Hollywood actors Johnny Depp and Morgan Freeman don’t give many interviews. One of the rare occasions was when HT’s film critic, Anupama Chopra, spoke to the two for their upcoming film, Transcendence. Excerpts from the interview:
So would doing a film like Transcendence change the way you think about technology?
Johnny Depp: Certainly. With any film, I always look at it first as an opportunity to learn because of the amount of research that you’re doing. So with Transcendence, it gave me the opportunity to study a topic that I am not familiar with at all. So I was able to learn a bit. Enough to be excited and exhilarated and, at the same time, a little frightened by the possibility. Not necessarily frightened for this generation, but where it’s going and how rapidly it’s getting there. I think we have to be conscious of what we’re leaving for our kids and what we’re leaving for their kids and so on.
Morgan Freeman: This is a very worthy project to do. We should think about the quest for artificial intelligence. I’m not quite sure we really want it to be much more than (what) it is already. Right now, we are so dependent on our technology that it governs every facet of life. It governs, it controls it. If it gets to the point where it knows it’s controlling it, we may be in a world of trouble.
Tim Burton once wrote a verse about you, ‘There was a young man, everyone thought was quite handsome, so he tied up his face and he held it for ransom.’ Does that sound right?
Johnny Depp: (smiles) He wrote that a long time ago and I was really moved by that. Yes, he got me. Because you don’t know what to expect from a life like this. It’s a very strange one. And for a person who at best is shy. I also think it’s important as an actor, especially one who aspires to be a ‘character actor’ as myself, it’s important to hide. It’s important to keep yourself for yourself and the bits that you donate or give out are bits of you that you allow to live in that character.
Do actors get better with experience and age or you find that sometimes certain expressions become stock or too rehearsed? Do you get nervous?
Morgan Freeman: No, I think there is a tendency to get better and deeper with age. No, never gotten nervous. I was on stage once and I got nervous with an actor who I thought was one of the gifts to mankind, Jose Ferrer. He’d called me up out-of-the-blue and asked me to do a two-character play with him. I was floored. And it took two weeks of rehearsal before I could settle down. But normally, no I don’t. I’m doing what I’m supposed to do.
Do your roles ever leak into your life? Do they alter you? Do they stay within you or do you discard them once you’re done?
Johnny Depp: They definitely do leak into your life. Any character that you’ve played for a good amount of time sort of stays with you. It’s like there’s a cupboard inside where they’re all in there, in their own separate little drawers.
You have seven movies releasing this year. How do you do it?
Morgan Freeman: Just get up in the morning and go to work (laughs). It’s not difficult. It isn’t hard work. This is the easiest work possible that you can do! You know who has a harder time than me? The camera person! Anybody who working on a movie crew, is working harder than any actor ever did or will.