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CNN Larry King Live

Larry King Special: Johnny Depp

Aired October 16, 2011 - 20:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN HOST: He's one of the biggest stars in the world. One of the most acclaimed actors or our time.

Tonight Johnny Depp. The man who rarely grants interviews sits down with me and opens up about his fame.

JOHNNY DEPP, ACTOR: This is the card I drew, so I'll deal with it, that's fine. Doesn't mean every single moment you have to be sort of OK with it.

KING: His family.

DEPP: I don't want my kids to experience me as a novelty. I want my kids to know me as dad.

KING: And his famous friends. Brando had that big an effect on you?

DEPP: He was a wonderful man. You know? He'd give you anything.

KING: Plus we'll go on a tour of his private office full of personal memorabilia and his paintings.

It's all ahead on this LARRY KING SPECIAL, "Johnny Depp."

We're sitting here in Johnny Depp's office. An office like none I have ever seen. That later we'll get a chance to explore a little. He, of course, one of the most celebrated and versatile actors of his generation. He's also a director, producer, accomplished musician.

His new movie "Rum Diary" will open October 28th. The only novel ever written by Hunter S. Thompson. We'll talk about that a little later.

You don't do many things like this. Do you not like to be interviewed or --

DEPP: No. I'm just not very good at it, you know. Never have been very good at it.

KING: Why not?

DEPP: I don't know. There's a -- you know, there's a strange thing, you know. I'm OK when I'm a character. If I'm playing a character, I can do, you know, virtually anything in front of a camera. But if I'm just me, I feel, you know, exposed and sort of, you know, it feels awkward.

KING: We won't expose you.

DEPP: OK. Good.

KING: Do you like being other people?

DEPP: Yes, I do. I do because I'm fascinated with people. I mean, I'm fascinated -- I like to watch people. And that's the one sort of thing, you know, as an actor in terms of job necessity is the ability to be able to watch people, to observe, to be the observer. As a journalist, you know, to observe. And it's one of my favorite things, to sort of pick apart, you know, various traits.

KING: Marlon Brando told me that one of the problems is when you get very well known is they're observing you.

DEPP: That becomes the problem.

KING: You can't -- you're not observing them really.

DEPP: Yes. Exactly. No, that becomes the problem. You become the focus of others. So, therefore, your ability to observe is tainted. You know it's a little bit -- yes. It changes quite radically.

KING: How did you go from guitar to acting?

DEPP: Accident.


KING: How did it happen?

DEPP: I'd moved to Los Angeles in 1983 and was living here playing -- you know, playing music. And we did a couple of good gigs. You know, the band and stuff. And we went on the road for a little bit. And that was all fine. But, I mean, in terms of making a living, it was pretty straight -- you know pretty close to the bone there.

So I was filling out job applications for just various -- like video stores or anywhere, you know. And I happened to be with an old buddy of mine, Nicolas Cage. And who was -- who was then coming up the ranks. And he said that, you know, why don't you just -- I think you should meet my agent. You should investigate acting.

KING: You hadn't thought of it?

DEPP: No, not really, no. No. And so I met his agent. She sent me to read for a part. And got a call back and then they hired me for the gig. You know that was the first "Nightmare on Elm Street." That was 1984? Three or four.

KING: Did you like it right away?



KING: It was a job?

DEPP: It was just a gig. You know I just thought, well, this will get me through, you know, until, you know, the music picks up or whatever. You know. So I just -- you know, the first two or three, four films to me were just, you know, a lark. You know, just --


KING: Would you rather have been a musician?

DEPP: In retrospect, no, you know. In retrospect, no. Because it's -- I suppose had that become my bread and butter, as they say, you know, the main gig, I would have probably fallen out of love with it on some level. And I still to this day, you know, have the -- the same love, you know, first love feeling for music as I did when I was 12.

KING: Do you play?

DEPP: All the time, yes. Constantly. Still, yes.

KING: How did you react to getting famous?

DEPP: I'm still reacting, you know. I'm still sort of dealing with it. I don't think it's anything you ever get used to, you know. I could never -- for many years I could never sort of put my name in the same sort of category as the word "famous" or anything like that. And I just found it very uncomfortable. So it's weird.

It's something like if you -- I find if you get used to it, then something must be wrong, you know. If you get used to that constant kind of thing, it's -- something's got to be wrong. There's got to be still a part of you that -- somewhere in there that pines for anonymity.

