Something odd happened while I was in the States: my wife decided that Johnny Depp was the neatest thing since pre-molded sushi. She didn’t come to that conclusion by watching his many films, which are of course entertaining, but because of an interview he gave to two fifth-grade students from my son’s school, which teaches the standard Japanese curriculum but with most classes in English rather than Japanese. Since the experimental school started, it’s gotten quite a lot of attention from the mass-komi (the Japanese media, from the English word “mass communications”), and over the summer they were visited by members of V6, one of the more interesting Japanese pop singer groups from the Johnny’s Entertainment talent agency. After trying and failing to follow some of the classes in English, the V6 guys chose two students — whose nicknames were Baby Gorilla and Pyupa, don’t ask me why — for a special task: they would interview Johnny Depp in English and try to make the usually serious actor burst out laughing.
As the Japan release date for Pirates 2 approached, Mr. Depp came to Japan to promote the film. Like many a Hollywood star before him, he was accompanied by Natsuko Toda, the famous movie subtitle translator who is so in demand that her personal schedule can affect the worldwide release dates of major films. (Her unfamiliarity with Tolkien caused much rending of garments by fans when she messed up the subtitles for the Lord of the Rings films.) When the time came for the sit-down interview, the kids asked various questions, then put on a show employing various gags about pirates with smelly socks in their treasure chests. They got their laugh, and Mr. Depp told them that was the best interview he’d ever done, which thrilled the kids no end. While my wife was a little disappointed that our son wasn’t chosen for the interview — he’s way too shy, and has an unfair advantage over the other kids when it comes to speaking English — she was impressed by the actor’s kindness with the boys. It was an experience Baby Gorilla and Pyupa will never forget.
(Oh my! It’s already on YouTube. Click here to see the interview.)
Next up…Peter goes to Washington!