Articles from January 2007

"It would be great to be like him": Freddie Highmore praises Johnny Depp

On a publicity tour for his newest film, ARTHUR AND THE INVISIBLES, Freddie Highmore, who appeared with Johnny Depp in FINDING NEVERLAND and CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, was asked to name his favorite movie-making experience. Now 14, the gifted Mr. Highmore already boasts an impressive resume; clearly he’s blessed with excellent judgment as well. Although he enjoyed playing with the baby tigers on his film TWO BROTHERS, his favorite film experience is CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY because he loved working with Johnny Depp. “One of the things you learn working with him is he is just a normal person, and he doesn’t treat anyone any differently just because he is a famous actor,” Freddie told the Chicago Tribune. “I think if I ever got to be as famous as him, it would be great to be like him.” Thanks to OldLady for sharing this story; you can read the full article on the Porch. –Part-Time Poet

"Johnny was in his element"–an eyewitness report from The Sheila Witkin Memorial Concert on Sunday

That’s Johnny Depp on stage in Florida on Sunday (January 28) with his band The Kids, rockin’ the house during the Sheila Witkin Memorial Concert. “Johnny was in his element with his old friends and bandmates . . . completely relaxed and having a good time,” reports Chenault, one of several Zoners who attended the concert. “It was such a beautiful sight.” The set list included the core Kids repertoire plus covers of U2’s “I Will Follow,” the Clash’s “Train in Vain” and–reaching back to the first days of the British Invasion–the Dave Clark Five’s “Glad All Over.” For one number, the Kids were joined onstage by Bruce Witkin’s 15-year-old daughter Veronica, who played guitar with them, showcasing another aspect of Sheila Witkin’s musical legacy–the very talented next generation.

“When Johnny came out to play, he came out on the stage very unceremoniously with no introduction; the guys just walked on stage quietly and picked up their instruments,” reports Kelly, another Zoner in attendance. “I thought I was going to die. Here he was right in front of me doing what he loves to do–play guitar with his friends. From the moment he came on stage, I truly forgot that there was anyone around me. It was such an intimate experience.” Thanks very much to the Zoners who have shared that intimate experience with all of us! You can read all about the Sheila Witkin Memorial Concert on two mammoth threads on the Zone’s News & Views forum. –Part-Time Poet

BREAKING NEWS–Johnny Depp plays concert with The Kids in Florida!

The actor took a hiatus and Johnny Depp the guitarist took the stage on Sunday night, as The Kids reunited at Club Cinema in Pompano Beach, Florida for a tribute to the late Sheila Witkin, mother of The Kids’ lead singer, Bruce. Johnny wore a white sleeveless T-shirt, white shirt with long sleeves, vest, and jeans; Deppheads will recognize his tortoiseshell glasses and a favorite gray beret, on backwards. The photo at left was taken by Chenault, one of several Zoners who attended tonight’s concert, and shows Johnny on the Club Cinema stage.

Gemini reports that the Kids were the final band of the evening; they came onstage around 9:30 p.m. and played for two hours! “The poor guys were getting tired but having too much fun to stop,” she told the Zone. “The last few songs quite a few of the guys who had already performed came on stage, and they were all performing together. Johnny did reach down and touch the hands of some of the people in the front row between songs towards the end. Every few songs Johnny would stop and wipe his face with a towel. It was hot under those lights.” Indeed, it got so hot that at one point Johnny went offstage and shed his vest and shirt, and came back to play in his white sleeveless T-shirt. Hopefully there were some photographers in the house!

