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The Intimate Biography of Hollywood’s Best-Loved Rebel

by Nigel Goodall

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 1-85782-597-7
Publisher: John Blake/Trafalgar

Thimble-deep bio of misfit maestro Johnny Depp.

Intrepid celebrity biographer Goodall (Christian Slater, 2006) here updates his 2004 tome What’s Eating Johnny Depp?, re-titling his efforts The Secret World of Johnny Depp; most curious, considering the fact that this ungainly hodgepodge of previously published interviews, biographies and promotional materials contains nothing that could be construed as a “secret.” Goodall’s method is to assemble the most innocuous and inane existing material on a given Hollywood tyro (much of it obviously culled from that lowest form of journalism, the junket interview); quote liberally from other reviewers (Roger Ebert should receive royalties); breathlessly synopsize the plots of the relevant films in a style somewhere between that of an extended pull-quote and a book report by a bright seventh grader; and pad, pad, pad, discoursing pointlessly on such ephemerally related topics as the authenticity of Pirates of the Caribbean’s ships, or the travails of director Gillian Armstrong, who has never worked with this particular actor. There is no context or analysis provided for understanding Depp’s films or technique—Private Resort gets the same laborious plot rundown as Edward Scissorhands—but odd redundancies and gaffes abound (a favorite: Goodall refers to broadcaster Rush Limbaugh as “she”). These are at least mildly amusing and break the monotony of what feels like a surreally endless People magazine article. The book’s bloodlessness and superficiality become mesmerizing—when Goodall musters a subjective opinion about something, it is along the lines of deeming the nightmarishly gruesome A Nightmare on Elm Street “frequently unpleasant.” The author does get uncharacteristically heated up about critics; the reader will draw his or her own conclusions on this point. Goodall begins his story with the assertion that Depp is “finally achieving the kind of achievement that all Hollywood was applauding.”

Depp plays oddballs and once messed up a hotel room. We knew this going in, right?