Myths


(established 2006; last updated 12/29/13)

Newest Myth: Johnny will play George Formby in a film biopic.
No confirmation; remains to be seen.  The UK Daily Star has published a rumor that Johnny has purchased a ukulele-banjo and has been practicing the instrument to take on the role of the 1930's British comedian/musician George Formby.  While the statement “He has been aping George Formby after watching his videos on YouTube" sounds just like something Johnny would do, it is quite a leap to go from that to the idea of Johnny actually doing a film about him.  For now, we should consider this just another rumor, but you never know what projects might interest Johnny.


Myth: Johnny will play Django Reinhardt in a film biopic.
No confirmation; remains to be seen.  This rumor has apparently been around for awhile, but the first somewhat solid mention I've seen is this December 2009 Guardian (UK) article, which claims that Johnny is reportedly "lined up to play Reinhardt."  The film would be based on Michael Dregni's 2004 biography Django: The Life and Music of a Gypsy Legend.  Johnny is a longtime fan of Reinhardt's music, having performed Minor Swing in the film, Chocolat.  In addition, he is a longtime admirer of Gypsy culture and music, having spoken of it often with regards to the Romani group Taraf de Haïdouks and the film The Man Who Cried.  It seems like this film might be a great fit for Johnny, and perhaps another chance for Johnny to play guitar on film.  But there are no official plans to make the film.


Myth: Johnny played a cameo as Gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt in the film Hugo.
False.  Many people thought they spotted Johnny in the film, fronting a small jazz band in the train station where the film takes place.  But the small role was actually played by an actor named Emil Lager, who bears a striking resemblance to Johnny.  As Johnny was a producer for Hugo, there had been persistent rumors that Johnny would appear in the film.  In fact, producer Graham King stated that a cameo was available for Johnny to play but that he was unable to participate due to the Pirates 4 filming schedule.  However, the cameo would NOT have been of Django- the role was cut from the film.


Myth: Johnny will have a role in a Daniel Johnston film biopic.
Doubtful.  A rumor was reported on exclaim.ca that Johnny might be tapped to portray the older brother of music legend Daniel Johnston.   The short film, to be titled, Hi How Are You is currently in development, aided by a successful Kickstarter campaign, and will be made by father and son filmmakers David and Jordan Miller.  Gabriel Sunday will direct and also play Daniel in his younger days, while Daniel will portray his older self.  Johnny has a loose connection to Johnston in that Johnston composed the song, I Save Cigarette Butts, which appears on P's self-titled 1995 album.  A movies.com article states that Johnny and Gibby Haynes will be featured on the film's soundtrack, but that might just be a copy/paste of a list of performers who have covered Johnston's songs.  We'll see!
 
 
Myth: Johnny will play Elvis Presley (or Dee Dee Ramone or Ozzy Osbourne or Michael Jackson or Tommy Lee or Freddie Mercury or Michael Hutchence or [insert rock star's name here]) in a film biopic.
False until proven otherwise.  Rumors like this keep surfacing, but so far have never had any solid evidence behind them.  Johnny simply does not have the time to play every rock star imaginable.  Ozzy has disclaimed the rumor about himself, and Johnny refuted the Michael Hutchence rumor when asked about it.  There's no telling if Johnny may ever portray a rock or pop star in a film someday; it could happen.  But unless there's an official announcement, there's no reason to believe all of these rumors.  

Myth: Johnny will collaborate with Steven Tyler to write a song.
Probably true!  In April 2011, after presenting Johnny with a Best Actor Kids Choice Award, Aerosmith rocker/American Idol judge Steven Tyler tweeted: "JONNY [sic] DEPP LOOKED ABFAB... WERE GONNA HOOK UP & WRITE A SONG OR TWO..."  Well, this may have been more than just an offhand comment, because both Steven and Johnny have mentioned the possibility of working together several more times. See an Extra video clip from the Pirates 4 premiere here, featuring remarks from both Johnny and Steven about this.  In a 2012 interview with Ryan Seacrest, Steven again mentions hanging out with Johnny and that Johnny presented him with a Cigfiddle as a gift.  In 2013, Tyler again teased the collaboration in a Billboard interview: "I'm just doing a solo record 'cause I think it's fuckin' kinky to go write a song with Johnny Depp." While waiting for a songwriting collaboration, look for Johnny on backing vocals on Aerosmith's 2012 album, Music From Another Dimension!


