Freddie Highmore and Johnny Depp have a fair amount in common. They share the same birthday: June 9. (Freddie is 13; Depp is 42.) They both starred in "Finding Neverland," the movie about the friendship between a boy and "Peter Pan" author J.M. Barrie. Now they're both in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," which opens in theaters tomorrow.

Freddie plays the poor but sweet Charlie Bucket, who wins his way into the candy-filled wonderland of Willy Wonka, played by Depp. Freddie likes to play soccer and is good at Latin in school. Bridget Byrne spoke over the phone to the British actor about playing Charlie and working with Depp in the movie version of Roald Dahl's classic tale. He was polite and thoughtful, rather like the kids he's so good at playing in the movies.

What do you think makes you and Johnny Depp connect so well?

Um. I'm not really sure. I guess the fact maybe that he's just a normal person. He doesn't treat anybody any different just because he's a movie star. . . . He's amazing. He's better than chocolate.

What have you learned watching him work?

Probably just to be nice to people.

In one of your earlier films, "Two Brothers," you acted with tiger cubs. Was it easier to work with tiger cubs or Johnny Depp?

(Laughs.) Johnny Depp. He can do what the director tells him to do. With the tiger cubs sometimes they wouldn't behave.

Was this an easier movie than "Finding Neverland"?

It was more upbeat. I wasn't crying in every scene.

You prefer acting funny to acting sad?

I think it's more challenging playing sad. It's the mixture that is fun, but it's still good to be happy sometimes.

What was the best thing about playing Charlie?

The sets were absolutely fantastic. You would walk in and you would see the 50-foot chocolate falls and the big boat going down the chocolate river. It was all very overwhelming.

So it didn't put you off chocolate for life?

I love all sorts of chocolate -- chocolate biscuits, or cookies, as you say. I love chocolate.

And do you like cabbage soup?

I did have a bit of cabbage soup in one scene when I was in the Bucket house. It wasn't too bad, but I prefer chocolate.

That's the ticket: Freddie Highmore is golden in his role as sweet Charlie Bucket in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."