KING: Allen Alda told me one that he doesn't like giving autographs because he feels it demeans the person asking for the autograph. It put them on a lower level. And Brando didn't like much being photographed. Is it true you don't like being photographed?

DEPP: I suppose, like, for example when you're doing something organized like a photo shoot, essentially amid the faux pas of, you know -- there was a piece in "Vanity Fair" where I should have used the word "violated." However, you know, in my -- in my lack of vocabulary in the moment I used another word, which I've, you know, apologized for radically.

But the thing -- the thing with doing a photo shoot, that's sort of an organized thing. You feel dumb. OK. But you just get through it. But what I find still to this day, kind of, like an attack on the senses, is really just being bombarded by paparazzis.

You know I'll take photographs with kids. People, you know, who want to take photographs with me. People who like the movies. People who supported me. I'll do that all day, all night, that's fine. But the bombardment, you know, of the paparazzi is just -- it's like a -- it's just --

KING: What do they get out of it? I mean, they take your picture.

DEPP: Yes.

KING: And then they take it a minute later. It's not any different than a minute before.

DEPP: And it's not any different than the year before, or the year before that.

KING: So what is the -- what do you think it is?

DEPP: I truly don't understand. I think it must be just this kind of -- I don't know. It just feels like this kind of gluttonous, horrific sport. It's like sport. It's like hunting or something.

KING: Do you therefore go out of your way to try to avoid them?

DEPP: Yes. I try to avoid, you know, any and all, you know, press or -- especially that nature. You know, just to -- yes. I just --

KING: So do you --


DEPP: I don't want my kids to experience me as a novelty. I want my kids to know me as dad, you know. And already, you know, if they have access to the Internet or whatever, I mean they understand what the deal is. But I don't want them to have to live through and experience that kind of attack, you know.

KING: So what do you do when you go out to eat?

DEPP: I don't go out very much, you know. I stay at home a lot. Or when you go out to eat, you know, you've got to -- it becomes a strategic sort of plan.

KING: Getting in through the side door.

DEPP: OK, we're going in the back. We're going to walk through the slippery kitchen and we're going to go into the private room or, you know, that kind of thing.

KING: It's a tough way to live.

DEPP: It's -- you know, I suppose it's what I -- it's the card I drew. So I'll deal with it. That's fine. But you know it doesn't mean that every single moment you have to be sort of OK with it. I certainly am not one of those guys and would -- you know, can't stand the idea of, you know, one of those guys who whines about, you know, how horrible success is.

I do realize and understand very well on a profound level how lucky I am and what a privileged position it is and what it's done ultimately for me, my family and my kids. But at the same time, you know, there are moments in a man's life when you just kind of want to feel somewhat normal, you know.

KING: He's one of the biggest stars in the world. But it wasn't always that way.

DEPP: I had been essentially known within the confines of Hollywood as the -- you know, as box office poison. You know basically I'd built a career on 20 years of failures.

KING: Plus, later, Johnny shows me the inside of his private office. It's an up close and personal look at a Johnny Depp you will not want to miss. When this LARRY KING SPECIAL, "Johnny Depp" returns.


KING: Paul Newman told me that any successful person in any field who in discussing their career doesn't use the word luck is a liar.

DEPP: Yes. He's absolutely right, yes.

KING: So you consider yourself lucky?

DEPP: Very lucky, yes.

KING: But you have to have talent to meet the luck, right?

DEPP: Somebody hands you the ball and you run, you know. And then if you get hit, you get hit, or maybe you make it through, you never know. But, I mean, I just know that somebody handed me the ball at a certain point. And I was hungry enough to keep running. And I'm still running. So --


KING: Now what do you think makes you good at what you do? You have to think you're good.



KING: You don't watch yourself, right?

DEPP: I don't. No. I don't. I don't like to watch myself. I think, you know, I maintain a hunger, but not an ambition. You know, I -- I'm very happy to explore all possibilities of a character and really, you know, dive into the role. You know to the point where Disney wanted to -- wanted to fire me.

KING: They wanted to fire you from "Pirates"?

DEPP: Yes.

KING: Because?

DEPP: They couldn't understand what I was doing. You know? They didn't understand the character. They were actually contemplating subtitling the film, you know.



DEPP: You will always remember this as the day that you almost caught Captain Jack. What are you doing? You burned all the food, the shade, the rum.

KYRA KNIGHTLY, ACTRESS: Yes, the rum is gone.

