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Face Off: Johnny Depp vs. Brad Pitt

04.17.2014by: Dave Davis
Last week's Face-Off column had a pair of epic fantasy tales against each other, and most of you agreed that the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy had the advantage of the still-unfolding saga "Game of Thrones".

This weekend, Johnny Depp achieves a higher consciousness in the sci-fi thriller TRANSCENDENCE, so let's see how he holds up against another A-list sex symbol with considerable acting ability -- Brad Pitt.

(Please note: Face Off is an opinion column. We're not using any actual science to prove or disprove anything. It's just for fun.)
EARLY WORK
Depp had supporting roles in the original NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and Oliver Stone's PLATOON before he grabbed his badge and Clearasil for four seasons of high school cop show "21 Jump Street"
After some television work (including appearances on "21 Jump Street" and "Freddy's Nightmares", coincidentally), Pitt had scene-stealing roles as a notably shirtless crook in THELMA & LOUISE and perpetually stoned roommate Floyd in TRUE ROMANCE
FRANCHISE
As the wily and perpetually inebriated Captain Jack Sparrow, Depp has his bona fide blockbuster series with four PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN movies -- and another on the way.

A follow-up to the worldwide smash ALICE IN WONDERLAND is also in the works, with Depp returning to the psychedelic realm as Mad Hatter.

(He also briefly popped up in the 21 JUMP STREET movie, more than two decades after graduating from the TV show)
Pitt went on three major heists as a charming partner-in-crime for OCEAN'S ELEVEN, OCEAN'S TWELVE and OCEAN'S THIRTEEN.

A sequel is also in development for the successful zombie apocalypse WORLD WAR Z, although it remains to be seen if Pitt returns to save what's left of the world.
MAJOR AWARD RECOGNITION
Oscar nominations for PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL, FINDING NEVERLAND and SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET

Golden Globe nominations for EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, BENNY & JOON, ED WOOD, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL, FINDING NEVERLAND, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST, ALICE IN WONDERLAND and (somehow) THE TOURIST

Golden Globe winner for SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET

Depp may have more Golden Globe nominations, but it seems like the Hollywood Foreign Press just adores him in general, to the point that it can't really be taken seriously. C'mon now -- THE TOURIST?
Oscar nominations for 12 MONKEYS, THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON and MONEYBALL

Oscar winner for 12 YEARS A SLAVE (as producer)

Golden Globe nominations for LEGENDS OF THE FALL, BABEL, THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON and MONEYBALL

Golden Globe winner for 12 MONKEYS and 12 YEARS A SLAVE (as producer)

FREQUENT COLLABORATORS
Depp has joined director Tim Burton eight times (to varying results): EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, ED WOOD, SLEEPY HOLLOW, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, CORPSE BRIDE, SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, and DARK SHADOWS.

Somehow in between his Burton projects, he's also found time to hook up with director Gore Verbinski on five movies: the first three PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN adventures, the animated RANGO and THE LONE RANGER.
Pitt has united with director Steven Soderbergh on OCEAN'S ELEVEN through THIRTEEN, along with chum George Clooney, who he joined on screen in BURN AFTER READING (and provided a cameo for Clooney's feature directing debut CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND).