Myth: Johnny played a surprise gig in Glastonbury during their festival in 2009.
False.
 The rumor was reported on IMDb and Contact Music that on June 26, 2009, Johnny played guitar in a tiny cafe to an audience of only about 30 people, allegedly including an MTV reporter.  The first sign that this was just a silly false rumor was that this "MTV reporter" didn't actually report this event to MTV!  But the rumor proved false when Johnny was spotted in New York City on both June 25 (for a Letterman appearance and at a restaurant afterwards) and June 27 (again, at a restaurant).


Myth: Johnny is planning to start his own record label.
Apparently true!
In 2008, the German Bravo magazine claimed that Johnny was in talks with Warner Music Group to start his own label.  Here is a scan of the article:
2008 bravo scan Scan by jdsaby; English translation by Claudia:

All of a sudden Hollywood-Star Johnny Depp has some new plans...Now He Becomes a Record Label Owner
Text: Julia Kautz

Everything this man touches turns to gold! With blockbusters like “Pirates of the Caribbean”, “Sweeney Todd” or “Sleepy Hollow” Johnny Depp became one of the world’s most successful actors. But for the 45-year-old that’s not enough anymore – he longs for new challenges. “Johnny plans on founding his own record label”, a close friend of the mega-star reveals. “That has been his life’s dream since being a teenager. Now he finally wants to complete that dream.” Since several weeks Johnny has been in negotiations with Warner Music Group. “He is totally passionate regarding this project and doesn’t speak about anything else anymore. He desperately wants to discover and encourage young musicians!” Johnny himself rather wanted to be a rockstar instead of an actor. At age 13 he already founded his own garage band with some kids from the neighbourhood. “We made appearances at backyard-parties. We were never really good, but we were quite loud and absolutely cool”, he smilingly remembers. “To make noise on a stage gave me a wonderful sense of freedom. That was simply fantastic.” But then Johnny Depp also had to learn the hard way that it is tough to get by with music. Johnny himself didn’t succeed in writing music history as a rock guitarist. “He had to suffer many disappointments and finally come to terms with the fact, that he would never make it with music, “ adds Johnny’s friend. But the stronger it is his wish now to give a chance to young talents .” He can hardly wait to release the first CD on his very own label. “He also sees the music business as a job when he retires, when he doesn’t want to make films anymore.” Hopefully, though, Johnny will deliver many more cinema hits for us before then. At the moment Johnny Depp is filming the gangster-movie “Public Enemies”. The film is scheduled for release in German cinemas for summer 2009.
   In 2010, some tabloids reported that Johnny had just started a new record label called Unison.  The only trouble is, Unison is the existing label that was started in 2006 by Bruce Witkin and Ryan Dorn.  Johnny has performed in Unison's studio and has attended shows by Unison artists.  In 2011 and 2012, releases by Unison artists were still described as being released by "Johnny Depp's Unison Music."  However, bear in mind that there was never confirmation from the label that Johnny's involvement has ever been any more than that of a friend.
   However, a company called Infinitum Nihil Records (aka Infinitum-Nihil Records, LLC) was filed as a domestic corporation on May 27, 2011, and is currently active as of the last data refresh on December 22, 2013.  Eliza (aka Christi) Dembrowski is named as a member of the company.  In January of 2013, two tracks by Tonto's Giant Nuts on the West Of Memphis soundtrack, Little Lion Man and Damien Echols Death Row Letter Year 16 1/2, list Infinitum Nihil Records in the liner notes.  Here's hoping that they are the first of many more music releases to come!


