his humor and his emotionality,” says Wagner.