Bryan Burrough Q&A #16

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Bryan Burrough Q&A #16

Unread postby Liz » Tue Apr 01, 2008 10:48 am

ONBC: Johnny Depp likes to discover his characters through real life inspirations he calls “ingredients”. For example one of his “ingredients” for Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies was Keith Richards. What ingredients would make up your Dillinger?

Bryan Burrough: Oh, golly. Well, if I were portraying Dillinger, and thank goodness I’m not, I’d try to spend a couple of days in solitary confinement, just to get a sense of the joy Dillinger felt upon his release, which set the stage for everything that came after. And I’d walk those fields behind the Dillinger homestead in Indiana, to get a feel of the place. And I’d drive the backroads alone, for hours, to get a sense of his life.
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Unread postby Endora » Tue Apr 01, 2008 11:06 am

Poor Johnny. Driving the backroads alone would seem to be a pleasure long since gone from his life. But I can imagine him doing the solitary confinement to see what it was like. And going out and trying not to be recognised? Better at it that Dillinger was, no doubt. He's had more practice, been doing it longer.

As a geographer, I do agree with the sense of place concept. A lot of movies fail on that, imho. A place has an identity, a specialness, which gives character to its inhabitants lives. If you ignore the place you cannot explain the people. Look how well Dead Man worked, and look how weak the cannibal island was in POTC. The importance of landscape and space in our lives is bigger than we think.

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Unread postby Parlez » Tue Apr 01, 2008 11:31 am

I totally agree about the sense of place, and about the solitary confinement. I'd also add listening to the music of the day in order to get the whole simplistic, romantic ideal that was so prevalent at the time. Even though it was very far from most peoples' reality I think it had a profound effect on the minds and hearts of the population during that era.

I'd also take a look at the following:
- Warren Beatty's performance in "Bonnie & Clyde".
- Richard Gere's performance in "Looking For Mr. Goodbar"
- Warren Oates' performance in "Dillinger"
- Steve McQueen's performance in "The Thomas Crown Affair"
- Johnny Depp's performances in "PTOC I,II,III" :lol:

and there's no discounting the likely influence of Wiley Coyote, Betty Boop, and Little Orphan Annie!
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Unread postby suec » Tue Apr 01, 2008 12:15 pm

and there's no discounting the likely influence of Wiley Coyote, Betty Boop, and Little Orphan Annie!

:lol:

What a great question! Well, I can't think of three ingredients yet - this is too creative for me - but one that leapt to mind straight away as a possibility is Clark Gable, for any number reasons, really. One would be Dillinger's known love of the movies - can't rememember if he was watching a CG film the night he died or not - and another would be Dillinger having the appeal of a movie star, especially of a man like Gable. Also to pick up on the style of the period, in terms of performances. I don't know yet what else I'd put in. But as far as getting the lie of the land is concerned, hasn't he already done that visiting D's family?
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Unread postby Liz » Tue Apr 01, 2008 1:06 pm

Wow! This would have been a great discussion question to have posed. I’m enjoying reading everyone’s ideas. Little Orphan Annie works for me.:lol:

Endora wrote:As a geographer, I do agree with the sense of place concept. A lot of movies fail on that, imho. A place has an identity, a specialness, which gives character to its inhabitants lives. If you ignore the place you cannot explain the people. Look how well Dead Man worked, and look how weak the cannibal island was in POTC. The importance of landscape and space in our lives is bigger than we think.

Gets off hobby horse and stops ranting.


A geographer? That sounds like an interesting job. Sense of place is very important to me, too. I always pick those tidbits to do for that reason. I can’t tell you how much more meaningful Public Enemies was to me after having learned as much as I could about the places where the action took place. It was always my hope that the movie would be filmed in the actual locations…..especially Crown Point and Little Bo.
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Unread postby Parlez » Tue Apr 01, 2008 3:14 pm

suec wrote:
and there's no discounting the likely influence of Wiley Coyote, Betty Boop, and Little Orphan Annie!

:lol:

What a great question! Well, I can't think of three ingredients yet - this is too creative for me - but one that leapt to mind straight away as a possibility is Clark Gable, for any number reasons, really. One would be Dillinger's known love of the movies - can't rememember if he was watching a CG film the night he died or not - and another would be Dillinger having the appeal of a movie star, especially of a man like Gable. Also to pick up on the style of the period, in terms of performances. I don't know yet what else I'd put in. But as far as getting the lie of the land is concerned, hasn't he already done that visiting D's family?

Aye - Clark Gable for sure! And Bogart (a la 'Casablanca') and Cagney (a la whatever movie it was where he said the immortal line: "You dirty rat!")! :cool:
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Unread postby suec » Wed Apr 02, 2008 5:46 am

Gable has the edge for me- the clincher being the way that his hair used to flop forward in that same adorable way of Johnny's Dillinger. ;-) It's the clincher for me, anyway. :love:

I'm always fascinated by Johnny's voices and how he creates them. Can he imitate Dillinger's own? I rememember seeing images of Dillinger but not hearing his voice. Perhaps that is one I missed. I'll have a rummage back aways.
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Unread postby stroch » Wed Apr 02, 2008 6:12 am

Dillinger's voice -- an interesting thought. I wonder if there are any extant radio or newsreel snippets with him speaking.

I imagine Johnny will flatten his tones and be more nasal, and probably speak faster. I would guess that Dillinger had lots of adrenaline pumping.

As for influences, I think he will rely on his own sense of who JD was -- that's why he was reading the biography, and visiting the relatives. I don't think he goes too far afield when he is portraying a real person, like George Jung or Donnie Brasco.
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Unread postby suec » Wed Apr 02, 2008 6:21 am

That's so true, stroch. When he's playing a real person, he tends to use the reality of that. I can imagine him noting the mannerisms as well as the essence. I like your points about the voice, too.
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Unread postby Liz » Wed Apr 02, 2008 10:22 am

suec wrote:That's so true, stroch. When he's playing a real person, he tends to use the reality of that. I can imagine him noting the mannerisms as well as the essence. I like your points about the voice, too.


I would agree. He seems to already have the look down.
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Unread postby gemini » Thu Apr 03, 2008 11:00 pm

Well I like Mr Burrough's answer and everyone's elses. I think Johnny going to meet his nephew was a good idea to get an idea of how the family was. Yes, getting a feel of the places and maybe spending some time cooped up to get a better feeling of how great it would be to be free. I would only add singing a few bars of "Get Along little doggie".
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers

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