Articles from March 2005

DEAD MAN composer Neil Young undergoes surgery for brain aneurysm

Neil Young, who composed the haunting score for DEAD MAN, has undergone surgery for “a dangerous brain aneurysm,” his publicist Jim Merlis told the Associated Press. Young had surgery on Tuesday and will remain hospitalized at New York’s Weill Cornell Medical Center through the weekend, at least. Young’s doctors do expect him to make a full recovery. That’s very good news, since brain aneurysms are potentially deadly.

Young first realized he had a problem when he attended the March 14th induction ceremony at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, and his vision became blurry.

Due to his recent surgery, Neil Young will not be able to perform at Canada’s Juno awards in Winnipeg on Sunday night. He issued an apology to the organizers and the fans for missing his engagement. No worries, Neil–just get well soon! The Zone wishes Neil Young a speedy and complete recovery.

"I've been taking a few left turns:" Johnny Depp talks to EMPIRE Magazine about portraying Willy Wonka

The Summer Preview issue of EMPIRE, the UK’s most popular film magazine, focuses on potential blockbusters, so of course there is an inset photo of Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka on their cover, and a story on CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY inside. Although it is only one page long, the EMPIRE story is as crammed with goodies as a Wonka chocolate bar: there is a large cast photo, smaller inset photos of director Tim Burton and the movie poster, a brief Q & A with Tim, and a short interview with Johnny about his approach to the character. EMPIRE even manages to investigate that rumor that a camera fell into the chocolate river during last summer’s shooting. Not only did the camera fall in, but it could not be retrieved: it’s still in the chocolate river! (Ewwwww.)

EMPIRE calls the pairing of Tim Burton, “the Willy Wonka of the movie world–fanciful and eccentric, with a hint of darkness” and his “Muse,” Johnny Depp, “Perfection!” Asked how it felt to work with Johnny again, Tim replied, “He always surprises me. I love actors who don’t care how they look. There’s a freedom to that.” However, Johnny “has his doubts” about his performance. “I’ve no idea what I’ve done, really,” he tells EMPIRE with his characteristic humility. “I don’t know if it’s any good, but it feels like I’m doing the right thing. I’ve been taking a few left turns.”

EMPIRE certainly enjoys the ride, calling Johnny’s portrayal “batty, screwy, wonky and totally out there.” And producer Richard Zanuck is thrilled with his star: “What he’s done is unbelievable; it’s pure Johnny Depp.” The more we hear, the more eager we are to see CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY!

The Zone thanks sue c and In-too-Depp for posting the EMPIRE story on the News & Views forum, and Gilbert’s Girl for sharing the May 2005 cover.

Music to our ears: A little news about THE LIBERTINE

The Times Online reports that Michael Nyman, the composer of THE LIBERTINE’s musical score, spent the afternoon of his 61st birthday, March 23rd, working on the film. According to the Times, Nyman passed his birthday afternoon “in a studio in Barnes, recording the soundtrack for the film THE LIBERTINE, which stars Johnny Depp.” This is good news for Depp fans; since THE LIBERTINE was fully scored when it showed as a work-in-progress at the Toronto Film Festival last September, Mr. Nyman would only need to return to the studio if a re-edited version of THE LIBERTINE were now ready to have music added. That work on the film is continuing suggests a strong commitment to THE LIBERTINE’s eventual theatrical release, an event we all are eagerly awaiting. Thanks to Gilbert’s Girl for spotting the story and posting it on the News & Views forum. The Zone wishes a belated happy birthday to Michael Nyman; we hope to hear your music drifting over us in movie theaters before the year is over.

Film legend Christopher Lee names Johnny Depp the "number one" actor of his generation

In an interview in the new issue of TOTAL FILM, legendary actor Christopher Lee proclaims Johnny Depp the best actor of his generation. Lee, now 82 and the veteran of more than 200 films, speaks with disdain of many of today’s “young, over-hyped stars with very little experience,” who are “pitched into big-budget movies in major roles and they can’t begin to handle them.” Their performances are so unsatisfying, Lee claims “it’s like looking at holes in the air.”

