By Rory Reynolds
JOHNNY DEPP perfected his Glaswegian accent for the new blockbuster adventure Alice in Wonderland by watching old episodes of Rab C Nesbitt.
The Hollywood star was shown hours of old episodes of the BBC Scotland comedy after he chose a gruff Govan accent to reflect the “dark and dangerous” side of the Mad Hatter.
His voice coach Gerry Grennell revealed that the wacky 46-year-old was “slightly puzzled” when he first watched the show, but was soon “laughing out loud”.
Gerry said: “The west of Scotland accent is very muscular, heightened and expressive and Johnny and I both agreed it was absolutely ideal for the Mad Hatter.
“He listened to a lot of Scottish voices in order to master the accent, but Rab C Nesbitt stood out for him.
“Johnny was slightly puzzled when he first watched it, but before too long his ears got attuned and he was laughing out loud.
“He loves that kind of dark Scottish humour and the fact that Rab has such a big personality and is so outspoken really appealed to him.
“To the uninitiated, a Glaswegian voice can sound almost like a stream of vowels with hardly any consonants in it.
“People find that really funny and Johnny made great capital out of that,
“There is no doubt that he got a real kick out of watching Rab C Nesbitt.
“Who knows? Maybe he’ll turn up to his next film set sporting a string vest.”
Julia Wilson-Dickson, Depp’s voice coach on Finding Neverland, added: “He was very receptive to the Scottish accent.
“There is something in him that understood the Celtic background.”
Depp, who wears a kilt and sporran in the new movie, is no stranger to the Scots accent after spending months perfecting Aberdonian for his role as JM Barrie in Finding Neverland.
In a recent interview he also revealed that he found inspiration for his twist on his Mad Hatter role after he discovered that many hat makers went mad from working with strong chemicals.
He said: “The Scottish accent is something I did mess around with on Finding Neverland, though that was a bit more Aberdeen.
“With this one Tim and I were talking about how this character was actually made up of different people and their extreme sides, so I wanted to go extremely dark and dangerous with the Scots accent.
“I found out that hatters back then used highly toxic glue containing mercury to make hats and it would render them crazy, which is where the expression ‘mad as a hatter’ came from.
“So my take on him was that he knew something was wrong with him and couldn’t figure out what, so it was like a multiple personality disorder and sometimes he’d go into a Scottish accent to protect himself because he was a guy with high highs, low lows and a very dangerous rage.”
Depp is already known to be a fan of British comedy and appeared in the final episode of BBC’s The Fast Show.
Rab C Nesbitt, which was first aired in 1988, has attracted many high profile Scots actors, including David Tennant, who played a transsexual barmaid, Ugly Betty star Ashley Jensen and comedian Rikki Fulton.
Gregor Fisher, who plays the string vest-wearing layabout, said he was honoured that his character had inspired of Hollywood’s top stars.
He said: “I’m very surprised and extremely flattered.
“It was not something I was aware of, but it’s a great honour.”
Alice in Wonderland, which was rumoured to have cost more to make than James Cameron’s Avatar, also stars Helena Bonham Carter, Matt Lucas and Anne Hathaway.
The production broke the UK box office record on its first weekend for a 3D film when it was released earlier this month.