“You could tell they really did enjoy playing together again,” Gemini told us. Videos that prove her true are already popping up on YouTube; you can find links on the Zone’s News & Views forum, as well as eyewitness accounts of the concert by Gemini, Chenault, and Kelly, and phoned-in reports by DeepinDepp and Dawn68PA. Thanks to everyone who shared the news–this was a great evening! –Part-Time Poet

Memorial concert for Sheila Witkin in Miami Sunday to feature Johnny Depp's band, The Kids

Before Johnny Depp became an actor, he played lead guitar in a band called The Kids, based in south Florida; the band’s lead singer was Bruce Witkin. Bruce’s mom, Sheila Witkin, was an integral part of the south Florida music scene–band manager, booking agent, dedicated dynamo on behalf of local musicians, and, according to a disk jockey who remembers her well, “everybody’s Jewish mother.” Sadly, Sheila Witkin died, much too young, last April, and on Sunday afternoon, January 28th, the bands she helped to promote will gather in Miami once again to honor her memory with a benefit concert at Club Cinema in Pompano Beach. And yes, The Kids will play live! Several Florida media outlets are reporting that Johnny is “in the house” and rehearsing with his bandmates. Joining them on the bill will be Z-cars, Slyder, Critical Mass, Tight Squeeze, Charlie Pickett, and The Cichlids.

You can read more about the inspiring life of Sheila Witkin HERE. To see a photo of Johnny Depp playing guitar with The Kids, click HERE. A feature on the concert by Sean Piccoli of the Florida Sun-Sentinel appears on the Zone’s News & Views forum–thanks to sleepy for posting it and to FANtasticJD for the photo.

Congratulations to all those lucky ticket-holders! We look forward to hearing all the details of this once-in-a-lifetime event. And cheers to all the musicians who are playing on Sunday–what a beautiful tribute to Sheila Witkin. –Part-Time Poet

"Johnny Depp embodies so much of what SHANTARAM is": a new interview with director Mira Nair

In an interview with CNBC, an obviously delighted Mira Nair confirmed that her film of Gregory David Roberts’ bestselling novel SHANTARAM will be “crisscrossing across continents” but will definitely film in Mumbai, where much of the novel is set. “Of course, it’s going to be Mumbai and a combination of Mumbai, London and China. It’s just enormous. But we will definitely be shooting in Mumbai.” She plans to return to India soon to begin assembling the “vast, vast cast” needed for the movie. “It’s an amazing banquet. In terms of actors, I am going to work with some leading actors as well as some unknowns, as I always do it.”

As for her film’s star, Johnny Depp, Ms. Nair told Reuters that she was “elated and honored” to have the opportunity to direct him. “Johnny Depp is an extraordinary human being, an extraordinary actor, and he embodies so much of what SHANTARAM is,” Nair explained. “So when he asked me to direct him, it was just a great honor. It’s also a great honour to get India right on screen.”

The Zone thanks Theresa for posting the CNBC interview (including a video clip) and Emma for the Reuters article: you can read both in their entirety on the Zone’s News & Views forum. –Part-Time Poet

Drinks all around–PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST receives four Oscar nominations!

Congratulations to the talented artists of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST on their much-deserved Oscar nominations! Nominated for Best Achievement in Art Direction are Rick Heinrichs (Art Direction) and Cheryl Carasik (Set Decoration); for Best Achievement in Sound Editing, Christopher Boyes and George Watters II; for Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, Paul Massey, Christopher Boyes and Lee Orloff; and for Best Achievement in Visual Effects, John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and Allen Hall. We hope you will all be taking home gold statues when the Oscars are presented on Sunday, February 25, 2007.

We also salute everyone who worked on DEAD MAN’S CHEST; your collaboration created a film which won the hearts of moviegoers all over the world. You are woven into our memories and into movie history for all time.

Thanks to Gilbert’s Girl for breaking the news, and to Savvy for the list of nominees. You can check Academy Award nominees in all categories HERE. –Part-Time Poet

Mira Nair discusses her new project: SHANTARAM, starring Johnny Depp

Director Mira Nair shared her excitement for her next project, SHANTARAM, in an interview for NDTV. She will be directing Johnny Depp in Gregory David Roberts’ epic story which “gives a different perspective of the relation between the east and the west.” Explains Ms. Nair, “Unlike the movies where the white man comes to the dark continents of the third world to teach us to, you know, how to light a candle, make some electricity [. . .] this is not that film. This is a film about a man who is ashamed, who is guilty, [. . .] who is a convict and who is a heroin addict who comes to this country and discovers what honour is. And he meets a number of very, very important desi characters who teach him what honour is and instill in him that honour, and that is a very different perspective or point of view than most of the films in which white men come to save us [. . . . W]hat I love most is that India is the hero of the film and the way we live is the hero of this film.”

