People say I make strange choices, but theyre not strange for me. My sickness is that Im fascinated by human behavior, by whats underneath the surface, by the worlds inside people. John Christopher Depp II
Where and when did Johnny Depp say that? No idea. The above utterance is the kind of thing you find passed around Pinterest or the infinite number of inspirational quotation websites online, irrevocably tethered to the name succeeding it. At this point, the worlds inside people almost seems self-referential. After a string of flops, blowing his fortune, an extremely public divorce riddled with claims of abuse, we ponder Depps world. The one inhabited by personalities like Edward Scissorhands, Raoul Duke, Jack Sparrow, Willy Wonka, Sweeney Todd, James Whitey Bulger, and Gellert Grindelwaldthe latter of which left the building after a British judge called the allegations that Depps a wife-beater substantially true.
Depp was once the sensitive bad boy who couldve been a leading man but instead chose to become a quirky character actor, completely in control of his creative decisions. Now, its as if those multiple personalities forgot their conception, resulting in parodies of themselves (or just one gimmick?). We look at the history of Depps careercomprised of indie cult classics, pirates treasure, and failed reboots, smeared on the makeup of a thousand personalities.
Johnny Depp dropped out of high school at 16 years old. He and his bandThe Kidsset off for Los Angeles in the early '80sthe sort of move you hear about but so few of us dare to do. The band enjoyed modest success until Depp met the illustrious actor, Nicolas Cage. Despite Depps rock-star ambitions, Cage told him, I think you can act.
Following that conversation, Depp auditioned for Wes Cravens 1984 horror classic, ANightmare on Elm Street. Supposedly, Cravens 13-year-old daughter saw Depps headshot and thought he was a dreamboat. So, Depp played crop-top-wearing Glen Lantz, the jock boyfriend of heroine Nancy Thompson (up until Freddy Krueger liquefied him).
Depps cookie-cutter role inA Nightmare on Elm Streetled to an audition for Foxs police procedural,21 Jump Street(tagline: crime in school is bad, so combat it). It was a last-minute thing, said Depp. I had one of the worst flus that Ive ever experienced in my life, and I was forced to go to the audition, the screen test. Thankfully, nauseous with a hint of delirium describes your typical teenager.
Depp won the role of the youthful-looking undercover police officer, Tom Hanson, and became a teen idol. However, it was a far cry from theroles that would define Depps career. He rebelled against the pretty-boy image, even telling the directors ofJump Streetthat he wanted to be fired. His next role in John WatersCry Babygave the finger to his heartthrob image, opening the door to bigger (and sharper) things.
Without creative ambition, you might as well bethree (highly-sexualized) women working for a private detective agency. Depp officially stopped being a product in Tim BurtonsEdward Scissorhands(1990), a part he won over big names like Tom Cruise. It earned him his first Golden Globe nomination. The gothic fairy tale (as well as Depps titular performance) was as off-the-beaten-path as one could imagine, simultaneously paving the way for Depps future. He and his onscreen love interest, Winona Ryder, became tabloid crack, resulting in Depps much-talked-about tattoo, "Winona Forever," which has since (appropriately) been corrected to "Wino Forever."
As you know,Edward Scissorhandswas the first of the Depp-Burton collaborations, one Depp followed up with acclaimed/eccentric performances inArizona Dream(1992),Benny and Joon(1993), andWhats Eating Gilbert Grape(1993) before reuniting with Burton in 1994sEd Wood. Depps performance as a clueless director earned him yet another Golden Globe nomination (on top ofBenny and Joon), catapulting him to star status alongside legends like Marlon Brando (Don Juan DeMarco), Al Pacino (Donnie Brasco), and even playing a version of his friend, the infamous father of gonzo journalism, Hunter S. Thompson inFear and Loathing in Las Vegas(1998). In 1998, while filmingThe Ninth Gatein Paris, Depp met the would-be mother of his two children, Vanessa Paradis.
"She was wearing a dress with an exposed back and I saw that back and that neck, and then she turned around and I saw those eyes, and boom!" said Depp. "My life as a single man was done."
By the time Depp reunited with Burton for the third time inSleepy Hollow(1999), it became clear to everyone that the actor was choosing roles he found interesting rather than profitable. Depp was officially the sensitive, mysterious lonera bad boy turned good with an affinity for quirky and misunderstood characters. He climbed Hollywoods superficial and restrictive ladder without succumbing to any of its ceremonial trappings. If Depps story of a kid moving from Kentucky to Los Angeles is the American dream, then the American dream is a confusing, capricious, yet sympathetic mess. For this, he was (and perhaps always will be) beloved.
At the height of indie-era Deppism, he was the wanna-be rocker who didnt even necessarily want to act but was better at it than his contemporaries, a man of unapologetic swagger and charm, idolizing hellraisers like Thompson andThe Rolling Stonesguitarist Keith Richards. Then, the House of Mouse decided they wanted him to make a movie based on a theme-park ride, and the indie-era ended.
Depps turn as Captain Jack Sparrow in DisneysPirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl(2003) sent his career into the stratosphere. The stories of how he modeled his performance off of Richards and cartoon skunk Pepe Le Pew has become legendaryconsistently ignoring the whines of studio executives after watching dailies. Is he drunk? Is he gay? What in the fuck is he doing? Not only was Depp a hit with audiences but earned his first Academy Award nomination that year. He would go on to star in all four sequels and become one of the highest-earning stars for over a decade.
