Acclaimed, eccentric, and controversial, Johnny Depp is as inscrutable as many of the characters he plays onscreen. Of late the Oscar-nominated actor is known less for his films and more for his various personal, legal and financial troubles offscreen. Crazy, almost unbelievable stories about Johnny Depp's wildly lavish lifestyle have only added to his eccentric image. One such story had Johnny Depp paying a sound engineer a yearly retainer and hundreds of thousands of dollars to feed the actor his lines through an earpiece so he doesn't have to memorize them. Johnny Depp recently confirmed the truth in this tale and explained his reasoning, saying:
I've got bagpipes, a baby crying and bombs going off. It creates a truth. Some of my biggest heroes were in silent film. It had to be behind the eyes. And my feeling is, that if there's no truth behind the eyes, doesn't matter what the fucking words are.
This response, in a wide-ranging, candid interview with Rolling Stone, reveals a lot about Johnny Depp's approach to acting. He makes a great point that no matter how compelling the words are, they are only as good as the manner in which they are delivered and the acting around the words. Indeed, silent film stars couldn't rely on their delivery of lines and instead had to tell their story through their eyes. It is a common belief that acting is in the eyes, so Johnny Depp isn't alone in wanting to convey things in that way, but not learning his lines and paying a guy a king's ransom to feed them to him is where the actor and many of his contemporaries differ.
Johnny Depp has spoken in the past about the most important part of acting being reacting. Being in the moment rather than learning his lines seems in accordance with that theory. It's strange to consider, though, because you would think it might be easier to act with your eyes if you knew what was coming dialogue-wise. By not learning his lines, Johnny Depp has to react in the moment with his eyes and expressions, which does sound more natural in a way. It also indicates that he feels this is part of his acting style and not just some unnecessary expenditure out of laziness. Although he didn't reveal how much he spends on this service, if it is as expensive as reported, you've got to think someone else would do it for way less, especially considering the financial stuff he's been dealing with of late.
As with any art, there is no right or wrong way to do things and Johnny Depp's approach is par for the eccentric actor course. Although Johnny Depp has mostly become known for his cartoonish and goofy characters of late, he is a talented and acclaimed actor so I suppose whatever works for him is fine. Whether he will continue to afford this service is another matter entirely as his legal woes and financial troubles are still ongoing.