Johnny Depp’s Edward Scissorhands, an Inspiration for Scientists

Johnny Depp's Edward Scissorhands Inspiration for Scientists

Do you remember Edward Scissorhands? An “uncommonly gentle man who has scissors for hands”? It was one of Johnny Deep’s best roles, and the beginning of longtime cooperation with director Tim Burton. The movie received numerous nominations at the Academy Awards, British Academy Film Awards, as well as winning the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation and Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film. We all loved Johnny Depp as Edward and now we know that he inspired scientists too, in an unusual way.

If you expected to read that a robot skilled to craft ice sculptures has been created, you are wrong. The Journal of Palaeontology published in May 2013 reported that researchers from Imperial College London discovered a 505-million-year-old fossil with scissor-like claws, a distant ancestor of lobsters and scorpions, and named it Kooteninchela deppi (pronounced Koo-ten-ee-che-la depp-eye) in honor of Depp’s role as Edward Scissorhands.

Johnny Depp's Edward Scissorhands Inspiration for ScientistsDavid Legg, the discoverer of Kootenichela, said: “When I first saw the pair of isolated claws in the fossil records of this species I could not help but think of Edward Scissorhands. Even the genus name, Kootenichela, includes the reference to this film as ‘chela’ is Latin for claws or scissors. In truth, I am also a bit of a Depp fan and so what better way to honor the man than to immortalise him as an ancient creature that once roamed the sea?”

We do not know if Johnny Depp knows about the credit scientist have given him, but this is an important finding in the field of Palaeontology and one additional step in further understanding the evolutionary changes of some species. Kooteninchela deppi lived in very shallow warm seas and are assumed to have been hunters or scavengers, due to their large scissor-like claws. They also had large fly-like eyes positioned on top of movable stalks.

Let us briefly bring back to memory the character of Edward Scissorhands. Being an abnormal creature, created by a ‘mad inventor’, he is seen as a monster, but with a human heart. Edward reflected Tim Barton’s’ feelings of isolation and loneliness, and Johnny Depp connected with Edward instantaneously.

“Because Edward is not human, and not a robot, I didn’t think that he would talk a lot. He would cut through everything and have the most honest, pure answer with all the clarity in the world,” Depp said while preparing himself to convey messages to the public without dialogue by watching Charlie Chaplin films.

And after the adventure was over, it was not easy for Depp to put an end to it: “I can remember when I finished Edward Scissorhands, looking in a mirror as the girl was doing my makeup for the last time, putting on the appliances and the prosthetics, and thinking, wow. This is it. I’m saying goodbye to this guy. I’m saying goodbye to Edward Scissorhands. It was funny, I was kind of sad. But in fact, I think they’re all still in there.”

Some characters are truly immortal, don’t you agree? Edward Scissorhands is one of them. Not because he is artificial and can never age, but because he moves and has inspired us for more than twenty years, each in its own way. The fact that he was artistically represented by Johnny Depp is significant for many. Even for the science of prehistoric life.

By: Milica Zujko


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