DEPP: Why is the rum gone?


KING: Ever turned down something you regretted?



DEPP: Don't regret any of it, no. No. Everything that I turned down was -- it was -- weirdly, it was more important what I turned down than what I accepted in terms of films.

KING: For your own happiness?

DEPP: Mm-hmm.

KING: So even if it became a hit?

DEPP: Yes. "Pirates" was a complete accident, you know? I mean prior --

KING: What do you mean?

DEPP: Well, prior to "Pirates of the Caribbean," you know, the first one in 2003, that was -- I mean I had been essentially known within the confines of Hollywood as the -- you know, as box office poison, you know what I'm saying? You know basically had built a career on 20 years of failures.


KING: Did it surprise you, its success?

DEPP: Hugely. I had no idea.

KING: Are you going to do more?

DEPP: You know, it depends.

KING: Does it ever become maybe too much?

DEPP: Not yet, you know. Not yet for me. I mean, maybe -- maybe to the masses. I don't know. Maybe. I don't know. I still feel like in terms of character, Captain Jack is one that I'd like to explore.

KING: He's still evolving?

DEPP: Yes. Because he's -- because he's fun, you know. It's his fun. It's a license to be totally and utterly irreverent and get away with it.

KING: He's going to age, then?

DEPP: I suppose he'll have to.

KING: Discuss some others. Some incredible roles you've played. Edward Scissorhands.

DEPP: Probably the most important film that I've ever done, just in terms of the -- the transition for me, you know, from basically at the time, you know, being known as having come up the ranks as a TV actor, essentially, in the minds of Hollywood. "Scissorhands" was the one that sort of put me on the road that I wanted to be on. So for me that one's -- yes, that's probably the most important of all.

KING: "Mad Hatter."

DEPP: A gas. You know, I mean, just a gas. Again, one of those things where you get a call from Tim and he says what do you think about this? And you just -- you just start to travel, you know.

KING: You just did "Dark Shadows," right?

DEPP: Just finished.

KING: Finished. That was a soap opera about a vampire.

DEPP: Yes.

KING: What attracted you to that?

DEPP: Well, I had watched it as a kid, you know. Religiously. I remember sprinting home from school to see it. Didn't want to miss, like, a minute of it. Ironically, you know, Tim had gone through the same experience. You know running home from school. And then back when we were doing Sweeney, we were doing "Sweeney Todd" a couple of years ago, it -- one day we're just sitting there talking, and I said, you know, we should do a vampire movie sometime.

Let's do a vampire movie. It was before all the "Twilights" and all that, you know, stuff. And yes, that's a good idea. I went, oh, "Dark Shadows," man. And so we got on the "Dark Shadows" tangent. And then one thing led to another.

KING: So was "Willy Wonka" fun?

DEPP: Absolutely fun. Yes. Really fun.

KING: Do you have to enjoy it to do it? DEPP: I think you have to. I mean I think it's got to be fun. The process itself must be fun. You have to enjoy what you're doing. And as we all know, as you know as well as I do, it's a collaborative process, you know. It's not just let's put the actor in front of the camera. There are many people behind the scenes that make it all go.

So I would -- I would find it really a drag if they stick me out in front of the camera and the guys behind the camera weren't having a good time, too. All I do is try to make them laugh.

KING: Still ahead, Johnny talks about his famous co-stars and friends. Al Pacino.

DEPP: He says, I'm nuts, but he's really -- like, he's certifiably nuts.


KING: Marlon Brando.

DEPP: We got along like a house on fire. You know. Instantly. There's a dangerous element. You never know what to expect from him.

KING: And Hunter Thompson.

DEPP: I realized that this was the voice of truth. He was without question I mean, I think the most important nonfiction writer of the 20th century.

KING: Plus, get a tour of his private office. Wait until you see what's in there.

But first, after supporting them for years, Johnny opens up on the release of the West Memphis Three.

Did you have anybody say to you, you know, Johnny, you go out on a limb on a thing like this?

DEPP: Oh, yes.

KING: Find out why when this LARRY KING SPECIAL: JOHNNY DEPP" continues.


KING: What do you make of finally the release of the Memphis Three? You got involved in that battle. We did a whole show on it.

DEPP: Yes.

KING: We had them on. And they still not -- they're guilty. They're out. But it's crazy.

