Articles from February 2009

Casting call–THE RUM DIARY looks for 800 extras in Puerto Rico

Here’s a sign that cameras will roll soon on The Rum Diary, starring Johnny Depp: producers have put out a call for extras for the film, and are holding several casting calls in Puerto Rico; the first one took place on Saturday, February 28th. “Johnny Depp is looking for a battalion of more than 800 local extras for the film The Rum Diary, which begins filming on the island on March 30,” reports local newspaper El Nuevo Dia, which also states that director Bruce Robinson has arrived in Puerto Rico. For more details about the casting call, including future dates and places for hopefuls to audition, see the thread on the Zone’s News & Views forum. The Zone thanks Emma for sharing the news. –Part-Time Poet

BREAKING NEWS–the trailer for PUBLIC ENEMIES, starring Johnny Depp, to be released March 4th!

The much-anticipated trailer for Michael Mann’s Public Enemies, starring Johnny Depp, Marion Cotillard, and Christian Bale, will be released online on on Wednesday, March 4th . . . this according to the Italian Screen Week website. For those who want to see the trailer on the big screen rather than a computer screen, it is rumored to be attached to Watchmen, which opens in the U.S. on Friday, March 6th. Public Enemies is scheduled for release on July 1, 2009.

The Zone thanks FANtasticJD for breaking the news . . . we’ve been waiting for this story for months! You can read more about Public Enemies on the Zone’s News & Views forum. –Part-Time Poet

THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS still waiting for a U.S. distributor and release date

Heath Ledger won a posthumous Oscar for his work in The Dark Knight, but his final film, Terry Gilliam’s Faustian fantasy The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, still has no distributor in the United States and no release date. Ledger passed away during filming, and his role was later completed by Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, and Jude Law. “A number of U.S. buyers during the summer and early fall were said to be interested in acquiring stateside rights–Lionsgate and Overture reportedly were among the potential suitors–but word of a potential deal quickly quieted down,” writes Stephen Zeitchik for The allegorical material presents marketing challenges, since Doctor Parnassus is not likely to appeal to the same audience that loved The Dark Knight. Zeitchik does expect the film to secure a U.S. distributor soon, probably a mini-major or larger indie, but the fact that it will have taken more than six months to get a distributor for a film with Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law “speaks to the difficulty of selling art-house films to the domestic market.”

The Zone thanks Emma for posting the Doctor Parnassus news; you can read more about its search for a distributor on the Zone’s News & Views forum. –Part-Time Poet

BREAKING NEWS–New pictures of Johnny Depp in Paris, February 23rd

While Hollywood gathered for the Academy Awards on Sunday night, Johnny Depp had a quiet dinner in Paris at Closerie des Lilas–a favorite haunt of Ernest Hemingway–accompanied by Vanessa Paradis and director Tim Burton; on Monday, Johnny and Vanessa returned to the restaurant with their children, Lily-Rose and Jack. The photo at left is a new one of Johnny, taken by paparazzi on February 22nd as he entered the Ritz Hotel in Paris; he is wearing a very familiar Viper Room beanie. To see a larger version of the photo, CLICK HERE. Our latest Picture of the Week is also a new picture from Paris, taken outside the Plaza Athenee hotel on February 23rd. The Zone thanks our wonderful Bonnie for the pictures, and AnaMaria, Emma, and FANtasticJD for information about Johnny’s activities in Paris. –Part-Time Poet

Brief PUBLIC ENEMIES footage shown at Oscar telecast's conclusion

Television viewers who stayed with the Academy Awards broadcast to the very end were treated to brief snippets of footage from films scheduled for release later in 2009–including about ten seconds worth of clips from Michael Mann’s gangster epic Public Enemies, starring Johnny Depp as John Dillinger. This was especially fascinating since no trailer has been released for the film yet. We saw Dillinger, tommygun in hand, on the running board of a car; Dillinger and flame Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard) in the stands at a racetrack; Dillinger smiling at a reclining female in a bathtub; and Dillinger in the act of robbing a bank. The Zone thanks dharma_bum for sharing a high-definition video clip and screencaps on our Video Clips forum; for a full view of her Public Enemies screencap at left, CLICK HERE. Thanks also to Martina for sharing a video clip with the Zone, and to all the alert members who posted about the footage. Now we’re waiting for the trailer!–Part-Time Poet

