Johnny Depp is a happy Oscar warrior – and still a winking devil

When it comes to winning an Oscar, campaigning often matters, as Eddie Redmayne proved last year, and now it looks like Johnny Depp is having fun on the hustings while chatting up “Black Mass.” Through the years, Hollywooders have accepted the superstar being shy – or slyly elusive, take your pick – but now they’re amazed at his sudden, welcome accessibility.

Recently, Depp participated cheerfully in lots of Q&A screenings, media interviews (video and print), photo shoots and more. At a recent lunch bash at Craig’s restaurant in West Hollywood, I got a chance to ask him some cheeky questions.

Since this guy loves to portray winking devils, what’s behind the jaunty wink of his Whitey Bulger in “Black Mass”?

“Whitey is a guy who always knows he’s got the upper hand — either through intellect or gesture, aggressive body language or violence,” he said. “He can always fuck with people, poke them, see how far they’ll go and see how they’ll react. That’s the fun part.”

Oscar voters love stars who undergo a radical physical transformation on screen and Depp goes so far in “Black Mass” – with a receding hairline, a haunting gaze. Was it too far?

“When a friend of mine went to see the movie with his mom, who was 75 years old, she said about 15 or 20 minutes into it, ‘Where’s Johnny? I thought you said we’re going to see Johnny?'” Depp said. “He said, ‘Hey, ma! That’s Johnny!’ and she said, ‘Oh, yeah?’ and he said, ‘Yeah!’ Ha!'”

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. (“Black Mass”)

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