The 21 Best Johnny Depp Performances
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10. Ed Wood
If you want to tell the story of the strangest and worst director in Hollywood’s history, you have to hire an actor who can completely transform into that man. Ed Wood was a low-budget film director in the 1950s and is legend in cinema as the worst director of all time thanks to his film Plan 9 from Outer Space. Depp completely transformed himself for the role, but more so than his other roles (especially important since Wood has two sides as well). From the ever positive demeanor and smile to the Mickey Mouse-like voice that leaves no trace of the actor inside, everything about Depp is gone and he is Ed Wood. – Clint Alwahab
9. Finding Neverland
Depp’s ability to tap into the mind of J.M. Barrie for this Oscar-nominated role was charming and heartbreaking. Adults that were fans of Peter Pan fought back tears of nostalgia, while youngsters watched in amazement as Barrie’s imagination came to life. The best part about Depp’s portrayal of the Scottish playwright was that there were no intricate costumes and make-up to transform him. His raw acting talent shined through and you felt as if he were really Barrie and not some caricature of him. – Adam Vitcavage
It’s rare that Depp is outshined in a film. It was the case in this one, but that’s actually a compliment to Juliette Binoche and Judi Dench, who were nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively. Depp’s talents as a supporting character (though he eventually becomes a central one) and ability to blend into a great cast are commendable. As Roux, the romantic gypsy, the actor’s sensuality was subtly a major driving force of the film that often gets overlooked. – Adam Vitcavage
7. Dead Man
Johnny took a sharp left turn with this film, but it fits perfectly into his resumé. Jim Jarmusch directs this post-modern examination of the western film genre as American pop culture finally began to veer away from the expected western films. Jarmusch introduced a complete retrospection of a genre plagued with so many social follies. Depp’s somber, quiet character, William Blake, is reflective of the heroes of the Wild West’s past, but it’s his journey that makes this character stand apart. If you are familiar with the western film genre and its history, Depp’s performance in Dead Man solidifies his standing as a versatile actor. – Clint Alwahab
6. Corpse Bride
The 2005 stop-motion animation fantasy musical set in a fictional Victorian-era village in Europe brought the first notable Depp/Burton/Helena Bonham Carter experience (the actual first being the reinvented Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). Shot with a battery of Canon EOS-1D Mark II digital SLRs, the innovate film is based upon Jewish folklore with a similar plot.
5. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?
Depp, the older brother of a mentally challenged boy, son of a father who committed suicide and mother whose depression has made her morbidly obese, gives a performance that commands the screen with innocent and honest spontaneity. Peter Hedges’ screenplay was adapted from his 1991 novel of the same name. Many times the film is difficult to digest, yet it manages to keep the audience remarkably glued to the lives of the Grapes.
4. Pirates of The Caribbean
All judgment aside, Johnny Depp made a character everyone loved. The first Pirates of the Caribbean film was a huge commercial success and pretty well-received by critics. Pirates became cool again because Johnny Depp created a bumbling, funny character based off of a real-life character (Keith Richards) that everyone could get along with. So despite any animosity you may still hold towards the now quadrilogy, admit it… He’s Captain Jack Sparrow. – Clint Alwahab
3. Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas
Hunter S. Tompson created Raoul Duke. Johnny Depp brought him life. The book’s tales of the psychedelic escapades of Duke and Dr. Gonzo pioneered gonzo journalism and brought explosive social reactions. The 1998 film was a box-office failure but became an American cult classic. Depp almost didn’t get the opportunity to play the role he’s made iconic, as Jack Nicholson, Dan Aykroyd and John Cusack were all considered for the part.
2. Edward Scissorhands
It’s a story of an uncommonly gentle man. The unfinished Edward is taken in by a suburban family. He subsequently falls in love with their teenage daughter. The seemingly rudimentary plot drives a powerful perspective on civilization’s corruption of innocence along with themes of isolation and self-discovery. Gothic archetypes and German expressionism line the floor for the iconic way-before-its-time 1990 American romantic fantasy film.
We’re not talking about Blow the film. We’re talking about Blow Johnny Depp. Despite the overall mild reception of the 2001 biopic, Depp took “Boston George” Jacob Jung and rang him through our emotions and our minds. He’s the king of destruction, a desperate, egotistic, fatally flawed human being who never gets a leg up, always lets someone down and cannot surpass his greed. Depp’s riviting performance makes his portrayal of Jung our favorite of all.