A successful writer in the midst of a painful divorce is stalked at his remote lake house by a would-be scribe who accuses him of plagiarism.


David Koepp


Stephen King (novel), David Koepp (screenplay)
3,516 ( 328)
3 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Johnny Depp ... Mort Rainey
John Turturro ... John Shooter
Maria Bello ... Amy Rainey
Timothy Hutton ... Ted Milner
Charles S. Dutton ... Ken Karsch
Len Cariou ... Sheriff Dave Newsome
Joan Heney Joan Heney ... Mrs. Garvey
John Dunn-Hill ... Tom Greenleaf (as John Dunn Hill)
Vlasta Vrana ... Fire Chief Wickersham
Matt Holland ... Detective Bradley
Gillian Ferrabee Gillian Ferrabee ... Fran Evans
Bronwen Mantel Bronwen Mantel ... Greta Bowie
Elizabeth Marleau ... Juliet Stoker
Kyle Allatt Kyle Allatt ... Busboy
Richard Jutras ... Motel Manager


Mort Rainey is a successful writer going through a rather unfriendly divorce from his wife of ten years, Amy. Alone and bitter in his cabin, he continues to work on his writing when a stranger named John Shooter shows up on his doorstep, claiming Rainey stole his story. Mort says he can prove the story belongs to him and not Shooter, but while Mort digs around for the magazine which published the story in question years ago, things begin to happen around Shooter. Mort's dog dies, people begin to die, and his divorce proceedings with Amy continue to get uglier. It seems that Shooter has Mort over a barrel, but perhaps Mort has his own ideas on how to resolve all the problems that plague him lately. Written by Anthony Pereyra {hypersonic91@yahoo.com}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The most important part of a story is the ending. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for violence/terror, sexual content and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Johnny Depp's character's name is Morton Rainey. Toward the end of the movie, this character purchases three items at the grocer's. One of the items is a box of MORTON's salt, whose motto is "When it rains it pours." Thus Morton Rainey. See more »


When Mort finds Tom in the station wagon he faints. First we see him pitch forwards. Then the camera (from his perspective) pans to the left but we see him land on the ground to his right. See more »


[first lines]
Mort: [voiceover] Turn around. Turn around. Turn the car around and get the hell out of here. Right now. Don't go back. Do not go back there.
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the end of the credits Johnny Depp can be briefly heard singing "Shortnin' Bread". See more »

Alternate Versions

The camera pans down to the garden, fading to black when it reaches the dirt. The alternate ending continues underground to the roots of the cornstalks, where Ted and Amy's bodies lay. See more »


Referenced in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007) See more »


Get Down
Written by Ali Dee, Vincent Alfieri and Zach Danziger
Performed by Cham Pain
Courtesy of Deetown Productions
Under license from Spirit Music Group
See more »

User Reviews

All about Johnny Depp's hair
14 March 2004 | by Chris KnippSee all my reviews

[S P O I L E R S]

I'm going to reveal a secret right away.

Who's the REAL star of the new movie, Secret Window? (PICK ONE.)

A. Johnny Depp, John Turturro, Maria Bello, Timothy Hutton, Charles S. Dutton.

B. Stephen King.

C. Johnny Depp's hair.

CORRECT: The answer is C, the hair.

(I won't tell you about the window, though.)

Johnny has always had a lot of hair -- big hair, pretty hair, bad hair, hair. But this is the first time his hair has starred in a movie. Yes, Depp himself is there, wearing a nice big pair of retro eyeglasses and a small wardrobe of shabby chic clothes, and it's Depp's casual ease – yea, even as an overwrought crazed novelist – that makes this a toney production and conceivably worth watching (if only to pass the time). But it's the hair that carries the day.

Frankly, even the lady waiting behind the line with me at the Cineplex loves Johnny Depp; his fans are legion, and are now declaring their desire to lie in his couch in the country with him and share his Doritos and ciggies.

But does that make this a good movie? No, it does not. It's a movie of some charm and smoothness, with Depp wearing his role like an old shoe, a nifty Philip Glass score, a good supporting cast, and the hair. It's only as time wears on that you realize the hair is character hair, not just Johnny Depp hair. That is, it's his hair, alright, but it's been teased and tortured to look like the hair of a reclusive slothful neurotic nutter of a crime writer who's in the slough of despond over a failed marriage and is pretty soon going to go off the deep end. It's only after he's gone completely wacko and killed a bunch of people that the hair settles down and becomes smooth, relatively normal Johnny Depp hair. The wardrobe department is no slouch and so the glasses change too.

This story is a cookie-cutter Stephen King job, and David Koepp deserves some credit for breathing life and a bit of class into yet another fevered dream about a neurotic writer with an unfaithful wife and too many personalities living in the country back east among a bunch of local yokels.

Things go a little wrong right away though, if you're looking for willing suspension of disbelief and not just a cosy couple of hours with the charismatic star, when Depp, as Mort Rainey (hard to see Johnny as a `Mort,' but he's just slumming -- chicly -- in this flick), opens the door and there is John Turturro with a very bad southern redneck accent claiming `Yew stole ma stowrie!' Mort has been separated from his wife (Maria Bello) for six months, having discovered her in a motel bed with Tim Hutton, whose Tennessee accent is much lighter and more tasteful than Turturro's. Is it because Turturro is Italian or because he's a figment of Mort's imagination that his accent is so bad? You guess. This redneck character, who's called John Shooter, wants only for Mort to change the ending of the story. He doesn't say how. In fact it's not quite clear what he wants done at first and the two men get into a wrangle over whether the claim is true or not. Mort says he can prove he published the story in a magazine before John Shooter wrote his. Meanwhile for no special reason, maybe to heat up the plot, Shooter starts doing menacing and eventually felonious and finally murderous and crazy things. First the cute little old half blind dog winds up stabbed with a screwdriver. Next Mort's big house where his wife now lives burns to the ground. Then two men are dead in a car, one of them hired to protect Mort, the other a friendly local.

There are scenes where Mort has to deal with his still friendly wife and the tiresome new boyfriend and a lawyer who's trying to get Mort to sign the divorce papers. There are scenes with Charles S. Dutton, the hired bodyguard. And there are, toward the end, scenes where we watch not one but two and then three identically dressed casual chic Johnny Depps with superwild hair talking to each other. It's then that we're in the best company. Philip Kaufman eat your heart out.

This Stephen King story is obvious in every way, though the ending – the way the story has to be changed – isn't anything that becomes obvious till it has happened, which is one way of saying King knows his job. Depp looks like walking through his part for the fun of it, sleeping through it, you might say; and maybe he took the role because they agreed to shoot in France so he could stay close to his family. But the man is such a good actor he's reasonably convincing and certainly a pleasure to watch throughout. There's something not a little Hitchcockian about his innocent-betrayed role. Imagine if Jimmy Stewart took Tony Perkin's part in Psycho and you have some idea of Depp in Secret Window. It's not the unreeling of the plot but Depp's little bits of business -- his struggle trying not to smoke, the way he shakes the phone receiver when his wife makes him mad at the other end, a convincing nervous tick of widening the mouth – that provide most of the fun, as does Turturro's patent deadpan fakery. But the material, no matter how classily delivered, somehow remains impossible to take seriously. And the other actors have too little to do: for that matter, it's all done by Depp's hair. The director, Mr. Koepp, has plenty of TV and adaptation writing experience, but he's a bit of a novice as a director of full length movies.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

12 March 2004 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Secret Window, Secret Garden See more »

Filming Locations:

New York, USA See more »


Box Office


$40,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$18,237,568, 14 March 2004

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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