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Sioux Lookout youth goes to Hollywood

Friday May 2, 2014
Submitted photo

Sioux Lookout’s Tyler Angeconeb met his idol Johnny Depp during the recent premiere of Transcendence in Hollywood. Angconeb won the chance to attend the premiere and meet Depp by getting in on an auction on a charity website that included two tickets and two nights of accommodations for two.
Submitted photo

Tyler Angeconeb meets Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy.

Tyler Angeconeb inspects himself in the mirror, ensuring his three-piece suit and all its elements are in place as we prepare to see the latest Hollywood flick, Transcendence.

But this is no regular screening at your local cinema.

It’s April 10 and we are in a fancy hotel in Westwood, Los Angeles and a mere 10-minute walk from the theatre where the film would premiere - eight days before it would be released across the continent.

“Man, I can’t believe we’re about to go a Hollywood premiere,” he says as he straightens his vest.

Angeconeb is not only excited to be taking part in such an event. The 23-year-old also at ecstatic at the prospect of meeting and taking a photo with the film’s lead, Johnny Depp.

For most people who know Angeconeb, to say he is a big fan of Depp would seem an understatement. While studying film in college, we frequently mocked him for his apparent obsession with the actor known for his numerous and electric roles spanning a 30-year career.

From regularly sharing Depp news and photos on Facebook, to imitating his dressing style, to sharing his Captain Jack Sparrow impressions, Angeconeb is unabashed in his admiration for the 50-year-old actor.

“I’m pretty cool about it, at least I try to,” he says with a laugh. “But people still make fun of me.”

After finding Depp’s characterization of Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean series to be “weird,” and being “confused” by Secret Window, Angeconeb’s admiration for Depp sprouted after watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 2005.

“I remember seeing Charlie and Chocolate Factory and thinking it’s soooo different,” he recalls. “It got me into that whole Johnny Depp ride.”

Angeconeb, a member of Six Nations and whose father is police chief of Lac Seul’s police service, has since watched every single Depp film he could find.

And tonight’s premiere would not be the first time he has seen Depp in the flesh. In 2007, he was among fans outside that watched Depp walk the red carpet at the premiere of the third Pirates film. The next year, he and his parents drove to Wisconsin while Depp was filming Public Enemies, where Angeconeb first shook hands with the actor. Then in the fall of 2012, he got an autograph during the Toronto International Film Festival.

Earlier this week, he waited 10 hours outside the Jimmy Kimmel Live! studio to get another autograph from Depp after his appearance on the show.

But Angeconeb is quick to put his fandom into perspective.

“When I wait to see Depp, you hang out with all these fans, and you get to gauge your level of fandom compared to other people’s,” he says. “I’ve seen people who quote everything, singing his Sweeney Todd songs. Whereas I am a big Depp fan, I’m just not as outgoing about it as they are.”

For this trip, Angeconeb found an auction on a charity website that included two tickets to both the Transcendence premiere and afterparty, along with two nights accommodations for two guests.

“I just thought why not give it a shot and see if I win,” he says. “And if I do, I get to go to premiere and afterparty and hopefully get to meet Johnny Depp.”

And while he already has met Depp and got two autographed photos - one of himself meeting Depp in line and another of a photo of Depp that Angeconeb took himself - Angeconeb had a specific goal for this potential meeting.

“Johnny’s been talking bout retiring a lot lately,” he says. “I figured if he retires soon, this is my only shot to get a photo with him. While he’s gracious and signs autographs, it’s just harder to get a photo.”

Satisfied with his attire, we head out for the historic Fox Theater, Westwood Village, which has been the site of numerous other Hollywood premieres.

The streets are filled with fans and celebrity seekers as they line the barricades that surround the theatre. Screams fill the air when a celebrity walks the carpet.

After getting our tickets, Angeconeb is disappointed to learn that we don’t get to walk the red carpet (which tonight is actually black). Instead, we “peasants” (I joke) take a different route.

