Before he played charming oddballs in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
and Edward Scissorhands
and, well, insert most of his acting résumé here, Johnny Depp
was your garden-variety teen idol on Fox's 21 Jump Street
. Back in 1990, cult film director John Waters
gave Depp his big-screen break — and a chance to send up his Tiger Beat
image — in Cry-Baby
. And since the Cry-Baby Director's Cut
DVD is out today, TVGuide.com has a chance to touch base with Waters, for some "I knew Depp when" reminiscing and chatter about the rest of his freaky film exploits.
TVGuide.com: Cry-Baby was perhaps the most mainstream or "ready for prime time," of all your many wacky movies.TVGuide.com: Of course. I'm just saying it feels tame and mainstream by John Waters standards, if you compare it to much freakier fare like Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble.
John Waters: I disagree. Pecker is probably my nicest movie. Just 'cause Cry-Baby is a musical, people forget that I have a very dysfunctional, disturbed family in it. I have an ingenue who drinks her own tears because she's in love with Johnny Depp. That's some kind of sexual fetish I don't even have a name for; I didn't even have tear drinkers in A Dirty Shame. Plus, [adult film-star-turned-actress] Traci Lords is in it, Patricia Hearst... I hardly think it was your normal studio movie.
If ever I made movies that were sneak attacks, maybe Hairspray
were the ones. They both became big rentals for children's parties! And Cry-Baby
's going to be a Broadway musical [like Hairspray
] now. But if you look at what it's saying — the heroines are a girl so ugly she's considered beautiful; an insane, thieving grandmother; and an unwed mother who's happy to be knocked up — it's a very unconventional story. So maybe these movies, rather than preaching to the converted, actually did corrupt somebody!
TVGuide.com: Do you claim any credit for Johnny Depp's huge film career?
Johnny would've been a huge star and a very successful actor without me. I'm glad he started with me, though. I'm glad he starred in my movie. More people have seen Cry-Baby
, because of Johnny Depp, than any of my movies. I'm glad that I'm the first person who ever got him a million-dollar paycheck. And I'm glad we're still friends. We still e-mail and he calls me "Mr. Waters," because that's what people in Baltimore call me. And I'm sure you can't put my nickname for him
TVGuide.com: Speaking of TV, were you as enthralled by the surprise summer hit Dancing with the Stars as the rest of America?
I've never even heard of it. That shows how much I am in the mainstream of America. I'm not sure what the difference is between reality TV and amateur porn. They often look similar — but I'll go with the porn.
TVGuide.com: Do you watch any television?
I've recently watched The Wire
on HBO and the Michael Jackson
trial reenactments on E! I also enjoyed an episode of Pamela Anderson
's show Stacked
. I worked in a bookshop like her character does and also, Marissa Jaret Winokur
— the star of Hairspray: The Musical
— is in it.