Last night we watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, because of the story and because of Mr Depp. We all like Johnny and over the years have seen many-many of his films. This morning beloved baby girl asks why and when? Indeed it was before Pirates of the Caribbean, as he was the hook that got me into the movie theatre.
Dragon: Pirates of the Caribbean, Mum, what do you say? It’s holidays, time for a movie.
Me: A pirate movie, dragon, me? Get a grip.
Dragon: No it’ll be good, the trailers look cool.
Me: No, not interested. Disney, pirates, predictable plot, mooshy ending: not for me.
Dragon: It’s got Johnny Depp.
Me: Ah. In that case. Yes.
Clearly from this interchange I had been fond of the actor before the wondrous adventures on the Black Pearl with the exquisite Jeffrey Rush.
So, this morning as the eggs boiled, I needed a little think – what had we seen before the pirate adventures that made me change my mind in an instant once I knew he was in it?
Perhaps it was Edward Scissorhands, or What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? He was fine in Chocolat but not the reason I watched it – that was because of the book. I loved him in The Ninth Gate and From Hell, and perhaps that was when he settled into being one of my preferred actors, not my favourite, but he was edging up my list. Certainly Captain Jack Sparrow has ensured I see most of his movies these days – Finding Neverland, Sweeny Todd, Blow, Dr Parnassus, Alice in Wonderland. And I do love Once Upon a Time in Mexico.
Why Mr Depp? Yes, he is devilishly handsome and appeals to all the women in my family (a bit David Bowie in that regard) but beloved paramour likes him too, so it’s not just about the superficiality of his good looks or his seeming niceness – visiting hospitals and schools as Captain Jack. He seems a devoted father and cool with Vanessa – good luck to her. He seems to be one of those famous types who only does the celebrity bit when he has too, not one who revels in the adulation of the fans.
We love his fearlessness as an actor – his variety of roles, his brilliance with eccentricity. Sure he’s rich enough and famous enough now to pick and choose and who cares if he makes a dud movie, but his career right from the start reflects oddballs, weirdos, those outside, those who are other and strange. You know you’re watching Johnny Depp the actor these days, but you lose the man and find the character very quickly: you believe and you go along for the ride. It doesn’t matter who he is, he is brilliant, you are within the story, with him, no matter what.
Isn’t it wonderful to see a handsome actor not restricted to being a Romantic hero, or to superficial roles in Rom-coms – to eschewing any sort of stereo-typed roles at all? But a handsome man who can do anything he sets his mind to. Isn’t it reassuring to know that his longevity in movies is assured and that watching him age will be a pleasure? (George Clooney too, I guess) (Images courtesy Google Images)