In contrast, Lee has only the highest praise for Johnny Depp. Christopher Lee acted opposite Johnny in three Tim Burton films–SLEEPY HOLLOW (1999), and the upcoming releases CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY and TIM BURTON’S CORPSE BRIDE–so he has had plenty of opportunities to watch Johnny creating a character, as well as viewing the completed projects. “Johnny Depp, as far as I’m concerned, is number one,” Lee told TOTAL FILM. “Of his generation, there’s no one who can touch him.”

The Zone thanks emma for posting the interview on the News & Views forum. We think, in addition to being one of filmdom’s most memorable actors, Mr. Lee is a most astute critic!

"This summer's golden ticket"–Total Film puts Johnny Depp's Willy Wonka on the cover of their Summer Preview issue!

The UK’s Total Film magazine selected Tim Burton’s CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY to grace the cover of their summer movie preview issue–the photo shows Johnny Depp in his Willy Wonka costume and gives a good closeup view of Wonka’s incredible purple eyes. The magazine features a short preview of the film and a four-question interview with Tim Burton. When journalist Jamie Graham asked, “So how dark is your version going to be? Will it give the kids nightmares?”, the director replied, “Well, I get nightmares watching Teletubbies, so it depends on what gives you nightmares . . . .”

As for an assessment of the film, Total Film headlines: “Burton! Depp! Lee! It’s shaping up to be this summer’s golden ticket.” After a brief account of a day of filming, the report concludes: “Let’s just say the Burton/Depp dream team are delivering big time. Roald Dahl must be grinning in his grave.”

The Zone thanks Reemi for posting the Total Film cover, and Gilbert’s Girl for sharing the contents of the CATCF preview on the News & Views forum. Jackslady reports that a DVD comes with the magazine; it features trailers for several summer films, including the brief trailer for CATCF that we all know and love.

Get out your handkerchiefs: FINDING NEVERLAND is released on DVD in North America

The many long-suffering Depp fans who waited in vain for FINDING NEVERLAND to come to their local theaters can now, at last, see Johnny Depp’s brilliant portrayal of J. M. Barrie from the comfort of their favorite chair. FINDING NEVERLAND was released on DVD in Region 1 today, and can be found for prices as low as $14.99 at major discount outlets. It is available in Widescreen and Fullscreen editions. Be sure to get your copy this week, though, as it is customary for stores to raise prices after the initial week of release. The DVD includes a few deleted scenes with commentary, some hilarious outtakes, the documentary “The Magic of FINDING NEVERLAND,” red carpet highlights, and a commentary track with director Marc Forster, writer David Magee, and the producers (but, alas, no Johnny). The Region 1 DVD has a French language track and subtitles and also a Spanish language track and subtitles. The movie looks beautiful and its intimate drama transfers well to small-screen viewing, but since the excellent performances lose none of their emotional impact, you will need a box of Kleenex handy when you watch.

Pirates ahoy! POTC 2 enters the Black Pearl in the Volvo round-the-world yacht race!

In one of the more unusual marketing ploys in movie history, Disney has joined with Volvo to enter a yacht named The Black Pearl to fly the skull-and-crossbones of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 2 in the world’s premier ocean race. So far there are seven yachts signed up to participate in the race, which will begin in Vigo, northern Spain, in mid-November 2005 and is scheduled to finish in Gothenburg, Sweden, in mid-June 2006, only a few weeks before the release of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST. The race is intensely competitive, and the cost of participation is estimated at approximately $12 million per yacht. POTC stars Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, and Keira Knightley will undergo training at the race headquarters in Portsmouth, and then each will join the Black Pearl as crew members during part of her journey, most likely for the in-shore races conducted at ports of call. Keira will crew in Europe; Orlando will join the race in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand; and Johnny will sail the Black Pearl when she reaches the US and Brazil.

