Thank you so much hooloovoo_42, you made my day!
*Hurries off to read the article.* (Why else did you think I wanted it?)
ETA: The article made me squee even more, so I had to transcribe the nice JD bits for you all...
The last time Empire encountered Johnny Depp was when he sauntered onto the terrace of the Hotel Du Cap at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival. Sporting a superbly unusual suit and smoking a cheroot, his perfect features adorned by a moustache roughly as wide as a crack in a coffee mug, he was every inch the movie star, captured in his natural habitat. Now, seated at a rough trestle table in an arctic catering tent as night-time rain pounds the canvas roof, he is dressed in a flowing white shirt, ample of cuff, and an embroidered full-length waistcoat. The pencil-thin stogie has been replaced by liquorice roll-ups and his facial hair is a less raffish goatee. He looks tiny, unreal, like a Dresden figurine come to life. Seated next to him, Christina Ricci appears even more as if she has wafted in from some enchanted walking vision. Her saucer-eyed, elfin features are framed by lustrous blond hair. They are a mesmerising apparition.
Following Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow marks Depp's third collaboration with Burton, and for him this reunion is definitely a Good Thing. "Going back to working with Tim for me is like recharging the batteries," he says, directing his whispery drawl towards his feet. "I can go out and do other things and I start to question why I do them and what the point of certain things is, so coming back to Tim is a rejuvenating experience. It makes me understand why I do this and what it's all about." But this being Johnny Depp, a man whose predilection for all things off-the-wall is legendary, other incentives were of course involved.
"I love the story," he says, simply. "I've been familiar with it since I was a little kid - it's just one of those great American stories. And I think the character is very interesting. It's a challenge to play someone who fills the role of the leading man, but not to play him as a standard hero."
In that respect, Ichabod is a character in keeping with many others in the Depp canon, particularly those he has played for Burton.Edward Scissorhands has the most obvious parallels, but even the delusional-yet-loveable Ed Wood provides plenty of evidence of Depp's predilection for society's waifs and strays.
"Yeah, Ichabod's a freak," he chuckles. "He's very much an outsider. He's definitely got his problems, his weird ticks, stuff like that." And Depp is perfectly frank about why he is constantly drawn to endearing weirdos. "I'm an idiot," he says, smiling. "No, I don't know…It's like, yeah, there are a lot of characters I've played who seem to be related in some way. It's kind of like a painting in a way; like something that you're trying to achieve, something that you're trying to say that's never quite finished. I don't know if a painter ever really finishes a painting. Maybe that's what it is with me - I'm exploring the arena and I haven't finished exploring it yet."
In creating Ichabod Crane, Depp drew on a rich, if slightly perplexing, store of influences. There's a great deal of Roddy McDowell in there (the late actor was a close friend of Depp's), but, he alleges, he also pilfered freely from the classic Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes films. Not surprisingly, he was also persuaded to take in a few Hammer Horrors to get him in the mood.
"Yeah. Did you watch any of those?" he says to Ricci. She shakes her head. "No, you said you were going to give me some but you never did." "I lied," he says. "I lied to Christina. I said I'd give her some films and I lied. I was familiar with some of them just from being a horror fan in general. Tim gave me a couple of Hammer tapes initially and we talked about the style. What I find fascinating about them is that there's a style of acting that's borderline bad, but it's so borderline that it's actually brilliant. I find that very interesting. I think Peter Cushing was a master craftsman, and Christopher Lee definitely is, and it's a style of acting that I find very interesting." Sleepy Hollow is the second film that Depp has made with Christina Ricci - she had a small role in Terry Gilliam's Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas - and it's another rematch that he seems inordinately happy about.
"When Tim brought it up that he was casting Christina as Katrina I was very excited about going to work with her again, and about having more stuff to do together. I think Christina is one of the few actresses out there who is making brave choices - not just in the films she chooses, but in the work she's doing. I think she's terrific. She's the real thing, and there's a lot of fakes out there." The fact that Ricci is sitting in very close proximity to him and there are still several more weeks of filming ahead of them shouldn't lead you to doubt his sincerity. And he fiddles with his Zippo in a quite charming, "Aw, shucks" fashion as Ricci enthusiastically returns the compliment. "He's amazing," she says with feeling. "When we were doing rehearsals he would just slip into things. Like, he'd remember things from Ed Wood and he'd just start doing his Ed Wood thing. And we work together really well and he's just really genuine. I mean, I first met him when I was nine years old and he's always been so kind. He remembers my mother's name every time he meets her, which makes her life worth living. He's also an amazing actor and look at him - he's beautiful."
On paper this comes over as unadulterated gush, but in fact, it's very sweet and to his credit, Depp looks as if he's about to suffer bashful meltdown. And if nothing else, it points to some highly convincing on-screen slushiness.
"Oh, I think that's gonna be fine," says Depp. "But certainly one of the things that first popped into my head was that, 'My God, I've known her since she was nine years old and we're going to be kissing and stuff!' That was a little odd at first. But, you know, we're both pretty calm, we're not walking bags of neurosis - or if we are, we don't bring our neuroses to work with us." Oh no. that kind of thing, as we know, is reserved for snooty Mayfair restaurants and is traditionally accompanied by swinging planks of wood at intrusive paparazzi and yelling in an inexplicable Irish accent. Although Heaven forbid we should go into that here. [Booo! Stupid journalist]
One of the delights of visiting a movie set, apart from wallowing in mud and gawping at extras in period costume reading The Daily Mail, is that while you're waiting, you get shown all kinds of interesting behind-the-scenes stuff to fill the time. Today, we are taken to meet the horses. This turns out to be an unexpectedly terrifying experience, and not one we're likely to repeat anytime soon. Banish from your thoughts any notion of patting velvety noses and administering sugar lumps to four-legged friends, and imagine instead standing three feet away from a gigantic fiery steed which is stamping its anvil-sized hooves and blowing great clouds of steam out of its gaping nostrils - at one point, it even rears up on its hind legs and whinnies like a steam train. This is the headless horseman's horse, and frankly, he's fucking welcome to it. Standing somewhat forlornly beside this colossal, highly-strung beast is Ichabod's ride. This is a dumpy, docile old mare, hilariously broad in the beam and short in the leg who looks as if her rearing up days are a dim and distant memory. Again, it's perfect casting. Back with the talent of the two-legged variety and Johnny Depp appears as wary of the equines as Empire. But apparently for entirely different reasons.
"We have a kind of edgy relationship," says Depp guardedly, when informed of our harrowing ordeal. "One day she can be fine and the next she can be a little…peculiar." "He gives you hours of amusement," chimes in Ricci. "Johnny loses it every time the horse farts."
"Yeah," he says seriously, "and the horse farts constantly. I take it as a statement about movies in general. She just doesn't give a shit about what's going on. She farts constantly and shits all over the set," he smiles. "I like that horse very, very much…"