Hot party weirdo

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Oh to have Johnny Depp over for high tea. We’re sure he’d have hundreds of awesome stories to share over several cups of chai.

As the actor has proven in his 25-year-long Hollywood career, he’s at his best when playing it a little strange. And no character could be stranger than Lewis Carroll’s Mad Hatter, especially once kooky director Tim Burton’s given him a gothic makeover.

While fresh-faced Mia Wasikowska lends a certain naivety to her role of Alice in the new ‘Alice In Wonderland’, Johnny Depp is on the other end of the spectrum: maturer but with that familiar jocular edge; experienced but never old-hat. Depp’s Hatter is weird, warped, wacky and, well, absolutely wonderful.

The story of the actor’s early years borders on cliche. Despite a broken home and a broke band, he ended up in LA. Not to act. To sell pens. A chance meeting with Nicholas Cage inspired him to persue thespianism. It wasn’t long before he was plucked from relative obscurity to star in TV teen series ’21 Jump Street’, followed by a lead role in ‘Edward Scissorhands’, the film that would make him a household name and, perhaps even more importantly, introduce him to director Tim Burton. Depp would begin a lifelong friendship with Burton, whom he describes as “a brother, a friend… and brave soul”. ‘Alice’ will mark their seventh film together.

Depp went on to do all the things required of a famous youth – own a Las Vegas club, trash a hotel room while high, propose to four or so of Hollywood’s most eligible starlets. But most of that is forgotten. Two kids and a ten-year relationship will do that to a guy. These days, the star isn’t so much a rebel as an enigma. Unlike so many Hollywood darlings, he has the benefit of such a considerable range it’s hard to pin him to any one genre – and equally hard for him to become stale. From the charming Jack Sparrow to the creepy Sweeney Todd and back again, Johnny Depp never fails to impress critics and fans alike with his ability to play the oddball.

The hotly anticipated ‘Alice In Wonderland’ is unlikely to prove the exception.

‘Alice In Wonderland’ is out now on DVD. Photography by Mary Ellen Mark.