He's also done the hat trick with filmmaker David Fincher on SEVEN, FIGHT CLUB and THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (plus one beer commercial).
BEING BAD
Besides his cheerfully unscrupulous Captain Jack Sparrow (and his shady CIA agent from ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO), Depp played a weepy gang leader in John Waters' musical comedy CRY-BABY, engaged in narcotic debauchery as Hunter S. Thompson in Terry Gilliam's FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS, smuggled tons of cocaine in BLOW, robbed banks as notorious criminal John Dillinger in PUBLIC ENEMIES, and sliced those who wronged him in SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET
Some time after swiping Susan Sarandon's cash in THELMA & LOUISE, Pitt murdered his way across country in KALIFORNIA, played an unhinged animal-rights activist in 12 MONKEYS, butted heads with Harrison Ford as an IRA fugitive in THE DEVIL'S OWN, drank deep of the warm crimson wine in INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, prompted pugilism and mayhem in FIGHT CLUB, redistributed lots of money in three OCEAN'S movies, killed for money as husband/assassin in MR. & MRS. SMITH, showed no mercy to Nazis in INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, made a poor attempt at blackmail in BURN AFTER READING, and cleaned up problems as a hitman in KILLING THEM SOFTLY
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS
Depp got plenty of the gals on his side thanks to romantic roles like CHOCOLAT, BENNY & JOON, DON JUAN DEMARCO, but also handled a mentally challenged Leonardo DiCaprio in WHAT'S EATING GILBERT GRAPE, sought a devil-summoning book in THE NINTH GATE, went undercover with the mob in DONNIE BRASCO, created Peter Pan in FINDING NEVERLAND, tracked Jack the Ripper in FROM HELL, experienced major writer's block in SECRET WINDOW, and graciously stepped in (along with Jude Law and Colin Farrell) for the late Heath Ledger to complete Terry Gilliam's THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS
As with Depp, Pitt made a strong case for capturing the ladies' collective hearts with LEGENDS OF THE FALL, MEET JOE BLACK and SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET, but also knew how to throw a punch in SNATCH, went to war in TROY, got caught in espionage in SPY GAME, led Old West outlaws in THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD, figured out how to put together a winning team in MONEYBALL, helped a guy out of a seriously bad situation in 12 YEARS A SLAVE, and probably deserves some tiny bit of credit for keeping a straight face opposite a cartoon Kim Basinger in COOL WORLD
SIGNIFICANT OTHER
After a lengthy relationship with French actress/singer Vanessa Paradis, Depp recently traded way younger for bombshell up-and-comer Amber Heard, his co-star in THE RUM DIARY
Pitt spent quality time with Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston before settling with his sexy MR. & MRS. SMITH wife Angelina Jolie, with whom he's been creating/collecting kids ever since
BOX OFFICE
$8 billion career total worldwide
$6.5 billion career total worldwide
IT'S A TIE!
Though his cheekbones and chiseled abs initially got him into the spotlight, Pitt seemed determined to show he was more than a pretty face. He more than proved it with 12 MONKEYS and his Fincher partnerships, and has demonstrated entertaining diversity ever since. Depp has also exhibited a chameleon-like range (including an actual chameleon) over the course of his impressive career. He's definitely lost a bit of shine lately, but it's no exaggeration to say there's sufficient quality in his filmography that he can coast for a while. They've both had enough high points to make it too close to call!

Agree? Disagree? Which do you prefer?
POST YOUR CHOICE BELOW!

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2:24AM on 04/18/2014
lol! I thought i was the only one who remembers Kalifornia. Brad was amazing in that one!
lol! I thought i was the only one who remembers Kalifornia. Brad was amazing in that one!
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+2
9:10PM on 04/17/2014

Brad, always

I'm a big Depp fan but Brad wins. He had my heart long before Depp did and still has it. I've seen and loved almost everything he's ever done, all the way down to his goofy guest spot on Friends . The guy wins easily!
I'm a big Depp fan but Brad wins. He had my heart long before Depp did and still has it. I've seen and loved almost everything he's ever done, all the way down to his goofy guest spot on Friends . The guy wins easily!
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7:41PM on 04/17/2014

The one not coasting on a weird role persona.

Pitt
Pitt
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3:57PM on 04/17/2014

Ten years ago, Depp.

