Posts Tagged ‘John Waters’

Johnny Depp moves even further from his old rebel reputation with Mortdecai

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By Richard Crouse – Metro Canada

There are dozens of biographies on Johnny Depp and a surprising amount of them use the word “rebel” in the title. There’s the Passionate Rebel, the Modern Rebel and even Hollywood’s Best-Loved Rebel.

There can be no argument that Depp is a fearless actor, unafraid to tackle tough, challenging roles, but it’s hard to accept the rebel title these days. For 20 years, he wildly threw darts at the wall, making exciting movies with interesting directors.

With Tim Burton, he created the off-kilter Eds — Wood and Scissorhands. With John Waters, he produced Wade Walker, the greaser love interest in Cry-baby. And, with Lasse Hallström, he came up with Gilbert Grape, caregiver to his brother and morbidly obese mother.

Along the way, he was also Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the world’s most successful drug dealer in Blow, and the depraved poet at the dark heart of The Libertine.

Few actors could have pulled off Ed Wood and no one does debauched like Johnny, but the carefully cultivated hip outsider image was never truly accurate. Shrouded in a cloud of Gauloise smoke, he was one of Hollywood’s too-cool-for-school kids, emitting an outsider’s aura, while astutely playing the Hollywood game.

But any remaining traces of Depp’s bohemian status were wiped away with Captain Jack Sparrow’s colourful scarves in the tetralogy of Pirates of the Caribbean movies. They made him a superstar, and wealthy enough to buy Bahamian islands, but also ushered in the damaging wig and makeup era of his career.

The pale makeup of Dark Shadows, Alice in Wonderland’s crazy oversized hat, and the raven headdress of The Lone Ranger overshadowed Depp’s performances, obscuring his character work with props and flash.

This weekend, he hides behind a moustache in the comedy Mortdecai.

As the title character, he’s pompous, bumbling — imagine Inspector Clouseau with an English accent and an attitude — and on a worldwide hunt for a painting said to contain the code to a lost bank account.

Will people be attracted to Mortdecai? Hard to know. Depp’s showy performances have, by-and-large, garnered big box office but profitability, while important to the suits who green light projects like this, is exactly what’s killing Depp’s credibility as a serious actor.

He’s not in Nicolas Cage territory yet — there’s an actor whose Western Kabuki style of acting redefines idiosyncratic — but with Pirates of the Caribbean 5 coming soon, perhaps it’s time to put Depp’s rebel actor image or reliance on props to bed.

Could John Waters Be Your Role Model? Thursday, June 24, 2010 By Richard Crouse

Waters Interview Oct[1]. 22 (c) readings.orgJohn Waters listens to Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett’s Monster Mash every day. He claims dancing to the song keeps him happy.

“It’s even more fun to do with Kleenex boxes on your feet,” he says. “Howard Hughes used to do that. I was fascinated by that. I thought, ‘Why did he do that?’ until I put them on one day. Do the Monster Mash in Kleenex boxes and you will not need Prozac or any kind of drug. It will put you in a good mood even if you have chemical depression.”

The 64-year-old Waters, a provocateur once labeled “The Pope of Trash” by William Burroughs, is best known as the twisted mind behind Pink Flamingos and Hairspray, but he’s also a journalist with writing credits that range from pieces for Rolling Stone to Vogue.

On the surface his latest work, a book titled Role Models, is a compendium of pieces on people he admires—that’s everyone from Johnny Mathis, who Waters says is ”beyond fame, beyond race, beyond trying too hard” to Esther Martin, a foulmouthed Baltimore bartender—but what emerges from the pages is something different.

“It is really my memoir,” he says, “it is about me but it is told through other people. They had to relate to my life in some way. They had to lead extreme lives in a way I could relate to mine. Perhaps something awful happened or something good happened, or [they had] great success or great failure or notoriety.”

The spotlight he shines on his subjects also illuminates the man behind the words. The one-time “Pope of Trash” is revealed as a sharp-tongued, but loyal and compassionate friend.

Take, for instance, his 14, 000 word defense of Leslie Van Houten. As a nineteen year old Van Houten, under the spell of Charles Manson, stabbed Rosemary LaBianca sixteen times. Waters befriended her twenty seven years ago. “I told her, ‘I’ve known you for a long time and you are a role model to me, to [be able] to get through this terrible thing that happened,” he says. “Can she ever get better? Can she ever survive the terrible crime she was involved in? And I think she has and I think she deserves a second chance. This is my letter to the parole board.”