DEPP: It's a very strange thing the state of Arkansas presented to them. Essentially, you know, to say, OK. All you have to do is say that we have the evidence to convict you again, and -- but we'll do time served and you're out. Admitting guilt, maintaining your innocence. So it's a very -- you know, it's a really floppy piece of ground to stand on.

KING: Why did you get involved?

DEPP: Because I -- I knew immediately, you know, when I -- when I first started to get, you know, kind of familiarize myself with the case, I knew instantly that they were innocent. I knew instantly that they were wrongfully accused. And the more research I did and the more people I spoke to, it was absolutely apparent.

KING: Did you have anybody say to you, you know, Johnny, you go out on a limb on a thing like this.

DEPP: Oh, yes, yes. A lot of people.

KING: Like what if they did it? You're going to look bad.

DEPP: There was that kind of thing. Yes. But I just knew. I just knew, you know. I -- it was just -- it was ugly and -- and a raw deal from the get-go. Back in '93. And you're thinking of these three kids, you know, one, Damien Echols on death row for 18 years. Ten years in isolation. You know, for a crime that he did not commit.

KING: You think Obama should pardon them?

DEPP: I mean, it would be wonderful. I don't -- I think he's probably got a few other things on his mind at the moment. But, yes, yes. What I'm hoping is that the investigation will continue outside the courthouse right now and we will be able to prove the real killers.

KING: Back to some roles. One I want to play a little clip for you here. Because you did one of my favorites, one of my all-time favorite movies with one of my dear friends, Al Pacino. And that was, of course, "Donny Braskow." So let's hear -- let's watch Al talking about you.


KING: Working with Johnny Depp.

AL PACINO, ACTOR: I love him. I love Johnny Depp.

KING: What makes him special? You did "Donny Braskow."

PACINO: Yes. Yes. And he's done so many things. I mean He's gone from A to Z, you know. It's just gifts. It's really his gifts. And has a personality. And as a person, I just loved him. I loved being with him because he made me laugh every day I was there. He's really nuts, too.

KING: He's nuts?

PACINO: Oh, yes. He'll say I'm nuts but he's really nuts. He's nuts in that way that just -- you know, it's just fun to be with. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: You the same way toward him?

DEPP: Yes. Although when you're working with Pacino, you know he's great. I mean in that moment, you know, of course you lock in, as he said. You lock in and you're in the scene and stuff like that. But you know, as soon as cut comes, you go, Jesus Christ, man. Wow. He's monumental.

KING: He said you're nuts.

DEPP: He might be right. But he's -- I mean, he's really -- I mean he says I'm nuts but he's really -- he's like certifiably nuts.


DEPP: And one of the funniest human beings I've ever known in my life.

KING: From Pacino to Brando. Now there's a puzzling aspect of your life that puzzles me. You directed and appeared with Brando in a movie.

DEPP: Yes.

KING: That we have never seen.

DEPP: Yes. "The Brave," yes.

KING: Why have we never seen it?

DEPP: I was sort of rushed to take it to the Cannes Film Festival. Took it there. And then --

KING: And it was praised there, was it not?

DEPP: It was kind of praised. The first night was really wonderful, you know. I mean you had Bertolucci there and Antonioni and Kustavitza (ph) and all these filmmakers that I really admired and have admired for years, you know, saying bravo, bravo. And then, you know, and then the next day the American press just absolutely lambasted, you know, me and the film saying it's the -- you know we haven't seen a weirder group of people since Bunel and, you know, and all these kind of strange things. And I just --

KING: Shelved it?

DEPP: Yes, I didn't shelve it. You know I owned the North American rights. And I just thought, you know what? I mean, what's the point? You know?

KING: Might you release it?

DEPP: Yes. Maybe. I tell you why. For one reason only. It's certainly not a perfect film. What I will say about that film and what I will say about Marlon in particular, it's one of the best performances he's given since "Last Tango." It's one of the performances where he dug down deep and gave of himself so monumentally.

KING: Was he a little ticked that you didn't release it?

DEPP: No. He didn't care. No, he was fine.

KING: That's Marlon.

DEPP: Yes. He was fine with it.


KING: Now you did do a movie with him. Did you enjoy doing that?

DEPP: "Don Juan"?

KING: "Don Juan."

DEPP: Yes. Very much. That was the first. That's when we met and we got along like a house on fire, you know, instantly. And that's where we got very -- we got close doing "Don Juan."

KING: What did he do that others in the -- what did he do that the rest of you didn't do?