PUBLIC ENEMIES Oscar Preview Clip

The Zone thanks dharma_bum for graciously sharing her video clip.–Part-Time Poet

"I'm a guy who takes risks"–an interview with producer Graham King

On the eve of the Academy Awards, Craig Mclean of The Independent interviewed producer Graham King, who won the coveted Best Picture Oscar for The Departed two years ago. King’s next project is The Rum Diary with Johnny Depp; King’s GK Films has a long-term deal with Johnny Depp’s production company Infinitum Nihil, and they have several other projects in development. “He and Depp hope to restart work on Shantaram, an epic that fell victim to last year’s writers’ strike,” writes Mclean, who praises Graham King’s “creative, adventurous” spirit.

“From Johnny‚Äôs point of view, I’m a guy who takes risks,” Graham King explains. “And I take risks with the kind of film-makers he likes to work with.” King has a long association with director Martin Scorsese, having produced Gangs of New York and The Aviator, as well as The Departed. King says, “I’d love to find something for Marty and Johnny to do together.”

Mclean notes that, despite the 38 Oscar nominations King’s films have earned, GK Films is “not a major studio;” he describes King as “an independent, nimble operator,” traits that should serve his projects well in uncertain economic times. “And I’m not a corporate guy,” says King. “I get involved with all aspects of the film-making.”

King is also helping to produce Gore Verbinski’s Rango; Mclean writes that Johnny Depp wrapped his role the day after he interviewed Graham King. How did King get involved with Rango? “Gore was looking for someone to help finance it and get it rolling before he went to a studio,” King explains. “An animation is complicated to make and takes a long time, and Gore wanted to get it out at a certain time.” The indefatigable producer has more high-profile projects coming to theaters in the next two years; to read more about his projects, see the article on the Zone’s Porch forum. We thank Theresa for sharing it with us. –Part-Time Poet

"We're shooting it like a play"–Isla Fisher talks about filming RANGO

In a recent interview with SCI FI Wire, Isla Fisher (promoting her new film Confessions of a Shopaholic) describes her experience shooting the animated film Rango for Gore Verbinski. Johnny Depp plays the title character, and the powerhouse vocal cast includes Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Bill Nighy, Alfred Molina, Harry Dean Stanton, Ned Beatty, Ray Winstone, and Alanna Ubach. Fisher plays a lizard: “I’m a hard lizard. It’s just a lot of fun. I get to tote a gun, and it’s just been a completely different experience from anything I have done before.”

Q: Is it you in a recording studio by yourself, or do you get to interact with anyone else?
Isla Fisher: That’s what’s so interesting about Gore Verbinski’s process. We’re shooting it like a play. So we’re all on stage, and we act it out, and he shoots it with cameras. Then he’s going to animate the characters to match our faces.

Q:That’s unusual, especially for a[n animated] feature. Everyone involved generally meets one another at the premiere.
Isla Fisher: Absolutely. When I did Horton Hears a Who!, I was just alone with the director in a booth. I’m really enjoying this process. It really adds such depth to the performance to actually see the other actor you’re interacting with and to experience it, rather than just be alone in a booth.

The Zone thanks Emma for the Isla Fisher interview; you can read more Rango news on the Zone’s News & Views forum. Johnny Depp has now wrapped his work on Rango. Watch for the film in theaters in March 2011. –Part-Time Poet

"A very fabulous project"–writer-director Bruce Robinson talks to the BBC about THE RUM DIARY

In an interview with the BBC’s Francine Stock, writer-director Bruce Robinson, whose Withnail and I regularly makes lists of all-time-best British comedies, explained how he was lured back to filmmaking after a 17-year hiatus to do The Rum Diary with Johnny Depp. “I had no intention of doing it [directing] again,” Robinson said. “I’m doing it because I think it’s a very fabulous project.” Robinson explained that the film is based on Hunter S. Thompson’s novel, and “Hunter’s close friend Johnny Depp asked me to write it, which I did. And when I finished writing it, he asked me to direct it, which I’m going to do . . . all being well.”

