When you see an actor work, it is quite
unpleasant. It is the guts and the delight that is so admiring in >
Depp (1963) and what makes him so distinguishing from an actor like
> Tom Cruise
(1962). This article will focus on
their various approaches to acting.
Short Introduction to Johnny Depp
Depp, born in Florida, actually wanted to be a
rockstar as a teenager but became heading towards it (and without an
education) actor. In 1984 he started this career with A Nightmare on Elm
Street, he became famous when he appeared in the television series 21
Jump Street (1987).
He played in many >
films, first in Edward Scissorhands (1990), then Ed Wood
(1994), Sleepy Hollow (1999), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
(2005), with his voice in Corpse Bride (2005), Sweeney Todd: The
Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) and recently in Alice in
Wonderland (2010). Depp often portrays the almost idiotic, unconciously
obscure man. Or he is completely over the top as in Fear and Loathing in
Las Vegas (Terry Gilliam, 1998) and the Pirates of the Caribbean-series
(Gore Verbinski). He is more serious in Dead Man (Jim Jarmursch, 1995)
although he also creates a crazy edge to this character. Typical Johnny Depp
films: Cry Baby (John Waters, 1990) and What's Eating Gilbert Grape
(Lass hallström, 1993).
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the
Black Pearl (Gore Verbinski, 2003)
As it will be apparent from the foregoing
introduction a discussion on Johnny Depp's acting style is almost inevitable
without talking about the
Tim Burton movies he appeared in. We will do so,
using his Edward Scissorhands, later on. First we'll take a look at
Jarmusch's Dead Man.
In one of the first scenes of this film Johnny
Depp enters an office in the belief of finding work. But everything in Dead
Man is completely different, nothing is what it seems. Depp plays a man
who perhaps, against all odds, maintains. He is persistent to achieve his
goal. That this not will happen, is very obvious. Depp takes his time, almost
identical to his character William Blake. The wonder and amazement he shows in
that scene, followed by an odd persistence, is played by Depp with an
incredible peace. He has the courage to do that. He stays, so to speak, on his
Dead Man (Jim
Depp often played the eccentric stranger, the
man who enters a world unknown to him. Depp's physical presence is often
enough already, in advance he gives something extra to a film. The face that
often remains unmoved, the peculiar features, the astonishment with at the
same time the mocking, lends itself well to the innocence in his roles.
This specific talent of Depp is particularly
noticeable in Edward Scissorhands. The boy with the scissors-fingers
moves stiffly, unfinished. When he enters dowdy America, he is like a young
child, astonished. Depp often looks incredibly sad but that's not because he
lays it on thick. Director Burton has avoided that trap by making up Depp's
face with a 'sad' expression. It gives Depp the opportunity to keep to
himself, to act pure.
(Tim Burton, 1990)
Opposite to the Scissorhands character is
Depp's portrayal of the idiotic captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the
Caribbean -series. In the press it was suggested that Depp was inspired by
the Rolling Stones-guitarist Keith Richards. With pulled up eyebrows, always
slightly drifting, Sparrow walks through his pirate life. No one else like
Johnny Depp can exude so much pleasure in portraying the role of an
implausible sucker hero. Depp does want he wants to do. He is not trying to be
liked. It's like he says: this is what I am and this is what I do. Nothing
more, nothing less.
In interviews in the past Depp often told that
he chooses his roles because he believes in the film, not because he can stand
out himself. While someone like Tom Cruise, for instance, wants to seem sexy
all the time. Well, that has to be the choice of the viewer himself off
course, not of
Tom Cruise. Cruise almost tries to get to the viewer on a
physical level. And so he leaves us, as a viewer, no room for our imagination.
With an actor like Johnny Depp you, as the
viewer, move towards him. He is aware of the interpretative role of the
viewer. Cruise is so aware of how he plays that's why he is only focused on
the effect he wants to create pulling out all the stops. He decides for the
viewer. Off course, Depp also prepares for his roles but he remains close to
himself. He really dares. There is no shyness or shame but also no arrogance.
He uses no tricks.
To use a 'tedious' word: Johnny Depp is authentic!
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