Johnny Depp to bring depth, creative absurdity to Origins Project Dialogue

The Origins Project at ASU will be hosting another one of its intellectually provocative dialogues Saturday evening on the subject of madness and creativity.

Perhaps no one is more tailor-made for this discussion than the gatekeeper of creative absurdity, Johnny Depp.

Depp will be interviewed by his friend, Origins Project director Lawrence Krauss, during "Finding the Creativity in Madness" on March 12. 

"If one is talking about creativity and madness, Johnny has implemented, more than almost any other actor, notions of both in film," Krauss explained. "He's thought a lot about how the two are related and how they manifest themselves."

Krauss has been lucky enough to call Depp a friend for over a year now, and has candidly observed the mind of a man who has spent his entire career merely skirting the peripherals of the public eye.

Saturday, March 12, 2016 - 7:00pm to 9:30pm

Gammage Auditorium

Ticket Info:

Tier 1: $150

Tier 2: $65

Tier 3: $35

Tier 4: $12

Students: Free, but tickets must be reserved

In spite of Depp's distaste for an extreme spotlight, his timeless talent is undeniable. Krauss alluded to the fact that, as one of the "most celebrated actors in the world," Depp's inherent creativity is a trait that shines both in and through him.

"More than any other person, Johnny has perhaps portrayed people who are either eccentric or on the edge of society," Krauss said. "He's also read widely on general subjects like this, and it'll be interesting to see how he's integrated the ideas he's read and internalized what he's learned."

Krauss' dialogue with Depp will serve as a strong building block to the Origins Project, as well as a catalyst for the workshop on pattern processing that inspired it. 

"One of the things Origins has tried to do is demonstrate that there's no gap between science and culture; that ideas of one sort are integrally related to the other end," Krauss said. 

The fact that Depp actually sought out Krauss to initiate a dialogue with him suggests that they're both on the same page about this. 

Krauss said he anticipates the audience will be surprised to hear Depp speak considering his general elusiveness.

"I hope that they will be pleasantly surprised to see the depth of his character and the gentleness of the man and the breadth of interest," he said. "And the charm ... well, I don't think people will be surprised by the charm!"

Charm and intellect alike have aligned to make Depp a brilliant artist in many senses of the word through not only film, but also art and music. 

Before you hear Depp speak live on Saturday night, reminisce on a few of his many noteworthy performances that exemplify what it really means to marry creativity and madness:

The Mad Hatter, "Alice In Wonderland"

via GIPHY

Critics had mixed reviews about Depp's performance as the classic oddball Disney character, but the Mad Hatter is just the type of person Depp does better than anyone else: aesthetically extreme, unmatchably odd and psychologically provocative. The Mad Hatter examines life from angles undetected by anyone else, and audiences can expect the same from Depp. 

Edward Scissorhands, "Edward Scissorhands"

This character and film exemplify two more contrasting yet complementary characteristics of Depp and his work: bottomless (and often, dark) intellect wearing the mask of frivolity. 

Gilbert Grape, "What's Eating Gilbert Grape"

Although characters like the Mad Hatter and Edward Scissorhands can strike profound intellectual chords in audiences, their absurdity makes them only indirectly "relatable." Characters like Depp's Gilbert Grape express a certain tenderness and confusion, reminding us that profundity exists even in the sleepiest towns. 

Sweeney Todd, "Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"

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Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter are a match made in a very fascinating corner of theatrical heaven. An intensity and intellect like the one Depp brings to the screen in Sweeney Todd create a dark harmony with Bonham Carter's brooding femininity that attest to the collaborative nature of his personal creativity.

Victor Van Dort, "Tim Burton's Corpse Bride"

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Tim Burton's style is well-suited to a man like Depp, who can always bring the level of complexity and personality the dramatic animations demand. Depp's talent is so extraordinary that he can make a ghastly-looking animation appear entirely alive. 

Mort Rainey, "Secret Window"

"Secret Window" can be classified as a "thriller" movie, which might automatically turn some viewers away due to the preposterous nature of many thriller movies. Depp's character, successful writer Mort Rainey, is quite average compared to some of his other roles, but he of course manages to bring something to the role that no other actor could quite match.

Ichabod Crane, "Sleepy Hollow"

The tale of the headless horseman has been recounted and reconstructed into varying qualities of Halloween costumes for years, but Depp helped advance the theatrical adaptation in such a way that he makes the name "Ichabod" familiar for even those who have never seen the movie.

Ed Wood, "Ed Wood"

"Ed Wood" is an amazing opportunity to see Depp as he might have been several decades ago (even though this movie was released in 1994). Not surprisingly, he is able to deliver a great deal of color to this black and white setting. Films like these showcase Depp's ability to absorb his characters by every means necessary, right down to his malleable voices and accents. 

Joseph Pistone, "Donnie Brasco"

Depp's chemistry with Al Pacino is one that is hard to anticipate but equally as hard to forget. The two have pretty dissimilar bodies of work, but Depp yet again showed that he is a true chameleon of an actor and can conform to anything he portrays.

Raoul Duke, "Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas"

via GIPHY

Hunter S. Thompson's unmistakable style of gonzo journalism came to life in this 1998 cult classic in which Depp starred as Thompson's cynical, recurring character of Raoul Duke. This film is nothing short of absolutely absurd —a true testament to Depp's inherent taste for creative madness.

If you don't have a chance to catch Depp and Krauss talk live, no worries —you can live stream the event or watch it later on the Origins Project Youtube channel.


Reach the reporter at celina.jimenez@asu.edu or follow @lina_lauren on Twitter.

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