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Johnny Depp waves, signs autographs and gamely poses for fans wielding cellphone cameras before the NYC premiere of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, which is in theaters today. A woman shrieks “look how handsome he is,” but Johnny’s head is not in the clouds. His slouch gives away his self-deprecating manner, and his Southern charm transcends his Hollywood glamour.

Based on the Broadway musical, the thriller Sweeney Todd marks the sixth time Johnny has teamed up with director Tim Burton. (Count ‘em: Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride and now Sweeney Todd.)

“I think working with Tim takes on a life of its own,” a greasy-haired, spectacle-wearing, goateed, surprisingly petite Johnny says.

Of Johnny’s metamorphosis during their 17-year-partnership, Tim says, “He always keeps his artistic integrity. That’s the most amazing thing. In a business that can transform people, he’s stayed the same with the exception that he’s always looking to do interesting things. It’s a good combination, I think. We speak in Vulcan now.”

Irish beauty Jayne Wisener plays Johnny’s daughter. “He’s very nice,” she tells me. “He asked me questions about how I got involved in it, and all that. He told me I’d be fine in the future. He’s very friendly and we chatted about where I was from and things like that, but I was a bit too shy to ask Johnny Depp personal questions. He’s still a crush of mine.”

Jamie Campbell Bower, who appears in the movie, describes Johnny as exuding a cool aura. “He has this cool vibe, like ‘why can’t I be as cool as you?’ I learned how to act from Johnny. It was like Acting 101. He’s amazing; he’s so good. He’s such a great actor. I wish I was as good as him.”

Several famous fans step out to see Johnny in action.

“I think every story I would have to share about being a fan of Johnny Depp would be like every other woman in the world,” Evanescence singer Amy Lee, who is bundled up in a black fur, admits. “He’s beautiful, he’s an Adonis.”

Cast members from Broadway’s Mary Poppins, Drowsy Chaperone, Xanadu, Spring Awakening and Legally Blonde dash through. What does Legally Blonde’s Laura Bell Bundy, who plays Reese Witherspoon’s character, love about Johnny Depp?

“He’s incredibly talented,” Laura tells me. “I think he’s a really charismatic actor, and he does a really good job with characters. He’s interesting to watch. You don’t really take your eyes off him when he’s onscreen. I loved him in Crybaby.”

Amy Lee is back.

“I’m very excited to see the movie,” she says. “I’m a huge Tim Burton fan. I’m a big fan of the play, and I’m just here to see it actually and be the first one on the block to brag about it.”

Consider it done.

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