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Rio's Attic: Celebrating the Life and Times of a Dearly Missed River Phoenix
American EnglishEn Français

Johnny Depp - A Kind Of Illusion

by Denis Meikle
First published in 2004


ISBN 1-905287-04-6 (Paperback, 400 Pages)

Now in its second release, this book still continues to receive a lukewarm reception amongst its readership, due most surprisingly to what one would have thought would be an entirely commendable decision on the part of the author, Denis Meikle, who prefers to devote most of his book to actor Johnny Depp's film career rather than his private life. This book is now reprinted in an updated version to include the film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

While the author, for whatever reason, chooses to place Depp high on a proverbial pedestal during his writings, a "Kind of Illusion" if ever there was one, Depp's own contemporaries do not fare so well. Indeed, during the discussion of any of his films that were to perform poorly at the box-office, the author consistently blames anyone except Depp himself.

River is mentioned on at least twelve different pages throughout this biography, but at best never in a positive light, and at worse, in an outright derogatory manner.

Phoenix had ingested a "speedball" of heroin and cocaine prior to his arrival at the club, and he promptly went for another snort in the club's toilet once he was inside. It was this last intake of "Persian Brown" which proved fatal.

The film community expressed collective outrage at the news, bleating in disbelief at the very idea that such a clean-living young "new-ager" could have acquired a heroin habit. But when the medical facts were shown to be incontestable, there was little for it but to confess all.

This cruel character-assassination continues in much the same manner for page after sordid page. Towards the end of the book, the circumstances surrounding Depp parting ways with the night club, the Viper Room, are examined. A lawsuit brought against Depp by business partner and part-owner Anthony Fox, in July 2000 dragged on for several years and the final court ruling left Depp with three choices. He could either sell his own shares in the venue, buy out Fox's interest, or just sell the club altogether.

In October 2004, United Press International revealed that Depp had relinquished his share of the club to Fox's daughter. A low-key press release from "unidentified sources" avoided any mention of the legal issues what had dogged Depp for the previous four years and instead laid the blame for his decision on the "bad memories" which continued to persist over the death of River Phoenix, as well as the upset that was caused to him by the "death tourists" who still made pilgrimages to the place "to gawp at the spot" where Phoenix had died.

In the end, this was one of the few books in Phoenix Bookshelf that we just couldn't be bothered to finish reading. Well, what with all the "bleating" and "gawping" to be done, we just didn't have the time.

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