Johnny Depp (below) is once again packing Hong Kong cinema-goers into their seats, as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, a film too far for any franchise. Depp, who will be 48 this week, has often eschewed blockbusters in favour of playing iconic misfits such as gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, in the film adaptation of the book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The director of the mescaline-fuelled film was Terry Gilliam ...
Before becoming a director, Gilliam's brilliantly surrealist mind saw him rise to fame as one of the members of Britain's seminal comedy gang, Monty Python's Flying Circus. While his Oxford and Cambridge university-educated colleagues wrote and performed sketches, Gilliam edited the shows and punctuated them with his often bizarre, stream of consciousness animation. He was brought in on the recommendation of one of the group's core comics, Eric Idle ...
The youngest member of the Python troupe, Idle wrote Always Look on the Bright Side of Life for the 1979 Python film, Life of Brian. The song was the crucifixion anthem in a comedy that took on the taboo subject of the Christian faith. Because of its controversial subject matter, the film almost never got made. But, after EMI Films pulled out as backers, Idle turned to a friend to raise the GBP2 million needed: The Beatles guitarist George Harrison ...
Harrison's role as a producer of the film gave him something to do with the money he had amassed as part of the world's biggest-ever band. Not everyone agrees with that epithet, of course, especially devotees of the Rolling Stones, who vied with the Fab Four for supremacy in the 1960s. One key aspect of the debate was whether Harrison could hold a candle to the Stones' axeman, the wastrel Keith Richards ...
Always a man for a duel, Richards published his autobiography last year. In it, he boasted of betraying Mick Jagger by having a relationship with the singer's girlfriend that once led to him fleeing her house almost naked. Better remembered is that the pair wrote a song together, As Tears Go By, which was a hit in 1964 for that girlfriend, Marianne Faithfull ...
The song remains the best known of Faithfull's hits and she performs it to this day. Having moved to France many years ago to escape paparazzi interested more in her love life than her acting or musical efforts, she became acquainted with French pop star Vanessa Paradis, another sultry blonde, who sprung to fame young a generation later. The singers performed the song at a tribute concert to Linda McCartney at the Royal Albert Hall in April 1999. Paradis, a child star turned model, actress and singer, is these days better known as the other half of Johnny Depp.