I think that you, Keith, gave a great acting performance in the 1987 Chuck Berry documentary Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll, where you played the mature one as the concert producer while Chuck raised hell.
Richards: It's just me doing what I do in that movie. Hey, Chuck asked for it, he got it. I am one of the biggest Chuck Berry fans in the goddamn world. But not when it comes time to work. He's got a Chuck story as well.
Depp: I was in this band, the Kids. And we opened up for Chuck Berry in Atlanta. I was seventeen. He arrives. He comes into our dressing room. He thinks we're his band. So I was, like, stupefied. And he handed me his guitar and said, "Tune it up." So I plugged it and used the strobe tuner. He was like, "What the fuck is that?" "A strobe tuner, man." He was mesmerized.
Richards: Yeah, Chuck had never seen a tuner before. He thought you'd be trying to fuck with him. He knows what he wanted to play. Bless his old heart.
Chuck's a great pirate, in his way.
Richards: Oh, yeah, are you kidding me? He used to rape, loot and pillage all over the place.
Since you both find no difference between pirates and rock stars, what about between rock stars and actors? The shores are littered with the bones of rock stars who wanted to act.
Richards: I can't really dissect that one. Hey, ever since I bashed me head [falling out of a palm tree in Fiji last year], I've had these doctors actually projecting themselves to be rock stars. Me, I'm just a musician. And if the people like my stuff, thank God. It pushes me on to do more. And I want to do more. That's something that you don't factor in when you start this game.
Johnny, your Captain Jack Sparrow character has put you in a new game: movie icon.
Depp: It doesn't feel any different than anything I've ever done. It's just that more people saw this movie and liked this character. I was shocked and touched by it.
How do you define Captain Jack's appeal?
Depp: I think it's pure irreverence, you know, that he's kind of the trickster.
Richards: He represents potential freedom, to break out of the bounds.
When did Keith figure into your thinking about how to play this character?
Depp: You think, "Who's the greatest rock & roll star? Who's that charismatic and interesting?" And you go, "Oh, fuck, it's Keith, isn't it? It's Keith."
In your opinion, who does the best Keith imitation? Mick did a pretty good Keith on "Saturday Night Live."
Richards: Some time ago, yeah. The only other one is the man sitting right here. There's been loads of wanna-bes. But it's ail posing with a guitar. And not playing right, not looking right, so not being me. It's amazing so many people would try to emulate me. Really, it's just in the bones and in the moves. You don't know what attracts people to what you do.
Growing up, Keith, weren't you a fan of singing cowboy Roy Rogers?
Richards: Oh, yeah, Roy was great. He could shoot, play the guitar and ride a great horse. What more do you want?
When did you turn to the dark side and go toward the pirates?
Richards: That came naturally later. You get an image that is like a ball and chain. You can clean up your act and become like, "Oh, how Christian," but still you drag your whole life behind you.
Johnny, didn't you have a negative reaction early on from studio executives as you started to create the character of Jack Sparrow?
Depp: The first month or so on Pirates 1, they all thought I'd lost my fucking mind.
Richards: No, the opening with you standing on the sinking ship was "I couldn't have done it better meself."
So you have seen the movie, Keith?
Richards: Oh, shit, yeah. How can you not with your grandkids around? I saw it when Pirates 1 came out. Pirates 2 I did fall asleep in, but I'd been up for three days.
Depp: I might have fallen asleep myself.
Keith, did you recognize anything similar right away between you and the character?
Richards: He gave me a call when he started doing promos for Pirates 1: "Before you read this shit, I have got to say that I did base certain parts of my character on you." Well, thanks, Johnny, for letting me know. Otherwise I would have sued your ass [laughs].
And when did you get the thought, Johnny, to ask Keith to be your father onscreen?
Depp: We had dinner in New York, hanging out, right after Pirates. I was never sure that he would even go for it.
Richards: I had a week off, Johnny.
Depp: Time well spent.
Richards: Yeah, the rest of the Stones are kicking their asses back, and I'm a pirate. Just something different to do. I don't know if I can really pull it or not. Either that or it would be one line and out.
How is he doing?
Depp: Fucking great, man. Two-take Richards.
Frank Sinatra supposedly had the patience for only one take when he was acting.
Richards: Yeah, but he was a motherfucker.
Depp: I don't think Sinatra ever stopped to hit his mark. He would walk out of frame — done.
Johnny, has the huge success of the first two Pirates movies surprised you?
Depp: It surprised the shit out of me, because I'm used to about eighteen people seeing my movies.
And what, if anything, can you tell us about the third movie?
Richards: You're looking at it now [points to his costume].
This is as close as you'll ever be, Keith, to being a Disney character.
Richards: I'm the next Mickey Mouse — look out.
Depp: Mickey Mouse with dreads.
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