In 2010 I saw 100 different movies in 100 different theaters. Here are the details.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Top 10 Bizarre Johnny Depp Roles

Top Ten Tuesday
(Though delayed by a day.)

Johnny Depp specializes in absurd caricatures. We would accept his charm and good looks in a more conventional role (and perhaps even give a sigh of relief), but he delights in fantastic costumes and odd behavior.

In ranking these roles I consider his character's appearance, mannerisms, speech patterns, and, most importantly, erratic behavior. Depp does his best to look strange, but what truly sets his characters apart is their lack of conventional motivation. What makes them tick? What will they do next? Whatever are they thinking?

10. The Ninth Gate (2000) — Dean Corso
Mostly a normal guy, who reveres books the way we all should. But halfway through having sex with a beautiful woman, Corso realizes she is Satan. Does he let that dampen the moment? No. He keeps going.

9. Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003) — Sands
A slimy spook looking to make a buck. But when he's betrayed and blinded, he steps into the sunlight, blood streaming down his face from behind his sunglasses, and lets loose with machine guns. Depp never looked so cool.

8. Benny & Joon (1993) — Sam
Quiet man in funny hat seeks woman in snorkel with ping-pong paddle to show magic tricks to.

7. Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) — Captain Jack Sparrow
Is he a coward or isn't he? Can he be trusted or can't he? Is he dimwitted or just incredibly and perpetually drunk? Sparrow is ever morally neutral.

6. Sleepy Hollow (1999) — Ichabod Crane
Any sane person wouldn't even be in the same movie as Christopher Walken's headless horseman.

5. Alice in Wonderland (2010) — Mad Hatter
He's peculiar, certainly. He guards himself by playing coy and speaking nonsensically, but when his hat is missing the umbilicus to reality is cut and he babbles to himself incessantly.

4. Ed Wood (1994) — Ed Wood
Eccentric director who stares at people, perhaps imagining them all as his play things to puppet about in his fantasies. Wood manages to look relatively pasty even in black-and-white.

3. Edward Scissorhands (1990) — Edward Scissorhands
Emotionally naive, but also a cultural blank slate. Edward walks around fascinated with the tiniest details, and uses the world as his canvas. Easily Depp's most iconic role.

2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) — Willy Wonka
With a strange smile showing his perfect teeth Wonka cavorts with candy and children, always seeming ready to add the kids to his factory's secret sauce. Great glasses.

1. Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) — Raoul Duke
One of Depp's more normal looking characters, and yet his least comprehensible. His perspective is warped beyond recognition by a steady intake of drugs. Nothing he sees can be trusted, nor what he says understood. I left the theater having no idea what had just happened to me.


  1. Ah(!), I was planning on watching the Ninth Gate soon. I actually looked for it last weekend but opted for Zodiac instead. And now this spoiler. Its my own fault, I hesitated before I read the entry knowing it my possibly be a mistake but then I went ahead anyway.

    I hated Fear and Loathing. Coincidentally, I was just thinking about this movie recently, wondering if it really was as bad as I remember. I even considered renting it . . . for about 7 microseconds.

  2. I guess this can be considered payback for leaking the fact that Shutter Island had a "mind blowing twist". I wouldn't have said that if I had known you were going to watch it, I didn't think it would be on your list. I felt bad when I saw that you reviewed it.