Articles from July 2005

"It's a miracle that I still get jobs," says Johnny Depp: Transcripts of the UK press conference for CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY posted!

Transcripts of the CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY press conference held in London on July 16th have been compiled by Jack Foley and posted by emma on the News & Views forum. (Thanks, emma!) There are separate interviews for Johnny Depp, Tim Burton, Freddie Highmore, and David Kelly (who played Grandpa Joe), but since all the participants were seated at a long table, they frequently interrupt and elaborate on one another’s answers. Foley’s transcripts capture the give-and-take and spontaneous wit of what must have been a hilarious afternoon. Here are a few samples:

QUESTION: (to Johnny) You choose to play a lot of characters who are the eternal child. Are you not afraid of getting stuck playing the same role? Do you not want to try to change or move on to different types of characters?

JOHNNY: With each character, as an actor, I think you owe it more to the audience, not to yourself or the filmmaker, to try something different each time. I think it’s important to try to keep playing different types of guys and to keep exploring, because you are constantly learning. If you keep playing the same characters it’s like, you know, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, meatloaf. It’s the same old thing over again. So I just try to do different things each time. Frankly, it’s a miracle that I still get jobs.

QUESTION: Can you see yourself playing the conventional romantic comedy lead because all of your characters seem to have something weird or surreal about them?

JOHNNY: I thought FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS was conventional. [Laughter]. I thought ED WOOD was a conventional romantic comedy. [Laughter] Tim and I came here to announce that we’re going to do FRIENDS: THE MOVIE.

QUESTION: I know Tim and Johnny, you’ve collaborated on five films together if you count CORPSE BRIDE, And Freddie and Johnny, you’ve worked together. What do you find are the advantages or disadvantages, if there are any, of working with the same people over and over?

TIM: Well for me, every time I’ve worked with Johnny it just gets better and better because you see him change and do different things. There’s something that when you work with the same people you get that feeling, and I love it because it’s like a weird family when you’re making a movie, so it’s nice to be around people you like.

JOHNNY: There’s kind of a built in language from having had other experiences together before, having explored other stories and characters before. So, it’s great for me. Working with Tim is like arriving home.

QUESTION: Tim, did you train forty squirrels to crack the nuts and throw them down the chute?

TIM: I did not personally train 40 squirrels, there is a guy in an asylum that we gotta go get out after he’s recovered. Do you remember the look on his face?

David Kelly: He’s in the Home for the Bewildered.

QUESTION: (to Freddie) How did you become Charlie? Where did you get the inspiration from and what did you have to go through to find that person and become Charlie? How did you prepare?

FREDDIE: As I said earlier, I read the book. […] You just try and get inside the character each time you play it. Obviously when you’re working with Johnny and when you look into his eyes, you don’t see Johnny. You see Willy Wonka. That helps a lot.

Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka on cover of August SIGHT AND SOUND!

SIGHT AND SOUND, the influential magazine published by the British Film Institute, honors Tim Burton’s CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY with its August cover and a four-page analysis by film critic Roger Clarke. Clarke reveals thorough familiarity with all of Burton’s work and places CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY nicely in context, but he is equally knowledgeable about Roald Dahl, and sees some tension between Dahl’s allegiance to Victorian values and what Clarke describes as Burton’s “modernism.” Clarke approves of the final result, however, writing that “Johnny Depp’s playfully weird Willy Wonka makes Tim Burton’s adaptation of CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY a happy subversion of Roald Dahl.”

Clarke observes, “The miracle of the movie CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY [. . .] is that Burton has managed a synthesis of his own geek-boy Gothicism with Dahl’s patrician qualities of skepticism and disdain.” Clarke sees a strong connection to the earlier Burton-Depp collaboration, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, and notes that in both films, scissors provide the gateway to revelation and art. As for Johnny’s performance, Clarke writes, “Depp’s Wonka ought not to be appealing. His narcissism is outrageous. But thanks to the actor’s hipster playfulness, popstar gait and hybrid European-American sensibilities, he seems an entirely contemporary figure. [. . .] He is a man who overcomes his agoraphobic and compulsive-obsessive nature to re-connect to the world.”