Today, Brad. EASILY. No contest. No tie. Brad wins. You guys didn't put enough consideration toward not just his work as an actor, but his production work as well (look at the movies he's been responsible for producing in the last decade). Depp used to be charmingly kooky and left-of-center and so when he had a Robert Downey Jr.-like career resurgence after Pirates of the Caribbean came out, after years of daring roles that didn't pay off financially until PoTC, it was great to root for him.
Today, Brad. EASILY. No contest. No tie. Brad wins. You guys didn't put enough consideration toward not just his work as an actor, but his production work as well (look at the movies he's been responsible for producing in the last decade). Depp used to be charmingly kooky and left-of-center and so when he had a Robert Downey Jr.-like career resurgence after Pirates of the Caribbean came out, after years of daring roles that didn't pay off financially until PoTC, it was great to root for him. But then he became a real paycheck actor. His choices became lazy and obvious. The "daring" roles became typecast - the whole [link] thing became boring. I was super excited for Transcendence to be a return to form with him playing a 'normal' character but by all accounts he's phoned this one in for the paycheck as well. Depp sucks now and Pitt is better than ever.
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3:58PM on 04/17/2014
I also want to add...you gave Depp victory in the 'box office tally' department, but let's consider the fact that Brad Pitt has NO franchises besides Ocean's 11, which was an ensemble film. Take away the international grosses of the Pirates movies and where does Depp stand on the list in comparison to Pitt? I used to love Depp, don't get me wrong, I'm still a big fan of his early work, but man. He just sucks now.
I also want to add...you gave Depp victory in the 'box office tally' department, but let's consider the fact that Brad Pitt has NO franchises besides Ocean's 11, which was an ensemble film. Take away the international grosses of the Pirates movies and where does Depp stand on the list in comparison to Pitt? I used to love Depp, don't get me wrong, I'm still a big fan of his early work, but man. He just sucks now.
12:32PM on 04/17/2014
I like the tie here. Both are exceptional actors in my opinion. Both have movies I have watched over and over again. Especially Fight Club, Seven, 12 Monkeys, and Snatch for Pitt and Pirates, Sleepy Hollow, Fear and Loathing, and Rango for Depp. Speaking of which these two should work together on something.
I like the tie here. Both are exceptional actors in my opinion. Both have movies I have watched over and over again. Especially Fight Club, Seven, 12 Monkeys, and Snatch for Pitt and Pirates, Sleepy Hollow, Fear and Loathing, and Rango for Depp. Speaking of which these two should work together on something.
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12:32PM on 04/17/2014

Pitt

Pitt wins because he never fails to deliver, and works with many and varied directors to achieve success. Depp has his fists firmly around the cocks of verbinski and Burton in some cinema fetish gang bang, and it's become as ugly as the visual metaphor implies. I know depp has taken on many of his projects over the last decade for the sake of his kids, but it's time to get back to the sort of films and roles that lifted him on his pedestal. Pitt just keeps churning out one brilliant turn after
Pitt wins because he never fails to deliver, and works with many and varied directors to achieve success. Depp has his fists firmly around the cocks of verbinski and Burton in some cinema fetish gang bang, and it's become as ugly as the visual metaphor implies. I know depp has taken on many of his projects over the last decade for the sake of his kids, but it's time to get back to the sort of films and roles that lifted him on his pedestal. Pitt just keeps churning out one brilliant turn after another, letting his wife take on the family friendly stuff like magnificent. Pitt FTW.
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12:12PM on 04/17/2014

Both of these guys are great

I would say Brad Pitt wins this one. I would accuse Depp of being arrogant and just taking paycheck roles but I really do not think that is the case. I really do think he is fiercely loyal to the people that we works with and that is why he frequently collaborates with the same people over and over. With that being said I think Pitt wins the frequent collaboration round mainly because he does change it up and does work with other people, Depp does not rock the boat. For a guy known for playing
I would say Brad Pitt wins this one. I would accuse Depp of being arrogant and just taking paycheck roles but I really do not think that is the case. I really do think he is fiercely loyal to the people that we works with and that is why he frequently collaborates with the same people over and over. With that being said I think Pitt wins the frequent collaboration round mainly because he does change it up and does work with other people, Depp does not rock the boat. For a guy known for playing out-there characters, he certainly does play it safe as of late. Hopefully Transcendence is the jolt his career needs.
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12:40PM on 04/17/2014
Depp has to come out of the collaboration muck. He was once an actor whose name being attached to a project would excite me. No longer true though. when I see depp attached to things it makes me nervous. Every quirky role or movie announced brings a legion of people begging for him to fill it, and I am exhausted with it. Where are the ninth gates and secret windows? Is this what transcendence is supposed to be? Cause I don't think it looks great. Oh well. time to go watch fear and loathing.
Depp has to come out of the collaboration muck. He was once an actor whose name being attached to a project would excite me. No longer true though. when I see depp attached to things it makes me nervous. Every quirky role or movie announced brings a legion of people begging for him to fill it, and I am exhausted with it. Where are the ninth gates and secret windows? Is this what transcendence is supposed to be? Cause I don't think it looks great. Oh well. time to go watch fear and loathing.
+1
10:49AM on 04/17/2014
FIGHT CLUB and SEVEN

those alone put Pitt over anyone
FIGHT CLUB and SEVEN

those alone put Pitt over anyone
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10:49AM on 04/17/2014

What about....

