Johnny Depp is producing a film about the life of children’s author Theodor Seuss Geisel, AKA Dr. Seuss, and the project is being developed as a starring vehicle for the actor.
There is little info beyond that except the producer’s assurance that this will not be an Alice In Wonderland-style CGI fest, along with the subtle lack of the use of the term “biopic.” The estate of Seuss actually declared there would be no more live-action films made of Seuss’s work some years ago (they weren’t fans of Meyer’s Cat In the Hat), so the pitch must have been stellar to get them to hand over his life rights.
Depp’s reputation with genre fans has definitely soured over the years, as he’s made catering to Tim Burton (and the fifteen year old girls he makes product for) his top priority. The Rum Diary looks like it could be a decent return to form for the actor, as it’s the first film he’s starred in outside of his blockbusters & Burton wheelhouse for quite some time. Depp is one of those talented actors who would only need a few inspired roles in a row to get everyone excited again though, and if there’s a genuine passion behind the project, a Seuss movie could be very interesting. There’s just enough oddity and style to the man’s world to make it worthwhile, but the character is still real and grounded enough that we shouldn’t have another Willy goddamn Wonka on our hands.
As I’ve suggested with the Dali films that have sprung up over the last few years, I would love to see more films about famous artists that use current technology to subtly (or not so subtly) integrate their worldview into the aesthetic of the film. I still have dreams of a film integrating the frightening long-legged elephants of Dali’s work into the real world, and Dr. Seuss is another artist whose life lends itself to that approach.
Perhaps Depp should look to The Mill and the Cross (starring Rutger Hauer) which has recently played festivals to some acclaim and does the very thing I’ve wanted to see done with Dali, but applied to Pieter Bruegel and his painting “The Way To Calvary.” Take a look at this (admittedly not well-cut) trailer and imagine such a thing with the Seuss aesthetic…
And lest you think Seuss’s life wasn’t plenty rife with struggle and pain, know that he was a philanderer whose wife killed herself after bearing the burden of cancer and Geisel’s infidelity. He married again, and ultimately died from cancer himself. Imagine that drama playing out beneath the Truffala trees…