Articles from October 2006

"Johnny fell in love with Eric J's artwork:" Barry Levine talks about Johnny Depp and REX MUNDI

In an interview with David Elliott published on, producer Barry Levine talks about how he got Johnny Depp intrigued with the REX MUNDI graphic novels and interested in playing the protagonist, Julien Sauniere. “I met Arvid Nelson and Eric J at Comic-Con four years ago as an independent producer and fell in love with the concept, the writing and the artwork,” Levine explains. “I spent a year trying to get studios interested in it. They all said the same thing. Too dark, too ambitious, and too hard to sell. But I have a tattoo on my arm that says, ‘Who does not hope to win has already lost.'”

Levine eventually got the project to Tracey Jacobs, who sent it over to Infinitum Nihil, Johnny Depp’s production company. “Johnny read the comics, he had already been researching that time period and characters,” Levine reports. “Once we had established that relationship, we worked very closely with Sam Sarkar, who runs development for Johnny. When we sat down with Johnny, he fell in love with Eric J’s artwork and that pulled him into the story.” A small sample of the REX MUNDI artwork appears at left; we think that, apart from his blue eyes, Julien Sauniere bears a very strong resemblance to Johnny Depp.

The next step in bringing REX MUNDI to the screen was developing a screenplay. “Once we had Johnny interested in this as a project for him to star in, Jon Levin at CAA suggested a meeting with Jim Uhls [who wrote FIGHT CLUB],” says Levine. “Johnny, Sam and Jim had several conversations that resulted in Jim coming onboard as the screenwriter.”

The Zone thanks sleepy for the REX MUNDI news and dharma_bum for the artwork; you can read the full interview with Barry Levine HERE. There is also an interesting discussion of REX MUNDI on the Zone’s News & Views forum; many of us are rapidly falling in love with this project!

"Like doing THE SOUND OF MUSIC but with lots of blood"–Tim Burton discusses his upcoming film SWEENEY TODD with MTV

In an interview with MTV’s Larry Carroll, Tim Burton described his vision for his upcoming film of SWEENEY TODD. He sees his version of the Stephen Sondheim musical as “a hard R-rated horror flick.” Tim said, “You can’t really skimp on that stuff–it’s got to be what it is. It’s not going to be a G-rated movie, no.” After laughing, Tim added, “It’s kind of like doing THE SOUND OF MUSIC but with lots of blood, so I don’t know how that’s going to work out. We’ll see. I’m excited to try it.”

Tim also confirms that his Sweeney Todd, Johnny Depp, will be doing his own singing in the movie. “It’s going to be the [actors singing]. That’s important. It’s a movie, it’s not a Milli Vanilli record.” When MTV asked if the director was concerned about gambling his multimillion-dollar movie on a singing voice he’s never even heard, Tim replied, “No. I go over to his house and we sing show tunes every night. It’s a ritual with us,” he laughed. “Johnny is great,” Tim added. “I’m always looking for some new kind of challenge, and this certainly is that. We are laughing about it already, and we haven’t even started yet.”

The Zone thanks emma for posting the Tim Burton interview on the News & Views forum; you can read it in full there or HERE.

The Gypsy Pyrates encounter Johnny Depp at Guadalupe Dunes

Three women from Grover Beach, California, who call themselves “The Gypsy Pyrates,” met Captain Jack Sparrow himself on Guadalupe Dunes on Thursday, October 19th, Tribune News reporter Sally Connell reports. “Because of an odd combination of dedication and their own wild pirate attire, the Gypsy Pyrates [Rasha Wyndsong, “Kyo” Million, and Rachel Rodriguez] captured Depp’s attention last Thursday as he left the set of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END,” writes Connell. The Gypsy Pyrates, well known for appearances at the Central Coast Renaissance Faire and the Ojai Pirate Fair, were in the group of fans with Zone member Carol Darlin’; that’s Carol’s photo at left, of Johnny signing an autograph for one of the Pyrates. To see a larger version, click HERE. The red sign behind the Pirate and the Pyrate reads “Sign R Bus” . . . and Johnny did!