The Zone thanks In-too-Depp for posting scans of the SIGHT AND SOUND article on the News & Views forum. It’s a pleasure to read such a thought-provoking and perceptive analysis of CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY.

Johnny Depp honors longtime agent Tracey Jacobs with a full-page ad in VARIETY!

Agent Tracey Jacobs was selected by VARIETY, the Hollywood trade paper, as a “Woman of Impact,” one of the most influential females in an industry where powerful women are still a rarity. Ms. Jacobs has represented Johnny Depp since his early days in Hollywood; in fact, it was Tracey who prevailed upon Johnny to meet Tim Burton and discuss playing EDWARD SCISSORHANDS. Johnny has often spoken of Tracey’s loyalty to him despite career choices that could drive an ordinary agent round the bend–for example, turning down blockbusters like SPEED while electing to make the little-seen (but thoroughly brilliant) DEAD MAN. “Tracey’s taken a lot of heat over the years,” Johnny told TIME’s Josh Tyrangiel last year. “She has bosses and higher-ups, and every time I take on another strange project, they’re going, ‘[…]When does he do a movie where he kisses the girl? When does he get to pull a gun out and shoot somebody? […] When is he finally going to do a blockbuster?'”

Ironically, Tyrangiel added, when Johnny Depp’s blockbuster opportunity came around, “his long-suffering agent didn’t want him to take the part” of Captain Jack Sparrow. “He was pitched the movie without a script,” Tracey told Tyrangiel. “They basically said, ‘We’re going to make a movie out of this theme-park ride. Want to do it?’ And he said, ‘Great! I’m in. I believe in the idea.’ I just thought, What idea, you lunatic?”

Today Johnny celebrated Tracey’s being named a “Woman of Impact” by publishing the following letter in tribute to her. The letter appeared as a a full-page ad in today’s VARIETY, July 29, 2005:

Darling Tracey,

Thank you is not nearly enough. You believed in me when no one else did, or would. You stuck by me through great difficulties, ugliness and beauty while others turned away. Your friendship, bravery, wisdom, strength, trust and love know no bounds. I am humbled by your devotion, inspired by your courage and conviction, blessed to have you in my life and proud to call you friend. I love you more than you will ever be able to comprehend.

As the old saying goes, “I’m nothing without you.”


The Zone thanks Micdus for posting the text of the letter, Jacks_Effects for the TIME magazine story, and emma for posting the VARIETY article about Tracey Jacobs on the News & Views forum. We congratulate Tracey Jacobs and wish her all possible success and happiness in the coming years.

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY opens in the UK to brilliant reviews!

Tim Burton’s CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, starring Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka and Freddie Highmore as Charlie Bucket, opened in wide release in the UK today. The film has already earned $131.7 million in two weeks of release in the U.S. and Canada. Reviews were generally very good to outstanding. “[A] movie worth catching, mostly thanks to Depp who lights up the screen as the deliciously-dotty confectioner,” wrote THE MIRROR. “Springing from the twisted imagination of director Tim Burton, the result is as dark and sweet as the confectionery in question and one of those rare movies that’ll appeal to kids and adults alike.”

TIME OUT pronounces CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY “a charming children’s film that embraces imaginative production design and a wonderful creepy performance from Johnny Depp as the reclusive confectioner, Willy Wonka. It’s fitting that Burton, who rejects CGI in favour of real sets, should be at the helm of a story that was conceived by Roald Dahl in 1964 partly to lament the onset of modernity. [. . .]” As for Johnny Depp’s performance, TIME OUT writes, “Depp is the film’s piece de resistance. He carves a character defined by angular physical presence and alien diction. His Wonka is a strange hybrid: the costume of Michael Jackson; the lingo of Austin Powers; the hairstyle of Olivier’s Richard III; the top hat of a undertaker. It’s a sweet cocktail.”

