Johnny Depp Interview – Transcendence
Hollywood royalty and ageless heartthrob, Johnny Depp, 50, stars alongside Morgan Freeman, 76, in the upcoming drama, Transcendence. Hailing from Owensboro, Kentucky, Depp’s first career path led him towards music and he played in various garage bands as a guitarist, until he met Nicolas Cage, 50, who encouraged him to accompany him on various film auditions. Depp’s acting career began in the 1987 cult TV show 21 Jump Street, which triggered his film career. He has since garnered a Golden Globe award and an Academy award nomination.
Depp has quite an extensive romantic history. He was married to Lori Anne Allison, 56, from 1983 – 1985, followed by a string of engagements to the likes of Jennifer Grey, 54, Sherilyn Fenn, 49, and Winona Ryder, 42. He was in a highly publicised four year relationship with supermodel, Kate Moss until 1998, when he met French actress Vanessa Paradis, 41, on the set of The Ninth Gate. Their union lasted from 1998 – 2012 and they share custody of their two children Lily-Rose, 14, and John Christopher, 11. On December 31st, 2013, Depp announced his engagement to actress, Amber Heard, 27.
Here at the Four Season’s hotel in Los Angeles to promote Transcendence, the twice-named People magazine’s Sexiest man Alive (in 2003 and 2009) is wearing a blue and white 50s style jacket and striped shirt underneath, his hair is shortish and his goatee is perfectly manicured. He has on a Native American pendant around his neck and a huge engagement ring, initially bought for Amber Heard, but it was apparently too large for her dainty fingers. And as usual, he’s wearing jeans with a scarf tied around his waist.
Q: If you were facing death and they had the technology to upload you into a computer, like this movie basically, would you like to do it? Would you like to continue living in the computer?
Oof. You know, that’s a rough one. I know I wouldn’t hesitate to upload a person that I loved in that split second, and I would hope that I would know their wishes first, but I myself, I don’t know. I mean, if I would want to be uploaded into a machine, because think how rapidly technology is moving, and I would basically end up in a pawn shop (laughter) where a guy comes in and says, ‘What’s that thing?’ a thousand years from now, I don’t know. It’s like a kid looking at an old 78, (laughter) going, ‘What the hell is that?’ I think we all become obsolete at some point, might as well let it happen. (laughs) And I am pretty close. (laughter)
Q: The movie raises some interesting questions about mortality. Do you think about your own mortality and by extension your legacy?
Yeah, we all do. I think about it occasionally with regards to where I am today in my life. If I were to be taken away, do I feel complete? And is there anything haranguing me that I must do before? No. I have two amazing kids, I have a very privileged life, and so if the time came, well, toodeloo. (laughter) So, no I am not so concerned with it, only in the sense that I think it would be wrong to live in fear of it every day because then you are not living, you are existing. So in terms of transcendence, we should transcend to some degree of fear and transcend worries and transcend stress, the things that are the number one killers.
Q: What is your belief about God? Do you believe that there is something when you die?
I don’t. I do not.
Q: You are an atheist?
I mean, I am a pedestrian. (laughter)
Q: You don’t have any religion or spiritual belief?
I don’t. I believe in where we are right now, just because this might not be happening at all if you think about it. There are all kinds of angles right? Is there a God? Have you seen him? I haven’t seen him. Santa Claus? (laughter) Easter Bunny? Tooth Fairy.
Q: You can believe in something you don’t see.
Okay, there’s an aardvark hanging over my head but you can’t see him, but I can. No, in fact, I can feel him. I am not saying that to be facetious, I am saying that everyone has their own kind of thing and it’s not that I don’t have what might be construed as spirituality or a great many beliefs, but I don’t hang my hat on one particular thing. I think there’s a lot of useful information in the Old Testament and the New Testament, and there’s also an incredible amount of misinformation in those books. (laughs) I think there’s a lot to be gleaned from Buddhism. I don’t look negatively upon organised religion or anything, I mean people believe whatever they want and I think that’s wonderful. I just don’t look… I love to be pleasantly surprised. I mean if when my eyes close and I end up in some kind of killer place with loud music, (laughter) I would certainly welcome it. I would prefer that to dirt and worms. (laughter) Definitely.
Q: What connection do you have with nature?
Well, when my kids were little and they asked me what is God, I told them to look at the trees, I told them to look at the grass, I told them to take a deep breath, and to look up in the sky and the clouds and all that was God, and to look in the mirror and that was God, too. I don’t think that’s very far off the mark. Nature, there’s a lot to said for simplicity and using nature as an example. But unfortunately, long out of those woods, technology and the technology that we are talking about for this film, which is in a weird way, life everlasting, and in a strange way, the concept of that.
