Johnny Depp made a dramatic switch to play the Mad Hatter in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland after starring in this summer's historical crime drama Public Enemies, in which he played real-life gangster John Dillinger.
"The Hatter was awfully fun," Depp said in a news conference on Monday in Beverly Hills, Calif. "After doing something like John Dillinger, a performance where it's somewhat restrained because of the responsibility you have to that guy and his memory, that Mad Hatter was like being fired out of a cannon. The Hatter was great fun, and, again, it's one of those things that you're just amazed you weren't fired. I truly am."
Depp plays the Mad Hatter in Burton's vision of the Lewis Carroll tale. Combining practical costumes, motion capture and 3-D computer animation, Burton is adding new levels to an aesthetic that already bears his name, "Burton-esque." USA Today published photos of the characters, including Depp's Hatter.
With orange frizzy curls, pasty porcelain makeup, a frilly black top hat and goth-y circus touches, the Hatter looks exactly as Depp said he intended. "All I've seen, I've just seen the little bits and pieces of it, but, yeah, what I ended up looking like is how I thought he was going to look, how I thought he should look, which was one of the first reasons why I'm surprised I didn't get fired," Depp said.
It's not the first time Depp expressed surprise at keeping a job: He also thought he'd be fired from the first Pirates of the Caribbean film because of studio disagreements with his portrayal of Jack Sparrow.
Alice in Wonderland is due in theaters March 5, 2010. The film also stars Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman and newcomer Mia Wasikowska as Alice.
(Click the image below for a full-size version of Depp as the Hatter.)