As Cap’n Jack Sparrow, he sailed the world and beheld it’s wonders but, as Johnny Depp discovered on a rain-sodden night, there is indeed no place like London.
In the capital for the European premiere of Tim Burton’s first stab at a musical, the Deppster and co-stars negotiated baying crowds, a torrential downpour and countless questions about their singing prowess to dry off in the warm, welcoming embrace of Leicester Square’s Odeon.
The notoriously media-shy Depp, who professes to “love London” despite singing that the city’s “morals aren't worth what a pin can spit”, didn’t stick around to chat for long. However, the one-time rock-star wannabe did confess his fears about warbling on screen.
“It took me a while to get used to it but, because I had to do so much of it, I had to get used to it,” Depp said about his singing role. “I’ve never done it before and I’ll never do it again!”
Based on the Stephen Sondheim musical, Burton’s bloody good film finds one-time barber and happy family man Sweeney Todd returning to London after being imprisoned on the other side of the world by Alan Rickman’s evil judge. Returning to his old haunt in Fleet Street with revenge on his mind, he sets about slitting the throats of all those who have wronged him, while his new landlady, Mrs Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter) disposes of the evidence in some choice meat pies.
“My baking is pretty good actually,” said Bonham Carter. “My pies aren’t bad, they aren’t that hard. One you perfect the outside bit you can put anything inside and it’ll taste alright. I don’t do meat pies though.”
A regular collaborator with Depp and her real-life partner Burton, Helena has a unique way of getting her opinions heard on set.
“Usually Tim ganged up against me but Johnny would take my side,” she said. “Whenever I had an idea, I would tell Johnny because if I told Tim he wouldn’t have been interested. But if I told Johnny, then suddenly Tim was all over the idea. Then Johnny would say it was my idea and I’d get the credit.”
As for singing on the screen, was that an experience she’d like to repeat?
“I’d do another one in a minute if I was offered it. I had the most brilliant teacher, who taught me everything. I did everything I could in the three months building up to the shoot but I should have started years ago, that’s what I realised.”
Alan Rickman, who seems oblivious to the fact that he’s best known for being bad (“I really haven’t played that many villains”), also gets the chance to sing – albeit with a cut-throat razor held to his neck. Not that he was worried though.
“Guess what, the razor was blunt because we are actors in a movie,” said Rickman with a caustic air. “Johnny had a big responsibility because he had to make it look dangerous. I was worried about not being able to sing because my mouth was covered in shaving foam.”
Sweeney Todd is released on January 25.