Johnny Depp's Film Career: From Worst To Best

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The Tourist (2011)
The Film: The English-language debut of director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (The Lives Of Others).
Sadly, The Tourist fails to replicate the German filmmaker’s previous success. Depp stars as a math teacher who falls for Angelina Jolie in Venice, and gets drawn into a convoluted plot that’s basically an uninspired reheating of 2005 French flick "Anthony Zimmer".

Depp Dynamite: True, Depp looks somewhat bored in some of the less dramatic scenes, but he strikes up a decent rapport with Jolie, and goes at the action scenes with typical gumption. Shame the film wasn’t better.

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Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
The Film: Fourth film in the Pirates franchise, and it’s really starting to get ropey now.
With Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom long gone, Captain Jack Sparrow (Depp) and sworn enemy Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) team up to find the Fountain Of Youth.

Depp Dynamite: Four films in and Depp can play Sparrow in his sleep. It’s to his credit that he tears into the part with as much manic glee as ever, even if the script doesn’t exactly give him anything new to do.

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Alice In Wonderland (2010)
The Film: A woefully CGI-reliant adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s 1865 fantasy novel, with Mia Wasikowska playing the eponymous Alice, who finds her way into ‘Underland’ thanks to a nervous little white rabbit. The visual invention is occasionally ravishing, but the over-abundance of CGI leaves it feeling cold.

Depp Dynamite: Barely recognisable in an orange fright wig and equally frightful contacts, Depp nails the part of the Mad Hatter.
Showing his dedication to his craft, he researched the role thoroughly and decided that the Hatter was driven mad by mercury poisoning.

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Benny And Joon (1993)
The Film: Dramatic comedy from director Jeremiah S. Chechik (National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation). When the Buster Keaton-loving Sam (Depp) comes to town, he strikes up a relationship with the mentally ill Joon (Mary Stuart Masterson).

Depp Dynamite: Sam is a difficult character to pull off, but Depp does a remarkable job of turning a potentially one-note character into a lovable kook.
It’s an early performance that demands a lot physically, but the actor’s love for the likes of Keaton and Chaplain is right up there on the screen.

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Public Enemies (2009)
The Film: Michael Mann’s '30s-set crime opus, which follows the FBI’s efforts to derail the reigns of American gangsters John Dillinger (Depp), Baby Face Nelson (Stephen Graham) and Pretty Boy Floyd (Channing Tatum).

Depp Dynamite: Depp brings a rock star charisma to the role of Dillinger, easily shrugging into the slick period suits and wielding guns with discernible delight.
He plays Dillinger like an outlaw of the old west, and it’s impossible to take your eyes off him. Now this is a star.

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Platoon (1986)
The Film: Oliver Stone’s defining war movie, in which Chris (Charlie Sheen) confronts the futility of the Vietnam war and observes the horrors unfolding there.

Depp Dynamite: It’s only Depp’s third big screen credit, but he lends stellar support to a handful of scenes as Private Gator Lerner.
Stone was so impressed with Depp that he considered giving him the lead role, but thought he was too young. The director predicted he’d become a massive star, though – not half.

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Finding Neverland (2004)
The Film: Depp stars as J.M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan. When he meets Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Kate Winslet) and her four children, their presence inspires Barrie to write his most famous children’s story.

Depp Dynamite: Not only does Depp bolster a convincing Scottish accent, he also beautifully captures Barrie’s compassionate, child-like nature.
It’s a restrained golden nugget of a performance that nabbed him a well-deserved Oscar nomination.

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A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
The Film: Wes Craven’s cult slasher, in which dream-stalking serial killer Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) haunts the teenagers of Elm Street. In revenge for his own fiery death, he uses their nightmares to kill them.

Depp Dynamite: It’s Depp’s screen debut, and he’s all fresh-faced and bouncy haired as Final Girl Nancy’s doting boyfriend. His death scene is the film’s bloodiest (and perhaps most upsetting), and Depp nails the dopy teen routine.
He obviously has fond memories of the film – he agreed to cameo in the considerably more rubbish sixth entry in the franchise.