ED WOOD. One of my favourite movies ever...The best Burton-Depp collabo...

ED WOOD. One of my favourite movies ever...The best Burton-Depp collabo...

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10:19AM on 04/17/2014

My fav of both below...

Depp
1. Blow
2. Donnie Brasco
3. POTC...Curse...
4. 21 cameo...

Pitt
1.Seven
2. Snatch
3. Fight Club
4. Ocean's (he's always eating something in every scene, I swear.)
5.Inglorious Basterds

Pitt gets the nod imo because I always had a thing for Jolie and he's friends with my favorite muscian, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden.
Depp
1. Blow
2. Donnie Brasco
3. POTC...Curse...
4. 21 cameo...

Pitt
1.Seven
2. Snatch
3. Fight Club
4. Ocean's (he's always eating something in every scene, I swear.)
5.Inglorious Basterds

Pitt gets the nod imo because I always had a thing for Jolie and he's friends with my favorite muscian, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden.
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10:14AM on 04/17/2014

Now this is a face off that I can get behind

I think it probably is a tie overall, but one's favorites are completely up to personal preference. If you prefer characters and movies that are further in the realm of fantasy and very unrealistic, Depp has the win without a doubt. If you prefer more realistic movies and roles, then you gotta go with Pitt. I can love both, but for me, I can watch Pitt much more. The guy picks his jobs carefully, works hard at them, and despite good looks that put the rest of us to shame, somehow its easier
I think it probably is a tie overall, but one's favorites are completely up to personal preference. If you prefer characters and movies that are further in the realm of fantasy and very unrealistic, Depp has the win without a doubt. If you prefer more realistic movies and roles, then you gotta go with Pitt. I can love both, but for me, I can watch Pitt much more. The guy picks his jobs carefully, works hard at them, and despite good looks that put the rest of us to shame, somehow its easier to relate to his characters. His part in Malicks Tree of Life was such a great everyman father role.
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+1
10:06AM on 04/17/2014

Pitt all the way...

Depp just has the hardest time playing a normal character.
Depp just has the hardest time playing a normal character.
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8:22AM on 04/17/2014
That was supposed to be thumbs up for the tie.
That was supposed to be thumbs up for the tie.
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8:21AM on 04/17/2014
1980's-mid 1990's Depp wins.
Post Fight Club Pitt wins.
1980's-mid 1990's Depp wins.
Post Fight Club Pitt wins.
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8:03AM on 04/17/2014

Pitt, easily....

This isn't even close. Pitt is easily the better actor, he's the heart-throb, and if you take out the silly POTC franchise (where Depp played a one-joke character for 4 films), Pitt would have far more box office returns.

Both have had great careers, but Depp has turned himself into a punchline after his Pirate/Vampire/Tonto run.....
This isn't even close. Pitt is easily the better actor, he's the heart-throb, and if you take out the silly POTC franchise (where Depp played a one-joke character for 4 films), Pitt would have far more box office returns.

Both have had great careers, but Depp has turned himself into a punchline after his Pirate/Vampire/Tonto run.....
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7:57AM on 04/17/2014

It's tough

The high profile work definitely gives Pitt the edge. But out of my favorite movies from each, the scale tips slightly towards Depp. Ed Wood, Donnie Brasco, Ninth Gate, Blow, Fear and Loathing, and Before Night Falls. I actually highly recommend the later. Not only does Depp play two roles, it stars Javier Bardem as oppressed Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas. Pitt seems to really shine when he's playing over the top characters, whereas Depp can hold my attention better of the two when they are
The high profile work definitely gives Pitt the edge. But out of my favorite movies from each, the scale tips slightly towards Depp. Ed Wood, Donnie Brasco, Ninth Gate, Blow, Fear and Loathing, and Before Night Falls. I actually highly recommend the later. Not only does Depp play two roles, it stars Javier Bardem as oppressed Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas. Pitt seems to really shine when he's playing over the top characters, whereas Depp can hold my attention better of the two when they are giving more "compact" performances.