“When filming ended for the day, Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom, two other stars in the movie, left in a separate vehicle that didn’t stop for fans,” reports Connell, quoting Wyndsong. “But Depp saw the group and had his van pull over. He then met the women and signed his autograph on the outside of their bus.” Connell adds, “Depp talked on a cell phone to the husband of one woman who also staked out the film set after driving up from San Diego, Wyndsong said. ‘Yes, I really am Johnny Depp,’ she recalled him telling the man.” The man in question was Carol Darlin’s husband Steve . . . you can read all about that phone call on the Zone’s thread “Meeting Johnny Depp on Guadalupe Dunes” on the Porch.

According to Gypsy Pyrate Rasha Wyndsong, Johnny Depp “was just friendly and very humble and gracious with his time. He took the time to sign anything anybody put in front of him.” That’s Johnny–no wonder his fans think nothing of driving for hours for the chance to meet him. The Zone thanks emma for posting the Gypsy Pyrates story, which you can read in full on the News & Views forum, and Carol Darlin’ for her pictures and accounts of the day. Well done, Gypsy Pyrates, and take good care of that bus!

Zoner meets Johnny Depp at Guadalupe Dunes

One of the Zone’s members, Carol Darlin’, was in a fortunate group of 15 fans who had an in-person encounter with Johnny Depp and other PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END cast members on the Guadalupe Dunes on Thursday, October 19th. The photo at left was taken by Carol on Thursday evening; to see a larger version, click HERE. Here’s part of Carol Darlin’ story:

“Just before dark, a bus suddenly stopped and out jumped Mr. Gibbs, Pintel and Regatti and [Marty Klebba] enthusiastically smiling and all the kids got their autographs. Mr. Gibbs said ‘Keep to the Code,’ and Pintel said, ‘Ello Poppet’ for the kids.

“The guards told us that Johnny, depending on how tired he is, may just roll down the window and wave, which would have been just great. So, we had our cameras ready. Finally, a black SUV came to the entrance and stopped at the highway patrol car for a moment, then rolled forward towards us. When we saw it stop in front of us and the doors opened, we could barely contain ourselves. But, we stayed quiet and waited. And then, there he was. Johnny Depp was standing four feet in front of us, smiling, looking beautiful, wearing his old leather jacket and a black beanie, with his pirate beards and some eyeliner still on. What a thrill!”

The Zone thanks Carol Darlin’ very much for sharing the details of her wonderful encounter with us. You can read the full story on the Porch–enjoy!

Visit the Flying Dutchman at Castaway Cay

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN fans who would like a close-up look at the Flying Dutchman, the ghostly ship captained by Davy Jones in DEAD MAN’S CHEST, can now have that opportunity by visiting Castaway Cay, the Disney Cruise Line’s private Caribbean island. The Flying Dutchman, with its ragged sails and barnacle-encrusted bow, is now anchored off Castaway Cay. No doubt the Dutchman will be showing up as a scenic backdrop in many tourist photographs from now on. “The PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movie franchise is extremely popular,” said Disney Cruise Line president Tom McAlpin, with charming understatement. “Having the Flying Dutchman ship at Castaway Cay is something truly unique that only Disney Cruise Line could offer guests.” Perhaps some day the Black Pearl will also make berth at Castaway Cay–that’s a photo op we’d love to have.

Thanks very much to sleepy for the news; you can read the full story HERE.

"There will be blood, and music . . . and pies"–Tim Burton discusses SWEENEY TODD with ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY reporter Whitney Pastorek conducted a candid and hilarious interview with director Tim Burton; called “CHRISTMAS Cheers,” its main focus is the release of the new 3-D version of Burton’s classic THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, but it also probes his feelings about other Batman films and makes inquiries about the upcoming musical film of SWEENEY TODD.

Here’s what Tim has to say about his next project with Johnny Depp:

EW: Anything you can share with us about your version of SWEENEY TODD [in which Johnny Depp will star as the demon barber of Fleet Street]?
TB: No. Because, you know, once I decide, being a mere puny human, there’s a whole alien intelligence out there that knows so much more than I.

EW: That is not true.
TB: [Laughs] Unfortunately, it is. [. . .]

EW: There will or there will not be singing?
TB: Oh, yeah, there will be. There will be blood, and music . . . and pies. For everyone.

EW: Do you foresee a time when you and Johnny Depp will be sick to death of each other?
TB: [Laughs] No. I’ve been through enough with him, and he’s pretty open to things, and that’s the exciting thing about working with him.