“Cinema would be a much sweeter place if only a fraction of summer movies teased an audience as brilliantly as CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY,” writes James Christopher in the UK TIMES. “There isn’t a single conventional frame in Tim Burton’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic bedtime story, yet the morals about spoilt children are as familiar as yon hills. […] But it is Depp’s marvellous Wonka who powers the film,” Christopher adds, calling the movie “pure shameless magic.”

The Zone thanks emma, Reemi, and Gilbert’s Girl for posting the reviews of CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY on the News & Views forum.

Rising to the occasion: TIM BURTON'S CORPSE BRIDE to premiere at the Venice Film Festival!

If the young man to the left looks somewhat alarmed, it could be because he has just heard the film in which he stars, TIM BURTON’S CORPSE BRIDE, will have its world premiere three weeks ahead of its North American release date, during the 62nd Venice International Film Festival! No need for stage fright, Victor; we’re sure the unique stop-motion animated film will receive a warm reception. CORPSE BRIDE will be screened out of competition . . . and presumably at a somewhat earlier hour than last year’s 2 a.m. showing of FINDING NEVERLAND!

The 62nd Venice International Film Festival is scheduled to take place on the Lido di Venezia from August 31 through September 10, 2005. There is as yet no specific date for the CORPSE BRIDE screening. Johnny Depp has NOT been confirmed as attending the festival, since he will be shooting PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 3 at the time. However, Johnny has often spoken of his love for Venice and has visited the film festival many times, so we hope he will return to delight his European fans. The Zone thanks emma for bringing the good news! You can read the full list of films showing, both in and out of competition, on the News and Views forum.

A new gallery of Johnny Depp pictures for THE DEPPARTMENT!

Revisit the Los Angeles premiere of CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY by visiting the Zone’s new picture gallery! The gallery includes 48 photos taken on July 10, 2005, during the premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and the afterparty at Jim Henson Studios. We offer our heartfelt thanks to bonnie, Susanne, and AnaMaria for the pictures in the gallery, and a special Zone bouquet to johnnybloom, who met Johnny Depp at the premiere and has contributed six of her personal photos of Johnny to the gallery.

To view the new gallery, called CATCF LOS ANGELES, click on the GALLERIES button above, select THE DEPPARTMENT, and click on the thumbnail that matches the picture to the left.

Johnny Depp interviewed on UK children's program BLUE PETER

The screencap at left shows Johnny Depp as he appeared in an interview on the UK children’s program BLUE PETER. The interview aired on July 25th but was taped earlier, during the UK promotion for CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY on July 16th. Asked why he wanted to get involved with a new version of the Dahl book, Johnny replied, “The magic and beauty of this story […], the brilliant work of Roald Dahl and just the opportunity to translate that into cinema, was a great challenge, but a fun one.” Johnny described himself as “a huge fan” of Roald Dahl’s work and had high praise for the writer’s imagination. He added that he had read CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY aloud to his daughter Lily-Rose, “which was great fun, you know, just great great fun.”

Johnny’s interview ended with the traditional presentation of the BLUE PETER badge. His reaction? “Wonderful, that’s great, I’m honoured, thank you.”

The Zone thanks AnaMaria for posting a set of screencaps and a transcription of the interview on the Zone’s Recent Pics forum. To see a larger version of the thumbnail, click HERE.

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY tops North American box office for a second weekend!

Tim Burton’s dazzling re-imagining of Roald Dahl’s CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, starring Johnny Depp as reclusive candymaker Willy Wonka, continued its reign atop the North American box office for a second weekend. Box office estimates show the film earning another $28.3 million between Friday, July 22nd and Sunday, July 24th, bringing its total earnings to $114.1 million in just ten days. The R-rated comedy WEDDING CRASHERS, last week’s #2 film, continued to hold the second spot with $26.2 million, raising its 10-day total to $80.9 million. FANTASTIC FOUR finished third for the weekend with $12.3 million, boosting its total to $122.6 million. New films THE ISLAND and THE BAD NEWS BEARS opened weakly, in fourth and fifth place, with totals of $12.1 million and $11.5 million respectively.

Dan Fellman, president of distribution at Warner Bros., told the press that CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY is “on track to hit $200 million” at the North American box office. Wow! You can read Reuter’s box office report HERE. Thanks to sleepy for posting the box office estimates and Reemi for followup stories.