DEPP: Well, Marlon early on, I mean, Marlon reinvented -- Marlon reinvented acting. He revolutionized acting. He made it -- it was not about behavior in a sense as it was just about being in a moment. And he was a dangerous element. I mean, he was a dangerous element. He remained a dangerous element.

KING: Risk taker.

DEPP: Oh, yes. All the way through, man. Until, you know, his last -- his last breath. You know, he was -- he was a dangerous element. You never knew what to expect from him.

KING: Coming up, Johnny explains how he made Hunter S. Thompson's final wish come true. Shooting his ashes out of a cannon.

DEPP: He came down over all of us. You know we were covered in Hunter's ashes. It was something that I knew that had to be done and we got it done, yes.

KING: And get an inside look at his office. It's all next on this "LARRY KING SPECIAL: JOHNNY DEPP."


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Don Lemon. Live in the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. Here are your headlines this hour.

Tragedy in the world of sports to report to you. Two-time Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon was killed today in a fiery crash. It happened early in the Las Vegas Indy 300 race. The season ending championship race for the Indy car series.

The race was halted and the drivers were informed that Wheldon had died from his injuries. The remaining cars that were not damaged in the multi-car crash later saluted Wheldon with five slow trips around the track. Dan Wheldon was married and had two small children.

Philadelphia police have made a horrifying discovery. Four mentally challenged adults locked and chained in the basement of an apartment building. The three men and one woman are believed to have been there about a week. Three people are now in custody. They are suspected of holding the captives to get their Social Security checks.

Martin Luther King Jr. Now stands with presidents as a nation dedicates a memorial in honor of the civil rights leader.

The first family was among the dignitaries at today's ceremony. King's 30-foot-tall likeness is placed between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials on the National Mall. And to reach King's statue called "The Stone of Hope" visitors walk through the "Mountain of Despair" where a wall contained inscriptions of Dr. King's most famous quotes.

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has arrived at a hospital in Riyadh. He is expected to undergo back surgery. His third back operation within the last year. The 87-year-old king has suffered in the past from a debilitating herniated disk that put pressure on his spine.

Those are your headlines this hour. Now back to the "LARRY KING SPECIAL" featuring award-winning actor Johnny Depp.

KING: Johnny Depp's personal office. As interesting and unique as the man himself. Inside the walls are lined with personal mementos and photos from his life and work. Here, a cabinet of curiosities from his movie "Sweeney Todd." Willy Wonka's throne from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." And his walking stick and that golden ticket. One of his guitars. Awards and accolades.

Perhaps one of the most interesting things to see, Johnny's self-made portrait of his friend and mine, the legendary Marlon Brando.

DEPP: I said, hey, I made this painting of you. You know? And he's, you paint?


KING: Another amazing man in Johnny's life, Hunter S. Thompson. Here he shows us a letter and a check. Something he received after Thompson lost a bet over the 1998 World Cup. Johnny became friends with Thompson before he filmed "Fear and Loathing" in Las Vegas. It was a friendship that endured for years and one that led to his latest movie "The Rum Diary."

All right, let's talk about Hunter Thompson. And your friendship with him. You led to this movie, "Rum Diary" based on him. You found this novel, right? He never written -- we never knew he wrote a novel. DEPP: No, no. I happened upon it. Hunter and I -- it was when I was researching "Fear and Loathing" in Las Vegas, and I was living in his basement, you know, and I happened upon this box. As we were looking through the manuscript of "Fear and Loathing," and I see this, you know, folder.

"Rum Diary" across it in his hand. I thought, wow, what's that? You know -- so we started to read it, sitting, you know, cross-legged on the floor. You know, reading this amazing thing. And he's like, my, god, that's pretty good, isn't it? Yes, it's very good, Hunter.

You know, what are you doing? But then he brought up the idea of, you know, he used to call me Colonel. Colonel Depp, you know. As a colonel, we must produce this. We'll produce this together. It'll be our -- you know, so that was the plan.

KING: Did he know you were going to do it?

DEPP: It took a little while. And you know, years, years happened. And then Hunter made his exit, you know. So he never got to --

KING: Did you kind of make a promise that you'd make it?

DEPP: Yes. Absolutely. Yes.

KING: So this is a commitment?

DEPP: For sure. No, this was -- this was fulfilling a commitment to hunter. This was absolutely a major promise, we are going to produce this thing together. And I even so far as to have -- you know I mean Hunter had his chair on set every day with his name on it. He had his script there with his name on it. He had -- there was a bottle of Chivas there every day. A highball glass filled with rocks. And we'd bang in the Chivas. We had his Dunhills, we had his cigarette filters.

