Depp said his inspiration for the Wonka character was "part game show host, part children's show host... locked in a closet for about 10 or 15 years".
But he has denied rumours that he based his performance on Michael Jackson.
"It never entered my mind," he told Sydney's Herald Sun newspaper, saying the character was more similar to reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes.
Of course, he simply must deny it at this point.
Director Tim Burton has this:
"I always laugh about that because to me there is like a night and day difference," he told reporters in Australia recently.
"Michael Jackson likes children and Willy Wonka can't stand children.
"To me there is absolutely no connection as far as my mind goes."
Well, of course, you can't make a mainstream movie for the whole family where the lead character has a sexual interest in children. You have to scour that out of the story. So the inappropriate love is translated into hate -- an easy and obvious step.
UPDATE: Seeing the film, I concluded that Depp did not try to act like Jackson.