Yo ho, would-be pirates! Open casting call for extras for PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN III on July 30th!

An open casting call for extras for PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN III will take place on Saturday, July 30th, between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm, at the Ricardo Montalban Theatre in Los Angeles. Please note that all actors must be over age 18, and that the casting directors are looking for specific physical types in a very narrow range. If you don’t fit their description, don’t attend! Actors with the wrong “look” will not be seen by the agents.

If you fit this (sadly unflattering) description, you could find yourself playing a pirate: “Extreme characters and hideously unattractive types, ages 18-50. Odd body shapes or very lean to extremely skinny. Missing teeth, wandering eyes and serial killer looks with real long hair & beards. Wigs & makeup are not what we’re looking for. We also need little people, very large sumo wrestler types, extremely tall or extremely short people, albinos, amputees. Any size or shape that is NOT average is best. All ethnicities. Mostly men, very few women.”

The casting directors are also looking for “tons of Asian people of all ages and types to play Townspeople, Shopkeepers, Prostitutes, Pirates etc. All shapes, sizes and ages over 18.”

According to the call notice, “PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN III will begin production August 2005 and shoot through the middle of next year.” This is a somewhat longer shooting schedule than original estimates. The Zone thanks emma for posting the casting call on the News & Views forum; for further information, click HERE.

Johnny Depp in U.S. entertainment magazines this weekend~~

Johnny Depp appears in the new issues of PEOPLE, IN TOUCH weekly, LIFE & STYLE Magazine, and the STAR. By far the best investment is PEOPLE, which includes our lovely photo of Johnny at the London premere of CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY last Sunday. To see the full-length version from PEOPLE’s Star Tracks, click HERE. Runner-up in the beautiful picture derby is IN TOUCH weekly, which includes the following picture of Johnny and Vanessa from the 2005 Oscars: HERE. Unfortunately the photo accompanies a silly story which lambastes Vanessa for refusing to marry Johnny, and even suggests that Johnny wanted to elope to Las Vegas following this year’s Oscar ceremony. Since the Oscars took place only a week after Hunter S. Thompson’s suicide, Johnny’s red-rimmed, tearful eyes render the IN TOUCH story absurd; this is a man with nothing but mourning on his mind.

LIFE & STYLE magazine has a small photo from the 2004 Oscars, and a brief story that suggests Johnny is on the verge of proposing to Vanessa, while the STAR has a brief, unsubstantiated story that Johnny is considering purchasing a condo in New York City, supposedly to allow the Depp children more exposure to U.S. culture. It is difficult to see when Lily-Rose and Jack would have a chance to be exposed to the cultural attractions of New York City since their father’s filming schedule will keep him elsewhere for the next several years.

The Zone thanks Donna B. for the weekly magazine roundup; she posted all the articles and pictures on the Zone’s News & Views board.

Mutual Admiration Society: Johnny Depp and Freddie Highmore interviewed on THE TODAY SHOW

Johnny Depp and Freddie Highmore traded personal and professional compliments in an interview with THE TODAY SHOW’s Al Roker which aired Tuesday, July 19th. The interview was shot nearly a month ago during the press junket for CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY in the Bahamas. Asked if it was “nice” to be working together again, Johnny replied, “Yeah, one of those things I think they call divine intervention, you know? [I feel] Very, very lucky to–to be back in the ring with Freddie.” Freddie added, “It’s fantastic, you know, to be able to work twice with a–with a great person.”

Asked the inevitable question about how it felt to follow Gene Wilder in the role of Willy Wonka, Johnny said, “I always loved Gene Wilder’s performance [. . .], so for an actor, it was a great challenge, you know, to sort of stand there and look at this beautiful piece of work by–by someone who is, in a lot of ways, a hero, and then decide, ‘OK, those are very large shoes to step into; I think I’ll just make a different pair of shoes. I’ll make my own.'”

The Zone thanks Reemi for posting a link to the TODAY SHOW video clip on the News & Views forum, and emma for posting a transcript of the interview. The photo, taken at the London premiere for CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, comes from bonnie–thanks!

