Broadcast in late January 2002 on ITV (a UK tv channel)
Transcript by irene
The programme was a 30-minute special that intermixed Johnny's London interview with footage from the US tv special, clips of FH, and short interview clips with Robbie Coltrane (who's best known in the UK for his lead role in the tv detective series 'Cracker'). Only Johnny's & Robbie's sections of the programme have been transcribed.
Imagine Johnny with his hair length just shy of his shoulders and tucked behind his ears, no blond streak left in it. He had a very light '5-day-growth' beard and moustache and was wearing a plain white t-shirt with a big picture of Ted Demme specially printed on the front (Ted had died just a couple of weeks previously). Also imagine a very ready smile and a mischievous sparkle in his eyes!
Interviewer: OK Johnny, let's cut to the chase.
Johnny: All right.
INT: Why do a film on the world's most notorious serial killer?
JD: Why not?
INT: Well, it's a very, very gruesome topic.
JD: You're right. It is a very gruesome topic But it's a fascinating subject.. Historically what happened after the Jack the Ripper slayings was the birth of tabloid journalism; forensic science also came out of it. I think the real fascination - and the reason why I've always been fascinated by the case - is that it's never been solved. And that's shocking.
INT: You were very, very lucky to have Robbie Coltrane. He's done an awful lot of cop stuff on British telly, so he knows a thing or two about solving crimes.
JD: Yes he does.
INT: Did he help you at all?
JD: Oh yeah, he did. Of course he did.
INT: Did he? What did you learn?
JD: Robbie's a world of information about everything. He's just a .. He's one of the smartest guys I've ever met in my life. It's sort of shocking. It really pissed me off, in fact.
Cut to interview with Robbie Coltrane:
INT: Did you never want to chip in on set and go: "Well, er, of course on 'Cracker' we did it like this…"
Robbie [laughing]: Yeah, I know, I know! I must admit it was quite odd playing the guy who didn't quite get it. Because of course on 'Cracker', everybody else didn't quite get it but Fitz did, so that was quite a funny role reversal, going: "Oh really? So that's what happened?" That was quite funny, yeah.
[FH Clip then back to Robbie]
INT: We see glimpses of the gore; we see glimpses of the intestines or whatever.. But not a lot.
RC: No, you don't. That's very cleverly done. I mean, the worst thing was to look at the last one, where the guy had the time - because most of them they reckon were just 3 minutes, which is why they thought it was a surgeon - the last one where he really did have the time and he went to town. I've seen the police photographs of that and you think: "God, somebody actually did this."
INT: Because the last one is a particularly gruesome business. Really disgusting.
RC: Oh, yes. But, having said that, don't let that put you off going to see it, the thought of going to see something that you can't bear to look at it, because the editing is very, very careful so you just see enough to allow your imagination to take over.. And your imagination.. as Edgar Allen Poe said: "The worst thing you can imagine is worse than the worst thing you'll ever see." So it's very cleverly done. …He didn't say anything like that - I was just being clever. He said something similar to that.
[FH Clip then back to Johnny]
INT: You and Heather both had to learn accents for your roles, and yours was very obviously Cockney. Where did you start with all of that? Did you have loads of 'Eastenders' shipped over to Paris? ['Eastenders' is a very popular tv soap set in the East End of London.]
JD [laughing]: No. Luckily I'd spent a lot of time over here; I'd spent a lot of time in London and around & had a lot of friends. So it just sort of came to me.
INT: So… How is your Cockney rhyming slang?
JD [wondering what's coming]: Ummm…It's not as good as it used to be. I was more on top of the game before.
INT: Oh, really? So if I was to say to you: "Do you fancy a Jack the Ripper?", would you (a) Accept but not tell your wife, or (b) Remind me that you're a happily-married man?
JD: Wow! [pausing to think about it] I'd do both.
Back with Robbie:
INT: If I was to offer you -
RC [in a Cockney accent]: C'mon gal!
INT: - a Jack the Ripper -
RC [laughing]: I'm getting strangely aroused!
INT: - would you (a) Accept but not tell your wife, or (b) Remind me that you're a happily-married man?
RC: A Jack the Ripper? What would that be, then? A Jack the Ripper.. Probably remind you I'm a happily-married man, sadly.
Back to Johnny:
JD: What is Jack the Ripper?
JD [in a Fast Show voice]: Nice!
[FH clips then back to Johnny:]
INT: In many ways Jack the Ripper was kind of the first tabloid star.
INT: And the papers were really, really into the whole gruesome detail of the murders. Do you think that the press has changed at all? Because I know that you've been subject to press intrusions -
JD: No, no - I think it's worse.
INT: You think it's got worse?
JD: Oh yeah, I think it's much worse. At least before there was the air of being somewhat polite about it; now it's just a free-for-all. Spit it out on the page, get it out there, sell it, get the money, take it to the bank. Oh yeah, I think they're much worse now.
INT: And do you personally really find it quite intrusive and offensive still?
JD: I find it ludicrous. I find it ludicrous that they're so interested in the private life of a person who tells lies for a living. Although it is good fiction sometimes; sometimes it's incredibly funny.
INT: Is it a good read for you? Sometimes you go: "What??!"
JD: Oh yeah, sometimes it's great!
INT: I've been reading an awful lot about plastic surgery in the States.
JD [raising his eyebrows]: I see!
INT: Not that I need it or anything like that. [JD sniggers] But I've read that most women want Heather's eyes. But can you guess what most men… Which part of your anatomy most men want?
JD [taken by surprise & slowly repeating the question]: Which part of my anatomy that most men want? …My earlobe.
INT: Close. Your jaw.
JD [surprised]: My jaw! They want my jaw?
