Johnny Depp, Abigail Breslin and Gore Verbinski discuss ‘Rango’
Question: Johnny and Gore, you guys have worked together a few times now, and I was just wondering if you could each comment on what you like so much about working with the other.
Gore Verbinski: I like the way he smells. (Laughs)
Johnny Depp: I’ve been told I smell good. I mean, I don’t look like I smell good. (Laughter)
GV: What’s great about Johnny is the trust that—you know, neither of us are going to make the other one look like an ass. I have to—he has to trust that at the end of the day, we’re not going to use that stuff where we’ve tried something that didn’t work, but we’re going to try it because…we’ve got this sort of pursuit of finding the truly awkward moment, you know, which is—you’re only going to get there by not knowing, and sort of venturing into the unknown. And so, I just think he’s incredibly brave on top of being incredibly talented. It’s like you’ve got to kind of cross that threshold.
Q: Johnny, you’re a very physical actor, and I’m wondering how this process, where you actually acted out the scenes, was different from the other animated films you’ve done where you had to record your lines in a booth.
JD: I mean, ultimately, it was everything. Though, there were times when you didn’t feel that, when you were doing it—you’d rather have been—because you know, well, we’re lazy. (Laughter) At least I am. And I’d sort of rather just sit in front of a microphone and do the thing. However—
GV: That’s exactly the point.
JD: Gore created this sort of atmosphere that was really, truly ludicrous. I mean, just ridiculous. It was like just regional theater at its worst. (Laughs) And somehow, because of—not the idea of motion capture, but emotion capture, you know; certain gestures, body language, movement, something you might have done with your eyes—all those guys, you know, these animators took it and put it in there. So, I mean, it was very strange. I mean, for Harry Dean Stanton to walk up to me one afternoon—because I’ve known him for a million years—and he walks up to me and says, “This is a weird gig, man.” (Laughter)
Q: How do [your kids] feel about their dad playing a lizard?
JD: They actually call me the Lizard King. My children—they do. I’ve forced them to address me like that since they were tykes. (Laughter) No, it was an odd sort of thing, you know. “Where you going, Daddy?” “Ah, I gotta go to work.” “What are you doing?” “Well, I’m playing a lizard.” “Okay.” You know, it’d literally be that kind of thing—you drop your kids off at school, you know, give them a kiss and it was, “Oh, yeah—now I’m gonna go be a lizard.” Or, you know, the things that I’ve done that my kids have been sort of privy to, Willy Wonka and all—it doesn’t register. They’re far more interested in you know, “Family Guy” or Justin Bieber. (Laughs)
Q: Are you a Belieber?
JD: A Belieber? Wow. I’ve actually never heard that one. And you know what? Yes. I am a Belieber. (Laughter) I am. And I shall remain so.
Q: Rango’s character tells lies to get through the story. Johnny, when have you lied?
JD: I actually tell lies for a living. Exactly. I mean, that’s what acting is, really.
GV: That was a lie. (Laughs)
JD: Yeah, I was lying. I’m sorry. Yeah, there are certain—I mean, you know, I felt having kids and stuff like that, I had horrific guilt for many years, playing along with the Santa Claus thing. Do you know what I mean? And waiting for that moment to arrive where you—they—because you’re never going to bring it up to them. They’re going to arrive and say, “Hey, you’ve been telling me a lie for my entire life. What are you prepared to do about that?” I mean, it’s like that kind of thing. So yeah, I had horrific guilt. And we’re now kind of just on the outskirts of that, so I feel okay. But no, these are lies that society tells you—you must—you must keep these lies, you know, going —these kind of myths. Yeah, and I feel guilt about it; I still do.
Abigail Breslin: Santa’s not real? (Laughter)
JD: No, no! He is. He is.
AB: Thank God.
Q: In the past you’ve said that you’ve always chosen characters that you had a personal connection with. What’s your connection with this character?
JD: You mean a lizard. Yeah. I always had an affinity for lizards; I’ve always felt somewhat close to them. They’re reptiles. I’m feeling somewhat reptilian myself at times. When we were doing “Pirates” one, two and three, there were times when Jack Sparrow had to run—there was this very specific run that I wanted. And it was from seeing this footage of a lizard running across the water. And it was like the strangest thing I’ve ever seen. And so I said, “Gore, he’s got to be the lizard running across the water,” and he’s like, “Oh, yeah, absolutely. Okay, it’s time to…you know, let’s…”
GV: Get in touch with the lizard.
JD: Get—yeah, get in touch with the lizard. And we did it. So I actually think that Rango was somehow planted in Gore’s brain from that run, from that lizard run, you know. And when he actually called me and said, “I want you to play a lizard,” I thought, “Well, God, I’m halfway there.”