Movie hunk Johnny Depp is full of admiration for his teenage CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY co-star - because the young actor is beautiful, talented, innocent and modest.

Depp befriended British actor Freddie Highmore when they worked together on Finding Neverland, but his admiration for the 13-year-old grew when Highmore played CHARLIE BUCKET opposite his WILLY WONKA in the remake.

And the 41-year-old veteran, who shares a birthday with Highmore, wishes he was as well-grounded as the young star when he started out in showbusiness.

He says, "The first thing that struck me about Freddie was his eyes. And it wasn't because they were these sort of piercing, beautiful blue - there's a purity in him that's astonishing. It's like he's incapable of lying.

"He's super-talented too. Beyond all of that, the great thing about Freddie is, he's a great actor but it doesn't even remotely interest him.

"He wants to play football, he goes on vacation with his family. He's just a really normal kid. I'd like to have been like that."

18/07/2005 05:20