Johnny Depp Dies, and Other Eyewitness Revelations From VF Writer's 'Public Enemies' Love-In

After yesterday's HamburgerGate drama from the set of Transformers 2, we know how poorly things can go when an extra's big, swinging ego good intentions override his place in a production's creative food chain. As if on cue, Vanity Fair contributor Bryan Burrough — whose book Public Enemies, about John Dillinger and the founding of the FBI, is being adapted by Michael Mann — chimed in at the magazine's Web site with a dispatch from his own cameo in Mann's film. Not quite surprisingly, we suppose, the spoilerrific Burrough fared a little better with his director than one "Hedgehog" did with Michael Bay:


It was just like that hot night in July 1934. ... Then, flanked by actresses playing the brothel owner Ana Sage and Dillinger's girl for the night, Polly Hamilton, came Johnny Depp. He wore the same clothes Dillinger had worn, light pants, a straw boater, a clean white shirt. He emerged from the theatre, turned to his left, then meandered with the crowd maybe thirty feet down the sidewalk, where the FBI, in the person of the actor Steven Lang, portraying Agent Charles Winstead, was waiting.
They must've shot the scene ten times. All ended the same, with pistols raised, several loud "pop-pop-pops," and Depp stumbling toward the alley. Over and over they shot it, as I stood just steps away, watching intently. I could tell Mann was pleased. At just about five, as the first rays of dawn appeared over Lake Michigan, an assistant yelled "That's a wrap!" And suddenly everyone was all smiles. Plastic cups of beer appeared in Mann's hand and those of his dozen or so cameramen and assistants. ...

At some point I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was Michael Mann. "Don't go anywhere," he murmured. "I wanna show you something." ... I followed him and a crowd of assistants into one of the vacant sports bars the production had taken over. Inside, someone stood on one of the bar tables and fed a DVD into an overhead projector. There, as daylight spread across the set outside, Mann showed us the first edited scene of the movie. It had been shot the month before, in Wisconsin, the scene where Dillinger is returned to Chicago following his arrest in Arizona.

I shouldn't say much about what I saw, but it was breathtaking, shot in gorgeous high-definition. There were smiles everywhere. Afterward Mann shook my hand and said, "Nice writing." I walked outside into the dawn, then into a car for O'Hare, feeling as if I was a very lucky author to have my book in such capable hands.

Depp dies! Mann drinks on the set! Expect a cease-and-desist letter to be filed alongside Gina Gershon's any minute now.

[Photo Credit: Beyond Hollywood]