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Sleepy Hollow (1999)
The Film: “It was a horseman… A dead one. Headless!” Depp plays whimpering Constable Ichabod Crane, who’s sent to the small town of Sleepy Hollow, where people are turning up with their noggins apparently sliced off by a headless apparition.

Depp Dynamite: “I always thought of Ichabod as a very delicate, fragile person who was maybe a little too in touch with his feminine side, like a frightened little girl,” says Depp.
Too right. Camping it up without ever tipping over into outright ridiculousness, Depp imbues Crane with a wacky eccentricity and is genuinely hilarious.

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Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas (1998)
The Film: A fan and friend to writer Hunter S. Thompson, Depp played a version of the writer in this oddball caper from Terry Gilliam. Raoul Duke (Depp) and his lawyer go in search of the American dream, throwing back copious amounts of booze and drugs in their quest.

Depp Dynamite: Depp went to drastic measures in the research stakes for a film that was clearly close to his heart. He lived in the basement of Thompson’s Owl Farm for four months, studying the writer’s “habits and mannerisms”.
That dedication definitely paid off, this being one of Depp’s finest, most manic performances – which is really saying something.

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Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl (2003)
The Film: First and best in the series of films based, somewhat depressingly, on a Disney theme park ride. Despite the odds, this tale of cutlasses, undead pirates and heaving bosoms transcended its cynical roots to become a rip-roaring adventure yarn with oodles of style...

Depp Dynamite: …and that’s mostly all thanks to Depp. The studio was famously worried about his OTT, overtly camp and lop-sided take on rum-chugging Captain Jack Sparrow.
Depp showed them he knew best with a hilarious turn that transformed him into even more of a superstar than he already was.

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What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
The Film: Touching drama from director Lasse Hallström. Gilbert Grape (Depp) attempts to keep his family together, working at a convenience store and looking after his younger brother Arnie (Leonard DiCaprio) who has a severe mental condition.

Depp Dynamite: His co-star DiCaprio landed the film’s only Oscar nod, but Depp is equally as impressive in a less showy part.
Despite becoming better known as a lover of the dress-up box, Depp excels at playing a kind everyman in Gilbert Grape, proving he’s just as good at heartfelt drama.

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Donnie Brasco (1997)
The Film: Pacy, involving dramatisation of the FBI’s investigation into the Bonanno crime syndicate in the late 1970s. FBI Agent Joe Pistone (Depp) is assigned to infiltrate the gang, and strikes up an uneasy friendship with foot-solider Lefty Ruggiero (Al Pacino).

Depp Dynamite: Director Mike Newell brings out the best in Depp, and the actor rises to the challenge of working alongside a seasoned pro like Pacino.
He finds fascinating beats between his scripted lines, and delivers one of the finest performances of his career.

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Edward Scissorhands (1990)
The Film: Tim Burton’s modern day fairytale, in which an inventor creates his own human, but dies before he can finish the job. His creation, Edward (Depp), is left with razor-sharp scissors for hands, which causes him massive problems when he tries to fit into a quiet suburban community.

Depp Dynamite: Lathered in make-up, strapped down in a tight leather costume and without the use of his hands, Depp delivers a remarkably physical performance that marked him out as a young talent to watch.
His puckered, wide-eyed expressions are heartbreaking and hilarious.

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Ed Wood (1994)
The Film: Depp’s second collaboration with Tim Burton, and a monochrome love letter to cinema. Though the subject of the film is cinema’s worst director, Ed Wood (Depp), the film is a loving celebration of his efforts to make films like Plan 9 From Outer Space, rather than a scathing, ironic send-up.

Depp Dynamite: Depp is clearly savouring the opportunity to re-team with Burton after a string of early ‘90s flops that had him tiring of the industry.
Heading up an impressive cast that included Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi, Depp captures Wood’s infantile zeal with the ease of a pro.

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