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sábado, 5 de dezembro de 2015
Johnny Depp is ready for his comeback
To play gangster Whitey Bulger, Johnny Depp searched for the humanity in a psychopathic killer – and he might just win an Oscar for it
It's been a long time since Johnny Depp made a successful movie. Or turned in a good performance, for that matter.
In recent years the actor has starred in a series of box-office flops, among them Dark Shadows, Transcendence, The Lone Ranger and theabysmal comedy Mortdecai, and there are reports that he has had to lower his usual $20 million upfront fee, a sign that his bargaining power is waning.
But all that may be set to change with the release of Black Mass, in which he portrays James "Whitey" Bulger, a gangland patriarch and killer who ruled the Boston underworld for years, in part because of a secret deal he had brokered with the FBI.
Critics have hailed it as some of the best, most chilling work Depp has done in years. Using silicone prosthetics, dark contact lenses and a receding hairline wig so elaborate that it took 22 hours to craft each version, Depp disappears into the role of the psychotic and homicidal Bulger.
Black Mass, which is based on the book of the same name by two Boston Globe reporters who broke the original story of Bulger's FBI connection, also features Benedict Cumberbatch as Bulger's brother Billy, a career politician who became the president of the Massachusetts State Senate.
To gain an insight into Bulger, now aged 84, Depp attempted to visit him in jail, where he is serving two life sentences for racketeering and the murder of 11 people. (He was finally captured in Santa Monica in 2011, having successfully evaded the authorities for 16 years.)
"I made a request through his attorney to sit down with him to attempt to sponge some mannerisms and voice and take as much as I could from him," says Depp, when we talk in a Toronto hotel. "I wasn't interested in asking him about his crimes or anything like that, I just wanted some personal idiosyncrasies. But I got the message back to say Jimmy had declined my visit because of his dislike for the book and especially his dislike for the two Boston Globe reporters who had nagged him for 20 years."
Depp is in a playful mood, cracking jokes about being old – he's 52 – but he turns serious when talking about Bulger and the role that could earn him an Oscar nomination. Depp found some good in the man, as he did in the gangster John Dillinger, whom he portrayed in Public Enemies and whom he described as "like a Robin Hood."
"What attracted me to Jimmy Bulger were the various facets of his personality and his humanity," says Depp, "because I felt that the only way I could approach playing a character like him was to find his human side first and then map that out to see where it took the turn.
"He was a very complicated man. I think there's a very sensitive side to him and he could be a caring, lovely family man who worshipped his brother and was very loyal to the community. There was something poetic about what he was able to do, being a proud Irish immigrant, loyal to his neighbourhood, a great caregiver to his mother and very close to his brother. But his business was violence.
"He would take old ladies' groceries to their house and 10 minutes later he would crush someone's skull. So I walked the tightrope to show a very dark side but at the same time a human, caring side."
(The families of Bulger's victims have already taken issue with this assessment: "This is not Hollywood, this is the real thing here," said Patricia Donahue, whose husband was killed by Bulger. "How can you have compassion for that person, knowing what he’s done?")
Today Depp is wearing the same grey felt Stetson hat he wore while promoting The Lone Ranger, a brown suede jacket and denim jeans. He has a gold tooth because he has to return to shoot a few more scenes as Captain Jack Sparrow for the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Dead Men Tell No Tales. But for him it is not always easy to switch immediately from one character to another.
"Whenever you finish a character there's a sense of decompression and melancholy, where for a period of time you miss having been these other people. With Jimmy Bulger I had a similar thing, because you are these people for more hours in a day than you are yourself. There is always that period of saying goodbye, which I find uncomfortable."
Depp has already said goodbye to the Mad Hatter, having finished filming the Alice in Wonderland sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass, and he has two other movies awaiting release: London Fields, an adaptation of the Martin Amis novel that Depp and his fellow cast members (including wife Amber Heard) have sought to distance themselves from, and Yoga Hosers, a comedy from Kevin Smith which stars both Smith and Depp's daughters.
Lily-Rose Depp, 16, is one of the actor's children from his marriage to the French actress and singer Vanessa Paradis (there's also a son, Jack, who's 12). Depp announced their separation in 2012, a year after he met actress Amber Heard on the set of the movie The Rum Diaries. He and Heard became engaged on Christmas Eve 2013 and married in February this year.
“Vanessa and I get along wonderfully,” he says. “There’s no weirdness at all and no hostility. Life happens and we spent 14 great years together and have raised a couple of kids who we are both incredibly proud of."
Lily-Rose is capturing attention in her own right, having been part of a photography campaign featuring 10,000 Americans who don't define themselves as "100 per cent straight." She has also been photographed by Karl Lagerfeld for an exhibition at London's Saatchi Gallery featuring portraits of fashionable women wearing Coco Chanel jewellery.
"What is happening with Lily-Rose is something I didn't expect this early, for sure," Depp says, laughing. "But things happen when they happen. Her becoming an actress was never my hope or dream for her but that's what she enjoys doing. So I am very proud of her because she is super together and a sharp, sharp kid. She tells me everything and if she needs any advice I am there. But yeah, it's happening pretty fast and when I see her with all that make-up and stuff, it's disturbing."
When Depp isn't working, he and Heard divide their time between a 45-acre island he owns in the Caribbean where he moors his 156ft motor yacht, and a gated mansion on the outskirts of Nashville, Tennessee. The vineyard and home he and Paradis own in the South of France was recently put up for sale, but Depp had it taken off the market.
"I don't know why it was ever put up for sale," he says. "It was never my idea, so I had it pulled off the market. The place has been very good to me and I watched my babies grow up there. I don't believe I could ever let it go, because when I become smoke I would love for them to have their kids there."
Before he became an actor, Depp was a guitarist, and he's recently been busy playing with his new band, a super-group called The Hollywood Vampires that features Depp, his Dark Shadows co-star Alice Cooper and Aerosmith's Joe Perry. They added some famous guests including Paul McCartney, Slash and Perry Farrell (of Jane's Addiction) for their first album, the proceeds of which are being donated to charity.
"Music is still part of my life," he says. "But I hate the idea of people coming to see me play the guitar because they've seen me in movies. You want people who are listening to be only interested in the music."
Johnny Depp is always in the publicity spotlight when he has a movie to promote. But when it is over he retreats into another, quieter and more simple world.
"Simplicity, that's what I want," he says. "It's been a rare commodity for me for a number of years, but I enjoy being able to hang out with my girl, read the newspaper and sit back and start to read a book by someone I admire like Lawrence Krauss or Christopher Hitchens. And that's it – simplicity, where the game of Hollywood doesn't exist."