Wow! CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY's opening weekend breaks the IMAX record!

More reasons for Warner Bros. executives to cheer and Deppheads to dance like Oompa Loompas: CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY: The IMAX Experience broke all existing box-office records for an IMAX release this past weekend! CATCF premiered in 65 North American IMAX theatres–the widest domestic IMAX opening to date–and grossed an estimated $2.21 million over the three-day period from Friday, July 15 to Sunday, July 17, for a per screen average of more than $34,000. IMAX Corp. and Warner Bros. report that in addition to establishing a new three-day opening record, the film also set single day box office records. CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY scored the biggest opening day, Saturday and Sunday for an IMAX digitally re-mastered release.

“Early research shows that everyone from eight to eighty loves CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY at IMAX theatres,” said Dan Fellman, President of Domestic Distribution at Warner Bros. “IMAX offers moviegoers a special and unique way to experience our tentpole films, and given the overwhelmingly positive audience response to The IMAX Experience, we look forward to strong results for weeks to come.” The co-chairmen of IMAX Corp, Richard L. Gelfond and Bradley J. Wechsler, concurred. “CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY has incredible word of mouth coming out of its first weekend, [. . .] which has us confident our blockbuster summer film slate will continue generating impressive box office returns throughout the season.”

Added Greg Foster, Chairman and President of IMAX Filmed Entertainment, “Tim Burton’s brilliant telling of the Roald Dahl classic is a feast for the senses in IMAX – you’re completely engulfed in the vivid colors, entertaining score and adventure of the film. Warner Bros. Pictures has delivered another picture that is ideally suited for the IMAX canvas, as evidenced by the exceptional consumer response and record breaking debut.”

The Zone thanks Shadow for breaking the happy news. For a list of IMAX theaters showing CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, click HERE.

"Many levels to Wonka," Johnny Depp tells the BBC in new interview for CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY

“There are so many levels,” Johnny Depp told the BBC’s Emma Jones in an interview broadcast Monday, July 18th. He was discussing his approach to playing Willy Wonka in Tim Burton’s new film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic novel, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. “You want to be true to the author’s intent; you want to be true to the director’s vision; you want to be true to yourself, in some ways you want to take the character–and at the same time, I’m trying to imagine what Roald Dahl might have wanted to see in a character like Wonka today.” Johnny can be reasonably sure that the late author would have been pleased by Depp’s multi-layered, mordantly witty Wonka; Dahl’s widow Felicity has high praise for his performance and is delighted with the finished film. Mrs. Dahl told the BBC: “I think Tim [Burton] and Depp and Dahl are just brilliant together!”

In a different interview which aired on A&E’s BREAKFAST WITH THE ARTS on Sunday, July 17th, Johnny elaborated on his vision of the character. He spoke specifically about how difficult it is for Willy Wonka to take on the role of tour guide and invite people into his factory, after years of isolation: “There is a purity in Wonka. He is a guy who just assumes a character so that he can actually speak in front of people… and behind that mask… behind that face … there is a guy who is pure and afraid … and afraid of being afraid … and afraid of people seeing that he is afraid,” Johnny explained. “So there are various layers to the guy that 90% of the audience won’t see, but I know it’s there… so I do have a special feeling for Wonka.” Thanks to ACK for the BREAKFAST WITH THE ARTS excerpt and emma for the BBC interview. You can watch the BBC interview HERE.

A special thank you to Veronica for providing the beautiful screencap; Johnny’s British interviews, shot last weekend, show him in a black T-shirt and no hat. To see a larger version of the thumbnail, click HERE.

A golden ticket for Warner Bros.–CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY tops the weekend box office with $56.2 million!

