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Johnny Depp is one of those actors who seems to really enjoy creating his characters. He takes inspiration from the oddest places but in doing so, he creates utterly unique looks, many of which have become iconic in their own right. Studios seem to enjoy it less. More than once, Depp has clashed with studios over his interpretation of the person he is portraying. According to the actor, the problems come in because nobody ever has the same idea about what a character is supposed to look like.
Makeup techniques have come a long way over the years. Apparently, that’s part of the problem. With prosthetics, you can make anybody look like anything. However, the image in the head of a studio chief will never be exactly what the actor is thinking, and when that actor is Johnny Depp you can pretty much forget whatever anybody else is thinking.
Nine times out of 10, if you’re wearing prosthetic makeup, you don’t look like what they want you to look like. It can be very difficult. When I did Pirates, it was a little difficult for them. … Even on Alice in Wonderland, the first one, when you come in with a character and you’ve told the director, 'This is based on a watercolor I did.' Tim (Burton) went with it — I’m sure it scared the absolute hell out of Disney. Thankfully, they’d been through the Captain Jack thing.
Johnny Depp’s comments came as part of his comments in praise of Warner Bros., who were apparently very supportive of his work on Black Mass. His comments at the Palm Springs International Film Festival Gala, as reported by USA Today, included comments that he doesn’t always get that kind of support from the studio. Then he asked if Michael Eisner was around.
Depp famously landed on the bad side of the former Disney chief during the filming of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Eiser was equally furious and terrified of Depp’s Keith Richards-inspired version of the pirate Captain Jack Sparrow. The Pirates movies became huge hits, which appear to have led to Depp being given a bit more leeway when it came to his creation of the Mad Hatter for Alice in Wonderland. His longtime collaborator Tim Burton let him go with it, and it doesn’t sound like there was any concern on Disney’s part, at least not loud enough for Depp to hear.
Studio concern is understandable. Sometimes Johnny Depp’s outrageous plans strike gold, other times not. Sometimes you get Captain Jack Sparrow, and sometimes you get Mortdecai. Depp is one of the biggest actors in Hollywood, but he’s not immune to bombs. He topped Forbes' most recent list of the most overpaid actors in Hollywood. He's earned some trust. Right?