The Rum Diary, with a cast that includes Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhart, Richard Jenkins, and Amber Heard, is scheduled to begin filming the last week of March. “It’s a good script,” Robinson said. “It’s very like Withnail–very sort of non-grinning humor in it.”

And how did he get offered the project? “Johnny and I would occasionally run into each other,” Robinson said, “and then, I suppose because of his liking for Withnail and I, when there was this book that he was instrumental in helping to get published–it had been written when Hunter S. Thompson was 20 years old and never been published for 40 years–and Johnny was part and parcel of the reason it got published. And he thought of me when they wanted to do it as a screenplay.”

Although Robinson is a severe judge of his own work (and spent the early part of the BBC interview relentlessly critiquing his past films), he admitted to being “very pleased” with the script for The Rum Diary. “It’s funny–it’s going to be very funny, I think.” With a quick chuckle, he added, “Although I don’t like saying that, in case it isn’t.”

The Zone thanks Emma for breaking the news of the Bruce Robinson radio appearance, and FANtasticJD and KYWoman for posting accounts of the interview on the News & Views forum. You can listen to the full interview on the BBC website HERE; the segment with Bruce Robinson is the first part of the program and lasts approximately 13 minutes. –Part-Time Poet

BREAKING NEWS–BBC Radio to interview RUM DIARY director Bruce Robinson

Here’s some unexpected good news to perk up the weekend: BBC Radio 4’s “The Film Programme” will feature an interview with Bruce Robinson on Friday, February 13 at 16:30. Francine Stock will be talking with the writer and director of the “cult favourite Withnail and I, as he prepares to make his first movie for 17 years, The Rum Diary.” Robinson has adapted Hunter S. Thompson’s novel for the screen and will begin shooting the film in Puerto Rico on March 30th.

You can hear the interview live on BBC Radio 4 HERE, or listen to a rebroadcast at your convenience. The Bruce Robinson interview will re-air on Sunday, February 15 at 23:02.

Many thanks to Emma for sharing the news! We can’t wait to hear what the always-droll Mr. Robinson has to say about The Rum Diary. –Part-Time Poet

BREAKING NEWS–Aaron Eckhart and Richard Jenkins join the cast of THE RUM DIARY

More casting news for The Rum Diary: according to The Hollywood Reporter, Aaron Eckhart and Richard Jenkins will join Johnny Depp and Amber Heard in Bruce Robinson’s adaptation of the Hunter S. Thompson novel. Eckhart, fresh from his turn as Harvey Dent/Two-Face in the blockbuster The Dark Knight, is in talks to play Sanderson, a wealthy landowner who is the romantic rival of Johnny Depp’s Paul Kemp. Jenkins, Oscar-nominated for Best Actor for his role in The Visitor, has signed on to play Lotterman, the man who oversees the struggling newspaper where Paul Kemp works.

The Rum Diary, directed by Bruce Robinson, begins shooting in Puerto Rico on March 30th. Johnny Depp, Christi Dembrowski and Graham King are producing the film for Infinitum Nihil and GK Films.

The Zone thanks Emma for the casting news; you can read more about The Rum Diary on the Zone’s News & Views forum. –Part-Time Poet

Isla Fisher talks about her role in RANGO with Johnny Depp and Bill Nighy

Isla Fisher is currently promoting her new film Confessions of a Shopaholic, but interviewers keep asking her to talk about her role in Gore Verbinski’s animated film Rango. Fortunately for us, Ms. Fisher obliges. “I’m playing ‘Lizard,'” Fisher told Clint Morris of “But I’m from the south [. . .] . I make a really tough little lizard.” Fisher is enjoying working on Rango because, unlike most animated films, she is getting to work directly with the rest of the cast, including Johnny Depp and his Pirates of the Caribbean nemesis Bill Nighy–and yes, this is the first word we’ve had that Bill Nighy has joined the cast. Good news!

