Greetings, and welcome to the Johnny Depp Archive, my tribute to the finest actor of his generation. Honest. Below you'll find links to almost all of Johnny's films (I know, I know, I still haven't done bloody Platoon...) , but first, a bit about the man himself...
John Christopher Depp II was born in Owensboro, Kentucky, on 9th June 1963. His first big acting break came in 1984, when he starred in Wes Craven's seminal horror flick, A Nightmare on Elm Street. Whilst it was the TV cop show 21 Jump Street which catapulted him to fame, it was his role as Cry-Baby Walker in John Waters' take on the Romeo and Juliet theme, Cry-Baby (1990) which really showed what he could do.
This was the first film I saw him in and was won over instantly: as the jailbait teen (with Iggy Pop for an adopted father, Rikki Lake for a sister and porn star Traci Lords as a friend...) who falls in love with the beautiful girl from the posh part of town, his performance is imbued with the kind of wiry energy and youthful intensity that made James Dean so great. We rented this video endlessly in the summer of 1990 and although last time I saw the film it did seem, well, a bit daft, when you're a teenager it's the business.
Cry-Baby was quickly followed by his first collaboration with über-goth Tim Burton, Edward Scissorhands, a wonderful film which seemed to set the trend for all his movie choices, as he came to excel at playing off-beat, quirky characters, loners, drug-addicts, gypsies and weirdos, usually with more than a touch of the dark side about them. On paper many of his characters seem unsympathetic until brought to life by the magic Depp touch: think Ichabod Crane in Sleepy Hollow, The Ninth Gate's Dean Corso or his scene stealing role as Agent Sands in Once Upon A Time In Mexico. A traditional romantic lead he ain't: probably the most beautiful man in the world, he's sported bucky teeth, shaggy mullets, scissors for hands and enough dodgy facial furniture to house the Hogwarts owls (and let's not even start on the hats... and that's just at the premieres!) but he still can't escape those devastating good looks.
He's dated some of the most beautiful women in the world, including Winona Ryder (everyone knows the story of the 'Winona Forever' tattoo which now reads simply 'Wino Forever'), Twin Peaks' Sherilyn Fenn and Kate Moss, who had to check into the Priory to recover from their break up (well, wouldn't you?), before settling down with French star Vanessa Paradis (who went to school with my French exchange, so hey, we're practically related...).
The couple have two children, Lily and Jack, and for a while it appeared that the wild man of the movies (River Phoenix died outside his LA club The Viper Room, don't forget) had finally been tamed. Rresident in France (when he wasn't jetting around the world filming of course), he proved himself to be a true European at heart. As well as speaking fluent French, his contributions to British culture include laying down a few licks on an Oasis album, appearing on The Fast Show and putting in an appearance at a London primary school dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow, because a pupil asked him to. Yup, there's only one thing you can predict about Johnny Depp: he'll always be unpredictable.
After a couple of years resting and enjoying quality time with his family, the 21st century saw him back with a vengeance. His riotous performance as Keith Richards playing Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Carribbean garnered him awards left, right and centre, whilst he wiped everyone else off the screen in Once Upon A Time In Mexico, the final instalment in Robert Rodriguez' El Mariachi trilogy.
Johnny's domesticity perhaps informed the noticeable shift in his film choices: his daughter is apparently delighted that her dad is now the world's most famous pirate and probably had something to do with his decision to play Willy Wonka in Tim Burton's 2005 adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and 2010 Technicolor take on Alice in Wonderland. Is Pirates 4 her fault too? I'll forgive her that because Rango (a wonderfully postmodern CGI animation in which Johnny voiced a thespian lizard) rocked.
But it appears that a further foray into the hedonistic world of Hunter S Thompson in The Rum Diary (2011), helmed by Withnail and I director Bruce Robinson, may have been partly to blame for the sad collapse of his relationship with Paradis in 2012. Will his return to crazy bachelordom (read: midlife crisis) herald a move away from family fodder into darker territory? With Pirates 5 and The Lone Ranger looming over the horizon, I'm thinking not just yet...
[Four years later...] And I was right. What I didn't seem coming was the collapse of his brief marriage to Rum Diary co-star Amber Heard, a collapse which has become very nasty indeed and made me very disappointed in Johnny personally, to run alongside my disappointment in him professionally for making me sit through Into the Woods and Mortdecai. But who knows what goes on behind closed doors, and it's not up to me to judge someone else's personal life. For my judgment on his movies, read on...