Johnny Depp

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How much security do studios provide for stars like Johnny Depp while promoting Pirates in Moscow? They kidnap wealthy people over there, right?
—Pearl Lord, via the inbox

They do indeed kidnap people "over there." "They" also gel together into shrieking mobs and chase down a star, Hard Day's Night style. So, yes, Johnny Depp—who is expected to appear at Cannes this week—probably will enjoy all manner of cloak-and-dagger security.

Like what?

I asked Elijah Shaw, whose firm, Icon Services Corporation, has provided security for Usher, Naomi Campbell, 50 Cent and Chris Rock. (In the past six months, Shaw personally escorted clients to France, Spain, Greece and most recently Jerusalem.) 

He says that studios typically increase a star's security during overseas travel, boosting the bodyguard count from, say, one man to three or even five.

"I just took a client—a recognizable personality—to the World Cup," Shaw dishes to me. "And we had a team of five people. Three were visible and two were blending into the background. It's one of the tools of the trade."

Typical cost to the studio? Well, we're talking $1,000 to $3,000 per day per bodyguard. Times five, that could mean $15,000 per day for a single A-lister.

What else? Well, in high-kidnap areas, guys like Shaw often will deliberately make last-minute changes to a star's schedule, say, moving a junket to a different hotel. Security teams also will research the area to determine a plan in case of a kidnapping, "running the route" between a venue and the nearest reliable law enforcement.

"For example," Shaw says, "you don't run to the police in Mexico. The police there are sometimes a part of the corruption there. Instead you find a U.S. embassy, get to U.S. soil and find help there. You run the route in advance to know how long it will take to get there, make sure they're expecting you."

Lastly, there are the panic buttons.

Celebrities are often asked to carry these silent-alarms-slash-tracking devices for worst-case scenarios. After all, celebrities have been kidnapped; former Miss Venezuela Veruska Ramirez was kidnapped for three hours, only to be released after signing autographs for her snatchers.

"There are some really good tracking devices out there," Shaw says. "It can be an app for a cell phone, or a separate device you can wear around your neck, or you can put it in your pocket like a keychain."

Oh, just put a chip in these A-listers and be done with it.

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