Aussie Pirates crew reveal 'train-wreck' Johnny Depp's antics on set
Hollywood star Johnny Depp's ugly fall from grace all started on the Gold Coast set of his upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean movie, the film's crew have revealed.
In a spectacular tell-all published by trade mag The Hollywood Reporter, on-set sources have detailed the star's "excessive drinking" and "physical fights" with then-wife Amber Heard while on the film's Queensland shoot.
"You've got to understand the kind of pressure Johnny was under in Australia," producer Jerry Bruckheimer told the paper. "At times helicopters would follow him home. There would be so many media outside his gates that trucks were feeding them."
Depp - who was infamously involved in a high-profile legal stoush with Barnaby Joyce over the quarantine-baiting smuggling of his Yorkshire terriers into the country - was housed in a compound in Coomera, rented from Moto GP champion Mick Doohan, during the shoot, which filmed from February to July 2015.
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The film's crew say they struggled to deal with the unpredictable star's on-set "demons", which included heavy drinking and constant lateness that "often left hundreds of extras waiting for hours at a time."
"There were certainly days when our plans were challenged," production chief Sean Bailey told the Reporter.
"He's not a morning person," another source quipped, revealing that a "flotilla of Disney executives" was flown in to debate a strategy to deal with the star's tardiness.
It became such an issue that a production assistant was eventually stationed outside Depp's home in an unmarked car to alert the crew when the star woke up.
"When he got up, he'd turn on the light, and the moment the light went on [the PA] would call the line producer, who would then call the directors [Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg]: 'He's up! He's getting ready!'" a source told the Reporter.
"They even had a special code term, like 'The eagle has landed.' Johnny had no idea what was going on."
The star's antics - which led to the film shutting down at one point after he "sliced his finger" (tabloids say it was during a "booze-fuelled marriage dispute", although Bruckheimer denied this) - drove a wedge between his agent and the film's producer, as each urged the other to get the star help, a source said.
"Everyone was an innocent bystander watching this train wreck," the source told the paper.
"But when Johnny came on set, he was charming, nice. He's yin and yang."
The actor, whose divorce from Heard was finalised in January following domestic violence claims, is currently embroiled in a bitter dispute with his former managers TMG, and seeking US$33 million (NZ$48m) in damages over "mismanaged earnings".
The complaint has already hit the gutter, with TMG citing the star's lack of professionalism and extravagant spending as the source of his financial issues.
In a recent counter-claim, they said Depp spent "hundreds of thousands of dollars" on a sound engineer to feed him lines on set and wantonly threw money at purchasing new properties.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Depp's fifth appearance as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Disney series, opens in cinemas on May 25.
Depp was paid "US$20m upfront for the role, with an added 20 per cent of the backend per picture and had a perk package worth approximately US$3m," The Hollywood Reporter notes, in what is 2017's most expensive film with a budget of US$320 million.
The actor has a number of projects set for release later this year, including Murder On The Orient Express and Labyrinth, a true crime thriller based on the police investigation into the deaths of rappers Tupac Shakur and Notorious BIG.
- Sydney Morning Herald