Johnny Depp, one of the most entertaining and captivating actors in modern cinema is celebrating his fifty-seventh birthday. Depp made his silver screen debut in the 1984 Wes Craven horror, A Nightmare on Elm Street before quickly moving onto the Vietnam Classic Platoon. In 1987 he starred as officer Tom Hanson for three seasons of 21 Jump Street and even returned to the franchise in the 2012 movie reboot.
Chances are if you are a movie fan you have caught Depp in one of his many memorable roles where he has played Pirates, Indians, Drug Dealers, Criminals, Heartthrobs, he also appeared in the Vicar of Dibley and everything in between on his way to becoming the third highest-grossing actor in history. But did you also know that Johnny is a talented musician? In fact, music was his first love and after dropping out of high school to try his hand and joining a band he found himself under hard times. Fortunately, his friend, who he was renting an apartment from at the time suggested he try his hand at acting over a game of monopoly one night, that friend turned out to be Nicholas Cage.
Although success on the silver screen came quickly for Johnny he never gave up on his musical background and over the years he has played the guitar for Marilyn Manson and Oasis as well as performing music for some of his movies such as Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Chocolat. In 2015 Depp formed the rock group “The Hollywood Vampires” with Alice Cooper, Joe Perry and his old friend Bruce Witkin.
In honour of the talented Mr Depps career, TBG has put together our top ten favourite performances, though admittedly it’s hard to choose favourites from so many classics, let’s take a look at what we came up with.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
It’s hard not to think of Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow. Disneys 2003 swashbuckling classic which was based on their own theme park ride was an instant hit, grossing $655.3 Million and spawned four sequels. Though the movie was focused on the story of Will and Elizabeth, the real star came from the rum guzzling pirate Jack Sparrow who blunders into their lives and by hook or crook, manages to both help and hinder them while adhering to that age-old pirate creed “Take what you can, give nothing back”
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
One of the many Tim Burton projects Depp has been involved with, Sweeney Todd told the story of the barber out for revenge against the dastardly Judge Turpin who wrongly imprisoned him. This sinister black comedy musical features an all-star cast including the late Alan Rickman and allows Depp to portray a much darker, murderous character yet still manages to remain charming, eccentric and delivers a great performance.
The Secret Window
Based on the Stephen King novella, the psychological horror Secret Window tells the story of Mort Rainey, a writer who, after catching his wife in bed with another man, moves to his secluded cabin to work on his latest book and soon starts suffering from depression and psychotic breaks as the reality between his life and his story become increasingly blurred. Depp keeps the slow-paced mystery of Secret Window entertaining with a great performance alongside Charles Dutton and John Turturro.
It’s hard to think that the original choices to play Edward Scissor hands landed at the feet of Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks and even Gary Oldman, all great actors in their own right, but the part eventually came to Johnny Depp who delivered an entertaining and heartwarming performance as the artificial man. After his creator, played by the late Vincent Price, passes away before finishing him, Edward is left alone and incomplete. He is befriended and welcomed to a town so sickeningly suburban it could only be created from the mind of Tim Burton where he falls in love with his new friend’s daughter played by Wynonna Ryder (who Depp would later marry) one of the most stylish and entertaining films you will ever see.
It won’t come as a shock to know that we are back with another Tim Burton movie, this time Depp took on the role of the mild-mannered doctor Ichabod Crane who is sent to investigate a strange series of murders in the quiet village of Sleepy Hollow. The townsfolk are raving of a headless horseman who is terrorising the village and it’s down to Depp to get to the bottom of this mystery. A hilarious performance from Depp once again compliments the cast which includes Christopher Lee, Christina Ricci, Ian McDiarmid and Miranda Richardson. Full of ridiculous gore effects and a hauntingly gothic setting, this is once best enjoyed on Halloween.
Joseph D. Pistone (Donnie)
If there was ever any question to whether Johnny Depp has good screen presence, it was answered in 1997 when he had to share the screen with the scene-stealing master himself, Al Pacino. Set in the 1970s, Depp plays an undercover FBI agent seeking to infiltrate the world of organised crime by cosying up to the Mafia. It isn’t long before things get intense and Donnie finds his loyalties tested. A powerful performance from both Depp and Pacino with some great dialogue. If you like your crime thrillers, this is for you.
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
In a more touching, coming of age story, Depp plays the part of Gilbert Grape who is struggling to support his family after his father hangs himself. Caring for his obese mother, mentally disabled brother (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his two sisters. When a love interest enters his life he struggles to balance the responsibilities that weigh on his shoulders of providing for his family and wanting to live his young life. Great performances all around with Depp leading the movie with an engaging performance.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
If we tried to explain Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas you would probably think we were bat shit crazy, which is just as well, because this is bat country! Arguably the most bizarre and hilarious performances of Depp’s career (and in many ways a prelude to Jack Sparrow) puts him alongside Benicio del Toro as a reporter who travels through Las Vegas while taking the time to indulge in the many psychoactive sweeties they have with them. Witness the many amusing situations they get themselves into while under the influence and watch out for a cameo from Gary Busey, as the Vegas cop who gets very lonely out in the desert.
The Ninth Gate
In the Ninth Gate, Depp takes the role of a shady book merchant who accepts a contract to head to Europe in search of a book believed to have been written by the devil. Along the way he becomes embroiled in a sinister conspiracy of cultists all seeking the power to contact lucifer. Despite disagreements between Depp and Director Roman Polanski, Depp still manages to deliver a great performance with his dry, cynical undertones in this mystery thriller.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Let’s be honest, the fantastic beast movies pretty much suck, especially the second one. But the one key thing that stands out is Johnny Depp’s great performance as the villainous wizard, Gellert Grindelwald. Dominating the screen with intelligence, charisma and a brooding sense of dread, Depp steals the show in this Harry Potter prequel with potential for Grindelwald to become one of his greatest character performances making it a perfect entry for our list.
So there we are, ten great performances from the enigmatic Johnny Depp, did you like our list? Let us know what your favourite Depp characters are in the comments below or on social media. Thanks for reading.