US megastar Johnny Depp says he has mostly learned to tame the media "beast" which constantly stalks him — but makes no bones about what he would do if the paparazzi overstepped the mark.
And while acknowledging the demands of global fame, the 47-year-old former "enfant terrible" also lamented the "voyeuristic sensationalism" of modern media culture.
"I’ve had various relations with paparazzi over the years. Basically, I understand the beast," the "Pirates of the Caribbean" star told AFP in an interview.
"If I’m either at a premiere or something like that, it’s their gig and they’re going to take photographs. But I’ve had my dilemmas with them over the years. What I’ve basically said to them is ‘You want my picture? Fine.’"
But he warned bluntly: "’If I catch you taking photographs of my kids I will physically eat your nose off of your face. And I would chew it in front of your face as well, and that’s the truth.’"
Depp was receiving visitors in a plush Paris hotel suite dressed in blue jeans, a lumberjack shirt and colorful accessories which could be straight from Jack Sparrow’s "Pirates" locker.
He was here with co-star Angelina Jolie to talk about his latest film, "The Tourist," due out Friday in north America. Both stars are working on projects in Europe, explaining the choice of France rather than the US.
The actor spends much of his life traveling, but insists he still gets a thrill out of seeing new places, including Left Bank landmarks in the French capital.
"I’m still like a little kid when I see … certain buildings, certain places. I’m still fascinated when I go to the Closerie des Lilas or Cafe de Flore and know that Hemingway and James Joyce were sitting there 80 years ago."
"The same in Venice. I couldn’t go out in the daytime very much but after 10 pm at night I could walk the streets with no problems."
Not being able to walk down a street like anyone else is one price of fame, he acknowledged — but lamented the global culture of people prying into the lives of others.
"I think we’re getting into very strange times, and have been, for a long time. If you turn on the television and watch practically any show it’s like reality shows, or some form of voyeuristic sensationalism that’s happening," he said.
"And it’s not just in the States; it’s everywhere. People are fascinated with looking at people’s lives, and the more cracked up, the more drama there is, the more they like it, and I think that’s really dangerous."
Depp paid tribute to his co-star Jolie, who is currently making her directorial debut, a love story between a Muslim woman and a Serb man set against the background of Bosnia’s 1992-1995 inter-ethnic war.
"Angelina is an actor I greatly admire, not only for her abilities and her work, which is wonderful, but I admire her as a woman, as a mother, as a human being," he said. "She’s a very strong woman and a very smart woman."
Despite his blockbuster success in Hollywood — in movies including Tim Burton’s "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," "Sweeney Todd" and "Alice in Wonderland" —Depp insists he does not see himself as a global star.
"I never think of myself on those terms as a ‘huge global movie star,’ so I can’t help but smile because it just doesn’t register as me," he said.
"It still feels like I’m doing the same bits, just trying something different each time, exploring something new. It’s important to keep challenging myself and try to come up with some new face every now and again."
He recalled a conversation with film legend Marlon Brando, who taught him a thing or two about fame.
"Brando asked me, ‘How many films do you do per year, kid?’ I said: ‘I dunno, maybe three.’ He said: ‘Too much. We only have so many faces in our pockets’," he said.
"And I went, you know, that’s really true, but I feel like I’ve still got a few faces left."