Berlinale 2020 - Johnny Depp on ‘Power of the Small’ at Launch of ‘Minamata’ at Berlin Film Festival
- Johnny Depp arrived at the Berlin Film Festival Friday to support the film Minamata in which he plays celebrated war photographer W. Eugene Smith. In the film, based on real events, Smith is pitted against a powerful corporation responsible for poisoning with mercury the people of Minamata in Japan in 1971.
Directed by Andrew Levitas, the film also stars Hiroyuki Sanada, Minami, Bill Nighy and Jun Kunimura. At a press conference, Depp said he had a “strange fascination” with Smith and his photography, which was enhanced when he “read about his life and what he went through, and experienced, and what he sacrificed.” Asked about the political responsibility of actors, he said: “All people, all of us, are faced with huge monolithic-sized problems at times in our lives.” Depp referred to a symbol in the classic Chinese text the “I Ching” – or “Book of Changes” in English – which translates as “the power of the small.” When confronted with such “monumental” issues, whether they are environmental, social or political, the combined efforts of individuals – “the power of the small” – can affect great changes, he said.
“Just keep chipping away, little by little, and that problem will be toppled,” he said. “We are specks of dust; we are the small.”
There were no questions asked at the press conference about Depp’s personal life or his legal tussles with Amber Heard, although some journalists made sly attempts to draw him out by alluding to aspects of Smith’s own troubled personality, which Depp side-stepped or ignored. Asked about Smith’s difficult relationship with his children, Depp said: “We tried to stay focused on the story of the disaster, and only used little bits and pieces of Gene’s life to build his character.” Also in Berlin were Minami, playing Aileen, who persuades the burned-out Smith – an alcoholic and amphetamines addict – to take on one last assignment; Nighy, who plays Bob Hayes, the editor of Life Magazine, Smith’s long-suffering employer; and Hiroyuki Sanada, who plays local activist Mitsuo Yamazaki.