Tim Burton’s CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, starring Johnny Depp as mysterious chocolatier Willy Wonka, topped the North American box office for the weekend of July 15-17, with ticket sales of $56.2 million and a weekend per-screen average of $14,901. The actual numbers are slightly higher than estimated, and are at the high end of expectations for the film. Box Office Prophets, for example, were predicting a weekend total of only $40 million, so they will need to adjust their crystal ball . . . . CATCF’s $56.2 million represents the biggest opening weekend ever for a Johnny Depp film; PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN opened with $46.1 million in 2003. Box office analysts theorize that CATCF’s ticket sales could have been even higher, except Saturday happened to coincide with the release of the latest novel in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, and many families went to the bookstore instead of the multiplex. They will, of course, have ample opportunity to catch up with Willy Wonka, Charlie Bucket, and the Oompa Loompas next weekend . . . . The Zone thanks Reemi for the box office update, and johnnybloom for the Box Office Prophets article. You can read both on the News & Views forum.

BREAKING NEWS–Johnny Depp arrives at the UK premiere of CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY!

Looking dapper in a blue-gray suit, cobalt-tinted sunglasses, and his favorite newsboy cap, Johnny Depp has arrived at the London premiere of CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY at the Odeon theater in Leicester Square. A huge crowd of cheering fans greeted him, and he delighted them by signing autographs, as you can see HERE. Watch for accounts of the London premiere from the many Zoners in attendance to be posted on the forums in a few hours . . . . Among the first-night attendees was Roald Dahl’s widow, Felicity Dahl, who “greeted Depp with a warm hug,” according to news reports. Roald Dahl made no secret of his dislike of the first filmed version of his book, but Felicity Dahl told reporters that her late husband “would have loved” this version of his beloved story.

Many pictures from the premiere are already posted on our Recent Pics forum–the Zone thanks bonnie, Susanne, Ana Maria, and Reemi for their contributions! To see a larger version of AnaMaria’s photo above, click HERE, and for a different view of Johnny in Leicester Square from emma, click HERE.


Johnny Depp has arrived in London to do promotion for CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. He is doing interviews today and will probably attend the UK premiere of CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY tomorrow at Leicester Square. UK Zoners will be lined up behind the barricades with their cameras in hand–good luck capturing a photo or an autograph! The photo of Johnny was taken during a promotional photocall at Claridge’s; you can see a larger version HERE. Click HERE for a group photo: from left to right, David Kelly, Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore, Tim Burton, and CATCF producer Richard Zanuck. The Zone thanks DarkAngel for breaking the story.

It's Wonka Day! CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY opens in wide release across the United States and Canada!

Tim Burton’s much-anticipated re-imagining of Roald Dahl’s CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, starring Johnny Depp as the mysterious candymaker Willy Wonka and Freddie Highmore as Charlie Bucket, opened today on 3,770 screens in the U.S. and Canada to generally enthusiastic reviews. Some critics were unable to set aside their pique that the Roald Dahl novel was being filmed again, and their bias distorted their reviews; and most could not resist comparing Willy Wonka’s physical appearance to Michael Jackson, even though Johnny Depp and Tim Burton have both publicly scoffed at the suggestion that either had Jackson in mind. But overall, reviewers found CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY a feast for the eyes and a thoroughly satisfying film. Here is sampling of major reviews–thanks to nettydeppy, Gilbert’s Girl, Reemi and abigail. You can read these and many more in their entirety on the Zone’s News & Views forum:

Paul Clinton, CNN News: “Director Tim Burton has solidly connected in topping the 1971 film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s story, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (a film that was titled WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY).[…] Our first glimpse of Willy is a bit startling. With his white face makeup, high-pitched voice, strange clothing and Prince Valiant hairdo, Depp seems like nothing so much as … Michael Jackson. Depp, fortunately, is such a good actor that the initial impression soon wears off. He gives a risky, and terrific, performance. […] When it comes to filmmaking, Burton and Depp are both men with unique visions. […]Burton has taken us into territory never before imagined, and Depp–a thoughtful character actor who happens to have the brooding dark looks of a leading man–has delivered layered, interesting and compelling performances that work spot-on with the material. In the case of CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, they’re both on their game. It’s a beautifully executed, visually astounding film about love and family–making it the best film out there this summer for families everywhere.”