KING: It's a very unusual film, you'll agree with that.

DEPP: It is, yes.

KING: People will react different ways to it.

DEPP: I think so, yes.

KING: So explain to the uninitiated who Hunter Thompson was?

DEPP: He was without question, I mean, I think the most important nonfiction writer of the -- of the 20th century.

KING: When he died, you -- you blew his ashes?

DEPP: Yes.

KING: How did you come to do that?

DEPP: It was -- KING: From a cannon?

DEPP: Yes. Built a cannon. He -- it was his last request.


DEPP: You know? And it was something that we'd talked about here and there. But I knew that that's what he wanted. And I knew that that had to be done at whatever, you know -- at whatever cost. So I met with some -- you know, some kind of architectural wizards and stuff. And we built -- we devised a cannon of 153 feet in the shape of the gonzo fist that would shoot Hunter into the stratosphere.

KING: Did it make a big sound?

DEPP: Oh, boy. It was huge.


DEPP: He came down all over all of us. You know we were covered in Hunter's ashes. But the idea also is to take Hunter -- you know, his ashes and then mix that in with gun powder, there was something so poetic about that. You know it's something so kind of symmetrical about Hunter becoming basically large bullets.


DEPP: That he would have loved. So I mean it was -- again, it was something that I knew that had to be done and we got it done, yes.

KING: He's gone from pumping gas to being one of the highest-paid actors in the world.

DEPP: I haven't changed. I'm still exactly the guy that used to pump gas, you know. I'm still the guy that was a mechanic for a minute, you know. I'm still exactly. I just happen to have a weird -- weirder job at the moment.

KING: And Johnny tells us the latest on the "Lone Ranger." Finally back on? It's going to happen?

DEPP: Yes. We got the budget down.

KING: That's good to hear.

DEPP: Yes.

KING: That's coming up on this "LARRY KING SPECIAL: JOHNNY DEPP."


KING: Ever want to do theater?

DEPP: Yes. There is a part of me. There is a part of me that wants to do it, you know.

KING: I mean to have the audience and get the reaction.

DEPP: Yes, yes. There is a part of me that wants to do it. But at the same time, you know, I -- I suppose the reason to do it is because it just scares the absolute, you know --

KING: It does scare you?

DEPP: Oh, yes.

KING: You don't have the protection of "cut."

DEPP: Yes. You don't have the protection of cut. But also you just walk out there and suddenly just go -- line. You know, I mean -- I'm up. What's the line, you know? That would be a real drag.

KING: Is there a play you've liked that you've said to yourself, if I do do it, I would do that play?

DEPP: It was one -- one conversation with Marlon where he said -- he asked me how many movies I did a year. And at the time I said, I don't know, maybe three or something. He says, too much, kid. That's too much. We only have so many faces in our pockets, you know. I said, OK, I get it. He said, why don't you play Hamlet? You should play Hamlet.

I said, I don't know, you know, Hamlet's the kind of cliche thing. He said, no, man. Do it before you're too old to do it. He said, I never got the chance. I never did it. You should do it. Go do it. And -- so that still sticks in my head is the possibility of, you know, before I'm too long in the tooth to play Hamlet. It's just --

KING: Have you --


DEPP: Have I?

KING: Yes.

DEPP: Yes. Every time. Me? Yes. Sure.

KING: But what got you down?

DEPP: Well, I don't know -- throughout life, and many things, but I mean certainly, you know, losing Marlon, you know, took me down. Losing Hunter took me down. Because, you know that these -- these friends, these mentors, these teachers, these father figures, you know, these -- someone who you really -- it was amazing to be accepted by them and to -- and to be loved by them. And suddenly they're gone, you know. Yes. Those are pretty down times.

KING: Do you have faith?

DEPP: I have faith in my kids.

KING: Me, too. DEPP: Yes. I have faith in my kids. And I have -- I have faith, you know, that as long as you keep moving forward, just keep walking forward, things will be all right, I suppose, you know. Faith in terms of religion, I don't -- religion is not my specialty, you know.

KING: Do you enjoy success? Now you know you're successful. Are you -- do you enjoy it? Do you enjoy the fruits of it?

DEPP: Sure. I mean, I've been very -- like I said, very, very lucky, you know, in a sense that, you know, I mean, how ironic is it that, you know, as I said you get --

KING: You were pumping gas.

