Johnny Depp Movies
While Johnny Depp is a major box-office draw these days, it wasn’t long ago that he was known more as a handsome and talented actor who appeared in a series of offbeat roles. The roles are still unusual, mind you, but the moviegoing public finally seems to have caught on to what Depp is trying to achieve in his performances. I guess throwing in Orlando Bloom and a monkey doesn’t hurt things, either.
A true maverick in Hollywood, Depp first made his mark as a teen idol on the early Fox series 21 Jump Street and promptly vowed to accept roles based on interest instead of money. His first major part saw him get gutted by none other than Freddy Krueger in the original A Nightmare on Elm Street, and he followed that up by working with known eccentrics such as Oliver Stone, John Waters, and Tim Burton.
As the years rolled by, Depp padded his resume with one spellbinding performance after another. Some made money at the box office, while others gained cult status on the home video market. Oddly enough, it was the role of a pirate that launched Depp to superstardom. As Captain Jack Sparrow, Depp found his image plastered to t-shirts, notebooks, and all manner of other products. Personally, I’m still waiting for that Blow lunchbox to come out.
Depp’s personal life has been just as interesting, more than earning him a coveted spot here at Odd Films. He dated ultra-skinny model Kate Moss for years, brawled with paparazzi, did the nasty with Winona Ryder, got 13 tattoos, and still found time to move to France, open a vineyard, and record a solo album.
The following Johnny Depp movies are a good place to start to get an idea of his range and unique choices in roles, but this is only the beginning. When you’re done, I’d also suggest the following: Platoon, Nick of Time, Dead Man, Sleepy Hollow, The Ninth Gate, Chocolat, From Hell, Blow, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Secret Window, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd, and Alice in Wonderland.
- Finding Neverland (2004) – Partially based on a true story, Finding Neverland examines the relationship between Scottish playwright J.M. Barrie and his platonic relationship with a widow (Kate Winslet) and her four young boys. As he entertains the children, the astute Barrie draws from their imagination and his own to craft the popular play known as Peter Pan. Depp received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor, and the film was also in the running for Best Picture. A charming motion picture that co-stars Dustin Hoffman, Julie Christie, Radha Mitchell, and Toby Jones.
- Edward Scissorhands (1990) – Depp gives a sweet performance as Edward, a humanoid creation with giant scissors instead of hands (his creator, played by Vincent Price, dies before he can finish Edward). When he’s discovered by an Avon saleswoman (Dianne Wiest) living all alone in a mansion, he’s hauled back to the suburbs and taken in by the Boggs family. The naïve Edward falls for teen Kim Boggs (Winona Ryder), but the cynical and selfish nature of “civilized” adults threatens to drive him away. A charming fairy tale from director Tim Burton, Edward Scissorhands allows Depp plenty of chances to emote without a lot of unnecessary dialogue.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – Honestly, this is one of my least-liked Johnny Depp movies, but the sheer impact on the actor’s career warranted its inclusion on the list. Depp stars as Captain Jack Sparrow, an eccentric pirate (Depp claimed to pattern his character on Keith Richards) obsessed with regaining control of his stolen ship, the Black Pearl. Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom co-star, and our protagonists have to brave cursed pirates, uptight British naval forces, and assorted other cutthroats and supernatural menaces. Jeffrey Rush co-stars as the villainous Captain Hector Barbosa, and Zoe Saldana shows up in an early role as a female pirate with a bone to pick with Jack. A box office monster, it’s spawned two sequels so far, with another scheduled for May of 2011 (for which Depp reportedly received $55.5 million).
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) – Depp, a longtime friend of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, stars in the Terry Gilliam adaptation of Thompson’s 1971 novel about a drug-fueled trip to Las Vegas to cover a motorcycle race. Along with his attorney, Dr. Gonzo (Benicio del Toro), Thompson’s alter-ego Raoul Duke consumes massive amounts of drugs, terrorizes a hitchhiker (a young Tobey Maguire), and nearly gets into trouble with an underage girl (Christina Ricci). Even if you don’t do drugs, this hilarious motion picture will make you feel as if you do. Depp, by the way, perfectly captures Thompson’s distinctive voice and mannerisms.
- Cry-Baby (1990) – Director John Waters parodied teen musicals in his cult classic starring Johnny Depp as “Cry-Baby” Walker, a man who drives women wild with his ability to shed a single tear. Walker is part of a gang called the “Drapes,” and he shocks the city of Baltimore by falling for Allison Vernon-Williams (Amy Locane), a girl known as a “Square.” While Depp doesn’t do his own singing–that honor goes to rockabilly artist James Intveld–he still turns in a straight-faced performance that evokes a young Elvis Presley.
- What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993) – Gilbert Grape has a complicated life. Since his mother is morbidly obese, he’s forced to be the breadwinner for the family and care for his developmentally challenged brother, Arnie (Leonardo DiCaprio). His only release is an unfulfilling relationship with a local married woman (Mary Steenburgen). But things get even more complicated when Becky (Juliette Lewis) and her grandmother get stuck in town after their RV breaks down. The two hit it off instantly, but will Gilbert’s complicated life kill the romance before it even gets started? Depp and DiCaprio both give standout performances, and it’s just another example of quirky Johnny Depp movies that focus on misfits falling in love.
- Ed Wood (1994) – Tim Burton and Johnny Depp team up once again, this time for the partially true biopic of Edward Wood Jr., a man frequently regarded as one of the worst directors who ever lived. Depp plays the title role with gusto, portraying Wood as a well-meaning dreamer who exists on the fringes of Hollywood. Surrounded by a bevy of eccentrics (including Bill Murray, Jeffrey Jones, and George “The Animal“ Steele), he pursues his artistic endeavors no matter what everyone else thinks. Sarah Jessica Parker and Patricia Arquette play Ed’s girlfriends, but Martin Landau (in an Oscar-winning role) steals the show as the elderly and heroin-addicted Bela Lugosi.
- Donnie Brasco (1997) – Based on real-life events, this crime drama stars Depp as Joseph D. Pistone, an FBI agent sent undercover to infiltrate a vicious New York crime family. His way in is through hit man “Lefty” Ruggiero (Al Pacino), a middle-aged mobster who’s never risen to the levels he dreamed of. But as Pistone (using the false name Donnie Brasco) gains the trust of the Bonanno crime family, he finds himself regarding Ruggiero as a friend and having an increasingly difficult time separating work from his real life. Pacino is heartbreaking as a broken-down killer, and the cast is rounded out by Michael Madsen, Bruno Kirby, and Anne Heche. A must-see for fans of crime films.
- Don Juan DeMarco (1995) – Marlon Brando gives one of the better performances of his late career as Dr. Jack Mickler, a psychiatrist who’s nearing retirement. For his last case, he takes on the evaluation of a would-be suicide case (Depp) who claims to be the legendary lover Don Juan. But as the patient relates his story of romance and heartbreak, Mickler and many of the other hospital staff find themselves inspired to look at the world in a new way. Women who regard Depp as a sex symbol are highly encouraged to see this film, as he delivers one of his most alluring performances.
- Benny & Joon (1993) – Sam (Depp) is an awkward cinephile with a love for tapioca pudding. Joon (Mary Stuart Masterson) is a schizophrenic who suffers from psychotic episodes. During the course of the film, the duo fall in love and struggle to overcome their problems. Depp demonstrates his impressive skills at physical comedy, drawing largely from the works of Chaplin and Keaton. A moving tale of eccentrics that co-stars Aidan Quinn, William H. Macy, Julianne Moore, Oliver Platt, and CCH Pounder.