BBC Home
Explore the BBC

CBBC

TV/Film

Last Updated: Monday July 18 2005 16:25 GMT

Wonka star Johnny Depp talks to Newsround

Johnny Depp plays Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Pirates of the Caribbean star Johnny Depp plays Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Based on a book by Roald Dahl, the film tells the story of a boy who visits a chocolate factory and has a magical time.

Here Johnny chats to Newsround's Lizo.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is about the things that make good and bad people. Was that one of the reasons you wanted to get involved with it?

It is one of the important elements, and one of the things that is delivered in such a beautiful way by Roald Dahl because page by page you're entertained.
Meanwhile he's planted these seeds about 30 or 40 pages before and you didn't feel it.

Willy Wonka is a very complex but child-like person - how easy was he to play?

I had these images, ideas of what he should look like, be like.
Obviously films are a collaborative effort so Tim (Burton, the director) and I got together and talked, and we talked to the costume designer and made him what he is.

You've done lots of kids parts recently, including Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates - is this a deliberate career move?

I wouldn't say it's a deliberate career choice, but what I would say is that having kids myself - my daughter who is now six, my boy is now three - in the first few months of my daughter's life I was watching nothing but these animated films and cartoon and what-not every day, for hours on end.
I started thinking 'Wow!' how incredibly free these characters are, how wide the boundaries are.
You can do anything in that sort of style whether you're five years old or 100 years old, you buy it, and you enjoy the character.
So that became a very very important ingredient for Captain Jack Sparrow and Wonka.

Your performances are often quite quirky - how do you decide how to play characters?

Pretty much is what happens is when I'm reading (the script) I get these images, these ideas, and I scribble them down.
Sometimes they come in the form of little sketches, sometimes in jotted down notes.
Basically it's instinct, I write down everything I feel on the first time through and nine times out of 10 I stick with that.

You worked with Freddie Highmore on Charlie, as well as on Finding Neverland. What's he like on set?

Freddie's a pleasure, a real treat. He's a great actor certainly, he's capable of many many things as an actor but as a human being he's just perfection.
He's a pure soul he's someone that I consider one of my best friends in fact. I think we're going to be pals for a long long time.

Will his career be as big as yours?

Oh he could go well beyond anything I've ever dreamed of! Freddie's a very special boy, a good guy.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is around 40 years old - can it exist alongside other kid's books like Harry Potter?

Johnny Depp, who plays Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, chats to Lizo
I think that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is as new and fresh today as it was in 1964 when is was published, just as JM Barrie's Peter Pan is as new and fresh and exciting as it is today as it was back in the 20th century.

Good is good and will always be good.

What is the thing that makes kids books enduringly appealing?
Good writing first. Also Roald Dahl's boundless imagination - his incredible gift as a writer but his imagination is a gift from somewhere else.

It's a special special thing - I think it's probably a combination of that, talent and imagination. What else do you need?