EW: I guess the good thing about him is you don’t so much have to pick projects with him in mind as much as just know that he can be whatever you need.
TB: I think when we work together we try to do it when it feels new or feels right, and hopefully those projects will always be there somewhere.

EW: Thanks. Good luck with everything. Try not to feel too puny.
TB:It’s just, you know, the alien forces are stronger than you think.

The Zone thanks sleepy for posting the Tim Burton interview on the News & Views forum. You can read the full interview HERE.

BREAKING NEWS–Helena Bonham Carter wins the role of Mrs. Lovett in SWEENEY TODD

Variety reports that Helena Bonham Carter has won the coveted role of Mrs. Lovett in Tim Burton’s upcoming film of Stephen Sondheim’s musical SWEENEY TODD. The casting is hardly a surprise to Burton fans, who know that the director has a repertory company of favorite actors whom he enjoys working with and casts whenever possible. Both Johnny Depp, who will appear as Sweeney Todd (his 6th Tim Burton film), and Helena Bonham Carter (CORPSE BRIDE, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, BIG FISH, PLANET OF THE APES) have worked regularly in Burton films.

The role of Mrs. Lovett, created on Broadway by the great Angela Lansbury, is a challenging one–as Variety reports, she is a murderess who “dispenses her victims’ bodies in meat pies and becomes the amorous accomplice of the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” Generally Mrs. Lovett is cast to appear a decade or so older than Sweeney Todd, which would not be the case with Burton’s duo, as Helena is actually a couple of years younger than Johnny (although, not unlike Johnny, she has always been willing to alter her appearance to better serve the character–see her aged witch in BIG FISH). Ms. Bonham Carter will do her own singing in the film, as she did in CORPSE BRIDE.

In other SWEENEY TODD casting news, Sacha Baron Cohen (BORAT, TALLADEGA NIGHTS, MADAGASCAR) is reportedly under consideration for the role of rival barber Signor Adolfo Pirelli, but the studio has not confirmed Cohen’s signing, so that remains a rumor.

The Zone thanks emma for the casting update, and congratulates Ms. Bonham Carter on her newest role.

BREAKING NEWS–PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END set to film at Guadalupe Dunes on a closed set

Ahoy, mateys–the cast and crew of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END are about to hit the road again. The location site for filming this time will be the gloriously beautiful Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve, a protected area on the California coast near Santa Barbara. According to several Santa Barbara television stations, filming will take place on the Dunes from Wednesday, October 18th through Sunday, October 22nd. In case you were planning a field trip to the area, however, please note that the Dunes will be CLOSED to the public at this time. We wouldn’t want anyone to trek down there, hoping to get a peek at Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, and be disappointed.

Carina Corral of television station KSBY reports that the cast is “under heavy guard” and that the Dunes will be “off-limits to the public” beginning on Wednesday. Guadalupe Dunes Preserve Manager Willie Richerson told KSBY, “They’re basically taking over our whole parking area and utilizing some of the dunes and the beach.” But preservation of the delicate Dunes habitats is being carefully monitored. Production vehicles will be kept on a path at slow speeds to ensure that the endangered bird species, such as the snowy plover, aren’t disturbed by the film crew.

“We were very clear that they weren’t to damage any vegetation or impact any of the park’s resources,” Richerson told KSBY. The production company made a donation “in the amount of tens of thousands of dollars” to rent the park for a few days of shooting, and that money will be used for maintenance, upkeep and restoration projects on the Dunes. Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve will be closed starting tomorrow, through Saturday. The park may re-open on Sunday if shooting finishes early.

To see images of the Guadalupe Dunes, see dharma_bum’s thread on the Zone’s Porch entitled “AWE Filming Moves to Palmdale.” The Zone thanks dharma for her excellent reporting on the shooting of AT WORLD’S END. We also thank Charlotte Depp for the KSBY story; you can read the entire article HERE.

