Saturday, 9 June 2012

Happy Birthday to Johnny Depp

            Johnny Depp proves to be one of Hollywood’s mysterious characters, with his filmic roles ranging from the spooky to eccentric. Born in Kentucky and raised in Florida, Depp himself has admitted to alcohol and drug abuse, but he’s avoided the major breakdown of some his co-stars.  Nevertheless, Depp is said to be Hollywood’s richest actor, Guinness World Book of Records 2012, with $75 million. He gained prominence from his principal role on the original television show 21 Jump Street during the 90’s and had a cameo appearance in the 2012 filmic remake. With 3 Academy Award nominations and a Golden Globe win for Best Actor, Johnny Depp has certainly left his mark on the Hollywood landscape. Of course his most popular performance is Captain Jack Sparrow in The Pirates of the Caribbean series, which, from 2003, catapulted him into the commercial film fan base.

            Perhaps his iconic early role is Edward Scissorhands in 1990, which brought about a succession of collaborations with Tim Burton (eight in total) – including 2005’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and this year’s Dark Shadows adaptation.  Edward was an eerie yet loveable character, and the story has become a classic for the young kids of the decade. It also sparked his four-year year relationship with Winona Ryder.

            One of the movies that passed under the radar, or at least which doesn’t compare to his current successes, is that of 1993’s Benny and Joon.  Depp plays an artistic quirky individual who develops an unlikely friendship with his friend’s autistic sister. It’s not his most commercial performance but it’s sweet and a flashback to classic silent-screen comedy. The late 90s saw Depp realise some darker, fantasising characters that have led to such roles, as he is most well known for today. 1998’s film adaptation of Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas has acquired somewhat of a cult following – with Depp playing the role of American hedonistic drug-taking writer Hunter S. Thompson (And not for the last time- appearing in last year’s The Rum Diary as the very same character).

           In 2004, Depp took on the role of another prominent writer, this time Scottish, as Peter Pans J.M. Barrie in Finding Neverland. Paired with Kate Winslet, he didn’t seem totally unconvincing from his usual American drawl. He especially took on the ‘lost boy’ character, or isolated man who keeps returning in his casting. However his dark, atypical personality doesn’t send fans away, but draws them in even further. Even in People Magazine Depp was voted ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ in both 2003 and 2009.

            Depp returned to his original musical roots with his frightening performance in Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, a performance which ultimately won him his Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. The film heightened the gothic horror of the original film but Depp’s voice was a pleasant surprise to all and he suited the grim role. In 2009, once more, he was a villain – playing Chicago’s famous criminal John Dillinger in Public Enemies. The movie didn’t receive great criticism but it was a great portrayal of the classic 1920s crim landscape. In a slightly more playful role, in 2011 he appeared in the animated feature film Rango, as the main character, bringing his much-loved spunkiness and enigmatic persona.

Johnny Depp may be turning 50 next year but he doesn’t look like he’ll be stopping anytime soon.

As published on

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