Speaking on Monday at a Toronto International Film Festival event, Johnny Depp paid tribute to the late director Wes Craven, whose 1984 film A Nightmare on Elm Street gave Depp his first major acting role.
“Wes Craven was the guy who gave me my start, from my perspective, for almost no reason in particular,” Depp was quoted as saying in Variety. “He was a good man – so rest in peace, old Wes.”
Depp, 52, was taking audience questions following a screening of his latest film, the Whitey Bulger biopic Black Mass, when one attendee asked him to reflect on working with Craven, who died in August at 76 after a battle with brain cancer. In discussing being cast in A Nightmare on Elm Street, Depp explained that it was actually Craven’s daughter, Jessica Craven, who handpicked the actor for the lead role.
“I read scenes with his daughter when I auditioned for the part,” Depp said. “I guess she had read with a bunch of actors, and after the casting sessions, she said, ‘No, that’s the guy.’ I always think of her for putting me in this mess, and certainly Wes Craven for being very brave to give me this gig.”
Depp also said that at the time of the audition, he was more focused on music than acting.
“I was a musician. I wasn’t really acting,” he said. “It was not anything very near to my brain or my heart, which is pretty much how it remains to this day.”
Jessica Craven, who was only 13 at the time she picked Depp for the role, eventually became a musician herself, performing with her half-sisters in the folk-rock band The Chapin Sisters from 2004 to 2010.