It's tough, but I have to go with Pitt, because Depp seems ensnared by the cash grab of the Pirates movies, and the increasingly disappointing work of Tim Burton's recent projects. They are both talented actors, and I'm looking forward to seeing them pick good projects - and hell, they would be great in a film together.
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5:19AM on 04/17/2014

Brad Pitt.

Brad Pitt. Didn't even have to think about it. I haven't really liked Depp in anything since the 90s (couldn't stand even the first Pirates flick). Pitt's been far more consistent of late, and even his stuff in the 90s was way better than Depp's films in the same time period.
Brad Pitt. Didn't even have to think about it. I haven't really liked Depp in anything since the 90s (couldn't stand even the first Pirates flick). Pitt's been far more consistent of late, and even his stuff in the 90s was way better than Depp's films in the same time period.
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3:12AM on 04/17/2014

Brad Pitt for the Win!!!

thats easy!!! a tie? Depp? listen depp is great but franchises? Pirates 1 is good, 2 3 and 4 are shit. Alice in wonderland? shit!!!!

plus his Fincher hat trick outdoes ALL of Depp and Burtons work
thats easy!!! a tie? Depp? listen depp is great but franchises? Pirates 1 is good, 2 3 and 4 are shit. Alice in wonderland? shit!!!!

plus his Fincher hat trick outdoes ALL of Depp and Burtons work
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2:45AM on 04/17/2014

Brad Pitt

Big fan of both, but Mr. Pitt has been more solid and consistent in his work as of late.

Big fan of both, but Mr. Pitt has been more solid and consistent in his work as of late.

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2:16AM on 04/17/2014
You totally forgot to mention Depp's role in Jim Jarmush's dead man which was cool. I'm not really a pitt fan even though I must admit he choses better roles.
You totally forgot to mention Depp's role in Jim Jarmush's dead man which was cool. I'm not really a pitt fan even though I must admit he choses better roles.
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9:47AM on 04/17/2014
I love your name. Lol.
I love your name. Lol.
1:17AM on 04/17/2014
I think both have been able to break past the perception of them as good-looking teen idols, though in different ways. Honestly, I think Depp is the stronger dramatic actor, but you wouldn't be able to tell it from all the "kooky" roles that fill his filmography. Depp has more of an intensity to him than Pitt does (he's genuinely scary in Sweeney Todd); I just wish he got the chance to showcase it again.
I think both have been able to break past the perception of them as good-looking teen idols, though in different ways. Honestly, I think Depp is the stronger dramatic actor, but you wouldn't be able to tell it from all the "kooky" roles that fill his filmography. Depp has more of an intensity to him than Pitt does (he's genuinely scary in Sweeney Todd); I just wish he got the chance to showcase it again.
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1:06AM on 04/17/2014
Brad Pitt for me. He has diverted himself in all kind of projects - crazy mental patient in 12 Monkeys, headstrong baseball coach in Moneyball, tough-as-nail World War 2 soldier in Inglorious Basterds. My favorite of his role is headstrong detective in Se7en.
Brad Pitt for me. He has diverted himself in all kind of projects - crazy mental patient in 12 Monkeys, headstrong baseball coach in Moneyball, tough-as-nail World War 2 soldier in Inglorious Basterds. My favorite of his role is headstrong detective in Se7en.
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10:33AM on 04/17/2014
Such an iconic role for him, especially the ending of the movie.
Such an iconic role for him, especially the ending of the movie.
9:55AM on 04/17/2014
He was a great psycho serial killer in Kalifornia. I agree with Se7en. Awesome movie.
He was a great psycho serial killer in Kalifornia. I agree with Se7en. Awesome movie.
12:30AM on 04/17/2014
These days, Pitt is the winner. Depp has developed an inability to pick good projects.
These days, Pitt is the winner. Depp has developed an inability to pick good projects.
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