Claudia Puig, USA TODAY: “Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka is sure to give audiences the willies. Though he’s the master of all things sweet, his demeanor is anything but. Still, Depp deserves kudos for fashioning an original and outlandish if occasionally menacing character in CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY .[…] With its dazzling sets and fabulous special effects, CHARLIE is a visual feast, from the dragon-headed boat made of pink spun sugar bolting across a chocolate river to the elaborately kaleidoscopic song-and-dance numbers. […]Dahl’s familiar tale feels extraordinary and dreamlike thanks to Burton’s creative interpretation. It emerges as the summer’s most visually arresting escapist adventure.”

Joel Siegel, GOOD MORNING AMERICA: “CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY is a true classic all on its own. I love the first film, based on the Roald Dahl kiddy classic. But this one’s better. […] Freddie Highmore should have been Oscar nominated last year for FINDING NEVERLAND. As the new Charlie Bucket, maybe he’ll be as lucky this year in Hollywood as he is with candy bars. […] And the uncanny Johnny Depp creates a preposterous, unbelievable, unlikable Willy Wonka, and makes him real. And sweet as nougat. Grade: A-.”

David Germain, ASSOCIATED PRESS: “A big studio film that really works. A remake that improves on the original. Hollywood is truly in fantasyland with CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, Tim Burton’s wildly imaginative take on Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s book. This is the sort of visual feast Burton was born to make. It’s a film packed with chaste delights for young children and plenty of sophisticated, cryptic edge to entertain and puzzle their parents. Then there’s Johnny Depp. As candy man Willy Wonka, Depp puts such a distinct, strange, wondrous and sometimes creepy stamp on this social misfit, Gene Wilder’s portrayal in the 1971 original almost looks like a button-down 9-to-5 Nestle exec by comparison. Just as Depp hoisted PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL from a pleasantly dopey action comedy to an Academy Award-level performance piece, he elevates this elegantly simple tale into Burton’s most human film since their collaborations on ED WOOD and EDWARD SCISSORHANDS.”

Michael Wilmington, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: “In a summer of movie discontent,CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY stands out like a gourmet truffle in a box of stale caramels and curdled creams. Tim Burton’s scrumptious version of writer Roald Dahl’s 1964 children’s classic is almost everything you’d want it to be: a peach of a story delightfully imagined by Dahl and lushly realized by Burton. It’s full of witty or awesome scenes, flights of fancy and characters either totally, lovably sweet or outrageously, humorously rotten. Heading that gallery is Dahl’s cracked genius of a candymaker, Willy Wonka himself, the character memorably played by Gene Wilder in the 1971 film version of Dahl’s book and here played by Johnny Depp. Depp’s Wonka can seem sweet and poisonous himself, sometimes in a single line reading […]. Depp […]plays Wonka like a daffy man-child, brilliant and petulant, always in control but only because he owns everything in sight. Depp’s line readings, as in PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, are disarmingly twisted and unexpected; he bends phrases, just as Wonka springs traps and double meanings. As in his first BATMAN, Burton fashions a wonderful pop mythology on screen. But the film works so well because all its makers (including executive producer Felicity Dahl) are so faithful to Dahl’s vision and mood. It’s an exhilarating and fanciful movie that never drowns in money or technology. CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, in fact, gives you everything you should want of it, except the actual taste of chocolate. You can bring that yourself.”

Johnny Depp charms a screaming crowd in TONIGHT SHOW appearance!

Wearing a black Gonzo t-shirt, a brown jacket, a newsboy cap, and a plaid shirt tied around his waist, Johnny Depp exuded relaxed charm during his interview with Jay Leno on the TONIGHT SHOW on Wednesday, July 13th–but he drove the mostly-female crowd into a screaming frenzy. Leno was far better prepared for this interview than for Johnny’s previous visit for PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN. Although he had not yet seen CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, Leno was very complimentary to Johnny, calling him a “brilliant actor,” and to director Tim Burton. Johnny talked about accepting the role of Willy Wonka without even seeing a script, so great was his faith in Tim. Asked to name his influences, Johnny cited hosts of children’s shows he had seen as a kid; their voices were all so “weird.”

