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Alice Through The Looking Glass - Johnny Depp interview

Alice Through The Looking Glass

Interview by Rob Carnevale

JOHNNY Depp talks about reprising his role as the Mad Hatter in Alice Through The Looking Glass and tackling an even madder, sadder version of the character.

He also reflects on his own career, including his passion for music and how a childhood dream has been revived, as well as the advice he might give himself if he could time travel. He was speaking at a UK press conference…

Q. How much of a joy was it for you to bring this wonderful character, The Mad Hatter, back to life, and to explore more of the characteristics we didn’t get to see first time around?
Johnny Depp: It was great to come back and explore this story of Alice and the Hatter.

Sacha Baron Cohen: That’s not what you told me!

Johnny Depp: I basically did the movie on a dare [laughs]! But, yeah, it shows a very different side of the Hatter beyond the kind of multi-personality Hatter. It shows a Hatter that goes near to his lowest point.

Q. What did you bring to your portrayal of the Hatter this time? And now that you’re playing concerts, what part of you is on stage? Is it an act or is that the real Johnny Depp?
Johnny Depp: Well, music was my first love from the age of 12. I haven’t stopped loving it since. It’s still my first love. But there was a certain point when I reached, I don’t know, that area of what they call a career where people started to know who I was in one particular field. And so I followed that particular path. And I knew that my [early] dream was over… that dream that I’d had since I was 12 was done with. But I was fun playing on people’s records or round friends’ houses and keeping a low profile. But then we had Alice [Cooper] in Dark Shadows and he asked me to play with him at The 100 Club, which was a real honour. We did a few songs and then he asked me to write some songs for him. So, I don’t know, I wrote about five or six songs. But I thought I was writing songs for Alice Cooper. And then suddenly it turned into this Hollywood Vampires thing. So, in a weird way that dream that I had left behind became revived. But I didn’t have to do all that ridiculous shit where I’m the frontman. I’m not built for lead singer syndrome [smiles]. So, yeah, I just get to play guitar and stand in the dark and it’s a gas. So, it’s like movies have become my day job.

Q. And coming back to the Hatter?
Johnny Depp: Oh, that was a real treat because you always feel you can go… I’m not a big movie watcher myself, but you always feel that there’s something more you can do. You always feel like, ‘I should have put that there’ or something. And I had a good opportunity to do that. So, I think this could be a more interesting take on the Hatter.

Q. Why does the Mad Hatter become mad? We still don’t find out…
Johnny Depp: Well, the thing with hatters back in the 19th Century was that when they were doing the beaver pelt top hat, the glue that they used to dress the pelt was rife with mercury. And so it ended up at that time that a lot of hatters started going a little [whistles] sideways. So, hence the orange and the green colours [on him] because he’d spent his entire life around it. But that’s a true story – hatters used to go crazy because of the mercury – and they weren’t able to get Apple TV.

Q. Was it nice to explore a sadder, more in-depth side to the Hatter this time, though?
Johnny Depp: What was really interesting about playing the Hatter this time… in the first film, there was pretty much a good deal of licence that you can take and interesting places that you could travel within the context of the character. But when you’re dealing with a Mad Hatter who has gone noticeable further down that road of insanity, it’s like that saying: if you are crazy, or you do have some sort of mental dilemma, if you’re not aware of it, then great; but if you’re aware that you’re crazy, it’ll eat you alive. So, with this Hatter there’s so many things that he has to question. So, it’s taking the Hatter and making him infinitely madder and more confused, more lost, more paranoid and even more violent. And that was an interesting challenge.

Q. If you had the chance to give your younger self three pieces of advice and perhaps change his future, what advice would you give?
Johnny Depp: The first thing I would say is to search for simplicity. Stay away from anything that makes a bunch of people stare at you while you’re in a restaurant, or follow you in cars and motorcycles back to your hotel and try to avoid people who write incredibly, sometimes entertaining, but incredibly ludicrous fiction about you. So, those are a couple of things. I would probably also say that if anybody gives you any shit, then just beat the fuck out of them [laughs].

Read our review of Alice Through The Looking Glass