Follow TV Tropes


Creator / Johnny Depp

Go To

"I am doing things that are true to me. The only thing I have a problem with is being labeled."

John Christopher Depp II (born June 9, 1963) is an American actor.

A native of Owensboro, Kentucky, Depp is best known for his portrayals of memorable, offbeat characters and his refusal to be typecast as a Hollywood Pretty Boy. He is a frequent collaborator with equally offbeat directors Tim Burton, Gore Verbinski, and Terry Gilliam.

He's had two children with French singer/actress Vanessa Paradis (his longest relationship to date), Jack John Christopher III and Lily-Rose, who's become an actress herself. He was later briefly married to Amber Heard.


A small sampling of his roles include:

  • His first film appearance was in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), as Nancy's boyfriend and Freddy-bait Glen Lantz. Many fans agree that Depp's ceiling-splattering demise was one of the coolest deaths in the series. He would go on to make a cameo appearance in the sixth film, Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, which features him getting whacked in the face with a frying pan in a twisted parody of "This Is Your Brain On Drugs" commercials.
  • In 21 Jump Street, he played Officer Tom Hanson. It was a crime/drama TV-series about a group of police officers who go undercover as teenagers in high-schools. Depp became an instant teen heart-throb, a role in which he was acutely uncomfortable.
  • Wade "Cry-Baby" Walker in John Waters's film Cry-Baby, a satire about teen heart-throbs.
  • Advertisement:
  • Edward Scissorhands. This was Depp's first collaboration with Tim Burton, and the first film in which he deliberately averted his pretty-boy image by playing an ugly, disfigured outcast.
  • In What's Eating Gilbert Grape, he played a beleaguered teen with a mentally-retarded younger brother (Leonardo DiCaprio) and a grotesquely overweight mom (Darlene Cates).
  • Sam, in Benny & Joon, where he showed off his comedy chops by playing a simple-minded character with an amazing gift for physical comedy in the tradition of silent stars like Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.
  • William Blake, a young accountant from Cleveland who goes in a small town in the west and is rescued from deep trouble by Nobody, an Indian who believes him to be the William Blake, in the Jim Jarmusch film Dead Man.
  • Ed Wood, where he played the iconic B-movie director. His second collaboration with Tim Burton.
  • He reached new heights of romanticism playing Don Juan De Marco, a delusional (?) young man who believed he was the famous world's greatest lover. His analyst is played by Marlon Brando, and the two became good friends.
  • Donnie Brasco, in which he portrays real-life FBI agent Joseph D. Pistone, who went undercover in the Mafia and saw his family life torn apart as a result.
  • Raoul Duke (a pseudonym of journalist Hunter S. Thompson), in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. To prepare for the role, Depp moved into Thompson's house and spent months studying Thompson's every mannerism. They also became very close friends during this time.
  • This relationship still ripples into Depp's work. 2005's The Libertine is dedicated to Thompson and Marlon Brando. In 2011's The Rum Diary, a movie adaptation of one of Thompson's early works, Depp plays the lead character/Thompson expy.
  • Dean Corso, a borderline con-artist book dealer and acquisition expert who finds himself in over his head searching for copies of a certain grimoire in The Ninth Gate.
  • Ichabod Crane, re-imagined as a fragile and girly crime-scene investigator seeking an explanation for an abundance of decapitated corpses, in Tim Burton's version of Washington Irving's classic tale Sleepy Hollow.
  • Depp was set to play Toby Grisoni in The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, but the filming in 2000 ended up a disaster (the film was eventually completed in 2017 without any of the original cast). The documentary Lost in La Mancha chronicles said disaster.
  • Roux, the Irish/Romani traveler and love interest in Chocolat. Notable for being one of his few "normal guy" roles that focuses primarily on his handsome leading man features rather than characterization (though, despite what the DVD cover may tell you, it was really only a minor supporting role).