Leno also managed to bring some fresh topics to the table. A shot of the vintage Packard Johnny drove to the studio (which greatly impressed Leno, who collects antique automobiles)led to a discussion of Johnny’s brief career as a mechanic. Leno also asked about Johnny’s relationship to Hunter S. Thompson. Johnny spoke about granting Hunter’s last wish, to have his ashes blasted from a cannon atop a 150-foot high tower. As he spoke, the camera lingered on the Gonzo t-shirt Johnny wore to honor his late friend. You can see the shirt clearly in this screencap posted by Theresa; click HERE.

The thumbnail accompanying this story was created by Susanne; to see a larger version, click HERE , and to see Susanne’s full-length view of Johnny, click HERE. Thanks very much to Susanne and Theresa for sharing their screencaps.

Coincidentally, the guest following Johnny on Wednesday’s TONIGHT SHOW was Eva Mendes, who played Sands’ hard-as-nails lover opposite Johnny in ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO. Blushing, Eva admitted she had a crush on Johnny in his JUMP STREET days, and that she was still giddy and starstruck when she saw him in the hall at NBC.

VCR ALERT–Watch Johnny Depp on THE TONIGHT SHOW with Jay Leno tonight, and THE TODAY SHOW Thursday morning!

Johnny Depp fans have a feast of television appearances to enjoy this week. Johnny will appear on THE TONIGHT SHOW with Jay Leno on Wednesday night, July 13th, to promote CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. We will keep our fingers crossed that Jay conducts a better interview than he did in Johnny’s previous appearance on THE TONIGHT SHOW, the night of the infamous weiner dog races. Expect some sort of lame Michael Jackson reference, since Michael Jackson jokes are a staple of Leno’s opening monologues; at least that will offer Johnny the opportunity to tell a large television audience that his Willy Wonka is NOT based on Jackson.

Johnny’s gifted young co-star, Freddie Highmore, will be interviewed on THE TODAY SHOW on Wednesday morning, July 13th; and on Thursday, July 14th, Johnny and Freddie will be interviewed together on THE TODAY SHOW. Interviews were conducted by Al Roker during the Nassau press junket for CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY.

Cable’s VH-1 channel offers a half-hour special on CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY for their series “10 Most Excellent Things.” The special airs tonight, July 13th, at 8:00 p.m. and repeats at midnight.

E’s BEHIND THE SCENES series visits the set of CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY on Thursday, July 14th, at 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. The program repeats twice on Friday, July 15th, at 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Other TIVO opportunities are Saturday July 16th at 7 a.m. and Sunday July 17th at 7:30 a.m.

The Zone thanks DeepinDepp for keeping our TV news up-to-date. Check the TV Alerts thread on the News board for further updates.

DVD Alert–John Waters' cult classic CRY-BABY, starring Johnny Depp, now available on Region 1 DVD!

North American Deppheads cheered the release of John Waters’ classic satire CRY-BABY on DVD on July 12th. It has been a long wait for fans, who have worn out their VHS tapes of the 1990 musical. Johnny Depp heads a cheerful cast of misfits and eccentrics, playing Elvis-figure Wade “Cry-Baby” Walker with subversive charm. The DVD contains deleted scenes, additional footage, and cast interviews, including one with Johnny. Like another of John Waters’ films, HAIRSPRAY, CRY-BABY will soon become a Broadway musical.

Recently John Waters was asked by Daniel Coleridge of TV Guide if he claims “any credit for Johnny Depp’s huge film career.” Waters replied, “Johnny would’ve been a huge star and a very successful actor without me. I’m glad he started with me, though. I’m glad he starred in my movie. More people have seen CRY-BABY, because of Johnny Depp, than any of my movies.” Waters added, “I’m glad that I’m the first person who ever got him a million-dollar paycheck. And I’m glad we’re still friends.”

In other Depp DVD news, the Region 1 release of season 3 of 21 JUMP STREET has been postponed two weeks, from August 23 to September 6, 2005. No reason was given for the delay. The Zone thanks emma for the Coleridge interview and itsnotmytree777 for the news on 21 JUMP STREET.