Acting Out, The Johnny Depp Way

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I knew it, the audience knew it. Even before--and definitely after seeing "Secret Window," Johnny Depp was the best thing about the movie. The same Depp praise fits his last starrer, 2003"s "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl." Sure "Pirates" has great special effects and a unique swashbuckling story, but it is Depp's brilliantly eccentric, Oscar nominated performance that sells the picture. So it has been in a number of Johnny Depp vehicles. Even with a sparse script, Depp strikes acting gold. Such talent from the unlikeliest of stars. His quirky presence on TV's "21 Jump Street" (1987-90) made him a teen idol. Now, 14 years later, Johnny Depp's motion picture track record includes memorable portrayals of a paranoid writer ("Secret Window"), a cross dressing, wacko director ("Ed Wood"), a child-like, man-built creature with slice-dice fingers ("Edward Scissorhands"), and the literally full of tears juvenile delinquent in "Cry-Baby." His movie role choices seem as diverse as his acting style. So what is Depp's secret talent? Answer: There is no secret. Depp just does his special things. Just observe his acting techniques. Consider this an in-Depp look. A JOHNNY DEPP PRIMER: HOW TO ACT DIFFERENTLY ?"Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" (2003)--It's about body language. Flaunt Captain Jack's pirate clothes by gaying down and sashaying when you walk. Flail those limp wrists about, especially when holding a saber. Get into peoples' faces, talk heavy-breathed. Appear drunk or high, cocking your head when speaking. Maintain that silly grin. Then claim it's all modeled on a Rolling Stones musician. ?"Ed Wood" (1997)--As a male, it is a must to recognize your female side. Show a bi-eye for bizarre guys and gals with names like Criswell, Tor, Bela and Vampira. Look natural in a lady's fuzzy sweater. Appear driven, a workaholic. ?"Edward Scissorhands" (1990)--Tap into toddler years to play the bizarre title character as a trusting child of wonderment. Important: DO NOT pick nose or scratch booty while in costume! ?"Cry-Baby" (1989)--Shedding tears on cue is a must. Otherwise director John Waters will apply stunt tears. Be a quick study for the "Jailhouse Rock"-like dance sequences. Look both distraught and horny simultaneously. ?"Secret Window" (2004)--Show Mort Rainey's frustration by violent phone hang-ups. Bark at the phone, literally. Make faces at the phone. Wear a fedora pulled low. Sleep in a fetal position. Comb your hair with an egg beater. Talk out loud to yourself. And practice shucking corn. ?"21 Jump Street" (TV series)--As Officer Tom Hanson, you'll run almost constantly to and from crooks. Hang with high schoolers since you are an undercover cop. ?"Sleepy Hollow" (1999)--Practice fainting on cue, especially when a prop head rolls between your legs. ?"Once Upon a Time in Mexico" (2003)--Merely follow simple tips: Do your Brando impersonation while dressed as a priest; blindfold yourself to prepare for the bloody, sight impaired shoot-out; and be gracious to Antonio Banderas when he discovers you have stolen the film from him. ?"Benny & Joon" (1993)--Do your Buster Keaton impression. Show your joy of performing pantomime for a street crowd. Perfect juggling several balls at once. Wear a cool hat, pulled down low (a great idea for future films). ?"What's Eating Gilbert Grape?" (1993)--Maintain intensity and focus. Learn to safely operate a vehicle while Leonardo DiCaprio's mentally challenged character goes ballistic in the back seat. Practice climbing water towers. ?"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (upcoming in 2005)--Sure it's a remake of the classic "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," but there is nothing wrong with ad libbing "The Peppermint Twist" dance while walking through the Gobstopper lab. Be anyone but Gene Wilder.

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