THIS MONTH’S COVER GIRL
We all know the rumours between her and her The Rum Diary co-star Johnny Depp. But there’s more to this Texas-born beauty, like her love for vintage cars and how she fell in love with making movies. Find out what the stunning Amber Heard is all about in this interview.
She waxes lyrical about her love of cars, books, and the difficulty of upsetting conventional stereotypes about attractive women as well of her deep admiration for her The Rum Diary co-star Johnny Depp.
She may love horses but there is no doubt that the one unconditional love in the life of Amber Heard is her 68 Ford Mustang. Even before her role in last year’s The Rum Diary opposite Johnny Depp raised her Hollywood profile, the stunning actress is famous for racing around Beverly Hills in the vintage blue muscle car. “I’m a speed demon – I can’t explain the relationship I have with my Mustang,” says Heard, the fast-rising 26-year-old Texas-born ethereal beauty. “I’ve always loved it. It’s not just the unbelievable speed of the car but it’s the classic design. Cars of that era had such a distinctive look and sound, and the feel you get from driving one is almost erotic, even though they sometimes break down on the road. But if I ever have to pull over, the second that goes up, somebody comes to my rescue!”
No wonder. The sight of Heard bending over the motor of her blue Mustang would create havoc along any highway. In the meantime, Heard is busy on the set of Machete Kills, the sequel to the 2010 slasher film directed by Robert Rodriguez. The film sees Danny Trejo returning as the title character “Machete” while Heard plays “Miss San Antonio” in a cast that includes Charlie Sheen, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, and Mel Gibson.
You’ve acted in a number of sexy roles of late, most notably The Rum Diary and The Playboy Club. Is it tough to break out of that mold?
I don’t feel I’m being forced to choose between combat boots and an apron. I can do it in heels! I’m a rebel. I’m continually fighting against that. I don’t take parts because they’re for the sexy girl. I take the sexy girl parts and try to give them something else and make them a character. I just know that, at some point, you have to choose between the two. I would love to see women be powerful, complex, smart, opinionated and taken seriously, even if they are beautiful. Even more, I would love to see women held to different standards, other than the superficial ones that we’re held to.
Do you think that a glamorous role is going to give you the kind of profile that will enable you to play more serious women?
I’m not worried about that. I have this film coming out, Syrup, in which I play Six, who is a very smart, independent, fierce young woman, who is taken very seriously in her world. I’m very excited about that. I know that eventually the good roles will come my way. I think Chenault (in The Rum Diary) was the kind of character where I was able to explore different layers of a woman trying to make her way in the world.
You’ve done nudity in several films. Do you find that sexually stereotyping in any way?
No. Some of my films have required more nudity than others but I’m not in a conservative industry and I don’t want to cater to the conservative thought that if I do a nude scene, then I’ll be forever damned into a certain category. Most of the roles where I did a lot of nudity came in my early films where basically you’re playing the party girl who strips
I WOULD LOVE TO SEE WOMEN BE POWERFUL, COMPLEX, SMART, OPINIONATED AND TAKEN SERIOUSLY, EVEN IF THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL.”
off her clothes for the lead actor. Now, I would only do nudity where it’s really appropriate. I think it’s important to take all sorts of roles, and I, as a performer, don’t shy away from those that require me to wear certain kinds of clothing or not enough clothing. For as long as I can be typecast “as the sexy girl”, I’ll be thankful for it because the day will come when I can no longer play those roles, and then I won’t. Whether there’s nudity involved or not, a female character in a film can still be smart, independent, strong, funny, and determined. I just look for opportunities to play women who embrace those qualities.
What made you want to become an actress?
I fell in love with cinema in an art-house movie theatre in Austin, Texas, where I’m from. I’d watch movies back to back on my way home from school. I remember watching Whale Rider and being so affected by how director Niki Caro told the story that I knew I wanted to be part of that powerful medium. I was in school plays from middle school and by the time I was 17, I was ready to get started professionally.
You’ve done both horror and action films. Any particularly weird or dangerous moments you’ve experienced on those film sets?
I’ve had days when I’ve been covered in fake blood and had to crawl out of a grave, and others when I’ve jumped off a roof of a camper van driven by Satanic cultists on to the roof of a sports car.
What was your experience like with Johnny on The Rum Diary?
He’s a wonderful artist and a talented person. I got along with him splendidly. He’s charming and wonderful to work with. He’s a dream. It was Johnny who actually
found the manuscript at Hunter S. Thompson’s house and encouraged him to publish it. I was already a huge fan of the book and when I found out they were casting for the role of Chenault, I wrote a letter to Graham King (the producer of The Rum Diary) where I basically argued that I was perfect for the role!
Did you find Johnny easy to get to know?
Johnny cared so much, and he’s just a really down-to-earth, nice person. While we were shooting in Puerto Rico, Johnny rescued a stray dog. Well, the dog ended up being pregnant – I think it had six puppies – and then another dog we assumed to be the father showed up. So, instead of adopting one dog, he had eight but he took care of them.
It must have been a thrill riding around with Johnny in the 59 Chevy Corvette that was in the film?
It’s such a beautiful feeling to hear the rumble of the engine and to be able to sit inside and appreciate a car where there is so much attention to the style, the detailing, and everything that makes a car stand out from the rest. I’ve always been in love with classic cars, particularly the vintage muscle cars like you saw come out between the mid to late 60s and the early 70s. I can’t remember a time where I wouldn’t turn around in my seat passing one on the street. I think that from the time I could remember, I’ve always envisioned myself in a vintage muscle car.
You co-starred with Nicolas Cage in Drive Angry. Did you do your own car stunts?
Of course! I love speed and I grew up driving with my dad and learning to do all sorts of things with old pickups and other cars wreaking havoc on dirt roads in Texas. I just wish I could have kept a few of the cars we use in Drive Angry. I would have gladly given back some of my salary!
Did you have any stunt drivers teach you any tricks for Drive Angry?
Yeah but that was pretty useless. They had a stunt driver come and spend an afternoon with me and he was supposed to teach me basic things like how to spin and reverse and fishtail. I just smiled and did those stunts straight away because I grew up practising those things. The guy was totally stunned.
Did you see any parallels to your own life as a young, beautiful woman trying to make it in Hollywood?
I related to the rebel spirit in Chenault, a young socialite trapped in this glass world, and her fall from grace allows her to fall in love with Paul Kemp and leave her privileged gilded cage existence. I know from my own experience that you have to be able to work with an image but not let yourself be trapped by that.
If you hadn’t found your way into acting, what profession would you have chosen?
If this were another time, perhaps I would have tried to be a writer. I don’t think there’s a more admirable profession. I love literature that speaks to the spirited side of human nature. I’ve got a soft spot for true individuals. People who make a difference in their time and aren’t afraid to upset social or political conventions. The artist and rebel in me loves to identify with individuals who set out on their own road, didn’t play by the rules or what society dictated they should do or say, and made their mark.