As for a shooting schedule, the director said, “We start filming in November this year and it’s about a five month shoot over three continents. India, Australia, probably China or Ladakh for Afghanistan.” Although she hasn’t made casting decisions yet, Nair anticipates casting “the most extraordinary actors we have in our country. So it is very much an equation of Johnny Depp with so many of our finest, and that’s what I look forward to.”

The Zone thanks Theresa and emma for transcriptions of the interview: you can read Mira Nair’s interview in full on the News & Views forum. –Part-Time Poet

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END preview in USA TODAY

USA TODAY’s summer movie preview featured the following description of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END: “It’s the yo-ho-ho gang against that old squid puss, Davy Jones, and the weaselly Lord Beckett. What’s new? In this third chapter, a Hong Kong man of action fattens the pirate ranks. And a Stone rolls by.” Fortunately, AWE producer Jerry Bruckheimer was around to amplify those cryptic comments a bit. “Chow Yun-Fat’s character, Captain Sao Feng, is very interesting,” Mr. Bruckheimer told USA TODAY. “No one is sure what his allegiances are, to save the pirates or team up with Beckett, who now has Davy Jones’ heart and controls him. He butts heads with everyone.”

The producer also spoke enthusiastically about Keith Richards’ appearance in AT WORLD’S END as Captain Teague, a role USA TODAY describes as “Jack Sparrow’s papa and source of his gypsy-on-acid fashion sense.” Declares Mr. Bruckheimer, “He’s fantastic. Very sexy.” AT WORLD’S END will be in theaters on May 25, 2007.

The Zone thanks emma for posting the USA TODAY article on our News & Views forum.

BREAKING NEWS–Acclaimed filmmaker Mira Nair to direct Johnny Depp in SHANTARAM!

Mira Nair will direct Johnny Depp in the upcoming Warner Bros. film SHANTARAM; a native of India, where much of SHANTARAM is set, Ms. Nair is ideally suited to bring Gregory David Roberts’ complex adventure tale to the screen. Variety reports that SHANTARAM is now “back on track” and may be Johnny Depp’s next film after SWEENEY TODD. “Production is likely to begin as soon as this fall,” says Variety, “with a possible 2008 release.” Great news!

“We are really enthusiastic about having Mira onboard this incredible project,” Graham King told the press. King’s Initial Entertainment Group is producing SHANTARAM along with Infinitum Nihil (Johnny Depp’s company) and Plan B. “With her lush visual style, she lends an authentic and vital eye to this story which has been beautifully adapted for the big screen by Eric Roth, a master storyteller. We are also thrilled to be pairing up Mira with the uniquely talented Johnny Depp.”

Mira Nair’s previous films include SALAAM BOMBAY!, her first feature, which was nominated for an Academy Award, Golden Globe, and BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1988; MISSISSIPPI MASALA, an interracial love story starring Denzel Washington and Sarita Choudhury, which won 3 awards at the Venice Film Festival; MY OWN COUNTRY, which won the NAACP award as Best Fiction Feature in 1998; MONSOON WEDDING, which won the Golden Lion at the 2001 Venice Film Festival and received Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations as Best Foreign Film; the HBO film HYSTERICAL BLINDNESS, which won a Golden Globe for Uma Thurman and three Emmy Awards; and VANITY FAIR, starring Reese Witherspoon. Her most recent film, Fox Searchlight’s THE NAMESAKE, is currently in post-production and scheduled for release on March 9th.

Thanks to Theresa, emma, Gilbert’s Girl and DeppintheHeartofTexas for sharing the news and background on Mira Nair’s career; you can read articles from Variety, Screen Daily, and The Guardian on the Zone’s News & Views forum. Discussing the novel SHANTARAM, the Guardian observes,”Roberts’s mostly autobiographical book is the stuff film-makers dream of: the story charts his days as a heroin junkie to his decision to ‘clean up’ and become a gun-runner to pay for medicine supplies for homeless children in Bombay. The role would appear to be an ideal one for Depp, who has elevated roguery to new heights of popularity through his portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow.”