”Usually when you work on an animated movie, it’s really sterile, you know, you’re in a booth on your own, just with the director,” Fisher told Moviehole. “But the way he’s shooting this movie is that he’s shooting it like a real movie. So we’re all on stage, Bill Nighy is in it, Abigail Breslin, and we’re all acting on stage and he’s shooting it. So then you go in to the sound booth and record your voice, so you have the memory of the emotions in the scene in your voice, rather than just having to conjure them up out of thin air.”

The Zone thanks Theresa for the Isla Fisher interview; you can read more about Rango on the News & Views forum. –Part-Time Poet

BREAKING NEWS–Johnny Depp to narrate documentary film about The Doors

Johnny Depp has agreed to narrate Wolf Films’ documentary film about legendary rock group The Doors, When You’re Strange; Deadline Hollywood blogger Nikki Finke and the Los Angeles Times both report that an official announcement about Johnny’s participation will be made Saturday night at the Berlin Film Festival. A version of When You’re Strange with director Tom DiCillo doing the narration recently screened at the Sundance Film Festival and, notes Finke, “met with [. . .] a great response.”

The material sounds compelling: “Every frame of the footage, most of it never-before-seen, was shot between 1966 and 1970,” writes Finke, who notes that the surviving members of The Doors all came to Sundance to show their support for When You’re Strange. “The doc covers the entire 54 months of the band, starting with Jim [Morrison] and Ray [Manzarek] in film school, and includes a lot of concert and in-studio footage.” Adds Finke, “I can’t help thinking what Oliver Stone’s The Doors might have been like if only Depp had played Jim Morrison.” Indeed . . . but we’ll look forward to the documentary as compensation for that missed opportunity.

Thanks to FANtasticJD for breaking the news; you can read more about this story on the Zone’s News & Views forum. –Part-Time Poet

BREAKING NEWS–Amber Heard in talks to play Chenault in THE RUM DIARY, opposite Johnny Depp

“Amber Heard is in negotiations to play the coveted female lead opposite Johnny Depp in Rum Diary, the adaptation of the Hunter S. Thompson novel, which Bruce Robinson is writing and directing,” writes Borys Kit in today’s Hollywood Reporter. The role would be a coup for the young actress, who is probably best known for her supporting role as Seth Rogen’s girlfriend in last summer’s Pineapple Express. Ms. Heard also played the lead in All the Boys Love Mandy Lane and has a featured role in the upcoming The Informers.

Her role as Chenault “will place Heard at the front and center of a love triangle in the tale of a washed-up, hard-drinking journalist named Paul Kemp [Johnny Depp] in 1950s Puerto Rico,” writes Kit. Chenault is “the free-spirited girlfriend of a fellow journalist who cheats on him with Kemp, trying to convince him to run away with her.”

The Rum Diary is scheduled to begin shooting March 30th in Puerto Rico, with Bruce Robinson directing and Johnny Depp, Christi Dembrowski [Infinitum Nihil] and Graham King [GK Films] producing.

The Zone thanks Emma for breaking the news; you can read more about The Rum Diary on the Zone’s News & Views forum. To read the Hollywood Reporter article, CLICK HERE. –Part-Time Poet

Announcing a new addition to the Zone's photo galleries!

We are happy to announce that we have added another permanent photo gallery to the Zone: it’s our collection of featured Pictures of the Week for 2008. Included in the gallery are favorite images from Johnny Depp’s many public appearances last year–the Sweeney Todd premieres, the Oscars, the MTV Movie Awards, and of course many pictures from the filming of Public Enemies and the Sheila Witkin concerts–blended with vintage shots that we love.

We extend our thanks to everyone who contributed photos over the course of the last year, especially to those Zoners who shared their personal photographs and screencaps, and to Sleepy, Bonnie, AnaMaria, Hiro3, and Theresa for their unfailing help. To see the new gallery, click on the Gallery Showcase button next to the Picture of the Week above.

We hope this gallery brings back many happy memories for Zone readers. Enjoy! –Part-Time Poet