To some he’s a devious pirate who’d rather use cunning than a sword to get out of sticky situations, to others he’s a Buster Keaton-loving romantic lead, while to many he’s the director of some of the worst films to emerge from the 1950s: to us he’s Johnny Depp and he’s celebrating his 48th birthday today.
To mark the occasion we’ve delved into the treasure chest that is the Park Circus film catalogue and selected five of Johnny Depp’s roles that we think show off his skills best:
1. Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean films
We were first introduced to Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in Walt Disney Picture’s 2007 blockbuster, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, where he instantly redefined the image of the traditional swashbuckling pirate hero. Since then he’s gone on to portray the character in three sequels, each bigger and bolder than the last: but will he return again?
2. Sam in Benny and Joon
With mannerisms borrowed from the great silent comedians Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, Depp’s take on Benny and Joon’s Sam is an inspired one. Here, he plays the film-fan cousin of one of the characters, and is first seen reading a book on Keaton before he goes on to mimic his heroes throughout the movie. It’s a touching performance that garnered much praise for the actor, leading to him winning a Golden Globe in 1993.
3. The Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland
Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is a glorious adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s novel, Depp applying make-up and affecting a Glaswegian accent to play the Mad Hatter. If you’re looking for a subtle Depp performance, this is isn’t the place to come, but for an outrageous adventure with some stunning 3D visuals, Alice in Wonderland is hard to beat.
4. Ed Wood
What could have been simply an attempt to mercilessly mock one of Hollywood’s most infamous directors became something far more interesting in the hands of Depp and Tim Burton. Depp plays the title character of Ed Wood, the man behind “worst film ever made” Plan 9 from Outer Space, who is seen to have a very personal filmmaking vision which sadly isn’t shared by audiences. Shot in black and white and featuring a moving performance by Martin Landau as horror star Bela Lugosi, Ed Wood is one of Depp’s best, and perhaps most underrated, films.
5. Roux in Chocolat
Based on Joanne Harris’ bestselling novel, Chocolat casts Depp as an Irish Gypsy, Roux, who arrives in a small French village during Lent and meets Juliette Binoche’s Vianne, who is trying to tempt the locals to sample her confectionary. Like many of Depp’s films, there’s a touch of fantasy about Chocolat, but that’s no bad thing. While it may be a little too sweet for some, this is still a must-see Depp performance.
What’s your favourite Johnny Depp performance? Head over to the Park Circus Facebook page to vote and have your say.