As the world awaits the latest Johnny Depp incarnation - he plays Tonto in The Lone Ranger opening this July - Depp is busy lining up new projects.
Depp has an affinity for off-center characters. Edward Scissorhands, the Mad Hatter, the worst director of all time Ed Wood, the demon barber Sweeney Todd, not to mention all those wacky Hunter S. Thompson roles.
And even when he's given a relatively straight role, he often juices it up into something else, like turning a standard pirate role into the rather fey, Keith Richards-inspired Captain Jack Sparrow. And what he did to the Willy Wonka character creeped a lot of people out with its Michael Jackson vibe.
The announcement that he's about to sign on as the Wolf in the Little Red Riding Hood portion of "Into the Woods" may be raising a few more eyebrows, especially since the Wolf is a grown male who seduces a little girl in the song, "Hello Little Girl."
The lyrics go: Look at that flesh, pink and plump. Hello Little Girl. Tender and fresh, not one lump. Hello little girl. This one's especially lush, delicious.
It's a delicious part, so to speak. Sure, the Wolf is lascivious but funny too. Unnerving as his inner thoughts are, he masks his intentions with a stop-and-smell-the-roses philosophy.
Hello little girl, what's your rush? You're missing all the flowers. The sun won't set for hours, take your time.
The Wolf decides to bide his time when he realizes he can get a two-for-one with Hood and her grandmother farther on down the path.
It should be a great role for Depp. The musical demands are not that high and all he really has to be is charming and dangerous, two qualities I assume come naturally to him.
In the wake of the controversy over his Willy Wonka, Depp might be challenged for playing a pedophile Wolf. But the humor of the role as well as its clearly metaphorical thrust should protect him from all but the most rabid critics.
Little Red Riding Hood is a great cautionary tale about the dangers of straying from the path. But the Wolf needs to be tempting and alluring enough to get one to consider straying for the moral to work. Johhny Depp fills that bill.