No luster to 2007 Golden Globe telecast

The 2007 Golden Globes telecast lacked its usual sparkle for Deppheads, as Johnny Depp did not attend this year’s ceremony; he is in London preparing for his role as Sweeney Todd. Johnny was nominated as Best Actor in a Motion Picture-Comedy or Musical for his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST; the Golden Globe was awarded to Sacha Baron Cohen for his performance in BORAT.

BREAKING NEWS–Johnny Depp's Infinitum Nihil and Warner Bros. buy rights to book on Litvinenko poisoning

The recent death of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned by polonium-210 and accused Russian president Putin or agents connected to Putin of his murder, may soon become the basis of a film starring Johnny Depp. Variety reports that Warner Bros. has acquired the film rights to Alan Cowell’s forthcoming book “Sasha’s Story: The Life and Death of a Russian Spy” for Infinitum Nihil, Johnny Depp’s production company. Mr. Cowell, chief of the New York Times London bureau, has covered the Litvinenko story from the beginning. “As with any Infinitum project,” says Variety, “the film about Litvinenko could be a potential starring vehicle for Depp, who has been closely following the story.” Johnny will produce the film with Infinitum president Christi Dembrowski and Graham King of Initial Entertainment Group.

Mr. Litvinenko’s mysterious death is, right now, a story without an ending; his murder is the subject of multiple ongoing international investigations, including one by the U.K.’s counterterrorism officials, but no arrest has been made.

The Zone thanks Charlotte Depp and DeepinDepp for breaking the news; there is a spirited discussion on the News & Views forum. To read the Variety article, click HERE.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST receives 5 BAFTA Award nominations

Congratulations to the talented designers and artists of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST for snaring five BAFTA Award nominations this morning. The nominees include Rick Heinrichs and Cheryl A. Carasik for Best Production Design; Penny Rose for Best Costume Design; Christopher Boyes, George Watters II, Paul Massey and Lee Orloff for Best Sound; John Knoll, Hal Hickel and Charles Gibson for Best Achievement in Special Visual Effects; and Ve Neill and Martin Samuel for Best Make-Up and Hair. Well done! The British Academy of Film and Television Arts will present their awards on Sunday, February 11th at the Royal Opera House in London.

Congratulations as well to Naomie Harris, who played Tia Dalma in DEAD MAN’S CHEST; she has been nominated for the Orange Rising Star Award. The public is eligible to vote for this BAFTA category, so if you want to support Ms. Harris, click HERE and cast your vote. Thanks to Gilbert’s Girl for posting the story on the Zone’s News & Views forum; to see a full list of this year’s BAFTA nominees, click HERE.

BREAKING NEWS–Johnny Depp and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST sweep People's Choice Awards!

The people have spoken . . . again. Johnny Depp won his third consecutive People’s Choice Award as Favorite Male Movie Star, and also nabbed the trophy as Favorite Male Action Star for his performance as Captain Jack Sparrow in PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST at the People’s Choice Awards in Los Angeles on Tuesday night. In fact, DEAD MAN’S CHEST ran the table, winning awards in every category for which it was nominated: Favorite Movie, Favorite Movie–Drama, and Favorite On-Screen Match-Up for Johnny and Keira Knightley.

Johnny was not in Los Angeles to accept the awards, but he delivered a gracious thank you speech via satellite from London. He apologized for not being present because he was “across the puddle working on another film”–Tim Burton’s SWEENEY TODD. “I just wanted to thank you so much for this great honor,” Johnny said, smiling. “I’ve said this before, but the fact that this award comes from the people makes it that much more special. Thanks for the honor; thanks for keeping me employed.” He saluted the audience and concluded, “You’re the boss.”