INT: Your jaw. How does it feel to have the most wanted jaw in the world?
INT: That's something else, isn't it?
JD: I'll have to ponder that for a while. 'The Most Wanted Jaw.' I've not heard that.
INT: Now, your character Inspector Abberline. He's basically an opium addict.
INT: And he's kind of this 'flawed hero'. You're quite attracted to these left-of-centre personalities. What is it about those roles that appeal to you?
JD: You know, all in all I'm sort of a student of human behaviour, really. I'm just fascinated by what people do, and what makes people tick. I'm more interested in the things that are not said, as opposed to the things that are said. I'm interested in what's behind the mask, you know? So, in terms of hero, anti-hero, reluctant hero, whatever, for me with Abberline it was an interesting opportunity to play a dedicated police inspector who was not only dealing with the demon of Jack the Ripper and that mystery, but he was dealing with his own demons at the same time. He's a guy who medicates himself, almost to the brink of death, just to be able to cope with life.
INT: You've said that you think that being a film star gets in the way of being a good actor.
JD: I think it can.
INT: Why? You seem to have both.
JD: I think it definitely can, you know. Any kind of labelling limits you. 'Film star', 'movie star' - whatever they want to try to call you is limiting, in the sense that I think an actor has to be able to play characters. To separate these things - you know: 'leading man', 'action hero', 'character actor', stuff like that - I guess if I want to be close to anything, it would be a character actor, which is what I think an actor should be. So any of that 'movie star' stuff, I just don't buy it. It just doesn't make sense to me. Movie stars are not… I'm not… Movie stars are Robert Mitchum, John Wayne, Steve McQueen.
INT: You don't consider yourself a movie star?
JD: No. No.
INT [reaching down to pick up something from the floor]: I'd just like to end with a Quick-Fire Round.
INT [handing him a small gadget]: I'm just going to give you this.. A little handy button. If there are any questions you don't like -
JD [almost under his breath]: Ooohhh.. Fantastic!
INT: - just press it and I'll move on.
JD [examining the beeper]: I can't WAIT for the noise to come out of this one!
INT: Single-word answers only, please! Mr Johnny Depp: Are you ready?
JD: I think so.
INT: OK. What is the best thing about visiting Britain?
JD [very decisively]: Baked beans.
Cut to Robbie Coltrane undergoing the same Quick-Fire Round (except he hasn't been given the special beeper):
INT: What's the worst thing about the city?
INT: What's one of your favourite films of all time?
RC: Third Man.
Cut back to Johnny:
JD: Withnail and I.
INT: Which of your own films is your favourite?
JD [pressing the fart-beeper, rather gently]: Excuse me.
INT: Where do you have homes?
JD: Where do I have homes? I thought they were one-word answers?
INT: Well, you know, you can give -
INT: Oh, OK.. No, go on: where do you have homes?
JD: Errmmm.. States and France.
Cut back to Robbie:
RC: I have A home in Scotland.
INT: And why is that the best place to live?
RC: It's the best place to live because it's where I belong.
Cut back to Johnny:
INT: What's the best thing about living in Paris?
JD [pausing to consider]: Wine.
INT: Is it true you've bought your own boozer in Britain?
JD: No! No, I just heard that today actually for the first time. Yeah.
INT: Oh! I was going to say: Where is it, I'll go!
JD: Yeah, I'd like to try it out myself.
INT: What's your favourite French phrase?
JD: My favourite French phrase….[Then he says something in a perfect French accent that sounded like "De Gangoine"]
INT: What's it mean?
JD [smiling]: Crooked.
Cut to Robbie:
INT: The most surprising thing about Johnny Depp?
RC: The most surprising thing about Johnny Depp is… how likeable he is.
Cut to Johnny:
INT: What's the most surprising thing about Robbie Coltrane?
JD: That it's actually a wig. I was shocked. It's a toupee.
INT: What's the best thing about your wife?
JD [with a slow smile]: Uhhmm… My wife.
INT: That's the best thing about her: 'She's my wife'?
JD: She's.. you know.. Everything.
INT: Did you buy her single, 'Joe le Taxi'?
JD: Did I buy her single 'Joe le Taxi'? Not yet, but I'm looking forward to it.
Cut to Robbie:
INT: Do you wear boxers or briefs?
RC: I wear Y-fronts, because some of us need the support. I think you know what I'm saying there.
Cut to Johnny:
INT: Do you wear boxers or briefs?
JD reaches straight for the fart-beeper and gives it a good pressing.
INT [laughing]: That's a good one!
JD [looking towards his rear and smiling]: I'll have to clean up now.
INT: So will I!
Cut to Robbie:
INT: If you win another BAFTA, Robbie, where are you going to stick it?
RC [with mock modesty]: I'll just put it on the shelf beside the others. It'll balance them up. There's three now, you see, so four: it'll balance them up.
INT: Oooooh, get you!
Back to Johnny:
INT: And finally: What's the tattoo of '3' on your hand mean?
JD [looking down at it]: Errr... It just basically means '3'. Just the number 3.
INT: Were you pissed when you had that done?
JD [very amused]: No! No, not at all!
INT: Thank you very much indeed.
JD: Thank you.
INT [laughing]: There's got to be a meaning for that!!
JD shuts her up with a good blast of his fart-beeper.
After the interview, Anna Richardson says to camera: I'd go to hell and back for that bloke. Let me tell you: he is just SO gorgeous!!
An interesting side-note: In another tv programme that used clips from the same interview, Johnny was asked about the pedigree of the South London accent he used for Abberline:
JD: The accent was kind of like a combination of Keith Richards, Pete Townshend, and Bruce Robinson who's a great writer/director.
[Bruce Robinson is the writer and director of 'Withnail and I'.]