Myth: Johnny can't read music.
True.
According to Bruce Witkin, in the Sweeney Todd DVD extras, neither he nor Johnny reads music.  In a few cases while producing Johnny's voice for the film, Bruce got assistance from a friend to make out some of the intricacies of Stephen Sondheim's music.  Johnny has also said that he learned how to interpret chord tabs from a Mel Bay chord book.  

 
Myth:
Johnny had to pass a voice test for Stephen Sondheim for Sweeney Todd.
False. 
According to Sondheim, Johnny was already attached to the movie when Sondheim was approached to help cast the other roles.  Sondheim says, "I figured he'd have a light baritone. You can hear it in his speaking voice. I love him as an actor, and always have. Put those things together, I didn't hesitate for one second...There are very few people who can act and sing at the same time. He's one." Sondheim listened to and approved Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen and perhaps others in the cast.


Myth: Vanessa Paradis was Johnny's vocal trainer for Sweeney Todd.
False.
This is a rumor that has been mentioned only in the worst tabloid sources such as Contact Music and WENN.  Johnny revealed that he did not use a professional voice trainer; he prepared for the role by listening exhaustively to available soundtracks, and doing test recordings in a studio with friend and former bandmate, Bruce Witkin.  He did, however, play his recordings for Vanessa, who responded, "Is that you?," presumably giving her stamp of approval.  In addition, Johnny says that she offered advice in terms of holding the notes, and also gave him a lot of support.  But this doesn't constitute vocal training.  Ian Adam, a renowned voice teacher, was said to have been coaching both Johnny and Helena Bonham Carter shortly before his death in May of 2007; this would appear to contradict Johnny's statements, but perhaps Adam had been assisting in a way that Johnny did not consider to be formal training.  Alternatively, perhaps he had only been coaching Carter.  Carter does mention Adam briefly on the DVD extras, but does not mention Depp also working with him.


Myth: Johnny needed a whistling double for Sweeney Todd.
Apparently true.  According to the Telegraph-UK (article no longer available online), Johnny could not whistle well enough to carry the tune during the song Pretty Women.  A sound technician volunteered to record the part, to which Johnny later had to mime.  I have not yet seen proof of this myth, so it awaits verification from Johnny or Tim.


Myth: Johnny has refused to sing, or has asked not to sing, in films prior to Sweeney Todd.
False.  This is a claim I have seen on various Sweeney Todd forums.  I have not seen any evidence for this.  On the contrary, Johnny had been amenable to singing, albeit briefly or jokingly, in 21 Jump Street, Arizona Dream, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Secret Window, and the first three Pirates films.  For Cry-Baby, John Waters claims that Johnny was willing to sing and made some tapes singing the role, though they ultimately decided to go with James Intveld's voice (see below).  He later said, "Maybe I made the wrong decision." In Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Tim Burton's goal was to stay as close to the book as possible, with the Oompa Loompas (sung by Danny Elfman), singing all the songs.  Nevertheless, in a 2003 Entertainment Weekly interview (referenced in 2008) in which Johnny was asked if he'd be singing in the film, his reply was, ''Sure, if that's what Tim wants.'' For Corpse Bride, Danny Elfman has said that there was originally a song written for Johnny's character, Victor, but that it was cut for time, not because Johnny refused.  Here is a Horror.com interview and a suicidegirls interview in which Elfman discusses the song being cut.
     As for Sweeney Todd, Johnny is typically humble and coy about his vocal abilities, yet unapologetic about taking the role.  From an interview last year on About.com (page 2): "I might be a horrible singer but that might work for the character. You never know."  Johnny has also said that he's not good looking and that he's not sexy, so perhaps he's not the best judge of his own attributes!  And as we now know, Johnny is certainly not a horrible singer; his singing in Sweeney Todd has been widely praised!


