Johnny Depp once said, “I am doing things that are true to me. The only thing I have a problem with is being labeled.” Every Johnny Depp fan will unanimously vouch for the fact that one thing you cannot successfully do is pigeon-hole him into one category. Or maybe, you can – if you consider versatility to be a category by itself.

He’s a chameleon on screen, transforming and metamorphosing into characters, real-life or fantastical, with equal ease and charm. Johnny Depp is much more than a twinkle-in-the-eye and swag-in-the walk guy on screen. He is an actor par excellence and has proven his mettle as a performer time and time again over the decades. Although a difficult and debatable task, here we have compiled a list of 8 movies that we feel displays Depp’s craft in myriad forms and must not be missed.

  1. Public Enemies

Source: Walmart

This is an adaptation of Bryan Burrough’s non-fiction book, Public Enemies: America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933–34. The movie, directed by Michael Mann, follows the last few years of the life of John Dillinger, a notorious bank robber who the FBI declares as ‘Public Enemy No.1’. As Dillinger, Johnny Depp brings an instant likeability to the criminal mastermind as he forges new friendships and builds new relationships. His camaraderie with his associates and his love for Billie Frechette (played by Marion Cotillard) make him one of the unforgettable anti-heroes of the silver screen.

The movie captures America through the Depression era and Depp captures the nuances of the times with skill. Dillinger was a sensational figure of the times, pursued aggressively by the FBI from crime scene to crime scene. But you end up rooting for the evil-doer in this cat and mouse chase, only because of the cool demeanor that Depp brings to Dillinger.

 

  1. Secret Window

Source: Amazon

This 2004 psychological thriller by David Koepp revolves around the life of fiction writer Mort Rainey who is troubled by twin tragedies- finding out his wife is having an affair with his friend and then being accused of plagiarizing a short story by an unknown man. Depp, as the hassled and disturbed Rainey manages to keep the audience’s sympathy hooked on to him till the very end. Plot twists and turns reveal ugly, shocking truths with quite a splatter of violence thrown in and it is Depp’s charming performance that holds the threads of the movie together.

 

  1. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Source: Amazon

A multiple award-winner, Sweeney Todd is an adaptation of a 1970s musical that narrates the gruesome tale of the famous Victorian barber turned serial killer who kills his customers with a razor, and with the help of an accomplice, turns them into meat-pies! What’s with Johnny Depp and lunatic killers, right? Well, it’s not easy to pull off roles of dysfunctional minds and it requires an actor of Depp’s craftsmanship to pull it off again and again without becoming repetitive. Moreover, his dedication to his art is clearly visible here as he had to take singing lessons in order to pull off the musical scores.

 

  1. Finding Neverland

Source: YouTube

We’ve all loved Peter Pan when we were kids and imagined ourselves in Peter’s playful fantasyland. But we know very little about the man behind it – J.M. Barrie. The movie Finding Neverland is Barrie’s tale – of how he forges a unique relationship with a woman and her sons, who eventually become the inspiration for his play Peter Pan. Depp carries the burden of a failed writer with grim poise and the elation of re-living a lost childhood with infectious energy. He even puts on an impeccable Scottish accent to sound the part and takes us into the inner recesses of the man who never grew up.

 

  1. Donnie Brasco

Source: Amazon UK

Some of Johnny Depp’s finest performances are in biopics, as most of the features in this list will show you. Depp has an uncanny capability to get under the skin of real-life people whose lives are perhaps widely different from his own and still make them believable. In the crime drama Donny Brasco, he gets into the shoes of FBI agent, Joseph D. Pistone, who infiltrates a mafia group using the alias of Donnie Brasco. This movie also stars Al Pacino in the role of Lefty Ruggiero and it is an absolute delight to watch the two nuanced performers light up the screen together.

  1. Blow

Source: The Independent

A slang for cocaine, Blow revolves around the cocaine business flourishing throughout America in the 1970s and 80s and the role of George Jung in this growth. Another biopic for Depp, another criminal mind to explore, and another superlative performance! The story follows Jung from his childhood with a bankrupt father who tells him money isn’t “real” to his first prison sentence for selling marijuana, his entry into the cocaine business, becoming Pablo Escobar’s top U.S. importer, his marriage and fatherhood, and his eventual lifelong imprisonment. Jung’s tale is laced with adventurous and exciting heights as well as heartbreaks and betrayals. Depp, of course, knows how to tug at your heartstrings and here, too, he doesn’t disappoint.

 

  1. Edward Scissorhands

Source: Variety

In this Tim Burton fantasy-romance film, Johnny Depp is Edward, an artificial man with scissors for hands. He is taken in by a loving family and falls in love with the daughter of the household. In its review, The Guardian wrote that Depp “plays the almost silent hero of the piece with becoming modesty and grace, suggesting both vulnerability and an open propensity to charm these ladies out of their smooth skins.” This is one of those instant-classics that turned Depp into a superstar and got him major recognition in Hollywood.

 

  1. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

    Source: YouTube

Depp rules this fantasy world here with his quirky, oddball Jack Sparrow who is funny and amiable at the same time. It is Depp’s bang-on comic timing that uplifts this movie many notches higher than it otherwise would be. The movie made a superstar out of Depp and ensured that the audience would eagerly await its future instalments. Although it’s a continual saga of films with many different stores, the first one is what cemented the franchise and is not to be missed at any cost! Many call it the best pirate movie ever made and no one disputes that Johnny Depp is the showstopper in this star-studded ensemble.

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