  • Lt. Victor and Bon Bon, in two brief but unforgettable appearances in Before Night Falls.
  • Frederick Abberline, a police inspector on the trail of Jack the Ripper, in From Hell. The movie was loosely based on a graphic novel by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, which itself was loosely based on the historical events surrounding Jack the Ripper's string of murders.
  • George Jung, real-life drug-smuggler who wound up serving a 20-year sentence, in Blow.
  • Captain Jack Sparrow, in Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean series. According to Depp, he based much of Sparrow's mannerisms on The Rolling Stones' guitarist, Keith Richards. This eventually led to Keith Richards making an appearance as Jack Sparrow's father. The first film, The Curse of the Black Pearl, earned Depp his first Academy Award nomination, and four sequels followed. Sparrow and other characters created for the films have since been added to the theme park attractions that inspired them, with Depp providing voicework for his Audio-Animatronic counterparts.
  • Seldon Sands, an amoral, scheming CIA agent in Once Upon a Time in Mexico.
  • Sir James Matthew Barrie, creator of Peter Pan, in Finding Neverland. Another Oscar nomination for Depp.
  • Willy Wonka, the amazing chocolatier, in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, based on a book by Roald Dahl. This version, directed by Tim Burton, is arguably much closer to the original book than the 1971 film, which starred Gene Wilder in the role. At the time of release, Depp's take brought Michael Jackson comparisons to mind, but he says it was inspired by the Excited Kids' Show Host trope. (More recently, he offered this explanation: "I imagined what George Bush would be like incredibly stoned.")
  • Victor Van Dort, in Tim Burton's animated film, Corpse Bride. Notable as his first venture into voice acting. Since then he's voiced one-shot characters on King of the Hill and SpongeBob SquarePants; see below for more.
  • The title character in Tim Burton's musical film, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, words and music by Stephen Sondheim. This was Depp's first singing role, despite that he has sung and played guitar since he was a teenager (his character's songs in Cry-Baby were overdubbed). This time, he took (sometimes subconscious) inspiration from such colorful performers as Anthony Newley, Tom Waits, and David Bowie. Depp won a Golden Globe Award for this performance, and was nominated for a third Oscar.
  • Infamous Real Life bank robber John Dillinger, in Michael Mann's Public Enemies. Depp's semi-sympathetic portrayal accurately reflected many people's image of the outlaw (though several reviewers complained Depp was "too pretty to be a gangster").
  • The Mad Hatter in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010) and the sequel Alice Through the Looking Glass. Still completely bonkers, but endowed with a poet's voice, a tragic past, and world-class swordsman skills.
  • In the 2011 animated film Rango, he voices the titular chameleon (how apt!) who makes the classic transition from phony hero to real one in a Wild West populated by un-cuddly desert animals.
  • In Tim Burton's 2012 remake of The '60s supernatural soap Dark Shadows, Johnny portrays reluctant vampire Barnabas Collins. Though the film is largely comedic (wringing plenty of jokes from the undead aristocrat's reaction to pop culture of The '70s), Depp plays the role straight. He claims to have been influenced by classic movie Draculas like Christopher Lee, as well as original Barnabas Jonathan Frid (both of whom have cameos in this flick).
  • Disney's 2013 remake of The Lone Ranger has him as the Masked Man's sidekick.
  • The French-Canadian investigator Guy LaPointe in Kevin Smith's "True North" trilogy films Tusk and Yoga Hosers.
  • The infamous Boston gangster Whitey Bulger in Scott Cooper's Black Mass.
  • 80s-era Donald Trump, in the web-released feature "The Art of the Deal: The Movie" — a parody from Funny Or Die.
  • Gellert Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts films (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald). He was fired from the role after two films and got replaced by Mads Mikkelsen.
  • Edward Ratchett in the 2017 adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express.