Myth: Johnny sings over the car radio in a scene from Cry-Baby (or at any other time in the movie).
False.  
This is a rumor that has been mentioned in various fan forums, but I had never seen any proof that this actually occurred.  While John Waters claims that Johnny has a great singing voice, he has said that all of the vocals in the movie were dubbed by rockabilly singer James Intveld.  A few years ago, entertainment writer Todd Everett quoted Inveld as stating: "Even a couple of scenes when Johnny was singing along with the radio -- John (Waters) had me come in and dub his voice there; John wanted it to be me, every time you heard Johnny sing."


Myth: Johnny was the singer in his various rock bands.
Yes and no.  Johnny only did occasional singing, at least in The Kids and in P. By his own account: "Virtually none. Just backup."  He was mainly considered to be an instrumentalist.  "Never, ever, did I ever want to sing.  Singers always got too much attention. I was always happier playing my guitar in the dark."  We do know that Johnny has done occasional vocals, because there is visual evidence: (click to enlarge)

kidssing   P sing   swm13   swm12   swm14   swm22
The Kids                                 P                                                 The Kids (2007)              

     There are also rare and limited mentions of Johnny singing.  He is apparently quoted in the 1989 Randi Reisfeld "Johnny Depp" biography and a 1989 Superteen magazine, explaining his role in The Kids and speculating on a potential singing career:

reisfeld4a   reisfeld5a   1989 superteen
 

Myth: Johnny had never sung a complete song prior to Sweeney Todd.
True... or False?  Johnny himself has claimed this in numerous interviews around the time that Sweeney Todd was released.  However, if Randi Reisfeld's biography accurately quotes Johnny and he did do "a couple of lead vocals," one would think that he'd have had to get a whole song in there at some point!  A 1987 blurb in 16 magazine mentions singing among Johnny's music-related pastimes:

1987 16 blurb

In addition, this November, 1988 blurb from the teen magazine Bop mentions Johnny singing at an audition for the TV show Fame (the Fame audition has also been corroborated from other sources, though this is the only one I've seen that has mentioned singing).  


1988 11 bop

One would think that a complete song would be required for such an audition!  Either Johnny has forgotten, or he's being humble, as usual, about his talents!
 

Myth: Johnny can't dance. 
Mostly true, but he's learning!  More so than his vocal abilities, Johnny has often disparaged his ability to dance.  But yet, for Cry-Baby, he was game to try, and with a little help from the choreography, he did a convincing job.  As casting director Pat Moran said in the Cry-Baby DVD extras: "Also you had somebody with two left feet like Johnny, who was very self-conscious of it, that you'd never know in the film...I mean, he does a great job."  At the time of the filming, Johnny himself said, "I never danced before.  I... I can't dance.  Even when I was a kid, we'd go to like, me and my friends would sneak into the dances and stuff, and I never danced... I could never do it."  And in the recent Cry-Baby DVD interviews, he said, "I just, you know I mean I just don't dance, you know, I don't get it.  It's not my thing, you know so... so, John of course was, 'Ah, don't worry, it'll be fine, don't worry.'" And, "It was just a nightmare, it was a nightmare.  Horribly, horribly frightened."  What this shows, though, is that Johnny is always willing to give everything his best shot, no matter what!  Johnny has also managed to dance with Juliette Binoche in Chocolat and with Helena Bonham Carter in Sweeney Todd, though for the latter, a spinning machine was sometimes used to help with the effect of Johnny and Helena dancing smoothly.  For The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus, Terry Gilliam wanted Johnny to perform a tango with costar Maggie Steed, but the choreography for the final dance was simplified considerably because Johnny had so little time available to film the movie.  Perhaps he is finally beginning to pick up some dance skills, though-- in 2010, he was once again required to dance, this time with Angelina Jolie for a ballroom scene in The Tourist.  According to director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, “The dance teacher, who had taught countless people, later told me that she has never had anybody learn a dance as quickly and as well as Johnny did. She said it was ‘almost scary’ to see how someone could learn it that fast.”  And in 2011, Johnny partnered with Penélope Cruz for a dance in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.


