Johnny Depp’s stronghold on versatile, complicated characters in movie and TV throughout the 1990s and early 2000s is undeniable. Although in recent times his decisions have been, well, laughable, he does have an impressive resume of memorable roles. One of those 2001’s Blow, in which Depp plays George Jung, the American that famously helped Pablo Escobar and the Medellín Cartel smuggle cocaine into the U.S. throughout the '70s and early '80s. The movie marked director Ted Demme’s last feature before his death that same year.
On Monday, almost two decades after the movie’s premiere, the film’s production company held a screening in Hollywood to commemorate Jung’s 76th birthday. This was the first time Jung was able to see the movie about his own life: he helped develop the film and worked with Depp during preproduction, but was sentenced to 60 years in prison before he could watch the movie. (He served for about 20 years and was released in 2014.)
After the movie, during a Q&A session, Jung revealed that he did not initially approve of Depp’s casting. “Ted told me Johnny played a narc in 21 Jump Street and a half-human, androgynous barber in Edward Scissorhands, so I thought, ‘This isn’t going to work,'" Jung said, per The Hollywood Reporter.
However, he changed his mind once he learned both Demme and Depp were adamant about keeping Jung’s story realistic and resisting the “Hollywood fantasy” storyline. Jung can pinpoint the moment he realized Depp would be right for the part: how the actor reacted when learning that the film would be somewhat “glamorized.”
"Johnny got angry and said, ‘The guy’s right here, he’s still alive, so if you can’t do it right, then you can take your money and shove it up your ass,’“ Jung recalled.
Jung eventually warmed up to Depp, but he also appreciated Demme’s approach from the start, telling the audience on Monday that Demme “was able to get inside [his] head and capture [his] being.”
"I’m the high priest of cocaine,” Jung declared. “I know there's a spirit world and Ted is here tonight."
Maybe the High Priest of Cocaine is inspired to finally produce the Blow sequel, which he allegedly wrote in prison? Depp, whose latest movie, City of Lies, based on the investigation into Biggie’s murder, was pulled from release just a month before the expected premiere, might have some free time in his schedule.