DEPP: I was pumping gas, most definitely. Printing T-shirts and selling ink pens, and you know anything and everything. Yes. And then the fact that you have a 20-year career of failures and then you do a pirate movie and that buys you an island is pretty -- the irony of that is pretty good.

KING: Do you think about the times when things weren't so good a lot?

DEPP: Yes, yes. Oh, yes. You know, there was a guy who I worked with many years ago. And we were talking about success and money and all that stuff. And he told me this one thing. He said, you know, money doesn't change anybody. Money reveals them, you know. Same thing with success.

And I believe that, you know, wholeheartedly. I think I've been revealed. I don't think -- I haven't changed -- I'm still exactly the guy that used to pump gas, you know. I'm still the guy that was a mechanic for a minute, you know. I'm still exactly. I just happen to have a weird -- weirder job at the moment, you know?

KING: It is a weird profession.

DEPP: As Marlon said, he had -- Marlon had the best definition of acting that exists, you know. It's a strange job for a grown man. And that's it.

KING: You do that good.

DEPP: It's a strange job for a grown man. Right?

KING: But he called something else that people in the business got mad at. He said it on our show. He called it lying for a living.

DEPP: Right.

KING: And most actors say they're not lying.

DEPP: Mmm.

KING: Did you think that was an unfair expression?

DEPP: I think it's totally -- I think it's totally right, yes. It's lying. It is lying. Why wouldn't it be? You can make it lying. You can make it not lying. You know it's -- you can find your own truth. But it's still a lie. You know what I mean? You're going to go to the craft service table. You're not Henry VIII, man. You're not going to have some Fritos or whatever, man. You know?


KING: Have a donut and then go, yes.

DEPP: Right. You know? He's not going to eat a giant chicken leg and chuck it somewhere and start screaming "wench". Right? You know? And that's not --

KING: Do you like the camera? Burt Reynolds used to say every day he'd go up and say to the camera, love me today.

DEPP: Oh, really?


KING: Please love me. You don't look at your films, right?

DEPP: I don't. I don't look at my films. But what I do is -- the strange thing is what happens at a certain point, it's kind of like that thing Marlon said about being observed and having been the observer. You get to a place at a certain point where you're more comfortable in front of a camera doing, behaving, living in front of a camera than you are in normal life. That is to say, like, out at a restaurant or something like that. You know, the camera becomes sort of just part of the --

KING: Same thing in my profession. I don't want to discuss myself.

DEPP: But you know what I mean?

KING: Yes.

DEPP: It's just there and that's part of it and that's it.

KING: It's your comfort zone.

DEPP: Yes, yes.

KING: Up next, Johnny talks about being a family man.

DEPP: Kids are great. So fun. As you know, they just grow up so fast. It's just shocking.

KING: Explains those tattoos.

Do the kids like it?

DEPP: Yes, they're OK with it, you know. Yes. I mean they're sort of used to it by now, you know. When I come home with a new one they're like oh, yes, that's good. Nice one, dad.

KING: And announces details on his next projects. Are you doing a film about Dr. Seuss?

Find out all about his future coming up on this "LARRY KING SPECIAL: JOHNNY DEPP."


KING: You're not into "National Enquirer."

DEPP: No. I mean, thank god. You know, early days, you know, they tried to sort of slop me into those things but now not so much. You know I think they kind of -- after almost 14 years of Vanessa and two kids I think they kind of --

KING: How did you meet Vanessa?

DEPP: I had met her before. But very briefly. And then it was '98 when I went to do this film with Roman Polanski in Paris. I was in the hotel lobby sort of getting my messages. And I turned around and was walking back towards my room and then I saw -- I saw across the room, I saw this back, this sort of skin of this back and this neck attached to it.

I just thought, my god, what's that? And then instantly it turned towards me and walked over and said hello. And it was Vanessa. And it was that moment when I knew I was absolutely in deep trouble. It's over. I just knew it. It was over. And she -- you know, we were going to have a kid. You know within three months she was pregnant, so it was over.

KING: What are the kids like?

DEPP: The kids are great. So fun.

KING: Now you live here, right? You live in Los Angeles?

DEPP: Yes, yes. We basically try and spend -- spend sort of half and half. But with the kiddies in school we do a lot here. The kids are great, you know, they just -- as you know they just grow up so fast. It's just shocking.

KING: I mean you and your sister are very close, right?

