Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Johnny Depp Gives Keira Knightley Acting Advice

Johnny Depp sat on a cheap black metal folding chair in his forty foot by nine foot trailer that had been hauled to the southern tip of Grand Bahama Island for the shooting of a scene for Pirates of the Caribbean — Dead Man's Chest. Depp was in costume, his long hair strands tied with beads. The trailer's air conditioning unit sat on top, and was humming with a grind and a rattle, working hard to beat the near hundred degree heat on the expansive white sandy beach outside.
Sitting in front of Depp was Keira Knightley. Keira's hairpiece was on the floor between her bare legs and feet. She was wearing a light blue bikini, her elbows leaning on her knees and she was bending forward. Keira's hair was cropped short, a result of the role she played in the movie Domino. Because of Domino, Keira had to wear a wig throughout the shooting of Pirates.
Depp peeled a banana and started to chomp, as if in his Jack Sparrow character.
"You should eat something," said Depp.
"I have a headache," said Keira as she rubbed her forehead.
"You're dehydrated," said Depp.
"I hate the heat. I hate the beach. This is torture," said Keira.
Keira was five foot seven inches tall and by Depp's estimation weighed no more than 100 pounds. The bones of her shoulders as well as Keira's sternum and collar bones all protruded through paper thin skin. And Depp could see Keira’s spine run up the middle of her back, like a narrow rocky berm running over a sand hill. A skeleton. Not a nanometer of fatty tissue was anywhere on Keira’s body except for her breasts, a location where women did not seem to mind fat cells. Keira had obviously been starving herself for the Pirates movie, but Depp could not understand why since she was in heavy costume for most of the film.
"I do not like to give advice to my colleagues, but I if I may make a suggestion," said Depp.
"A suggestion about what?" asked Keira as she rubbed the back of her neck.
"You're phoning in the performance. That accounts for the fact that you are having a miserable time," said Depp.
"Excuse me?" said Keira.
"You are not in character. In fact, you haven't even created a character for Elizabeth Swan. You're just saying the lines. The words are coming from nowhere," said Depp.
"Oh, like the fey pirate thing you're doing with Jack Sparrow is a real character. Give me a break," said Keira.
"Well, maybe it's thin, but it's still a character. I've at least made a choice. And so I am having fun," said Depp.
"You're having fun because it's an excuse for you to be feminine, which is really all you want to do anyway. Why don't you put on a dress and go all the way," said Keira.
"Jack Sparrow is not a cross dresser. And he likes women. He just has a way of being. Anyway, I am not the one who has a headache and is starving themselves to death," said Depp.
"What? I am not starving myself. Anyway, my body is like none of your business," said Keira.
"You are in my trailer,' said Depp.
"I am in your trailer because the fucking air conditioning is not working in my trailer. And don’t think that kiss thing we did means anthing. I got a headache right after the five fucking takes on that kiss," said Keira.
“The first one was the best,” said Depp.
“I sort of liked the last one,” said Keira, who then became mindful of her betrayal. “I liked the last one because it was the last one, got it,” said Keira.
"Look. They are about to shoot you running around on the beach. Get dressed and show yourself how good a time you can have. Get a little character and have a little fun. Run around the beach and act silly. Be silly. Then you will not feel the heat, and the beach will become a beautiful place. And I bet your headache will go away," said Depp.
"Is that Johnny Depp giving me advice or Jack Sparrow?" said Keira.
"I'm not sure," said Depp.
Keira smiled. She grabbed her wig and stood on her pencil thin legs and opened the trailer door. The bright sun of the Bahamas shot in like a saber. Keira stepped out and closed the door from behind. Depp decided that Keira weighed less than 100 pounds, and was probably too weak to create a character. Maybe she was exhausted from her work in Domino. Maybe she was just doing it for the paycheck. Afterall, it was a Disney movie based on a Disney theme park ride. So maybe Keira Knightley felt like she could just phone it in and rely on her big-lip smile to get her through the movie. But as far as Depp was concerned, whether it is a light movie or a heavy movie, an actor should always find a way to create a character. Without it, the people do not get their money's worth. And for Depp, it was all about what the audience was getting. If they are not getting character, then what’s the purpose of the actor, Depp thought. Depp suspected that the popularity of digital animation was in part due to the fact that actors had not been doing their work. Why would an audience watch an actor just say the lines if they could also watch animated cars just say their lines. Actors have so much more in their arsenal of tools, it was a shame most of them did not use the power of their craft.
Depp was starting to feel sad. He could feel Jack Sparrow leaving his body. Depp stood up and shook his body, shaking out his thoughts and retrieving the pirate Jack Sparrow. Jack Sparrow returned and he was ready to go. He walked his light walk to the door and left the trailer into the Bahamian sun. And the movie continues.