I initially wanted to choose someone a little less famous for this week’s Film Fave, in order to put the spotlight on someone with whom you may not be familiar. However, as I did some research, I could not help but be super-impressed with Johnny Depp’s extensive resume.
According to his IMDB page, Depp has several films currently in post-production and fifteen films labeled as ‘in development.’ I have never seen anything like it. As a statement of pure fact, I can say that he is one of the most versatile men in Hollywood. His record speaks for itself.
Before getting into a Top 5 list, permit me a few moments to say my piece about the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Everyone can recall the release of The Curse of the Black Pearl. It was epic. The special effects were revolutionary, it was based on a favorite (if perhaps extremely boring) Disneyland ride and it was Johnny Depp being a pirate. Add in a little Kiera Knightley and a hint of Orlando Bloom for romance and super attractiveness, and you’ve got yourself a hit. Pirates became cool from that point on, and although everyone made their attempts, nobody else can ever portray Jack Sparrow the way Johnny Depp did originally (with the possible exception of Keith Richards.)
Because of the film’s success and the craze surrounding Depp’s flamboyant performance, the subsequent films were altered so that Jack Sparrow would be the star, not Bloom’s Will Turner as originally planned. Even though Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End seemed shallow and increasingly pointless, the trilogy grossed over one billion dollars nationwide between the 2003 debut of Black Pearl and the 2007 release of At World’s End. It has become one of the most successful yet disappointing franchises to date.
The bottom line, however, is this: the difference-maker has been and always will be Johnny Depp. He transformed the franchise in his debut as Jack Sparrow, making it much more than a theme park ride-based movie. He became the “fad” all across the globe. Sparrow would not be such an enduring icon if the role had been given to any other actor. Say what you will about films two and three in the series, but Johnny Depp remains untouchable. I liken the trilogy to a hot-dog eating contest, and Johnny Depp to the cup of water we use to be able to swallow everything else. I use this example to illustrate the kind of power Johnny Depp has as an actor. He captivates the audience in every scene in which he appears.
In presenting my top five list, please keep in mind that I have left off some of the more popular classics, like What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? and Edward Scissorhands, because it has been too long since I have seen them and, therefore, have only added films that I remember.
5. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I’ll probably catch some heat for having this on my list. I understand that most people dislike this movie with an unnecessary passion, but again, I loved watching Depp fully enveloped in this insane character.
4. Secret Window. Years ago, this was one of my favorite movies. Although I no longer fancy the dark plot and the crummy way it makes me feel when watching it, I can still remember Depp’s solidly creepy performance (although nearly overshadowed by John Turturro’s portrayal of John Shooter).
3. Benny and Joon. Johnny Depp is really good at being strange.
2. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. I put the first film here because of its originality. As far as Depp performances go, he has been consistently awesome throughout the trilogy.
1. Finding Neverland. Albeit an odd selection for top spot, I think it’s deserving of it. I placed this above Pirates simply because the story is more meaningful. Finding Neverland is my pick for his best drama, while Pirates is his best comedy.
And there you have it. If it has been awhile since you saw any of these movies, I highly recommend them.
For more information about a possible new Pirates trilogy, click here. No Bloom or Knightley this time; Just Sparrow, Barbossa and the Fountain of Youth. Production begins early 2010.
Disney’s (and Tim Burton’s) Alice in Wonderland will premiere March 5, 2010. Depp will play the Mad Hatter. Teaser available here.
The Lone Ranger has been announced by Disney as well, but will most likely be placed on the back-burner until after production of Pirates 4. Depp will play Tonto, an American Indian.
Please leave your comments below about your favorite Johnny Depp movies and roles — and what you’re excited to see from him in the future.
Mckay Stevens is a film correspondent for Rhombus. Follow him on Twitter @S_Mckay.
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