DEPP by Christopher Heard (ECW Press), 257 pages, $19.95 paper. Rating: NN
with depp, film reviewer chris- topher Heard proves himself a sycophant rather than biographer. Best known as one of the chatty co-hosts of Rogers TV's Reel To Real movie review show, Heard also has a sideline gig as a movie biographer, having penned books on James Cameron and John Woo. Those books were poorly written, but at least he didn't lay claim to an emotional connection to his subjects. With this book, Heard admits he's biased -- he adores Johnny Depp and wants to tell his life story because "he cares." Worse, he tells us that he feels a kinship with Depp because they both suffered through parental divorces when they were 15 years old and both share native bloodlines -- Depp is part Cherokee, Heard part Cree.
So what? Biographers should work hard at keeping their objectivity rather than ingratiating themselves to their subjects.
The only reason the book gets two Ns instead of one is because Heard painstakingly goes over each step of Depp's career, starting with his early years in Florida and the time he spent working on TV's 21 Jump Street, a gig he hated so much he begged to be let out of his contract.
There are sections on his approach to each of his films and a solid chunk on Depp's work in his 1997 directorial debut, the universally panned The Brave, which was so bad it never opened after its initial screening at the Cannes film festival.
Heard desperately wants to unravel the "mystery" of Depp, an actor who continues to work in Hollywood but whose aesthetic belongs to the European and American independent scene. Now living in France with his lover and child, Depp shies away from the limelight unless it suits him. His beautiful face still graces the covers of glossy magazines when his films open -- which makes me think he isn't such a sphinx after all, just a talented actor who's figured out how to have it all.