We also learn of his taste for people on the fringe, whether they be pornographers like Bobby Garcia, who shot hundreds of videos of himself having sex with Marines or Zorro, a legendarily drug addled Baltimore stripper. Waters treats them all respectfully and notes that he would be hurt if they took offence to anything he had written about them.

“I find people’s personalities fascinating,” he says. “I do try and understand everybody and that’s what this book is about. These people have had it worse or better than me and they’ve had to be brave and bravery is a complicated word, but they somehow have survived. Each one of those people taught me a lesson in a weird way.”

FOA hosts on The Art of Good Conversation: Richard Crouse Julie Wilson Posted on Thursday, October 21, 2010

Waters Interview Oct[1]. 22 (c) readings.orgRichard Crouse is the host of Richard Crouse’s Movie Show on the Independent Film Channel and Richard Crouse at the Movies on CFRB NewsTalk 1010 in Toronto. He is the regular film critic for CTV’s Canada AM and is also the author of six books on pop-culture history, including The 100 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen and Reel Winners. He hosts an IFOA reading and interview with John Waters, the American writer, filmmaker, actor, and visual artist; Waters will be reading from his latest book, Role Models. Friday, Oct. 22, 8 p.m. in Fleck Dance Theatre.

Globe and Mail: Can you recall your first hosting gig?

Richard Crouse: It seems I have always been hosting something, in one form or another. As a kid, I’d always throw on a suit and gladhand at my parent’s parties. Later, as a bartender, I tried to get my customers kibitzing and chatting amongst one another. I guess I was training myself for dealing with difficult (although usually more sober) interview subjects yet to come.

I can’t remember the first of the live Q&As I hosted. I do 100 or so a year. There have been memorable ones, though. Glen Hansard doing an impromptu version of his (soon-to-be) Oscar winning song Falling Slowly with some back-up singers recruited from the audience sticks out. Harrison Ford calling me Canada’s most “beloved film critic” made me smile. And Paper Heart star Charlene Yi re-enacting the final scene of her movie live on stage was hilarious and touching.

G&M: Like an editor who remains invisible to the reader, I suspect the mark of a good host is one who lets the subject shine in his or her best light. What’s the trick to staying in the conversation while removing yourself to make room for their responses?

RC: I make a point of never making the interview about me. No questions starting with “What I liked about . . .” or “I think what you did . . .” Who cares what I think? The audience paid their money to see what the guest has to say. If they want to hear from me they can tune into my radio show or look me up on Facebook. My job is to make the guest as comfortable as possible so I can then draw out answers from them that will be entertaining (hopefully), enlightening (with any luck) and interesting (fingers crossed!).

G&M: On Friday you’ll interview John Waters. In a phone interview with Waters this past summer, you note that there are people in his book Role Models who could easily be dismissed, yet Waters treats them respectfully. And in a New York Times review of the book, Tom Carson suggests that Waters hasn’t been “undone by the realization that he’s not outrageous anymore.” As someone who has watched Waters career, do you see an evolution in character, or are we just now seeing beyond the fringe to a regular (if extraordinary) man?

RC: I’m not sure if it is John Waters who has changed or if it is the world that has gone through a transformation. His early films may have been intended to shock but instead of being outrageous for the sake of it, I always felt he was trying to slap the conservative post-war generation in the face, waking them up to the fact that there is an unseen and marginalized assortment of people that make up the grand mosaic of American life. Job well done. It worked. Now the kinds of characters he focused his camera on in the beginning of his career are mainstream figures, much less outrageous now than then.

Role Models is an extension of the film work, just much more personal. Reading about the characters he has befriended and/or simply admired from afar gives us a great deal of insight into his own character and why he felt it so important to stray far from the middle-of-the-road.

G&M: If you could concoct a cocktail comprised of the ingredients for a perfect evening — audience, interviewees and host — what would they be and what would it be called?

RC: I’d have a handpicked audience huddled around the bar at Southern Accent on Markham Street (still the best bar in the city) listening to my conversation with Hunter S. Thompson, Keith Richards and Andy Warhol, who, of course, would be accompanied by Superstar Candy Darling. We’d listen to Cajun music and discuss the creative process in a night I’d call “Why Do You Hate Freedom? A Look Into the Heart of an Artist.”