Terry Gilliam talks about Johnny Depp and DON QUIXOTE again–this time to MTV

Director Terry Gilliam, on the circuit promoting his new film TIDELAND, sat down for a very entertaining interview with MTV’s Larry Carroll. In an article called “Terry Gilliam On Depp, ‘POTTER’ And The Film He Panhandled To Promote,” Terry talks at length about the current movie industry and the difficulty of getting studio and financial support for projects that are, shall we say, a bit outside the mainstream. He also addresses comparisons between himself and Orson Welles (who also longed to make a film about Don Quixote and could not get the necessary backing) and comments on Hollywood’s tendency to ignore their maverick artists throughout their careers and then belatedly present them with “Lifetime Achievement Awards” after 40 years of neglect. Terry Gilliam is, as always, funny and candid. Here is the exchange about the possibility of reviving THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE:

MTV: The documentary LOST IN LA MANCHA (2002) showed you battling executives, sickly actors, and having general bad luck while ultimately failing to get your passion project made. Will you ever be able to finish THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE?

Gilliam: We’re getting very close to getting the rights to QUIXOTE back.

MTV: And Johnny Depp will still star in it?

Gilliam: Well, I’m not sure if I want to work with him–he’s just too big a star now. I’d rather work with a young unknown. [He laughs.] No, that will be the first phone call I make when I get the script back in my hands … then, when he’s free, we go because he’s on board.

You can read the full interview with Terry Gilliam on the Zone’s News & Views forum.


Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush, aka Captain Hector Barbossa of the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN trilogy, gave a wide-ranging interview to reporter Claire Sutherland of the Melbourne Herald Sun, in which he discused his present work on the third POTC movie, AT WORLD’S END. “We’re sort of filming the grand finale of the great trilogy where 12 plots all converge on one massive, almost mythological, action sequence,” Rush said. “It’s quite extraordinary and bigger than BEN-HUR. The scene we’re shooting is a global pirate summit.” No more plot details were forthcoming, though: “I can’t say much because (producer) Jerry Bruckheimer might kill me.”

Mr. Rush offered his own take on Keith Richards’ appearance in AT WORLD’S END. “The man I met on set was a very playful, excitable kid,” he explained. “[T]his completely eccentric character turns up and plays by totally different rules to the slightly more manicured actors who turn up, so that was very, very thrilling.” He added, “He’s the only person in the whole trilogy of films who can put Jack Sparrow in his place, and anyone who can put Johnny Depp in his place is a pretty cool guy.”

The Zone thanks Theresa for sharing the Geoffrey Rush interview; you can read it in its entirety on the Zone’s News & Views forum.


Spike TV’s 2006 SCREAM Awards, which recognize achievement in the genres of horror, science fiction, fantasy, and comic books, distributed a number of honors to the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN franchise. DEAD MAN’S CHEST won the SCREAM Award in the categories of Best Fantasy Movie, Best Sequel, and Best F/X (special effects), while Johnny Depp was honored for Most Heroic Performance for his reprise of Captain Jack Sparrow. SCREAM voters even honored a POTC film that they haven’t seen yet, as PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END won the Most Anticipated Movie award. Very savvy, these SCREAM voters! Congratulations to Johnny and the cast and crew of DEAD MAN’S CHEST, and congratulations to all those hard at work on AT WORLD’S END for their first award. We hope it’s the first of many. . . .

Thanks very much to emma for posting the news. You can read an entire list of winners and a background story on the SCREAM Awards on the Zone’s News & Views forum.

"Remember Dusty's words," Johnny Depp tells the Children's Hospital gala: "Today is a gift. Have fun."

Johnny Depp was in the spotlight Saturday night, receiving the “Courage to Care” award from the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital, but he used his moments at the podium to direct attention away from himself and back to the seriously ill children whom the evening was meant to help. Johnny was introduced by a beaming Jennifer Lopez, who said, “The bracelet on Johnny’s wrist [the Children’s Hospice bracelet] is an expression of his devotion to all children. Johnny’s kindness and generosity behind the scenes, making children a priority, are why he is one of tonight’s award recipients. His films are inspirational for children all over the world. Johnny Depp is a role model for all of us.”

Johnny then came to the podium, thanked Jennifer, and said: “First to say that I am humbled by this award, I am so thankful and so touched. But I want to . . . I want to salute you people for your generosity, and I want to applaud you [he pauses to applaud] and you . . . Giselle [Giselle Fernadez-Ferrand, the organizer of the benefit] .. salute you, and the doctors and the nurses and all the people who bring these kids around, you know. And lastly to the kids–you know, the courage that I have seen in the eyes of these little ones, that you don’t see anywhere else, is astonishing and inspiring, so . . . [with a gesture of acknowledgement] to the little ones, to the babies . . . [he applauds again] – you know. And thank you all.”

