Saturday, 5 November 2011

Johnny Depp in Vanity Fair

One of my favorite actors is Johnny Depp. One of my favorite publications is Vanity Fair. Put them together and I am filled with joy. Now these two are no strangers to each other, Johnny's been on the cover of VF how many times?! I'm too lazy to google this, but I have a feeling quite a lot. A few days ago I saw a comment somewhere which basically said: "there IS such a thing as too much Johnny Depp in Vanity Fair" or something along those lines. And it made me wonder, is there?

So I went back to the recent three issues with Johnny Depp: the July 2009, the January 2011 and of course the latest November 2011... And here is my take on these three stories.

July 2009 - Johnny Depp’s Great Escape

This is where I learn more about Johnny's Caribbean island and get a feeling of his lifestyle post the huge success of The Pirates. This is where I learn why the names like Keith Richards, Marlon Brando and of course Hunter Thompson are so important to him. And this is where I learn that not only he acts and sings, he also paints.

A private island, a 156-foot yacht, some might think - cliche, a hollywood star on a spending spree. And then you read Johnny's explanation and it all makes sense:

“Somehow,” he says, “the mathematics led me here to my island. I don’t think I’d ever seen any place so pure and beautiful. You can feel your pulse rate drop about 20 beats. It’s instant freedom. And that rare beast—simplicity—can be had. And a little morsel of anonymity."

This to me, sums up Johnny Depp, there is freedom and simplicity in him, as well as a whole lot of depth. 

January 2011 - The Crowded Mind of Johnny Depp

First of all, this look is one of my favorites for Johnny, he might have been a pirate in one of his past lives. Also, the photographs (by Annie Leibovitz) are a work of art, I think Johnny looks the most natural and relaxed in them. 

This time it's focused on the many characters that Johnny Depp so masterfully created throughout his career: Captain Jack Sparrow (aka Johnny's alter ego?), Willy Wonka (weird but there's something there), Edward Scissorhands (so vulnerable), the Mad Hatter (again, weird but there's something there),  the Earl of Rochester (an absolute masterpiece)... (I must say that the article was promoting The Tourist that was out at that time, but I think this is the weakest character of Johnny's and as much as I admire his talent I think the movie (and that's exactly the word for it) was mediocre). 

For me, this interview showed the intellectual side of Johnny (interviewed by his friend Patti Smith). His reflections on the roles he played showed his range: the books he reads, the music he listens to, the people he learns from... and ultimately his inspirations. After reading it, I had this urge to revisit some of the authors that he mentioned because of the way he talked about their work.

Quoting the words of Marlon Brando: "we only have so many faces in our pockets", but it seems like Johnny has some pretty deep pockets. The interview ends with Johnny saying that one day he would like to play Hamlet. Now THIS I would definitely like to see. 

November 2011 - The Hunter in Johnny Depp

Now this one has a totally different feel to it. It's almost like you get to know Johnny on a "guy's night out". I don't know whether it's the influence of The Rum Diary and Johnny is still embracing the character or is it because the interviewer (Nick Tosches) is a friend of his (and he lets you know about it) and they ARE actually on a guy's night out, but compared to the January story where Johnny is softer and more reflexive, this one is... well, different. And that's good, because the last thing you want is to read the same story all over again.

It is mostly about the upcoming The Rum Diary and Johnny's friendship with Hunter Thompson. Other topics can be recognized from the previous stories on Johnny but there are new angles, new details that did not surface previously. Interestingly, Johnny talks about feeling weird and stupid during photoshoots and the interviewer poses a question of how can someone who seems to have had his picture on every magazine cover in the world be so antagonistic to having his picture taken.

All in all, Johnny is one actor who manages to combine seemingly incompatible qualities - he is smart and handsome, he is sophisticated and simple, he is a pirate and an aristocrat.  The man who has the capacity to hold the many characters he's created over the years and yet be himself. So is there such a thing as TOO MUCH of Johnny Depp? My answer is - no, because there is SO MUCH in him.  

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