Myth: Johnny sings background vocals with Vanessa Paradis on a cover performance of the U2 song, One. 
False.  Vanessa performed the song in 1997 with Alain Lanty, but somehow, rumors persist that it’s Johnny doing the background vocals.  Johnny and Vanessa were not even together until 1998! 


Myth: Johnny was once set to sing a duet with Morrissey.
False.  On a Morrissey fan site in 2000, an anonymous poster hinted that Johnny Depp was going to be a mystery guest singing a duet with Morrissey.  The rumor was later debunked in Another thread claiming the rumor to be "110% untrue."  However, Johnny and Morrissey are (or at least once were) neighbors in LA.


Myth: Johnny has performed with Dinosaur Jr.
Probably False.   On the same Morrissey fan site as above, post #67 made the mysterious remark that "Johnny Depp actually did some backing vocals on the Dinosaur Jr E.P "Take a Run at the Sun". In turn, J.Mascis of Dinosaur Jr often plays "The Boy with the Thorn in his Side" at his shows."  Naturally, a few Depp fan sites have picked up on this rumor.  However, a look at the credits on the Dinosaur Jr EP in question does not reveal any guest performers, only members of the band.  Also, since The Boy With The Thorn In His Side is a Smiths song, and Morrissey is the former lead singer of The Smiths, it seems more logical that the mutual favors would have been between J Mascis and Morrissey, not J Mascis and Johnny.  That said, if anyone knows of Johnny's presence on this or any other Dinosaur Jr. EP, I'd love to know about it!


Myth: Johnny appears in the Concrete Blonde video, Joey. 
Probably False.  Several sites, including IMDb, claim that Johnny is featured in the 1990 Concrete Blonde video, Joey.  He does not appear in the known video, so unless there is an alternate video, the information is false.


Myth: Johnny performs with Oasis at a 1997 concert at NYC’s Hammerstein Ballroom.
False.  There is a bootleg recording from an FM broadcast of the October 8, 1997 show.  When introducing the song Fade In-Out, Noel Gallagher can be heard saying, “This one's called Fade In-Out, and I’d like to introduce Johnny Depp, playing guitar…” But the recording doesn’t tell the whole story.  What Noel actually said was along the lines of “I’d like to introduce Johnny Depp, playing guitar, but I won’t, so f*ck off!”  The recording was most probably sanitized for the FM broadcast, but many listeners thought Johnny was really there.  Those who were present at the show or who have seen a bootleg video of the same performance confirm that it was all a joke on Noel’s part.
     Here is a scan of the back cover of the bootleg, Magic Apple Pie, that actually mistakenly indicates Johnny being on guitar:  Magic Apple Pie scan.


Myth: Johnny performs on the Rogue’s Gallery CD as Jack Shit.
False.  A recent record review of Rogue’s Gallery claims that Johnny is “recording as Jack Shit” Seattle Post-Intelligencer  and the rumor has also popped up on various Depp fansites.
     Jack Shit is a trio of musicians consisting of drummer Dave Thomas, bassist Davey Faragher and guitarist Val McCallum that has backed Elvis Costello for years, and they back several artists on the Rogue’s Gallery CD.  There’s no reason to think that Johnny has slipped in incognito.


Myth: Flame or other early bands that Johnny played in became The Kids, or The Kids became Rock City Angels.
False.  The Kids were an established band before Johnny joined them.  Similarly, the Rock City Angels were already together before Johnny joined the band on rhythm guitar. 


Myth: Johnny was married to the sister of the drummer from The Kids.
False.  Johnny was once married to Lori Anne Allison, whose sister Suzanne worked for the Kids.  Suzanne married Bruce Witkin, the band's bassist and lead singer.  Drummer Beano Hanti does not even have a sister!


Please email  with any corrections or additions!




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