Tourist, The: Interview with Johnny Depp

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In The Tourist (opening wide December 10), the versatile and talented Johnny Depp stars as Frank, an American tourist whose playful dalliance with a stranger leads to a web of intrigue, romance and danger. During an impromptu trip to Europe to mend a broken heart, Frank unexpectedly finds himself in a flirtatious encounter with Elise (played by Angelina Jolie), an extraordinary woman who deliberately crosses his path. Against the breathtaking backdrop of Paris and Venice, their whirlwind romance quickly evolves as they find themselves unwittingly thrust into a deadly game of cat and mouse.


When the German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (“Lives of Others”)presented his vision of The Tourist to producer Graham King, it took King all of 30 minutes to decide that he wanted to finance and produce the film. “I wanted to make a film that would be one of those experiences where you just sit back and enjoy life for a couple of hours,” says Henckel von Donnersmarck.
The Tourist, directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, written by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck and Christopher McQuarrie and Julian Fellowes, is a GK Films and Columbia Pictures.
Casting Johnny Depp
Now the most important step for director and producer was to find the right male lead. Says Henckel von Donnersmarck: “We really needed someone who wouldn’t be eclipsed by Angelina Jolie. When we brainstormed over what actor could be a true partner for her in terms of attractiveness, intelligence and acting skill, the only name that kept coming to our minds was Johnny Depp.”
Johnny Depp and Oscar-winning producer Graham King have been friends for years, and, recently, have teamed up on several projects. After wrapping one such collaboration and with an eye toward working together again, King mentioned to him that Donnersmarck and he were looking for a leading man to star in a fun, exciting, sexy thriller opposite Angelina Jolie, and both felt that he would be perfect for the part.
Do Justice to Depp's Charm
So Donnersmarck and Depp had a meeting and talked about The Tourist: “I presented the kind of character I envisioned for him, and he liked it,” says Henckel von Donnersmarck. “Our meeting lasted three hours instead of one, and we laughed so much that I realized I needed to introduce a lot of humor into the script to do justice to Johnny’s charm.”
Jolie and Depp are two of the most engaging, charismatic, and talented actors working in film, but as the film requires its characters to share an immediate attraction to each other, all felt it was a good idea to meet and talk before signing on. And believe it or not, that is how Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp met for the first time.  Despite being two of the biggest movie stars, they had not entered each other's orbit until they sat down to discuss The Tourist with the director and producer. King sat quietly and watched them interact, watching to see how the actors would get along.  Perhaps it was no surprise that they clicked from the first moment. “There was complete instant chemistry between them both,” says King.
For Henckel von Donnersmarck, they were the perfect leads for this film. “They’re great movie stars, but more than that, they are great actors, and I wanted to give them roles in which they could really show what they can do. Elise is charming and delicate and feminine and strong, all at the same time; Frank is winning and charming and funny, just like Johnny is in real life.”
“Having either Angelina Jolie or Johnny Depp in this film would have been extraordinary, but the pair together is that perfect combination you dream about but rarely, if ever, happens,” says co-screenwriter Julian Fellowes.
Depp about his German Director
Depp says that he likes working with Graham King because “Graham is a renegade. He understands the rules of the game, but he doesn’t necessarily adhere to them. He thrives on the risk factor, and that makes him unique. He likes a challenge, he’s got great taste, and he doesn’t care what other people are doing. He cares about what he believes in.”
The screenwriters set the film in Venice, which, Henckel von Donnersmarck says, lent the film its entirely unique atmosphere of beauty and danger. “Somebody once said that Kodak owed most of its revenue to Venice,” says Henckel von Donnersmarck. “In terms of art and beauty, it’s the richest place in the world – there’s nothing else like it. In reality, the city is sinking and falling to bits, but we wanted to show the glory of the place. We asked ourselves, how can we show the city from its best side? There are elements of the plot that are dangerous – but, thanks to Venice, not so dangerous that you might feel miserable about it.”
Wish to Play the Ultimate Ordinary Man
Depp, who plays Frank, an American math teacher, says. “My main interest was to play the ultimate ordinary man,” says Depp. “The people who are perceived as ‘normal’ are the ones I find the strangest, really: they have tics and flaws and weird mannerisms. This is a guy who hasn’t really lived much of a life, so that was the great challenge – to play him as hyper-normal.”
Depp also enjoyed the opportunity to work with Henckel von Donnersmarck. “Not only is he sweet, humble, giving, caring, loving, clever, and super smart, he was beyond collaborative,” says the actor.  “He was very much into the fact that things have to happen organically. He trusted that when Angelina and I got into the ring together, things would take shape.”
Dressing Depp
Atwood has created many different looks for Johnny Depp throughout her career, from Edward Scissorhands to Alice in Wonderland to the upcoming GK Films release The Rum Diary. She and Depp have a rhythm and communication all their own. 
