“The studios sell a product and I became their product.” Exclusive interview with Johnny Depp for Numéro Homme
He’s one of the few great actors to have written their own destiny. Since becoming a household name at the age of 24, Johnny Depp has skilfully navigated the pitfalls of celebrity by forging his own path in ambitious auteur movies by the likes of Tim Burton and Jim Jarmusch. Numéro Homme sits down with the Hollywood icon – and face of Dior's Sauvage fragrance – for an exclusive interview.
Portrait Jean-Baptiste Mondino, By Victoria Brynner
Numéro Homme : Which directors have had the biggest impact on you?
Johnny Depp : Tim Burton. When I met Tim I had just done Cry-Baby with John Waters. Before John I was on that TV show [21 Jump Street] and I was basically whatever they wanted to sell me as. The studios sell a product and I became their product. They dictated to people what I was and who I was. It wasn’t about me, it was about this image that had nothing to do with me, so I knew I was not on my road.
“The studios sell a product and I became their product. They dictated to people what I was and who I was. ”
How important is it for you to remain independent in your film choices?
One thing I could never stand when all the weirdness started happening, and people started recognizing me, were the categories they put you in. They'll do anything to label you as a certain type. It’s like when you come up the ranks and people say: "He's the new James Dean or this or that..." No, no, no. I never liked categories. I never like to think of the business of it, it gets in the way. It's an obstacle course for the work so I'm simply not interested in it.
Do you ever watch your own movies?
No, I try not to. I had to a couple of times because I wanted to make sure the cut was okay, but I would rather remain ignorant of what the final deal is. It’s easier for me to just do the job, play the character and once they say "you're done", it's almost like it's none of my business. I feel better not seeing what they call the "end product". I would rather just walk away with the experience, which allows me to remain less conscious of whatever those weird definitions people use are – like fame and all that stuff – and enables me to remain as clear as possible.
Read the full interview in the autumn-winter 2017-2018 issue of Numéro Homme, on newsstands from October 2th.