Why would a movie company enter a high-stakes professional sporting competition? “Given the film’s high seas adventures and nautical themes, this marathon sporting event is a great way to make some waves and generate awareness among the millions of viewers,” explained Dick Cook, the chairman of Walt Disney Studios. We also think the POTC 2 yacht is a very pretty boat–er, ship–but we will refrain from making comments about boys and the cost of their toys.

Glenn Bourke, the Volvo Ocean Race CEO, is thrilled to have the POTC yacht (and its stars) enter his race. “The excitement and intrigue which this entry brings to the race takes us to a whole new level in terms of global profile and exposure. To link up with a Hollywood icon such as the Walt Disney Company is a fillip for the event and for sailing in general.” And do the pirates have a chance to steal across the finish line ahead of their competition? Says Bourke, “I fully expect this team, proudly flying the flag of the United States, will be at the sharp end of the race for honours.” We think that means Yes . . . .

The Zone thanks emma for breaking the story, and sjc for the lovely artwork of Captain Jack aboard the Volvo version of the Black Pearl. He looks right at home.

Attention, movie lovers–it's a double-Depp trailer weekend!

If you are longing for the glimpse (or sound) of Johnny Depp on the big screen (and who isn’t?) and FINDING NEVERLAND has left your neighborhood, we have good news! Trailers for Johnny’s upcoming movies, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY and TIM BURTON’S CORPSE BRIDE, are running with separate features this weekend. Invisible Sun reports seeing the CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY trailer running before showings of ROBOTS, while addicted2depp and CloningJohnny21 both had the delightful surprise of seeing THE CORPSE BRIDE trailer before showings of THE RING 2. We thank them for helping us plan our next trip to the multiplex!

What no one has seen yet–unfortunately–is a trailer for THE LIBERTINE. We’re waiting for that one: keep a sharp eye!

Willy Wonka chocolate bars to return to the UK

UK Zoners with a sweet tooth will soon be able to satisfy their chocolate craving with genuine Willy Wonka bars! Nestle Rowntree will once again produce Willy Wonka chocolate bars in the UK, reports Mark Sweney Marketing, so it can “cash in on” the July release of the Tim Burton film CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, in which Johnny Depp plays chocolatier Willy Wonka. Nestle will relaunch the brand with a five-million-pound promotional campaign and a golden ticket sweepstakes. Willy Wonka bars, which are featured in the movie, will be made in three different flavors: Whipple Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight, Nutty Crunch Surprise, and Triple Dazzle Caramel. There will also be other, pricier candy products in the Nestle line which resemble props from the film–for example, “a cane filled with sweets.” U.S. fans will watch for them on Ebay . . . . The Zone thanks Reemi for posting the story on the News & Views forum.

Freddie Highmore wins Empire Movie Award as Best Newcomer

Freddie Highmore received another honor for his heart-tugging performance as Peter Llewelyn-Davies in FINDING NEVERLAND when he won Best Newcomer at the Empire Movie Awards in London on Sunday night, March 13th. In his acceptance speech, the always-gracious young actor thanked the voters first. “Also thank you to Marc Forster, Richard Gladstein and Miramax for giving me the opportunity to play Peter,” Freddie said, “and also Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet for making FINDING NEVERLAND such a fantastic experience.”

Congratulations to Freddie, and also to his FINDING NEVERLAND co-star Kate Winslet, who was honored as Best British Actress for her sparkling performance as Clementine in ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND. The Zone thanks Gilbert’s Girl and emma for posting the news on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

FINDING NEVERLAND released on DVD in the UK

Congratulations to all the lucky Deppheads across the Pond . . . the DVD edition of FINDING NEVERLAND is now being shipped to your mailboxes and retail outlets, and you will soon be able to enjoy this magical film whenever you wish. North American release date is March 22, 2005. Thanks to Mrs Pink for the update, and thanks to Gilbert’s Girl for posting the following review of the DVD, written by Adrienne Connors for the SUNDAY TIMES:

“A century after the curtain rose on the play Peter Pan, we all know about paying heed to our ‘inner child’–the part of us that doesn’t grow up. This movie engagingly tells how JM Barrie (the wonderful Johnny Depp) found the inspiration to write his fantastic tale through his friendship with Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (a touching Kate Winslet) and her four young sons (Freddie Highmore is particularly heart-rending as Peter). Marc Forster’s lovely-to-look-at film shows an imagination set free, as innocence and worldliness collide for both Barrie and the boys. The extras relate some suitably childish pranks on set–Depp entertained his younger colleagues with a whoopee cushion. As Dustin Hoffman, who does a great turn as a theatrical impresario, says on one of the background documentaries: ‘Be an adult, but never be a grown-up.’ Four stars.” We’re eagerly awaiting our chance to linger over this “lovely-to-look-at film” with “the wonderful Johnny Depp,” especially since many Zone members live in communities where FINDING NEVERLAND did not play on the big screen.

THE BOMB IN THE GARDEN: Another new project for Johnny's production company!

Variety reports today that there is another new project in the works at Infinitum Nihil; Johnny’s production company and Graham King’s Initial Entertainment have just optioned a non-fiction book called THE BOMB IN MY GARDEN.

The book’s authors are Mahdi Obeidi, Iraq’s top nuclear scientist, and PEOPLE Magazine foreign correspondent, Kurt Pitzer. The movie will focus on a bit of very recent history, Variety reports; the film will detail Obeidi’s attempt to surrender himself and his secrets to the U.S. after Saddam Hussein’s capture. When Obeidi tried to turn himself in and hand over his secrets to the U.S., he learned that the CIA and other government agencies didn’t believe him. Kurt Pitzer then hatches a scheme to get Obeidi and his family out of Iraq before Obeidi can be killed by insurgents who want to silence him. One of the secrets Obeidi disclosed was the presence of a bomb in his backyard; he had buried a uranium enrichment device there.

Variety reports that Infinitum Nihil and Initial’s Graham King will produce the film; Initial’s Alexa Faigen and Infinitum Nihil’s Christi Dembrowski (Johnny’s sister)and Sam Sarkar will oversee the project. There is no mention of whether Johnny intends to act in this film.

The Zone thanks es and emma for breaking the story. The full Daily Variety article is posted on the News & Views forum.

"A Pair of Deviant Bookends"–Johnny Depp writes a heartfelt reminiscence of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson in the new ROLLING STONE

ROLLING STONE’s new issue, dated March 24, 2005, features the late Dr. Hunter S. Thompson on the cover and contains 31 pages of tributes to the pioneering journalist. Johnny Depp’s contribution, entitled “A Pair of Deviant Bookends,” is a lengthy, vivid reminiscence of his friendship with Hunter. He eulogizes his friend as “a genius who revolutionized writing in the same way that Marlon Brando had done with acting” and calls Hunter “without question, the most loyal and present friend I have ever had the honor of knowing.” Needless to say, this issue is a must-have for all Deppheads. Sam was kind enough to post the full text of Johnny’s tribute on the News & Views forum–thanks so much, sam! Here is a small sample that explains the tribute’s title, as Johnny discusses the period when he was living in Hunter’s house in Aspen, preparing for his role in FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS:

“I used to tease him that we were becoming a perversely twisted version of Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, which really made him uncomfortable. I had, by this point, purloined an impressive amount of his clothing from the Vegas period and adopted the same mode of dress: the aviator shades, a bush hat, short pants, athletic socks, Converse sneakers, cigarette holder clenched tightly between the teeth. We’d saunter out of the house to take a drive in the car like freakish twins.

“So, for good or ill, there we were, a pair of deviant bookends on the prowl.

“Truly, the man should be sainted for putting up with my continual scratching away at the layers of his life. He stuck it out like a champion and couldn’t have been a better friend.”

