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Written by: Sam Fragoso on May 8, 2012
Inquisition Tuesday: Johnny Depp

The day where movie stars like Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, and Elizabeth Taylor ruled Hollywood no longer exists. Contemporary cinema has in fact very few larger than life actors and actresses left. One of the few survivors is Johnny Depp.

At once a swashbuckling pirate, a man with scissors for hands, and a devoted lover of chocolate, Depp has proved time and time again his versatility in this ever so growing industry.

While I’d question some of his recent selection of roles (Yes I’m talking to you The Tourist and The Rum Dairy), he’s an actor – even if he never made another film again – that will be remembered throughout the history of cinema for his eccentricity and his chameleon-like acting sensibilities.

So, what inspired this conversation? Well to contradict what I just mentioned in the former paragraph, Depp is paring up once again with beloved director Tim Burton in the new comedy Dark Shadows.

Before we go running to theaters this weekend (because I’m sure you’re going to), lets take a step back and think back to our favorite Johnny Depp movie.

Rango? Blow? Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas? Edward Scissorhands? Alice In The Wonderland? Let me know below.

My selection: Donnie Brasco

Donnie Brasco features not only perhaps Johnny Depp’s greatest performance, but Al Pacino last solid one. I understand when it comes to the gangster film, hard-boil drama we think Scorsese and Coppola. But Donnie Brasco shows a different side of the genre: friendship ultimately being destroyed by professional priorities and personal security.

Now, what’s your favorite Johnny Depp film?


There are 16 comments for this post.

  1. Sam Fragoso on May 8, 2012 2:44 am

    What about his portrayal of Thompson in the brilliant Rum Diary?

  2. Andrew on May 8, 2012 8:00 am

    If we’re talking about recent roles– 21 Jump Street. Yes, it’s a cameo. Yes, it happens very late in the film. But it’s totally amazing nonetheless. I would probably put down for Pirates if they’d kept it to one film, though I quite liked Rango as well.

    But my favorite all-time Depp role? Probably Dead Man.

  3. Sam Fragoso on May 8, 2012 8:20 am

    I agree – what a cameo. I haven’t gotten around to Dead Man. Is it on Netflix instant?

  4. Nikhat on May 8, 2012 8:40 am

    I worship Johnny Depp. I’m not even exaggerating. The personalised citation that my school gave me on my high school graduation talks about this, among other things.
    Having said that, I *hate* what he’s doing with his career at present. The man should just stop with the OTT dramatics and give a simple, solid performance. He’s more than capable.

    Favourite performance- Edward Scissorhands though I tend to think of Capt. Jack sparrow as an actual person and not a character.

  5. Sam Fragoso on May 8, 2012 9:11 am

    I figured I’d have a reader infatuated with Depp. But like you I agree that he needs to pick better roles in better films.

  6. James Blake Ewing on May 8, 2012 9:46 am

    I’d go for Ed Wood on Depp. He’s able to capture a fun, creative spirit in a man who’s completely lost inside his own oblivious fantasy that he’s making fantastic films. It may not be his “best” performance, but it’s his most fun performance in a great film.

  7. Sam Fragoso on May 8, 2012 11:40 am

    I’ll believe it when I say it. And James, we both Ed Wood blows Malick out of the water.

  8. Steven Flores on May 8, 2012 1:33 pm

    1. Ed Wood
    2. Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
    3. Edward Scissorhands
    4. Cry-Baby
    5. The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus
    6. Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas
    7. Don Juan DeMarco
    8. Benny & Joon
    9. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?
    10. Rango

  9. Sam Fragoso on May 8, 2012 1:34 pm

    Thank you for your comprehensive list Steven ;)

  10. QuinnB on May 8, 2012 1:35 pm

    I agree: Johnny Depp is like the chameleon that can adapt to any environment but will surprise the crap out of you. Now for my favorite movie of his…
    As much as I JUST LOVE Rear Window (I don’t think anyone has ever even taken the time to see that), I’d have to go for a tie between his extremely eccentric, drug addicted, paranoia filled portrayal of Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, or his role as the quiet banker turned dead man in Dead Man.

    I like this though, he CAN adapt to any movie given to him and yet he has his own significant characteristics that are very much detectable. Good Inquistion Tuesday Sam.

  11. Sam Fragoso on May 8, 2012 2:53 pm

    For everyone reading, Quinn meant The Secret Window … not Hitchock’s Rear Window – which is a superlative film.

    And thank you Q-man for the comment, people seem to be enjoying it.

  12. Ryan Fernand on May 8, 2012 4:06 pm

    With the exception of Rango, I have not liked any of Johnny Depp’s recent films. I think the first Pirates of the Caribbean film was great and the second was good enough for me. However, I think his best film (having not yet seen Edward Scissorhands) is Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I think it’s one of Terry Gilliam’s best films and features a phenomenal performance from Depp.

  13. Andrew on May 8, 2012 9:08 pm

    I’m actually surprised at the number of people who have said Johnny Depp can adapt to anything like a chameleon, he’s not Gary Oldman. From the beginning he has hinged his career on the dreams of adolescent fantasies. Either he’s the unintentional hero (Pirates), the misunderstood but loved in the long run “oh they’ll miss me when I’m gone” outcast (Scissorhands), or the wacky voice of comparative nonconformism which proves to be right in the end (Once Upon A Time In Mexico for an action example, Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas for a more dramatic one).

    I liked what you said about his personality belonging to the old Hollywood. He’s like Tom Cruise, another actor who has the same stature as Depp without as much of the positive press. Neither one of them is capable of disappearing into the role because the environments they developed in are too self-aware for their own good. If they had become popular in the same era as Humphrey Bogart of Peter Lorre (Depp and Cruise, respectively) it might be easier to block ourselves to the reality of their presences. Instead we have films which try and play to their respective strength (Cruise and the ongoing MI series) or rarely toy around with it (Depp and Rango).

    It’s because of this willingness to submit to the illusion that Finding Neverland is the best performance Depp has done. He does not shy away from the creepier aspects of Barrie’s personality, but still finds some kind of redemption and nobility in the idea of surrendering himself to the lie of fiction.

  14. Vik V. on May 8, 2012 9:49 pm

    Can’t really decide between Ed Wood and Donnie Brasco.

  15. Eric on May 8, 2012 10:11 pm

    Donnie Brasco is an excellent choice, but my favorite role will always be him as Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

  16. sati on May 12, 2012 1:56 pm

    I think the problem with Depp lately is that he is so lazy – he sticks to his comfort zone or safe films way too much. His best work in years was probably his cameo in 21 Jump street. I like his earlier movies though – my favorites are Sleepy Hallow and Sweeney Todd and favorite performance is Edward Scissorhands.

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