Top 10 Johnny Depp Performances

Johnny Depp's latest character invention hits theaters today in MORTDECAI, bringing yet another wacky and unique performance from the popular actor. While some have been disenchanted with his movies in recent years, Depp has amassed quite the resume of memorable and original performances. Here are our picks for the ten best from Johnny Depp's career. See if you agree or if we missed one, add it to the talk backs below.

#1 - ED WOOD

A combination of everything that Johnny Depp is great at: comedy, drama, playing obscure real life characters, and masterfully transforming himself into that individual. The height of his collaborations with Tim Burton, ED WOOD is the movie that should have garnered Depp a Best Actor nomination. This may not be as flashy as the last ten years worth of Johnny Depp movies but it is heads and tails above a lot of the work he has done on screen.


If you don't know the work of Hunter S. Thompson or the mad genius of director Terry Gilliam, FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS may not be your cup of tea, but you cannot deny the insane dedication Depp brings to his portrayal of the author. Many never thought a true visual description of this non-fiction/fictional work could be made for the screen but Gilliam and Depp pulled it off brilliantly. A one of a kind movie.


The role that skyrocketed Johnny Depp to superstardom, Captain Jack Sparrow will remain one of the most enduring cinematic creations for years to come. We now know that Disney was concerned about Depp's approach to the character but thankfully they let him do his thing. Sparrow is funny, sarcastic, and a pleasure to watch even if the three sequels declined in quality. Regardless, this is the role Depp will probably always be remembered for and with good reason.


Johnny Depp channels Buster Keaton via Tim Burton in this modern cult classic. Depp manages to showcases a huge range of emotional depth despite barely uttering any dialogue. A great example of how Tim Burton can do more with less and another example of why Depp works better when he isn't flashing everything he has in his acting arsenal.

#5 - BLOW

Ted Demme's final film is a flashy ode to a middle man in a major drug trafficking ring. Depp plays George Jung as a man who thinks he is bigger than he really is over the course of his dubious career. Aided by a blisteringly cool soundtrack, BLOW is an absolutely fun time at the movies. Depp has a chance to balance his quirk while portraying a real life person and the results are worth repeated viewings.


Jim Jarmusch's 1995 Western is truly unlike anything else out there. The black and white movie has gotten a much larger reception outside of it's theatrical run. With a wide cast of crazy performances, Depp maintains a subdued presence as he journey's West towards his inevitable death. Nothing flashy here, just a complex postmodern film.


While everyone remembers this movie for Leonardo DiCaprio's performance and Darlene Cates as the matriarch of the clan, Johnny Depp delivers another approachable and understated performance. Depp doesn't often get to play just regular people these days but this is an example of why he should.


A personal favorite, SLEEPY HOLLOW is a great homage to classic Hammer Horror while also maintaining Tim Burton's signature style. The supporting cast are all excellent, but Depp especially gets to bring his trademark quirkiness to the role of Ichabod Crane. He is a genius who is also easily frightened but you buy it in this dark world on screen. Not quite as over the top as you usually expect from Burton and Depp, but still definitely unlike any other performance.


Depp and Al Pacino sharing the screen is enough to make this movie worth watching, but Depp actually shows he is able to deliver an understated performance that doesn't beg for bells and whistles. There is no impression that Depp steals the screen but rather blends into the rest of the characters like a good undercover operation should. This allows Depp's emotion to shine in a way he doesn't get to often enough.


While not even close to matching the classic Gene Wilder version of the tale, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp bring something weirdly unique to their interpretation of Roald Dahl's novel. Depp gives a quirky performance that blends a childlike wonder with an underlying menace. You may not like this movie at all, but I guarantee you kept watching to see if Depp's Wonka would go nuts and kill everyone.

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