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On the Razor’s Edge
Johnny Depp began 2007 with a billion-dollar movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, claiming the 2006 box-office crown and, in the process, becoming the third-highest-grossing film of all time. Johnny had just wrapped shooting on the third film in the POTC series, At World’s End, ending a grueling two-year shoot. Surely this was the time for the world’s most-in-demand actor to rest on his laurels a bit, relax, and look for an easy project with a big paycheck. Instead, Johnny charged off full-steam-ahead in a new direction—and accepted the leading role in Tim Burton’s film of Stephen Sondheim’s musical masterpiece, Sweeney Todd, even though Johnny’s only musical background came from years of playing guitar.
Choosing to play the demon barber was a risky career move; can Johnny Depp sing? quickly became the question on every Tinseltown pundit and Broadway skeptic’s lips. That no one knew the answer shows just how much Johnny was stretching himself by accepting the difficult role of Sweeney Todd. But an even greater challenge lay ahead. Production began on February 5, 2007 at Pinewood Studios only to be halted three weeks later when Johnny’s seven-year-old daughter Lily-Rose fell gravely ill. “To say it was the darkest moment, that’s nothing,” Johnny told reporter Steve Daly six months later. “It doesn’t come close to describing it. [. . .] Tim and the crew shut down and stood by and waited . . . I didn’t know if I was coming back. I remember talking with Tim, saying, ‘Maybe you need to recast.’” Fortunately Lily-Rose made a complete recovery—“She pulled through beautifully, perfectly, with no lasting anything,” said Johnny—and the relieved and grateful father reported back to Pinewood on March 26, 2007 to complete Sweeney Todd.
Filming wrapped on Sweeney Todd in early May, cutting into promotion time for the little Pirates film due to open worldwide on Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start to the U.S. summer movie season. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End had its world premiere at Disneyland on May 19, 2007; thousands of fans lined Main Street to watch Johnny and his colleagues walk the red carpet. Like its predecessor, At World’s End brought moviegoers to the box office in droves and became the top-grossing film in the world for its year of release, earning more than $961 million and becoming the 5th-highest-grossing film of all time.
-- Part-Time Poet
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Magazine, Amy Longsdorf
February -- Total Film, Aubrey Day
May 18 -- Entertainment Weekly, Josh Rottenberg
May 20 -- The Mail on Sunday, Martyn Palmer
November 9 -- Entertainment Weekly, Steve Daly
December 10 -- New York Magazine, Logan Hill
December 12 -- Associated Press, Jake Coyle
December 13 -- USA Today, Susan Wloszczyna
December 16 -- LA Daily News, Glenn Whipp