Notable tropes related to Johnny Depp's career:

  • Chronically Killed Actor: Quite a bit, given his very first role was being killed by Freddy Krueger. There's even some Loophole Abuse, as Jack Sparrow returns from the dead, and Transcendence is all about him becoming a Virtual Ghost.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: Apparently on the set of Donnie Brasco Al Pacino got into the habit of telling Johnny the same inane joke over and over and then laughing hysterically every time. He didn't get it, and "felt [his] IQ points dropping" every time. He does do an amusing impression, though.
    "A skeleton goes into a bar and orders a beer and a mop." Well, it's kinda funny.
  • Fake Brit: Well known for doing one of the most flawless British accents in modern film. Including an amazing Scottish accent in Alice in Wonderland, and J.M. Barrie in Finding Neverland. He's so well known for the British accent he uses in his movies the last ten years or so, that many people have forgotten that he's from Kentucky.
  • Fun with Foreign Languages: He's really far too amused that "depp" translates to "idiot" in German.
  • Large Ham: Basically every role following the "rock star pirate" Captain Jack Sparrow that allows him to be quirky and exaggerated will feature Depp having the time of his life. Even a voiceover role, as Rango shows.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Has played male versions twice, in Benny & Joon and Alice in Wonderland (2010) (a non-romantic one in the latter, albeit one subject to a Relationship Writing Fumble).
  • No Export for You: Depp wrote and directed a movie in The '90s, The Brave, about a Native American agreeing to do a Snuff Film to help his family. U.S. critics hated it, so he has never released the film in North America. It is available in Asia, however.
  • Old Shame: He and Rob Morrow apparently swore a pact to eradicate every copy of Private Resort from the face of the planet. Given that it was given a DVD release, it's clear that they have not yet succeeded in their quest.
  • Older Than They Look: He's in his fifties, but could easily pass for someone in his thirties.
  • Promoted Fanboy:
    • A longtime fan of Dark Shadows, in 2012 he played Barnabas Collins in the movie adaptation of that TV-series (director Tim Burton is also a fan).
    • He is a big fan of The Fast Show and jumped at the chance to appear in one of its sketches.
  • Role-Ending Misdemeanor: After losing a libel against British tabloids who called him a "wife-beater" in his case with Amber Heard, he was fired from the role of Gellert Grindelwald when Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore was in production and got replaced by Mads Mikkelsen.
  • Romance on the Set: When he met Amber Heard on the set of The Rum Diary he got into a romantic relationship with her, which lasted until they divorced in 2017. This caused the end of Johnny's 14-year relationship with Vanessa Paradis.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • Is genuinely bemused by repeatedly being called gorgeous and sexy, and doesn't seem to mind at all being called out on his hobo-like dressing style. He also doesn't think he's funny, and says he enjoys staying in a state of confusion "just for the expression it puts on [his] face."
    • He claims he can't watch his own movies.
  • So My Kids Can Watch: In an interview, he confessed that it wasn't fully motivated by this trope, but he didn't want "the DVDs for his movies all at the back of the shelf". His role as Jack Sparrow came about partly because of this trope, and partly because he had wanted to do a Disney film after watching most of their animated movies with his children and finding that he was really enjoying them. It's also possible his guest appearance on ''SpongeBob SquarePants was motivated by this.
  • Throw It In: Several examples from Pirates of the Caribbean.
    • In Curse of the Black Pearl, Jack's statement that he used "human hair — from my back" was an ad-lib. You can see Orlando Bloom trying not to laugh, and McNally chuckling in the movie. The commentary states that they initially tried to edit it out, but they found that the line lost something without it, so they threw it in.
    • Jack's line "I've got a jar of dirt!" in Dead Man's Chest was also unscripted. You can also see Bloom temporarily look to his left after Depp walks by. He was looking at the director expecting to say "Cut!" but didn't.
    • All of Jack's jokes about Will supposedly being a eunuch were ad-libbed by Johnny Depp. Through the creators' approval of the first, he continued.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • He auditioned to play Marty McFly in Back to the Future. He didn't get that far in the process, as the creators revealed years later they completely forgot he auditioned.
    • He was the Disney studio's preferred choice to star as Cliff Secord in The Rocketeer. His getting passed over was part of why he was cast as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean.
    • He quite literally dodged a bullet when he passed up James O'Barr's offer to star in the movie adaptation of The Crow.
    • He was originally going to star in a planned The Invisible Man movie for the Dark Universe, but was scrapped after the failure of The Mummy (2017). In addition, Johnny Depp was accused of domestic abuse against his wife Amber Heard in late 2017 and went through lawsuits in 2018 and 2020, which led to him no longer being considered for The Invisible Man.


Video Example(s):


Tim Burton Posse

Tim Burton roll call: Johnny Depp, Lisa Marie, and Helena Bonham Carter.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / ProductionPosse

Media sources: