If you’re under the age of 20 and I say to you the name Johnny Depp, chances are the first thing that comes to mind is “The Pirates of The Caribbean” film franchise. And why wouldn’t it? Since 2002, Depp has immortalized himself with 4 incarnations of the role of Captain Jack Sparrow with a fifth scheduled to be released in 2017… 15 years after his inaugural role. Dedication? Of course. Skilled at it? No doubt. Contractually obligated? Duh. Pigeon-holed since? I’m sure someone can make the argument.
But I’m over the age of 20, and therefore, I’m going to make a different argument.
Johnny Depp has been working in Hollywood for over thirty years. Did you know that? It’s not just minor roles or insignificant films, either. He’s been nominated for three Academy Awards for his lead performances in the first “Pirates of The Caribbean,” “Sweeney Todd,” and “Finding Neverland.”I bet you didn’t know that. (He is yet to win one.)
Throughout his career, Depp has worked primarily with Tim Burton and for better or worse, it works for him. Long before he was Captain Jack, he stole our hearts with his role as Edward Scissorhands (of which he was robbed of an Oscar nomination). His first role was in 1984 when he played Glen Lantz in “Nightmare on Elm Street.” He was Raoul Duke in the cult classic “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” He investigated Jack the Ripper in “From Hell.” He even played an undercover cop in the original TV series of “21 Jump Street” back in the late 1980s just to name a few.
He’s always played the quirky, dark-but often comical almost by accident-characters. Don’t get me wrong, he’s very good at it. But over the years (especially since playing Captain Jack), I thought he was being typecast and playing different variations of the same character. It’s almost like he wasn’t even trying anymore. When I thought he was trying, it didn’t turn out so well. Like in his role as a living computer in “Transcendence,” it turned out to be a critical and box office disaster. The same can be said for his role as Tonto in the revival of “The Lone Ranger.”
But I think Depp just got his mojo back. Recently, the first trailer of his upcoming gangster movie based on James “Whitey” Bulger called “Black Mass” premiered. Depp is almost unrecognizable with his bald head, massive, crystal clear eyes, and unrecognizable voice. It made me want to go see another Johnny Depp movie and you should too.