DEPP: My sister, yes. Christy is my best friend in the world. She's always kept me alive since I was a little kid.

KING: So you were family oriented early.

DEPP: Very much so.

KING: Maybe you changed. It's hard to change.

DEPP: Well, unfortunately I have a tendency, you know, especially these days now when -- you know the way the work is coming, I work a lot. And I probably work too much. If I could change that, I'd love to be able --

KING: You can change that.

DEPP: -- to spend more time. Yes, you can. But once you've committed to certain things.

KING: You need that camera.

DEPP: Well, I need to have the brain occupied for sure. You know, the brain canopy occupied at all times. Otherwise I will go sideways.

KING: Why tattoos?

DEPP: Like a journal. You know.

KING: You keep a journal of your life on your body?

DEPP: Basically, yes. It started when I was 17 I got my first tattoo. And every single one means something and they all --

KING: And the kids like it?

DEPP: Yes. They're OK with it, you know. Yes, I mean they're sort of used to it by now. You know? When I come home with a new one they're like, oh, yes, that's good. Nice one, dad.


KING: What happened to "The Lone Ranger"?

DEPP: It's still up and running. They --

KING: I heard that the budget was too high and they're not going to do it. You're going to play Tonto, right?

DEPP: Yes.

KING: You have Indian blood, right?

DEPP: Yes, yes.

KING: What tribe?

DEPP: I was told -- you know I was always told it was Cherokee growing up and stuff. It may be Cherokee. It may be Creek. I don't know exactly, you know?

KING: Is there a script?

DEPP: There is a script. There's a very funny, good script.

KING: Is it a takeoff of "The Lone Ranger"?

DEPP: Yes.

KING: It's funny.

DEPP: There's humor. Yes. There's a boat load of humor. KING: Does Tonto get to say kimosabe?

DEPP: Yes.


DEPP: Yes, yes.

KING: Who's Lone Ranger is made?

DEPP: It going to be Army Harmer. Looks like it's going to all come together in January.

KING: So it's going to happen.

DEPP: Yes. We got the budget down, yes.

KING: That's good to hear.

DEPP: Yes.

KING: So you play him tongue in cheek? How are you going to approach Tonto?

DEPP: I think -- what I like about Tonto is the idea that this character who's thought of as the sidekick, you know, it was the thing that bugged me always about "The Lone Ranger" is why is the Indian the sidekick? Why does he have to go get you that thing? Why does he --

KING: Because he's the slave.

DEPP: Right. And I couldn't stand that always. And my approach to Tonto is that he's this sort of -- there's sort of a crazy like a fox stoicism to Tonto, you know, that -- that Tonto probably believes that the Lone Ranger is his slave, his sidekick. So he's like, go get me the thing. No, no, no.

KING: He's going to say no?

DEPP: You go get it. You go.


DEPP: You're the one dressed in the funny outfit. You do it.


KING: Are they going to do the beginning where all these bunch of rangers are killed and Tonto saves the Lone Ranger's life and --

DEPP: Yes. There's certainly elements of that, yes, for sure. You remember it well.

KING: Oh, is there a love interest?

DEPP: Not for Tonto. KING: I see, he doesn't get --

DEPP: Not for Tonto, no.

KING: Will you do your own Tonto makeup?

DEPP: Will I do my own Tonto makeup?

KING: Have you figured out will Tonto -- one little feather?

DEPP: I think it's a little more than that. I think --


DEPP: I'll tell you what, I'll send you a picture of it.

KING: Please.

DEPP: I've done some tests. I'll send you a picture of it. Because it's -- it's a little -- it's a little different than that. What I like about Tonto, what I feel good about in terms of Tonto is that I feel like he's, you know, when I -- when I came up with Captain Jack, I thought, OK. I've really arrived at something, you know, different here, you know. And Tonto feels right on par with Captain Jack. It feels like another Captain Jack to me.

KING: Are you doing a film about Dr. Seuss?

DEPP: It's something, yes, something we're developing. With Seuss's widow, you know. Guisele's widow. And it's a very exciting possibility. Because it's a sort of combination of live action and --

KING: "Cat in the Hat"?

DEPP: Not "Cat in the Hat" so much but the characters. The characters will certainly have a role.

KING: Thank you, Johnny.

DEPP: Thank you. What a pleasure. What an honor.

KING: Let's go around then.

DEPP: That was fine really, yes.

KING: Johnny Depp.