Q: Are you a nostalgic person? What is more important – books or computers?
I am the worst with computers and phones. Normally when I travel and go to a location or whatever, there’s always an acoustic guitar, there’s always a record player and some vinyl, more than likely old blues, and then there’s always a typewriter, an old Smith-Corona and that’s how I live. A computer is the last thing I need. (laughs)
Q: Apparently there’s a lot of musicians in the movie?
Yeah, a shocking amount. Every day at lunchtime, our director was not eating his lunch. (laughter) He was in his trailer with a savage amplifier and a raunchy Strat, wailing away and it was great. That’s the trickle down. If the boss is in his trailer, having a sort of rock fest, you are sort of escaping from reality through guitar playing, that’s a very good sign. But yeah, we find out that Rebecca Hall is this incredible pianist and singer. Bettany is a talented singer, a talented guitarist, a talented songwriter, Wally (director) is a great guitarist, I pass, I am all right. (laughter) I play with Willie Nelson and Alice Cooper because they feel sorry for me.
Q: I have three kids and sometimes I lose my cool when it comes to homework. How are you with your kids and what is your favorite APP on your IPhone? And also, have you ever Googled your name? (laughter)
(laughs) I have Googled my name and immediately regretted it. (laughter) God, I really regretted it. I don’t do that kind of that kind of thing, I try to stay away from anything about me out there in the world. But my favorite APPs, I like photographic applications, things where you can take a photograph and then instantly turn it into some abstract piece of art. I think it’s great that everybody has that opportunity to really go nuts. But as far as technology, I will put it to you this way, my kids are smart enough to not come to me (laughter) with any questions about the computer or even homework for that matter. If it’s got to do with history or literature or music I am all right. I am good. If it’s math or all that, I am down the road.
Q: A lot of your own heroes, Hunter S. Thompson, are demon driven, is that something that you relate to yourself or are you a brighter person?
No I think we are all born with if it’s a demon or whatever, we are born with these tendencies. But also, obviously growing up, conditioning and all that has a lot to do with who you turn out to be even though we are who we are going to be by age three. I mean, absolutely true. I have been very lucky in terms of heroes. My heroes, Hunter Thompson as you said was one of my great heroes and someone I knew very well. Was he driven by his demons? Running from his demons? It’s hard to say. We all got what we got, but at the same time, whatever Hunter’s demons were or whatever my demons were or are at the time, it formed a very strong bond between us because we understood each other on a deeper level. The same thing with another hero of mine, Marlon Brando. We hit it off instantly and it didn’t change until the day that he floated away. Because of similar experiences in childhood you bond and that bond doesn’t ever change. So I have been very lucky in that sense. I will say that the people that I always admired have never been driven by ambition. They are driven by hunger or passion and need, but never ambition. Never how famous can I get or how famous can I be? That’s an accidental, that’s like an occupational hazard. (laughs)
Q: Your character has all the information that is out there. In what way do you think that the world will change if everybody had access to all the information out there? Do you think that’s a good thing or a bad thing, when we become almost Godlike?
I think the easiest way that I can put it is if everyone in the world had high powered firearms, some people would be fine; it’s not the weapon itself that does the killing, though I would say it is a tool for that. Or a tool for protection or whatever. It’s an object, and it depends on who is behind it. It depends on what brain is behind it, it depends on the second. I mean if we have road rage, we can’t conquer road rage, I ain’t giving the keys to the computer to everybody on the planet, unless there is an endless opium drip that I can be on to watch the whole thing explode. (laughs) Do you think that would be a dangerous thing, to give everybody access to that kind of power? Clearly, we are all aware that technology isn’t going anywhere, it isn’t going away, you are not going to see less kids doing this (looking down). So yeah, it’s most surely something to be dealt with and to be schooled upon.
Q: Can you please tell us a little bit about your research, for the movie, did you meet any of those big brains from Berkeley and what did you learn from them?
I had one of the best experiences I ever had. I was introduced me to Elon Musk. And he came and visited the set, and we had a ride around in his car, and a pretty good chat and then the police pulled us over, (laughter) with a Tesla. I was in the front seat, Paul Bettany was sitting on my lap, (laughter) Rebecca, Wally, Elon was driving, and we were immediately pulled over. For speeding. And Elon had a great sense of humour about it but the cop did not and he really needed a humor chip installed, that cop, but it was a really good time nonetheless. (laughter)
Q: Thank you.