Depp sets sail for new adventures on printed page

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Johnny-Depp
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Movie stars should have hobbies. George Clooney has Darfur. Lindsay Lohan has her drugs. Viggo Mortensen has poetry. Jeff Bridges has music.

George Clooney has Darfur. Lindsay Lohan has her drugs. Viggo Mortensen has poetry. Jeff Bridges has music.

OK, so the crack at Clooney was a cheap shot but so many stars in their own way use their celebrity as a means to an end.

And in Lohan’s case it could quite literally be the end.

So I was pleasantly surprised to hear that Johnny Depp is putting his millions into the printed page. Given the enormous global financial success of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies there are many, many millions in the vault, so via his production company Infinitum Nihil (which I am reliably informed translates as Nothing is Forever) he has launched an imprint that will put out an array of books with HarperCollins.

Naturally, given Depp’s background the focus is on the arts. Step forward Bob Dylan who will tell his own story in The Unraveled Tales of Bob Dylan, an anthology of interviews with historian Douglas Brinkley.

And I wouldn’t be surprised to see something on Depp’s old buddy Marlon Brando, particularly in light of the looming 10-year anniversary of his death.

Given that he has always seemed to have a little more depth than a lot of Hollywood actors churned out by the system in recent years, you never know it might just be that maybe Depp himself has several thousand words of random scribblings – lyrics, poetry, short fiction, commentary – that he believes should see the light of day.

Or perhaps he will fight the temptation to slide into vanity publishing, preferring instead to go down the Taschen route of high-quality art-orientated product.

One thing that I suspect is a given is some reference to his gonzo guru Hunter S Thompson. Depp has long laid his prayer mat at Thompson’s door, going beyond fan worship to a genuine understanding of a complex and wayward man.

So if Depp’s film choices are anything to judge by – and I’m referencing his pre-Pirates product – then Infinitum Nihil could go beyond mere hobbyism.

Another cheap shot. Forgive me. In fact, I long for the days when significant film literature was tumbling from newsagents’ shelves. Gone are the days of exciting independent movie magazines like Films Illustrated.

Equally lamented are the “Films of…” series from Citadel Press, Lorimer Books’ range of illustrated screenplays (like Carol Reed’s personal copy of The Third Man) and the Cinema One run of books on Orson Welles, John Ford, Kevin Brownlow and others.

These days I do my browsing in secondhand shops and my home library is dominated by the fusty scent of yellowed paper. Who knows, maybe Mr Depp yearns for that sort of product, too? If he’s canny he’ll opt for an esoteric line and eschew mass-market stuff. I hope so. And I’d like to think that Depp would avoid the dilettante route. He’s smarter than that.