Johnny concluded his speech by reminding his audience of the words of Dusty, the words engraved on his Children’s Hospice bracelet. “Remember those words, you know, Dusty’s words: I do, every day. ‘Today is a gift. Have fun.’ Just have fun.”

The Zone thanks AnaMaria for the transcription of Johnny’s speech, and AnaMaria and bonnie for the photos of the event; thanks to FANtasticJD and gilly for video clips. To see a larger picture of Johnny at the podium, click HERE, and to see a photo of Johnny with Jennifer Lopez, click HERE.

To order a Children’s Hospice bracelet like Johnny’s, click HERE. All proceeds benefit Children’s Hospice and Palliative Care Coalition.

BREAKING NEWS–new photos of Johnny Depp arriving at the Children's Hospital Noche de Ninos Gala

The photo at left shows Johnny Depp as he arrived at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday evening, October 7th, to receive the “Courage to Care” award from the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital at their second Noche de Ninos Gala. “Johnny Depp embodies the very spirit of the ‘Courage to Care’ Award,” says Giselle Fernandez-Farrand, who created the Noche de Ninos Gala. “He puts smiles on the faces of thousands of children through his great work on film, and his longtime private advocacy of children and children’s charities is nothing short of inspirational.” To see a larger version of the photo, click HERE, and to see a full-length view of Johnny in his black shirt-white suit ensemble, click HERE. The Zone thanks Theresa and Carasun for the photos. Congratulations to Johnny–it is such a pleasure to see your tireless advocacy for children recognized by your community.

Terry Gilliam hopes to resurrect THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE, starring Johnny Depp

Director Terry Gilliam, in a new interview with IGN News, voiced optimism that his dream project, THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE, might soon be resurrected. (Readers unfamiliar with the sad fate of the first attempt to make the movie should watch the superb documentary LOST IN LA MANCHA. Bring kleenex.) “We’re in the final stages of getting the rights to QUIXOTE back,” Terry Gilliam told IGN. And when that happens? “First thing I would do is make one phone call,” Gilliam said. “‘Johnny, when are you available?’ And that would dictate when I do it.”

Does that mean that Johnny Depp, who was to star in the ill-fated first version of THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE, has agreed to return for a new production? According to Gilliam, the answer is yes: “He’s on, he’s on,” the director told IGN, before adding with a laugh, “He’s the man. I hope he’s still my best friend!”

Don’t expect to see any footage from the first shooting once Gilliam gets the cameras rolling again, though. “We have to start anew,” Gilliam explained. “We have to throw it all away. We do have things like costumes stored away [. . .], but everything we shot is gone. It’s such a dangerous thing, because the documentary was so good and people have got so many images in their own head of what the film will be like. Their imagination may be better than what I produce!”

The Zone thanks DeepinDepp for the Gilliam interview; you can read the full interview HERE. We wish Terry Gilliam the best of luck in his battle to recover the rights to QUIXOTE.

DEAD MAN'S CHEST and Johnny Depp nominated for awards at the Hollywood Film Festival!

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST is one of the nominees for Hollywood Movie of the Year at the Hollywood Film Festival; its competition includes CARS, THE DA VINCI CODE, THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE III, SUPERMAN RETURNS, UNITED 93, WORLD TRADE CENTER, and X-MEN: THE LAST STAND. To cast a vote for DEAD MAN’S CHEST, click HERE and scroll down, click on the button opposite the DEAD MAN’S CHEST poster, then hit “Submit my vote” at the bottom of the listing.

You can also vote for Johnny Depp as “Male Star of the Year.” The other contenders include George Clooney, Tom Cruise, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Jude Law, Jack Nicholson, Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, Will Smith, and Denzel Washington. To vote for Johnny, click HERE, click the button opposite Johnny’s picture, then scroll further and click on “Submit my vote.”

The Hollywood Film Festival awards will be presented at a gala on October 23rd. Penny Rose will be honored as Hollywood Costume Designer of the Year, and John Knoll will receive the Hollywood Visual Effects of the Year Award, both for DEAD MAN’S CHEST. Thanks to gilly for the news update, and tocnavforjd and anhana_antilles for posting the voting links. Best of luck to Johnny and DEAD MAN’S CHEST!