The photo on the left comes from the HELLO MAGAZINE site and shows Johnny delivering his memorial tribute to Hunter at the Hotel Jerome in Aspen on March 5th. He performs “the wave speech” from FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS while standing next to a large cardboard cut-out of Hunter, with a huge American flag in the background. To see a larger version of the photo, click HERE, and to read the HELLO story, click HERE. The Zone thanks emma and sam for posting the ROLLING STONE stories, and sleepy and Pebbles for the HELLO magazine pictures and story. The Zone also thanks Johnny for sharing his memories of Hunter and giving us all a glimpse of “the dear Doctor.”

Season Two of 21 JUMP STREET released on DVD!

Fans of the hot young Officer Tom Hanson on the Fox series 21 JUMP STREET can add Season 2 to their personal libraries today, as the 6-disc set is released on DVD in North America. Meanwhile, joni reports that Season 3 of 21 JUMP STREET will be released on August 23, 2005. Amazon is already accepting orders for Season 3 at a pre-release price of $31.49, which includes free shipping.

Johnny Depp and Freddie Highmore nominated for Empire Awards

Accolades for FINDING NEVERLAND are not quite over–on March 7th, the nominees for the Sony Ericsson Empire Awards were announced, and the J. M. Barrie biopic snagged another pair of nominations. Johnny Depp received a Best Actor nod for his performance as J. M. Barrie; other nominees include Tobey Maguire for SPIDER-MAN 2, Tom Cruise for COLLATERAL, Matt Damon for THE BOURNE SUPREMACY, and Jim Carrey for ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND. Freddie Highmore received a nomination as Best Newcomer for his performance as Peter Llewelyn-Davies, and co-star Kate Winslet earned a Best Actress nod for her role as Clementine in ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND. Congratulations to all! The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in London’s Guildhall on Sunday, March 13th–no lengthy awards campaign here, thank goodness! UK Zoners can catch TV coverage on Five on Tuesday evening, March 15th. The Zone thanks emma for posting the story on the News & Views forum.

The ZONE remembers Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

On Saturday, March 5, 2005, the Johnny Depp-Zone joined with friends and admirers of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson all over the world and took time out to honor and celebrate his remarkable life. The Zone today is full of tributes to Hunter, from the ONBC discussion of Hunter’s writing, to the pictures and artwork posted, to the memories articulated on every forum. Clearly Hunter will be deeply missed by the many Zoners who loved him and his work. The Zone wrote no official eulogy for HST; that was too heartbreaking a task for anyone to shoulder. But here is an excerpt from a farewell letter to Hunter written by the Zone’s webmaster, Part-time Poet. The full letter appears on the Porch:

“You believed in liberty and justice–and not just for the privileged few. You screamed like a banshee at oppression and injustice wherever you found it, even if it emanated from the Oval Office. You shouted ‘Fire!’ long before the rest of us sleepy souls even smelled smoke, and you were invariably right. Often you were right and all alone, called crazy for your pains. That didn’t matter. You kept writing, warning, and shouting. I see now that you were more dedicated to the Presidential oath–‘to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States’–than some who swore those words before the Chief Justice on Inauguration Day.

“‘I have to think that a person can do some good,’ you once told a British Omnibus film crew. Fear not–you did.

“[. . .] Thank you for never giving up, or caving in, or bowing down to the status quo. [. . .] For so long you were our Atlas, carrying all of us on your broad shoulders. Now we will trail in your wake, struggling to grow up and fight our own battles without Gonzo to lead us.

But we know how.
Thanks to you.”

RIP, HST. We love you always.

Johnny Depp arrives in Apsen for Hunter S. Thompson memorial service, March 5th

Johnny Depp arrived in Aspen Saturday, March 5th, to take part in the memorial gathering for his friend Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. Photographers snapped Johnny’s PHOTO as he and fellow actor John Cusack arrived at the Hotel Jerome. The Denver Post reports that the 150 invitees to the private evening ceremony in the ballroom of the historic hotel included only Hunter’s closest friends and family members, each of whom was asked to bring “a favorite photo or memento to help mark the occasion.” The ballroom was decorated with a giant American flag and an almost life-size black-and-white photo cutout of Thompson standing in front of it. In addition to Johnny and John Cusack, other friends of Hunter who made the trip to Aspen included Jack Nicholson; Sean Penn; Bill Murray; Benicio Del Toro; HST’s publisher at ROLLING STONE, Jann Wenner; and artist Ralph Steadman, whose distinctive cartoons illustrated many of Hunter’s works. Thanks to emma and DeepinDepp for posting the news; you can read the full story HERE. The Zone also thanks MadScntst and moo who posted photos of Johnny in Aspen on the Recent Pics forum.

