updated 02/25/2010 AT 12:00 PM ET
•originally published 02/25/2010 AT 1:00 PM ET
Alice in Wonderland hasn’t been released yet – but Johnny Depp is already getting glowing reviews from the critics that matter.
“My kids actually saw the film because I send them out there in the frontlines,” the actor told reporters Thursday at a press conference at London’s Dorchester Hotel. “They saw it – and they loved it.”
In the fantasy film, which arrives in theaters March 5, Depp sports a bright orange wig, top hat and a kilt in character as the Mad Hatter. “I like wearing skirts, too,” he said of the garb. But outlandish costumes and antics aside, the actor’s kids, Lily-Rose, 10, and Jack, 7, weren’t fazed by the freaky spectacle. “They absolutely adored it, ” Depp, 46, said. “They loved every character. They weren’t freaked out by it whatsoever.”
But what about even younger children?
“Our 2-year-old is up for anything,” Helena Bonham Carter, who’s married to Alice’s director Tim Burton and plays the Red Queen in the film, told reporters. She and daughter Nell were watching Burton give interviews on morning television that day, but Carter said, “[Nell] wasn’t really interested in seeing daddy. She wanted to see the monsters again.”
The jury’s still out about how the couple’s 6-year-old son, Billy, will react, though.
“Billy’s going to see it tonight,” she said. “It could be a disaster because he’s 6 and he’s sensitive. [But] he saw it being made so he knows it’s pretend.”
Kids of a slightly older age were on Depp’s mind when asked about his enduring role as a teen idol around the world. “Clearly someone’s Photoshop is working really well if people are buying posters of me,” PEOPLE’s Sexiest Man Alive said.
“I just keep doing a bunch of movies,” he continued. “I never really thought about whether they were teen movies or not. You always feel that you cross some sort of boundary that allows a film to be enjoyed by [kids] from the age of 5 to the age of 85. You want to be Bugs Bunny.”