Posts Tagged ‘Captain Jack Sparrow’

Johnny Depp moves even further from his old rebel reputation with Mortdecai

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By Richard Crouse – Metro Canada

There are dozens of biographies on Johnny Depp and a surprising amount of them use the word “rebel” in the title. There’s the Passionate Rebel, the Modern Rebel and even Hollywood’s Best-Loved Rebel.

There can be no argument that Depp is a fearless actor, unafraid to tackle tough, challenging roles, but it’s hard to accept the rebel title these days. For 20 years, he wildly threw darts at the wall, making exciting movies with interesting directors.

With Tim Burton, he created the off-kilter Eds — Wood and Scissorhands. With John Waters, he produced Wade Walker, the greaser love interest in Cry-baby. And, with Lasse Hallström, he came up with Gilbert Grape, caregiver to his brother and morbidly obese mother.

Along the way, he was also Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the world’s most successful drug dealer in Blow, and the depraved poet at the dark heart of The Libertine.

Few actors could have pulled off Ed Wood and no one does debauched like Johnny, but the carefully cultivated hip outsider image was never truly accurate. Shrouded in a cloud of Gauloise smoke, he was one of Hollywood’s too-cool-for-school kids, emitting an outsider’s aura, while astutely playing the Hollywood game.

But any remaining traces of Depp’s bohemian status were wiped away with Captain Jack Sparrow’s colourful scarves in the tetralogy of Pirates of the Caribbean movies. They made him a superstar, and wealthy enough to buy Bahamian islands, but also ushered in the damaging wig and makeup era of his career.

The pale makeup of Dark Shadows, Alice in Wonderland’s crazy oversized hat, and the raven headdress of The Lone Ranger overshadowed Depp’s performances, obscuring his character work with props and flash.

This weekend, he hides behind a moustache in the comedy Mortdecai.

As the title character, he’s pompous, bumbling — imagine Inspector Clouseau with an English accent and an attitude — and on a worldwide hunt for a painting said to contain the code to a lost bank account.

Will people be attracted to Mortdecai? Hard to know. Depp’s showy performances have, by-and-large, garnered big box office but profitability, while important to the suits who green light projects like this, is exactly what’s killing Depp’s credibility as a serious actor.

He’s not in Nicolas Cage territory yet — there’s an actor whose Western Kabuki style of acting redefines idiosyncratic — but with Pirates of the Caribbean 5 coming soon, perhaps it’s time to put Depp’s rebel actor image or reliance on props to bed.

Johnny Depp: Sell Out or Crowd Pleaser?

Pirates-of-the-Caribbean-On-Stranger-Tides-MovieThis week Johnny Depp set the twitter-verse aflame with the announcement that he is in talks to star in a fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie. The news was met glee from fans and a collective arrgghh from critics, some of who have made a career of bashing the PotC movies.

For me the news that Captain Jack Sparrow would once again sashay through another big budget time waster brought up an interesting question: Is Johnny a sell out or simply giving the people what they want?

The case for Depp as crowd pleasing actor is obvious. Only eight movies have earned over one billion dollars at the box office. Two of them are Pirates movies (and a third, Alice in Wonderland, starred Depp as the Mad Hatter).

Personally Depp must feel connected to the franchise. Capt. Jack is a beloved character which earned him an Academy Award nomination and really brought him in to the mainstream. But unlike George Clooney or Matt Damon or Leonardo DiCaprio who balance the big hits with edgier fare Depp seems to have jumped ship.

The Libertine, his last art film was seven years ago, and while he did appear in Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus in 2009 it was out of obligation to the director rather than any kind of career move.

For twenty years he toiled in the trenches, making interesting movies with interesting directors, but the image of outsider Depp has never really been accurate. Few actors could have pulled off Ed Wood and no one wears a hat like Johnny, and but there are a lot of quirky actors out there. Depp has simply been more astute in playing the Hollywood game while maintaining an outsider’s credibility. Now that he’s found a big money outlet for his idiosyncratic style—his cut of the first four Pirates movies is rumored to be $350 million— what ever street cred he once had is taking a long drive down 21 Jump Street. (BTW He has a cameo in the big screen reimagining of the TV show that made him a star.)

Taking on a fifth sequel puts Depp on the level of people who have more than three cats. If you have more than three you may as well have 600. The maintenance is about the same but people think of you differently. No one begrudged Johnny when he signed on for the second and third PotC, he was coming off a career high and a huge nomination and it seemed like the right thing to do. The fourth one raised eyebrows but now it’s official. Depp is for sale to the highest bidder.

As one twitter wit put it: “Johnny Depp on signing up for PIRATES 5: ‘Well you know how it is, gotta send my kids to college… and then buy the moon.’”

Depp is not in Nic Cage territory yet—there’s an actor who has a really hard time saying no to a pay day—but maybe it’s time to put Depp’s well cultivated image as rebel actor to rest.