As his part of the memorial to Hunter, Johnny read “the wave speech” from FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS–probably the single most famous piece of prose in all of Hunter’s works. Fans will remember that Johnny also read “the wave speech” at the Hunter S. Thompson tribute in Louisville, Kentucky in December 1996–the night Hunter arranged for Johnny to be proclaimed a Kentucky Colonel in the Kentucky Colonels Association. This passage, which Johnny calls “the most profound section” of FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS, describes and mourns the end of the 1960s, so it is a particularly fitting choice for Hunter’s memorial, which also marks the end of an era.

Only one reporter–Jeff Kass of the Rocky Mountain News–was permitted to attend the memorial gathering. You can read his account of the evening’s tributes HERE.

British actor Bill Nighy joins the cast of the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN sequels

British actor Bill Nighy,55,has joined the cast of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 2 and 3. Nighy told the Daily Express that he will be playing a pirate, “a really, really horrible man.” Nighy won a BAFTA as Best Supporting Actor of 2003 for his performance as a washed-up rock star attempting a comeback in LOVE ACTUALLY. He also appeared as Philip in the horror spoof SHAUN OF THE DEAD–excellent credentials for joining the pirate crew. Welcome aboard, mate! Thanks to sweetie_sparrow and to emma for the Nighy news.

The Zone opens TWO new galleries in THE DEPPARTMENT–EUROPEAN COVERS and AMERICAN COVERS!

The Zone is delighted to announce the latest additions to our photo galleries–two beautiful and very large collections of magazine covers featuring Johnny Depp! The EUROPEAN COVERS gallery contains 49 images, including a couple from Australian magazines that needed a place to roost. The AMERICAN COVERS gallery contains 37 images from magazines published in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Our new additions join with our JAPANESE COVERS gallery, already up in The Deppartment, to provide a fascinating history of Johnny Depp’s career from its earliest days to the present.

To view the new galleries, click on GALLERIES button above and select THE DEPPARTMENT. The ESQUIRE thumbnail on the bottom row takes you to AMERICAN COVERS, while the STUDIO with Johnny’s self-portrait takes you to EUROPEAN COVERS. As always, many thanks to Sleepy for sharing her fabulous collection with all of us!

The ZONE honors Dr. Hunter S. Thompson with a memorial tribute on Saturday, March 5th

Please join the Zone on Saturday, March 5th at noon Eastern time as we remember and celebrate the life of the late Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.

As many of you know, March 5th is the day on which Hunter’s close friends and family, including Johnny Depp, are having their private “memorial gathering” in Aspen, Colorado. We thought it only fitting that we have a memorial gathering on the Zone as well . . . a chance for us to share our feelings about Hunter and his work, and our memories of how he has touched our lives through his writing and his friendship with Johnny.

Tribute threads will be open for posting reminiscences, reflections, or farewell letters to Hunter. A thread will be open in Pic Parties for posting pictures of Hunter and Johnny. Those of you who are artistically gifted may want to create a collage or wallpaper to share, like Shadow’s beautiful tribute collage HERE. The ONBC will be posting some favorite quotations from Hunter’s works and inviting you to do the same.

So set out a tumbler of Chivas Regal or your beverage of choice, pull out that well-thumbed copy of FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS, and join us on Saturday to give Hunter one splendid sendoff. And while tears may flow at times, bring your sense of humor, too. A tribute to Hunter S. Thompson should be full of fun and camaraderie. He loved to laugh and wrote of even the most difficult subjects with humor. Our gathering Saturday will try to match the spirit of his writing: always heartfelt, frequently hilarious. See you there!