×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Johnny Depp on His Menacing Shades in ‘Waiting for the Barbarians’

In Colombian director Ciro Guerra’s drama about immigration and integration “Waiting for the BarbariansJohnny Depp plays the ruthless Colonel Joll, a torturer who is in charge of the security situation on the border and who clashes with a morally upright magistrate.

In Venice, where the film premiered on Friday in competition, Depp said Guerra gave him the perfect prop for this role. A special pair of mean metal shades.

“When Ciro came up with that shape…They were threatening; they were menacing somehow,” Depp said. And “the fact that he didn’t take them off,” added to the threat.

“He wore them to make the magistrate as uncomfortable as possible,” Depp added.

“I think he’s learned a number of tricks over the years. He realized that stillness and silence and quiet, and holding your response to a question, is quite disturbing to the person on the other side,” Depp went on to point out.

Mark Rylance, who plays the magistrate, said that what helped him get into his role was the realization “that we are part of a barbaric culture,” by living in England “due to the imperialism of the English nation.”

Popular on Variety

The actions that South African novelist J. M. Coetzee, whose novel by the same title the film is based on, “describe steps that the magistrate is going through that are very understandable,” he said. At first he tries to ignore the torture and “then it arrives at your door in the form of a poor young girl whose been crippled and blinded, and you bring that person into your heart, and you try and rescue them,” he noted.

The problem, Rylance went on, is that the magistrate’s attempt to rescue the young woman “is also just a form of power.”

It’s “just a form of affirming that I’m the powerful one, and you’re the victim,” he underlined.

“The characters that Johnny and I play are really two sides of the same coin,” said Rylance.

“The torturer and the rescuer are both still in danger of victimizing the people that they are torturing or rescuing. That is the remarkable thing about this story for me.”

Guerra, the director, pointed out that when he first read the novel, which he adapted together with Coetzee, he found it to be “a powerful allegory.”

“It was very connected…to things done in the past,” Guerra said. But then “during the process of making the film it became less and less an allegory and more and more connected to the present.”

 

More Film

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Taiwan Opens Doors Wider to LGBTQ Content

    The door has opened wider for gay content in Taiwan since the island became the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage in May, and companies like CEO Jay Lin’s Portico Media are hoping to turn LGBTQ stories into good business. The firm is ramping up its development of originals on its GagaOOLala platform, Asia’s [...]

  • Anti-Gone

    Sundance: 2020 New Frontier Program Features Underwater VR, Chomsky A.I.

    The Sundance Institute revealed the last batch of programming for the 2020 Sundance Film Festival — minus a few last-minute additions to its feature lineup, still to come —  by announcing its New Frontier section, which this time around include not only augmented and virtual reality, but also SMS-based text messaging, biotech and artificial intelligence. [...]

  • Catherine Deneuve'Joker' premiere, 76th Venice Film

    Catherine Deneuve Out of Hospital After Stroke (Report)

    Catherine Deneuve has returned to her Paris home after more than a month in the hospital and at a rest home following a mild stroke, according to French report. The French screen icon was seen out and about by her neighbors in the Saint Germain arrondissement of Paris. Deneuve, 76, had what her family called [...]

  • Alma Harrel Honey Boy

    Hollywood Still Struggles With Parity Behind the Camera

    When Kees van Oostrum, president of the American Society of Cinematographers, was at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018, he noticed that many documentaries had been shot by women. But he was also aware of the dismal number of female lensers hired for feature films. “I realized we had to do something,” he says. That [...]

  • Mob Town

    'Mob Town': Film Review

    “Who doesn’t love spaghetti?” asks New York State Trooper Ed Croswell (David Arquette) while on a date with single mother Natalie (Jennifer Esposito) in “Mob Town,” and the answer, according to Danny A. Abeckaser’s film, is no one. The traditional Italian dish figures prominently in this low-rent Mafia tale, which — based on an infamous [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content