“Colleen understands character, and she can connect to that with colors and fabric and textures,” says Depp. “She provides you with the physical skin for the character, and you combine that with what you’re bringing from the inside, and it’s a beautiful meeting of the two sides. She changes the way you walk, the way you stand, the way you sit, the way you relate to people. She’s quite something.”
“Johnny and I have worked together so many times, but we have never done a contemporary picture. We both wanted to keep his character of Frank Tupelo as real as possible. He is an ordinary guy, so we kept it simple: a classic gray suit, white shirt, dark tie.”
Even for the gala scene, Atwood created a sophisticated streamlined white dinner jacket and trousers for Depp, finished by tailors in London on the famous Saville Row. “A classic palette all the way around,” says Atwood.
Besides dressing Jolie and Depp for the Gala scene, Atwood and her wardrobe department had their work cut out for them when designing costumes for the Gala scene. This black-tie affair would feature more than three hundred extras, along with a very beautifully outfitted Elise and Frank. Fittings for the extras began a month before the Gala scene was shot.
Atwood dressed the women background Gala extras using a very controlled palette of floor length evening gowns, many of them designed by Alberta Ferretti. Each gown was hand- tailored to each background extra weeks before the scene was shot. Special attention was paid to the gowns for the dancers who had to be able to move to the music with ease. Lycra panels were added when necessary and hems were slightly raised. But Atwood did not design every costume in the scene: Paul Bettany wears his own Ozwald Boateng-designed tuxedo for the sequence.
Depp’s Impressive Biography
Depp most recently headlined an all-star cast as the Mad Hatter in the worldwide box office hit Alice in Wonderland. Prior to that, he starred as real-life criminal John Dillinger opposite Christian Bale and Oscar winner Marion Cotillard in Michael Mann’s Public Enemies, and received his third Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, winning a Golden Globe Award for the role.
Depp is currently in production on Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, reprising his role as Captain Jack Sparrow. Depp played the pirate captain a third time in Gore Verbinski’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, after Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest earned more than $1 billion, making it the third largest-grossing movie of all time. He received his first Academy Award® nomination, as well as a Golden Globe Award nomination, a BritishAcademy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award nomination and a Screen Actors Guild Award for his portrayal of Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
In 2005, Depp collaborated with Burton on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, for which he received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical, and Burton’s “Corpse Bride,” which received an Academy Award® nomination for Best Animated Film in 2006.
Depp received his second Oscar nomination, as well as a Golden Globe Award® nomination, Screen Actors Guild Award nomination and BAFTA nomination for his role as J.M. Barrie in Marc Forster’s Finding Neverland, in which he starred opposite Kate Winslet and Freddie Highmore.
In 2004, Depp starred in The Libertine as 17th-century womanizing poet John Wilmot, the Earl of Rochester. Other screen credits include David Koepp’s Secret Window, Robert Rodriguez’s Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Albert and Allen Hughes’ From Hell, Ted Demme’s Blow, Lasse Hallström’s Chocolat, Julian Schnabel’s Before Night Falls, Sally Potter’s The Man Who Cried, Burton’s Sleepy Hollow, Roman Polanski’s The Ninth Gate, Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Mike Newell’s Donnie Brasco with Al Pacino, Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man, and Jeremy Leven’s Don Juan DeMarco, in which he starred opposite actors Marlon Brando and Faye Dunaway.
It was Depp’s compelling performance in the title role of Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands that established him as one of Hollywood’s most sought-after talents, and earned him a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actor. He was honored with another Golden Globe Award nomination for his work in the offbeat love story Benny & Joon, directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik.
Depp reunited with Burton for the critically acclaimed Ed Wood and his performance garnered him yet another Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actor. Other films include Lasse Hallström’s What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Emir Kusturica’s Arizona Dream and John Badham’s Nick of Time.
Depp began his career as a musician with the rock group named Kids, which took him to Los Angeles. When the band broke up, Depp turned to acting and earned his first major acting job in A Nightmare on Elm Street. He followed that with roles in several films including Oliver Stone’s Academy Award®-winning Platoon before landing the role that would prove to be his breakthrough, as undercover detective Tom Hanson on the popular TV show “21 Jump Street.” He starred on the series for four seasons before starring as the title character in John Waters’ Cry-Baby.
Depp starred and made his feature directorial debut opposite Marlon Brando in The Brave, a film based on the novel by Gregory McDonald. He co-wrote the screenplay with his brother, D.P. Depp.
Depp recently starred in Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and will next be seen in The Rum Diary, based on Hunter S. Thompson’s novel, for director Bruce Robinson and producer Graham King. He also lends his voice to Gore Verbinski’s “Rango.”