There are at least two things about Japan that Johnny Depp likes: the sweets and the playthings. “I’m a toy addict,” said the 47-year-old actor, who has a daughter, Lily Rose, 11, and a son, Jack, 8, with French actress Vanessa Paradis. “Whenever I am in Tokyo, they have to pull me out of Kiddyland.”
Making his eighth visit to Japan since first arriving in 1994 for Dead Man, Depp said, “It’s such a fascinating culture and I am never disappointed when I come here. I always get a magical reception from Japanese audiences, who are very accepting of the various strange things I have done in cinema.”
In his latest film, The Tourist, Depp plays Frank, an American math teacher trying to mend a broken heart in Venice. He soon attracts the attention of a mysterious woman named Elise (Angelina Jolie), and starts to fall for her.
By Depp’s standards, Frank is a normal character. Well, almost. “What is normal? Who deems what is normal?“ asked Depp, wearing his trademark gray trilby (looking a bit worse for wear with a hole in the top), black-rimmed purple shades, bracelets, necklaces and rings, but minus the beard he has had for so long. “I think this character runs between the raindrops of normalcy. Actually, I think I’d freak out if I had to play someone on a very straight level with no hang-ups or obsessions.”
Frank proves to be no ordinary tourist. “Actually, when I hear the word ‘tourist,’ I think of Americans wearing Bermuda shorts in Paris, ordering a Coke and French fries,” he said. “As for me, I only have one obsession when I travel. I always have one gold coin on me at all times. I’d hate to have to pull out one of my teeth if I got into a jam.”
Depp, who was named the “Sexiest Man Alive” in 2009 by American magazine People, said he relished the opportunity to star alongside Jolie, but joked that the love scenes might get him into trouble at home. “I avoided talking about it. ‘What love scene with Angie what’s-her-name?’ I deny it all. One day, I’ll pay for it. Actually, I think Angelina is a shockingly great mother and a great actress. She’s got many sides. She’s truly committed, talented, smart, funny and down-to-earth. I don’t know how she and Brad [Pitt] manage with all their kiddies running around. Everywhere they go, there are paparazzi and she keeps cool. I’d probably be in jail.”
Depp will be back in Japan in May to promote the fourth instalment in the blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean series, in which he reprises one of his most famous roles, Captain Jack Sparrow. “I wish I could stay longer in Japan,” he rued. “I really want to go to Kyoto and see the traditional side to Japan. If I could do some time traveling, I’d go back to 17th-century Japan.”
And with that, he’s up and off to Kiddyland and “to eat some more of those sweets.”
Chris Betros is the editor of Japan Today (www.japantoday.com).