The Candy man
Johnny Depp and Tim Burton complement each others
eccentricities in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
By Chris Betros
Johnny Depp has often been referred to as
one of Hollywoods chameleons for his ability to play
so many offbeat characters. His latest effort, as eccentric
chocolate tycoon Willy Wonka in Tim Burtons Charlie
and the Chocolate Factory, is no exception. With his clip-on
teeth and garish make-up, Wonka is another in the 42-year-old
Depps long line of unique characters, among them Edward
Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Ichabod Crane, James Barrie and pirate
Captain Jack Sparrow.
Charlie reunites Depp with Burton for their fourth collaboration
(a fifth, the stop-motion feature Corpse Bride, is due out
later this year). Ever since I met Johnny for Scissorhands,
each time he has been more amazing, said Burton, 47,
during a visit to Japan this month with Depp. He likes
to act strangely and wear funny costumes. Thats the
sort of person I like to work with. For his part, Depp
described Burton as someone he can have complete trust in.
Depp, who was last here in 1995 to promote Dead Man, received
a rousing reception at Narita airport when he flew in by private
jet. Nearly 2,000 fans were on hand to greet him, and at his
news conference, a couple of hundred waited in vain outside
the room. Depp seemed touched by the reception, although he
doesnt give much away. He speaks slowly and softly,
sometimes not sure what he is supposed to say. Dressed in
jeans and a brown jacket and with a flannel shirt tied around
his waist, he looked cool with his grungy, casual chic style.
He is still sporting a beard from his just-finished sequel
to Pirates of the Caribbean.
Charlie is a remake of the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate
Factory, based on the book by Roald Dahl. It tells the story
of five children who win a candy bar contest. Their prize
is a tour of a giant factory run by the eccentric candy mogul
Wonka, who has more than just a tour in mind for the kids.
Both Burton and Depp said they felt some pressure. I
think Tim felt it more than me, said Depp. I felt
a responsibility to be true to the authors intent about
who Wonka might be.
In the US media, there has been a lot of talk that Depp based
his characterization of Wonka on Michael Jackson, among others.
Actually, Tim and I talked a lot about where Wonka was
coming from. My foundation for the guy was all those childrens
TV show hosts I saw as a kid. They had this bizarre speech
pattern and rhythm. Once I find a character, then everything
else falls into place. Of his choices, Depp said, I
like to explore different possibilities. Beyond that, its
all about having fun, really.
Depp said he got a buzz when his 6-year-old daughter Lily-Rose
and 3-year-old son Jack visited him on the set one day. I
was decked out in Wonka gear. They were stunned. After about
three minutes, my son said, Dad, youre really
weird. Depp, his partner, French actress Vanessa
Paradis, and their kids alternate between homes in Los Angeles
and France, and he has said that his children have made a
big difference in his work life.
On the other hand, Burtons son is too young to think
anything of his fathers work yet. The director said
the birth of Billy Ray, his 18-month-old son with British
actress Helena Bonham Carter, hasnt really influenced
his own work. If anything, I think Id be more
inclined to make an alien or horror film, he joked.
Thats what the experience was like.
Say the magic word
A full-time magician, Star Tanaka is friendly
and modest about his profession. Fluent in English, Tanaka
does shows at five locations, including the Hard Rock Café
in Roppongi, Monaliza in Nihonbashi, Bull Dog in Ginza and
Club Asia in Shibuya.
Why did you choose to be a magician?
I went to Canada when I was 20 and got a job as a bartender.
I thought it would be nice if I had something to entertain
customers with at the bar, so I practiced magic.
What magic are you good at?
Close-up tricks and card magic.
Whats your style?
I try to involve customers in my magic. Some magicians like
to demonstrate their magic only, but I enjoy what Im
doing together with the audience.
What are the good points about being a magician?
Being able to meet many people. I havent found any bad
points. Do magicians ever tell? Ill teach people who
really want to learn magic, but I do not like to give away
secrets to someone who is just curious.
How do you practice?
Practicing magic is not just practicing itself, but involves
other things such as eye, finger and hand movements. I practice
a lot the night before a show, but I try to relax the day
that I have a show or a test.
Where do you get your ideas for tricks?
I always think about what the audience likes to see.
Whats your ultimate goal?
I want to own a bar where I can do magic and serve drinks.
Visit Star Tanakas website at http://star.walker.jp
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