Oxford students were enthralled by Johnny Depp’s appearance at the Oxford Union this week– even if a lack of microphones left some disgruntled.
Depp, who was in Oxford to promote his new film “The Rum Diary”, based on the novel by Hunter S. Thompson, entered the Union debating chamber to raucous applause. Dozens of students brandished mobile phones attempting to film and photograph the star in his trademark fedora and goatee.
Meanwhile, security outside the Union was tight, with over a hundred fans waiting anxiously outside its Oxford Union gates. Unprecedented demand had forced the Union to introduce a ballot for tickets, leaving many disappointed.
Rather than giving a lengthy speech, as is usual for Union speakers, Depp went straight into a question and answer session with students.
Despite the film’s title, Depp revealed that he made a “pact not to drink” with the film’s director, Bruce Robinson: “Bruce and I made a pact that we wouldn’t drink anything for 2 months, because we knew if we would we would go ape”. He continued: “But then one morning, at about 5am, it was about 3 million degrees and about 5 billion humidity, sweat pouring down us, there was this little Bodega there, I saw it, and I said, Bruce, we’ve got to have a drink. So we did.”
However, when asked whether he drank more rum filming the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ series or ‘The Rum Diary’, Depp confirmed that “there was definitely more on Pirates”.
Although one student described the event as “incredible”, the lack of microphones left many struggling to hear. Dougie Sloan, a second year history and economics student, said that the situation was “annoying”, but praised Depp’s response. “It meant that he came out and actually spoke to the crowd- he really made an effort and he was good at interacting with the audience.”
Charlotte Tarr, a second year law student, agreed: “He treated questions almost like a conversation- the only problem was that if you were far away from the person asking the question, you couldn’t hear it at all”. She explained: “The director addressed the chamber, Depp would address the individual person”.
Sloan concluded: “It was a setback but he reacted with a sense of humour- when one guy shouted from the back that he couldn’t hear, Johnny Depp brought him up front and sat him on the desk”.
The lucky student asked: “You said once that you keep a little bit of your characters with you- do you ever spring into Captain Jack mode?”. Depp responded: “I don’t know…I mean, they do rise up again. Captain Jack Sparrow is very close to the surface.”
“But that’s just part of the schizophrenia,” he joked.
Depp admitted that none of his own films are favourites of his children; they preferred gross-out comedy “The Hangover.”
Robinson then discussed the futility of films having an impact on the real world: when another student asked Depp if therefore thought his films had achieved nothing, he flippantly replied “Oh, yes.”
The Oxford Union talk is the latest in a long line of promotional events following the release of Depp’s latest film. Depp said “this stuff I don’t mind, this is the nice bit, getting out to meet people. The stuff I don’t like is having to sit in a room with 50 journalists who’ve been briefed with questions they don’t really want to ask… but the real people are interesting”.