Security is tight and our tickets are checked three times before enter the theatre. As we enter the lobby, we’re met with stares followed by glances away. Everyone is waiting for the celebrities to enter and are quickly disappointed when other nobodies appear.

We join the celebrity lookout, standing around and looking at people as they walk by.
Angeconeb recognizes a few lesser-known stars. He takes a photo with two men from the Young and the Restless, of which his mother is a big fan (so he says).

Later, Angeconeb sees rocker Marilyn Manson while in the washroom.

The crowd in the lobby grows and finally security ushers everyone to find their seat. While waiting for the film to start, we see the film’s executive producer Christopher Nolan, who also directed the latest Batman films, munching on on popcorn in the aisle.

The film starts 20 minutes late, unannounced and rather unceremoniously, and those still chatting are quick to take their seat.

Following the film, the lobby gets crowded as people look out again. Angeconeb joins friends he made earlier in the week while waiting outside Jimmy Kimmel. They all talk about their celebrity sightings.

“I heard Jerry Bruckheimer was here,” one says.

Angeconeb pardons himself - no one else in the group has an after party ticket - and we head back to the hotel. Cool people don’t go to the party right away, we reason.

Sure enough, when we do arrive an hour later, there is no celebrity to be seen. In the meantime, we take in the aura of a Hollywood after party, which is not as posh as I expect.
Still, very nice: multicoloured lighting, dance music, an open bar, dishes more than finger foods, and everyone is dressed nicely, if not elegantly.

After an hour of trying to mingle with these Hollywood industry people, we finally see Depp along with Marilyn Manson and Paul Bettany - the latter of which was also in the film.

They are in a section surrounded by security so they are not easily approached. Others also wanting to meet Depp linger by, waiting for the opportunity to meet the actor.

When Depp goes the bathroom, Angeconeb see his bodyguard standing outside the door.

“This is my chance to give him my letter,” Angeconeb says, taking out an envelope with the fan letter I did not know he had prepared. “I don’t meet him, at least he could give it to him for me.”

He approaches the bodyguard calmly, leans in close to tell him his request. The guard nods, places the letter into his jacket and goes into the bathroom.

Angeconeb returns, seemingly satisfied.

Depp returns to his group for another 20 minutes or so before finally leaving for the night. But not before he is encircled by fans asking for a photo. When he comes my way, a guard holds me back and says Depp must go. I ask Depp for a handshake, to which he graciously obliges.

“Nice to meet you,” he says.

Angeconeb lingered a distance from the other fans, his strategy to get a one-on-one moment with Depp. As he walks by, Angeconeb says, “Johnny, can I get a photo?”

Depp agrees and the two look hastily search for someone to snap the photo before a guard grabs Angeconeb’s phone and takes a few shots.

Afterwards, Angeconeb returns to me beaming.

“Yes!” he exclaims and, uncharacteristic in our friendship, puts up his hand for me to high-five.

I heard the two talking during Angeconeb’s moment with Depp but could not make out what they were saying.

“I told him I absolutely loved him in Lone Ranger, because most people didn’t like that movie,” he said with a laugh.

He added, still laughing: “I said I was Native American myself. He looked me and was like, ‘really?’ which was pretty cool. I couldn’t say more after that because guards whisked him away.”

Angeconeb remained over the moon for the rest of the night, even as we returned to the hotel.
The whole evening’s experience left Angeconeb inspired.

For the past two years, Angeconeb has been trying to finish a feature-length film featuring himself and his childhood friend Melvin Anderson, a Lac Seul member who currently lives in Kashechewan.

Filming the last of the trilogy has been fraught with challenges related to budget, casting and finding crew members. But Angeconeb is nearly done shooting the film.

He said going to Los Angeles and the premiere was “what I needed.”

“As a filmmaker, it was inspiring because I thought, I could be here one day with my film,” he said. “It gave me something to look forward to.”

It might not be the last time he interacts with Depp. In the fan letter, Angeconeb expressed his admiration, asked some questions he left interviewers never asked Depp, and left his contact info.

“Hopefully, he’ll get back to me,” he says, still beaming.


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