Johnny Depp

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"I'm not a blockbuster boy, I never wanted to be. I just don't want to look back in 30 or 40 or 50 years and have my grandkids say, "You did a lot of stupid shit, Granddad. What an idiot you were, smiling for the cameras and playing the game.'"
—Quoted by Sophie Cooper, in "Johnny Be Good," Caribbean World (Spring 1999)

John Christopher Depp II, better known as Johnny Depp, is an American actor, born in Kentucky in 1963. He's best known for his portrayals of memorable, offbeat characters and his refusal to be typecast as a Hollywood pretty-boy.

He is a frequent collaborator with director Tim Burton and composer Danny Elfman, and recently with Gore Verbinski.

A small sampling of his roles includes:
  • His first film appearance was in A Nightmare on Elm Street, as Nancy's boyfriend and Freddy-bait Glen Lantz. Many fans agree that Depp's ceiling-splattering demise was one of the coolest deaths in the series. He would go on to make a cameo appearance in the sixth film, Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, which features him getting whacked in the face with a frying pan in a twisted parody of "This Is Your Brain Drugs" commercials.
  • William Blake, a young accountant from Cleveland who goes in a small town in the west and is rescued from deep trouble by Nobody, an Indian who believes him to be the William Blake, in the Jim Jarmusch film Dead Man.
  • Tom Hanson, on the TV show 21 Jump Street, about a Mod Squad-esque group of police officers who... uh... disguise themselves as teenagers in order to... um... infiltrate... er... a high-school. Depp became an instant teen heart-throb, a role in which he was acutely uncomfortable.
  • Wade "Cry-Baby" Walker in John Waters's film Cry-Baby, a satire about teen heart-throbs.
  • Edward Scissorhands. This was Depp's first collaboration with Tim Burton, and the first film in which he deliberately averted his pretty-boy image by playing an ugly, disfigured outcast.
  • In What's Eating Gilbert Grape, he played a beleagured teen with a mentally-retarded younger brother (Leonardo DiCaprio) and a grotesquely overweight mom (Darlene Cates).
  • Sam, in Benny and Joon, where he showed off his comedy chops by playing a simple-minded character with an amazing gift for physical comedy in the tradition of silent stars like Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.
  • Ed Wood, where he played the iconic B-movie director. His second collaboration with Tim Burton.
  • He reached new heights of romanticism playing Don Juan Demarco, a delusional (?) young man who believed he was the famous seducer/ world's greatest lover. His analyst (played by Marlon Brando) eventually decided he didn't really need to be cured.
  • Donnie Brasco, in which he portrays real-life FBI agent Joseph D. Pistone, who went undercover in the Mafia and saw his family life torn apart as a result.
  • Raoul Duke (a thinly veiled portrayal of journalist Hunter S. Thompson), in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. To prepare for the role, Depp moved into Thompson's house and spent months studying Thompson's every mannerism. They also became very close friends during this time.
  • Dean Corso, a borderline con-artist book dealer and acquisition expert who finds himself in over his head searching for copies of a certain grimoire in The Ninth Gate.
  • Ichabod Crane, re-imagined as a fragile crime-scene investigator seeking an explanation for an abundance of decapitated corpses, in Tim Burton's reboot of Washington Irving's classic tale Sleepy Hollow.
  • Roux, the Irish/Romani traveler and love interest in Chocolat. Notable for being one of his few "normal guy" roles that focuses primarily on his handsome leading man features rather than characterization (though, despite what the DVD cover may tell you, it was really only a minor supporting role).
  • Lt. Victor, also known as Bon Bon, in a brief but unforgettable appearance in Before Night Falls.
  • Frederick Abberline, a police inspector on the trail of Jack the Ripper, in From Hell. The movie was loosely based on a graphic novel by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, which itself was loosely based on the historical events surrounding Jack the Ripper's string of murders.
  • George Jung, real-life drug-smuggler who wound up serving a life sentence, in Blow.
  • Captain Jack Sparrow, in Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy series. According to Depp he based much of Sparrow's mannerisms on The Rolling Stones' guitarist, Keith Richards, which eventually lead to Keith Richards making an appearance as Jack Sparrow's father. The first film, Curse of the Black Pearl, earned Depp his first Academy Award nomination.
  • Sir James Matthew Barrie, creator of Peter Pan, in Finding Neverland. Another Oscar nomination for Depp.
  • Willy Wonka, the amazing chocolatier, in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, based on a book by Roald Dahl. This version, directed by Tim Burton, is arguably much closer to the original book than the 1970s film, which starred Gene Wilder in the role. At the time of release, Depp's take brought Michael Jackson comparisons to mind, but he says it was inspired by the Excited Kids' Show Host trope. (More recently, he offered this explanation: "I imagined what George Bush would be like incredibly stoned.")
  • Victor Van Dort, in Tim Burton's animated film, Corpse Bride. Notable as his first venture into voice acting. Since then he's voiced one-shot characters on King of the Hill and SpongeBob SquarePants.
  • The title character in Tim Burton's musical film, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, words and music by Stephen Sondheim. This was Depp's first singing role, despite that he has sung and played guitar since he was a teenager. This time, he took sometimes unconscious inspiration from such colorful performers as Anthony Newley, Tom Waits, and David Bowie. Depp won a Golden Globe Award for this performance, and was nominated for a third Oscar.
  • Infamous Real Life bank robber John Dillinger, in Michael Mann's Public Enemies. Depp's semi-sympathetic portrayal accurately reflected many people's image of the outlaw (though several reviewers complained Depp was "too pretty to be a gangster.")
  • The Mad Hatter in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. The movie didn't even need to be out for this to be notable.
  • He voices the titular lizard in the 2011 animated film Rango.
  • In Tim Burton's 2012 remake of the 60s supernatural soap Dark Shadows, Johnny portrays reluctant vampire Barnabas Collins. Though the film is largely comedic (wringing plenty of jokes from the Undead aristocrat's reaction to 70s pop culture), Depp plays the role straight. He claims to have been influenced by classic movie Draculas like Christopher Lee, as well as original-Barnabas Jonathan Frid (both of whom have cameos in this flick.)
  • In the 2013 remake of The Lone Ranger, he played the Masked Man's sidekick. Regardless of what you thought of the movie, this wasn't your grandfather's Tonto.
Johnny Depp provides examples of the following tropes:

"A skeleton goes into a bar and orders a beer and a mop." Well, it's kinda funny.