One of the first headlines I saw in my feed this morning was from the Telegraph:
Earpieces, islands, and eccentricities: is Johnny Depp slowly morphing into Marlon Brando?
Um, obviously it was an immediate click. Yes, I want to read this. In fact, I think I NEED to read this. The piece was written after it was revealed earlier this week that Johnny Depp employs a sound engineer on his movies so that he can be fed his lines through an earpiece – a detail that’s coming from lawyers repping The Management Group (TMG) and the lawsuits going back and forth between Johnny and TMG over whether or not they mishandled his money and stole from him or if he’s a f-ckup with his finances. In response to Johnny’s interview with The Wall Street Journal last week accusing TMG of fraud, TMG’s side is now dropping more bombs to counter Johnny’s claims. And one of those claims is the earpiece thing. Which is also what Brando did on a few of his films. There’s a really hilarious picture that the Telegraph includes in the article of Brando on the set of The Godfather with Robert Duvall who’s standing there with a piece of paper taped to his body with all of Brando’s lines on it. And then this f-cking hysterical anecdote from David Thewlis who worked with Brando on The Island Of Dr Moreau:
…while the legendarily disastrous shoot for The Island of Dr. Moreau found Brando being fed his lines through an earpiece, which occasionally picked up signals from a local police scanner.
"He'd be in the middle of a scene and suddenly he'd be picking up police messages and Marlon would repeat, There's a robbery at Woolworths!" costar David Thewlis has said.
I remember hearing about this a few years ago and lost my mind. And the same thing happened when I was reading this piece.
To be fair though, Marlon Brando and Johnny Depp aren’t the only ones to use an earpiece for their lines. In November 2015, The Guardian had an article about Bruce Willis using an earpiece on Broadway and Al Pacino has done it too. Same goes for Cicely Tyson and James Earl Jones. And Angela Lansbury too, explaining to the New York Times that:
“If we’re going to play important roles at our age, where our names are above the title on the marquee, we’re going to ask for some support if we need it.”
Fair enough, right? If Angela Lansbury needs an earpiece, give her a f-cking earpiece. If James Earl Jones needs an earpiece, yes, he should have an earpiece.
What do all these people have in common though? Well, they’re of a certain vintage. They’re mature actors. So… are we calling Johnny Depp a mature actor now?