I didn’t want to be poster boy, says Johnny Depp

Last Updated: Feb 12, 2012, 16:28 PM IST

Melbourne: Johnny Depp, who went from relative obscurity in ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ to being the object of extreme hysteria among teenage girls, has said that he was “uncomfortable being a product, being somebody else’s product” in ‘21 Jump Street’.

The 48-year-old actor admitted to being uncomfortable on the hit show about baby-faced undercover cops sniffing out criminal activity in high schools and colleges. The billboard in question portrayed Depp holding a gun above the line ‘Other kids pack lunch’, which he felt was inappropriate or maybe just plain corny.

“I didn’t want to be a poster boy and get turned into something saccharine, something obnoxiously cute and processed,” a website has quoted him as saying.

“I hated the idea of becoming a celebrity commodity, where nothing has any value and it’s all about appearances and image - artificial just for the sake of making money. I swore to myself I wouldn’t follow that path,” he said.

Instead, Depp carved out his own trajectory, playing a succession of idiosyncratic, often downright weird, characters in projects that genuinely excited him including, significantly, eight Tim Burton films. Along the way, he’s become one of Hollywood’s most remunerated stars, thanks in large part to the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise. Depp revisited his past by agreeing to a cameo performance in the movie adaptation of ‘21 Jump Street’.

“I thought it would be a fun thing to do, to go back and play the same character I played 20 years ago,” he said.

The character may be the same, but Depp certainly isn’t. He now has, as they say, clout. Three of his recent films – two Pirates movies, ‘Dead Man’s Chest’ and ‘On Stranger Tides’, and ‘Alice in Wonderland’ have grossed more than $1 billion each worldwide. Whereas once upon a time, Depp “just had to behave and be that guy for them”, these days no one pushes him around.

Co-written by his co-star Jonah Hill, the big-screen version of ‘21 Jump Street’ is directed by the duo behind Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. ‘21 Jump Street’ is in cinemas March 15.

ANI