PARIS (Reuters) - Having trouble with your French conjugations? Struggling to tell masculine from feminine? Fear not. Hollywood’s No. 1 francophile, Johnny Depp, is in the same boat.
The 47 year-old star may consider France his spiritual home and have Parisian actress and singer Vanessa Paradis as his companion to help, but like so many before him, the subtleties of the Gallic tongue are proving a little frustrating.
Speaking to Reuters ahead of next week’s premiere of action-filled, romantic comedy “The Tourist,” in which he stars with Oscar winner Angelina Jolie, Depp smiles when asked how his French is coming along.
“Good? I don’t know. It’s difficult still, the conjugation ... the masculine and feminine thing,” he said in French with a hint of an American accent. Then, he added in slang. “It drives me nuts.”
Depp met Paradis in 1998 and the couple now divide their time between the Hollywood Hills and a farm in southern France as well as homes near Paris, Manhattan and the Bahamas.
Taking a break from his usual line of eccentric characters, the star of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film franchise plays an everyday math teacher in “The Tourist,” who gets embroiled in a web of deceit spun by Jolie’s glamorous character.
For Depp, France gives his life a measure of simplicity which may have easily been taken away in Hollywood by his superstar status.
“France is everything,” he said, puffing on a roll-up cigarette. “It’s afforded me the idea of a semi-normal life ... There’s something magnetic (here), I don’t know what it is.”
Set in the backdrop of Paris and Venice, “The Tourist” brings Depp and Jolie together on the big screen for the first time. The pair had not previously met.
Jolie, 35, admits that working with Depp has encouraged her to try a little harder to stretch herself as an actress. To illustrate her point, she said that while making “The Tourist” the actors discussed Maleficent, the wicked fairy godmother character in the film version of “Sleeping Beauty.”
“I think before working with Johnny, I would have approached it a little more self-consciously, but having met him and watched his work, you get the sense you should try to have as much fun as possible,” Jolie said.
Depp doesn’t hold back when asked about what sort of roles suit Jolie. Shakespeare’s ultimate femme fatale, Lady Macbeth, is one of his suggestions.
And still inspired by the French, he went one further and offered that the decadence and eroticism of French poet Charles Baudelaire was not beyond Jolie’s reach.
“She has a depth, great humor, a healthy amount of rage ... she could bring the ‘Flowers of Evil’ to life,” Depp said.
Reporting by John Irish; editing by Bob Tourtellotte