Midnight Madness: Kevin Smith Pushes the Envelope with 'Tusk'
Man turning into a walrus? Check. A-list star in prosthetic make-up and sporting an accent? Also check
WARNING: ENTERING SPOILER TERRITORY
One of the highlights of the film was seeing Johnny Depp playing Guy Lapointe, a former Quebec detective tracking down a serial killer. Depp is covered under ludicrous prosthetic make and speaks in an even more ludicrous accent but the scenes with him are engaging and take the movie to even more bizarre heights.
Without mentioning the actor by name and only referring him as Lapointe, Smith said he knew Depp from their kids attending school together and of course he wanted to work with the star. But it needed to happen organically.
He knew Depp was an actor's actor, someone who loved working with actors, along with being an admirer of the work of Parks. When Parks agreed to star in Tusk, Smith emailed Depp saying such.
Kevin Smith talks about Johnny, Yoga Hosers and how he had Vanessa's blessing to work in a movie for their daughters
Johnny Depp has a pretty sizeable role in Tusk as the Montreal private eye Guy LaPointe. How did you two hook up?
It’s the girls. I met him because his daughter, Lily, and my daughter, Harley, are friends. I met him back in 2005 when Harley started in this school called the Hollywood Schoolhouse, so I’ve known him through school functions and he’s cool to talk to, and he’s a fuckin’ icon. I watched 21 Jump Street the first night it aired on Fox. We’d talk about the business but never, “Hey, do you want to play Silent Bob’s uncle?” because he was just in another stratosphere.
It wasn’t until Tusk with the Guy LaPointe part where, when I was done writing, I thought, “Who would be the ultimate Guy LaPointe?” because it was a gonzo project anyway that went from podcast to movie in six fuckin’ months. So, in that stoner frame of mind, I thought, “Johnny Depp would crush this.” It was the matter of just getting over the fear of texting him and going, “Hey man, I know you probably judge pineapple like this, but I have this great part in a fun movie and it’ll take two days.” And I told him that the only regret I had about making Red State was, because I had to turn it into a circus to self-distribute it, Michael Parks never got the due that I was hoping he would. I took all the focus away and some people were like, “Well, snuggle Kevin and his movie.” So, I texted Johnny and said, “Look, I’m trying to make this flick for Parks to try and make up for the fact that I didn’t shine a light on him, and you could really help shine a light on him,” and he texted back, “I love Michael Parks.”
And you two are hooking up again with Yoga Hosers, starring Johnny and each of your daughters?
He fell in love with the Guy LaPointe character. He shot it in two days. After it was done, he was like, “I’ll play this character anytime.” But we shot our daughters in that convenience store sequence in two hours, and it was fuckin’ adorable. At the end of that sequence, Johnny was joking around and said, “We should just put them to work and retire.” I’m cutting that scene and watching it over and over, and I asked my wife why I loved the scene so much, and she said, “Kevin, it’s two people behind the fuckin’ counter at a convenience store. It’s where you started.” Plus, the performance was so natural and fuckin’ deadpan. So, first I asked my wife about writing a movie for the girls, and then I asked Vanessa [Paradis], Lily-Rose’s mom, and she said, “Kevin, if you want to do it, do it.” And then I did it and gave her the script, and she was like, “Oh wow, you weren’t kidding.” We’re at the end of Week 3 of shooting and by the end of the first week, they were really fuckin’ good and making instinctive choices. I thought it would be like directing Jason Mewes on Clerks where I’d go over and have to say, “No, do it like this,” and it was a puppeteering job, but they’re standing on their own.
How Johnny Depp's Daughter Became an Actress Thelma Adams Sep 10, 2014
Harley Quinn, left, and Lily-Rose Melody in Kevin Smith's Tusk.
Johnny Depp’s daughter, 15-year-old Lily-Rose Melody, became an actress by accident. Lily-Rose was hanging out on the set of writer-director Kevin Smith’s forthcoming horror-comedy, Tusk, watching her best friend, 15-year-old Harley Quinn, perform a scene. Quinn — who just happens to be Smith’s daughter — had a supporting role in the film, playing a Canadian convenience-store clerk; Daddy Depp, meanwhile, was there to play Guy Lapointe, an over-the-top sleuth (think a French-Canadian Columbo) on the trail of a maniac (Michael Parks) intent on turning a podcaster (Justin Long) into a walrus.
According to Smith, who talked to Yahoo Movies in Toronto wearing a hockey jersey and enormous Bermuda shorts, Depp agreed to add his daughter to the cast immediately. According to Smith, after the actor’s first day on set, “Johnny was like, ‘Oh my God, it was fun. I had a blast, and it was easy, and it wasn’t work.’ So, [on] day two, when he came back, Lily was coming to watch Harley act. So I was like, ‘Dude, Lily’s coming. Could she be in the scene?’”
Depp didn’t hesitate. "Johnny was like, ‘It’d be a missed opportunity if I didn’t do that,’” Smith recalls. “So as we’re shooting that scene, it’s magic: Johnny’s sitting there talking to his kid, [and] I’m sitting there talking to my kid, saying, ‘Try it like this, or do it like this.’”
It was the girls that first brought Depp and Smith together in the first place, when the daughters attended the same Los Angeles school. “I know Johnny and [his former partner] Vanessa Paradis through them,” Smith says. “Harley and Lily-Rose have been hanging out since they were six, and they’re still tight today.”
Whenever the two men attended school functions, the 44-year-old director of such hits as the 1994 indie breakout hit Clerks considered Depp out of his league. But when Smith sent Depp the Tusk script, it took only two weeks for Depp to commit, telling Smith, “This [script] is bats---. I’m in. Thank you for thinking of me.” As Smith says, “He’s very good at making you feel like, ‘You just did me a solid, dude.’ And I was like, ‘Dude, I know which way the favor goes here.’”
Within months, the two families were working together — and plotting their next collaboration. “After the scene was over, [Johnny] said, ‘That was so much fun, we should do that again,’” Smith recalls. “I took him seriously…but when I watched that scene [later], I said, ‘Why not [do a movie] with the girls? So I hit up Vanessa first. I asked if she would mind if I wrote a whole movie for the girls to be in. She asked, ‘Do you think that’s possible?’ I said, ‘I’m a stoner. Anything’s possible.’”
The result is the currently filming Yoga Hosers, which takes place a year after Tusk, and which stars Harley and Lily-Rose in the leads, with Depp returning as Guy Lapointe. As Smith’s wife, Jennifer, recently reminded him, the film’s setting bears a strong resemblance to the film that launched his indie-auteur career two decades ago. “Kevin, it’s two people standing behind a counter at a convenience store,” she told Smith. “This is your wheelhouse.’”
With a burst of enthusiasm, Smith agreed.”I said, ‘You’re right. It’s girl Clerks.’”
Just read the reviews from the above links. I think it was like therapy. I'm sorry but it's been a long time since I read reviewers who were not ripping him apart. I loved seeing these comments!
I couldn't agree more. Even if we know it will be those critics that enjoy going hard on him, it's refreshing to read those comments from these people who really got his performance and the fact that he was enjoying this character