Thanks very much to a host of Zoners who have contributed to our coverage of the People’s Choice Awards: Susanne for the video clip of Johnny’s appearance; deppdevoted, H2H, DeepinDepp, Theresa, FANtasticJD,and Baxendale Guitar for news stories. To see a larger photo of Johnny accepting his award, click HERE; thanks to emma for the photo. Thanks to Theresa for sharing screencaps: you can see them HERE and HERE.

Congratulations to Johnny, Keira, Jerry Bruckheimer, Gore Verbinski, and the entire cast and crew of DEAD MAN’S CHEST; you’ve captured more than awards. You’ve won the hearts of moviegoers everywhere. Cheers!

BREAKING NEWS–New photos of Johnny Depp in London on January 7th

Johnny Depp was photographed as he left Cipriani, one of his favorite London restaurants, after spending four hours dining with friends on Sunday, January 7th. Johnny wore a khaki peacoat, khaki trousers, a black-and-white knitted scarf, and his tortoise-shell glasses, but no hat. To see a full-length view of Johnny leaving Cipriani, click HERE. Johnny’s presence in London indicates that preparation for his role as Sweeney Todd is well underway; filming is scheduled to begin the first week in February. The Zone thanks sleepy for breaking the story–you can read about it on the News & Views forum–and thanks bonnie for the great picture.

Which actors do we want to see onscreen in 2007? Johnny Depp tops Fandango poll

Congratulations to Johnny Depp, who ranked first in an end-of-the-year poll conducted by Fandango, the nation’s largest online movie-ticketing organization. Fandango asked moviegoers to rank the performers they most wanted to see on the big screen in 2007, and–no surprise–Johnny Depp ranked first among male stars; respondents can’t wait to see Johnny return as Captain Jack Sparrow in PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END. Following Johnny in the Fandango poll were Will Smith in I AM LEGEND; Tom Hanks in CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR; Denzel Washington in AMERICAN GANGSTER; and Matt Damon in THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM.

Reese Witherspoon took top honors on the female side for her upcoming role in the political thriller RENDITION, followed by Sandra Bullock (PREMONITION), Julia Roberts (CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR), Keira Knightley (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END), and Drew Barrymore (MUSIC AND LYRICS and LUCKY YOU).

“The Fandango Fifty shows the importance of star power at the box office,” said Fandango’s Richard Horgan, “and reflects moviegoer excitement about the real variety at theaters this year.” The Zone thanks Theresa for posting the Fandango story; you can read the full poll results on the News & Views forum.

Johnny Depp named top money-making star of 2006

Congratulations to Johnny Depp, who was voted the Top Money-Making Star of 2006 in Quigley Publishing Company’s 75th Annual Top Ten Money-Making Stars Poll. The Quigley Poll is a survey of motion picture exhibitors, conducted every year since 1932, which asks them to vote for the ten stars that they believe generated the most box-office revenue in the preceding year for their theatres. The Quigley Poll is considered one of the most reliable indicators of a performer’s box-office draw because the selections are done by people whose livelihood depends on choosing the films that will bring audiences to their theatres. Johnny Depp first appeared in the top ten in 2003, the year PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL was released. Last year, Johnny ranked second with exhibitors; this year he tops the list.

Here are the top ten money-making stars of 2006: 1. Johnny Depp, 2. Leonardo DiCaprio, 3. Will Smith, 4. Denzel Washington, 5. Tom Hanks, 6. George Clooney, 7. Will Ferrell, 8. Tom Cruise, 9. Dakota Fanning, 10. Sacha Baron Cohen. Thanks to Theresa for breaking the story; you can read the entire article on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

Happy New Year from the Zone!

Best wishes for a happy and fulfilling New Year to Johnny Depp and his family, friends, colleagues and supporters around the world. We have so much to look forward to in 2007: the filming of Tim Burton’s SWEENEY TODD, with Johnny in the leading role, beginning in February; and the world premiere of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END in May. Please join us on the Zone for another great year of Depping–detailed news, pictures, and friendly discussion can be found on our message boards. Thanks to Theresa for designing the New Year’s greeting, and to Johnny Depp himself for providing so many happy occasions throughout the year.