The critical and commercial success continued in the years that followed: 2004sFinding Neverland(second Oscar nomination), playing Willy Wonka inTim Burtons Charlie and the Chocolate Factory(Golden Globe nomination), andSweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street(third Oscar nomination). After helping to portray the late Heath Ledgers character in Terry GilliamsThe Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Depp went on to star in Michael MannsPublic Enemiesas John Dillinger (2009). The actor commanded over $20 million (average) upfront per movie; making around $300 million off thePirates of the Caribbeanfranchise (overall)which he has described as stupid money used to buy private islands, yachts, and a wardrobe worthy of the Mad Hatter.
After reuniting (again) with Burton to play the Mad Hatter inAlice in Wonderland(2010), things started to become a tad too consistent. Depps performance as the Mad Hatter was the first Burton outing that felt like an amalgamation of everything hed already done. While he made $55 million in backend earnings off Alice in Wonderland, those films certainly werent his best-received; Hatter and Sparrow laughed their way to the bank regardless.
The fourth installment in thePiratesseries,On Stranger Tides(2011) was the worst received in the franchise (despite being a box office success), Rango (2011) was OK, but the adaptation of Hunter S. ThompsonsThe Rum Diarylacked the allure ofFear and Loathing Las Vegas. It was onThe Rum Diary (2011)that Depp met Amber Heard.
Seemingly right when Depps critical prowess began to wither, in 2012, he and his long-time partner (of 14 years) Paradis broke up. The fairy-tale was over. Enter Heard. Presumably the two starting dating almost immediately. Although Depp did not know it, his life as a single man was about to begin again in a big way.
Depp married Heard in 2015. 15 months later, Heard (or one of her friends) allegedly defecated in their marital bed, ending the relationship. As their nasty divorce raged on, Depp faced more than just claims of physical and verbal abuse from Heard; his recreational drug and alcohol use is said to have become self-destructive (both during and after the marriage). In 2018, Depp said that his $650 million fortune was gone thanks to shitty lawyers (they said he just spent it all).
BurtonsDark Shadows(2012) floppedDepps accents, hairdos, and mannerisms seemed to become a schtick, its retrospective brilliance fading with each Burton remake. It began to feel like Depp was phoning it in. His cameo in21 Jump Street(2012) was funny but did little for his career.The Longer Rangerwas ridiculous, losing Disney $190 million and ending producer Jerry Bruckheimers winning streak. We forget Depp was evenInto the Woodsbut lets not forget aboutTranscendence(2014)
Depp portrayed Boston crime boss Whitey Bulger in Scott CoopersBlack Mass(2015). Ditching his young looks and derivative tendencies for a ruthless performance. In 2016, Depp played Donald Trump in Funny or DiesDonald Trumps The Art of the Deal: The Movie, and people thought maybe hed make a comeback. Unfortunately, he made a lackluster return as the Mad Hatter inAlice Through the Looking Glass(2016) and was secretly cast as Gellert Grindelwald in theFantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them(2016).
What does that mean? Many fans of the Wizarding World found Depps appearance inFantastic Beastsdistracting and Warner Bros. was criticized for casting Depp amid abuse allegations. However, David Yates and writer J.K Rowling defended Depp. Aside from his final appearance asSparrowinPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,his follow-up roles were less-than-notable:Murder on the Orient Express (2017), Sherlock Gnomes (2018), and The Professor (2018).In 2018, he starred inFantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, and Heard penned a piece forThe Washington Postin which she opened up about being a victim of domestic abuse (without naming Depp directly). This is what prompted the British paper,The Sun, to call Depp a wife-beater.
Depp filed a $50 million civil suit against Heard for her editorial and a civil suit againstThe Sunfor their reporting as well as a defamation lawsuit against Heard for writing the op-ed. In 2020, UK Judge Andrew Nicol found the burden of proof had been satisfied for 12 of the 14 allegationsThe Sunreported on. Depp lost the suit. Following the civil case againstThe Sun, Warner Bros. asked Depp to resign from theFantastic Beastsfranchise. Depps defamation suit against Heard is still in play.
On approximately Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, Johnny Depps career, 36, met its demise in London's High Court. The investigation of the incident is ongoing. According to various bodyguards, witnesses, bartenders, drug dealers, and one very-disgruntled ex, a whirlwind of reckless decisions has left the actors reputation in disarray. It was previously seen procuring a valiant performance in 2020sMinamataand attempting a starring role in the Houdini TV series the recent libel ruling has made this casting untenable (and Disney has blocked Depps return to thePiratesfranchise).
The dying wish of Depps career, to be cannon-balled into the sky (similar to what Depp arranged for Hunter S. Thompson), is still pending. Resurrection isnt impossible. While Depp might not be in any major blockbuster for a time, fan support for him is overwhelmingpetitions and Twitter campaigns, oh my. Also, Depp's defamation suit against Heard is still in play.Recordings incriminating Heard (as the abuser), as well as general confusion, bias, a multitude of personalities, and manipulative PR teams have made an exhausted public ambivalent. Like the utterance mentioned at the beginning of this article, the truth has been passed around so many times, we dont even know from whence it came. If Depps career has come to a close, we raise a bottle of rum to that which has inspired and entertained so many. Drink up me hearties, yo ho...
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