Hollywood comeback Johnny Depp?  It will take more than his fans

Hollywood comeback Johnny Depp? It will take more than his fans

“Johnny is great for the Dior ads and the occasional rock concert, but Mel Gibson is fine,” one manager wrote in an email.

In this edition of Career Watch, IndieWire’s episodic career examination of actors, directors, and those hoping to get there, we take on Johnny Depp.

As a victim of slander, the 58-year-old has done well with the jury as well as the court of public opinion. He received $10 million in damages and $350,000 in punitive damages against his ex-wife, Amber Heard, who wrote in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed a year after their divorce that she was a “public figure who represented domestic violence.” The jury ruled that she had failed to prove that he had physically abused her.

Since then, Depp has discovered TikTok and gratefully invited his fans to “employers”, but of course they don’t write checks. Those who do are less likely to be affected by viral social memes — or at least, as Sony recently learned through the fiasco of the “Morbius” reissue, they should be.

minimum: A strong draw in five Disney “Pirates of the Caribbean” films that have grossed more than $4.5 billion worldwide, Depp lost the role of Jack Sparrow in the franchise amid allegations of domestic violence, as well as a recurring role of Grindelwald in Warner Bros. ‘Fantastic Beasts’ after he lost a British libel case against The Sun, which called him a wife beater. Neither producer Jerry Bruckheimer nor Warner Bros. plans to return Depp to their franchises. While Depp gets a boost from his defamation lawsuit win, he’s more amenable More funding for independent projects from abroad than for big-budget studio films.

Latest error: Depp played a grieving alcoholic photographer who made a stage play on the revival of a career in the 2021 Berlin entry “Minamata” (Metascore: 55), which raised $1.8 million worldwide. Thanks to Depp’s huge fan base, the film was ranked third in the Oscars Fan Favorites at the 94th Academy Awards in 2022.

Professional Peak: Since his debut in the mid-1980s, Depp has tested his strength in the Indies as John Waters’ “Cry-Baby” (1989), Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man (1996), and Terry Gilliam’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” (1998). ) before breakout roles in Tim Burton’s “Edward Scissorhands” (1990) and Lacey Hallstrom’s “What Eats Gilbert Grapes” (1994). The actor collaborated with Burton on eight films: “Ed Wood” (1994), “Sleepy Hollow” (1999) , “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (2005), “Corpse Bride” (2005), “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (2007), “Alice in Wonderland” (2010), “Dark Shadows” ( 2012). Disney’s highly profitable “Pirates of the Caribbean” series began in 2003 with “The Curse of the Black Pearl” and transformed Depp from a rising actor into a movie star.

Prize attention: Depp earned his first Academy Award nomination for his outrageous directing of Keith Richards as the villainous Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Depp earned the respect for seizing opportunities with a daring and under-performing performance that was enjoyed by audiences around the world. He earned his second Oscar nod for his influential role as “Peter Pan” writer J.M. Barrie in “Finding Neverland” (2004), and the latter for his overall performance as Demon Barber of Fleet Street in Stephen Sondim’s “Sweeney Todd.” , which won him a Golden Globe Award.

Biggest problem: Deep Prime has far surpassed his movie star. Unlike Brad Pitt, or Robert Downey Jr. (who cleaned up and embraced sobriety and tough physique), Depp looks tacky and distracted from years of admitted drug and alcohol abuse. After wrestling in court with managers and financial advisors, he also appears to be as addicted to spending as a drunken sailor. The search for huge payouts has led to Nick Cage’s level of overexposure and numerous bad reviews, from “Gate 9” (Metascore: 44) to “Tourist” (Metascore: 37). Depp’s last positive review on Metacritic was “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” in 2016.

Long before Amber Heard’s troubles, Depp was best known for Marlon Brando’s group behavior, from being late to no-shows to acting loud. His former agent, Tracy Jacobs, who has nurtured his career for decades, testified in a defamation trial over Depp’s misconduct on the set of the fifth and final Pirates of the Caribbean film, “Dead Men Tell No Tales” (2017, Metascore:39), in which he was constantly late and needed to feed his lines to him through earphones. I traveled to Australia twice in an attempt to intervene. “I was very honest with him,” she told the court. “[I] He said, “You have to stop doing this, it hurts.”

This wasn’t the worst of it. Global Road Entertainment has pulled the 2018 version of Brad Foreman’s LAPD thriller “City of Lies” (Metascore: 44) after the site’s manager sued Depp for assault. Saban Films acquired the film and released it in 2021 in 501 theaters. It made $275,049 in its opening weekend.

“He has to take responsibility,” said one of the studio’s production managers, who asked not to be named. “He is a smart man with good taste and good instincts. If he wants to act, he must change his work habits and not be a singer.”

Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean”


Origins: A man can act. No matter how weird and mysterious personal he can be (he should steer clear of TV interviews), Depp is a veteran who – when he pays attention – knows what he’s doing. Movies from “The Score” and “Public Enemies” to “Black Mass” and “Don Juan de Marco” show what he can do when he does his best. He’s also an accomplished musician who can sing, from “Sweeney Todd” to “Into the Woods.” He’s never been interested in romance, but can handle dramas (“Donnie Brasco”), the sporting demands of western action (“The Lone Ranger”), broad comedy (“Dark Shadows”, “The Rum Diary”), and distant fantasy. (“Alice in Wonderland”, “Hugo”, “Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus”).

Current gossip: Depp recently toured the UK with guitarist Jeff Beck, and released his first video on TikTok (10 million followers so far) which included short clips of the actor rocking the guitar. Beck announced the July release of a new album with Depp. The actor thanked his “most esteemed, loyal and steadfast supporters” after winning the trial. “From the beginning, the aim of bringing this case was to reveal the truth, regardless of the outcome,” he stated after the trial. “Telling the truth was something I owe to my children and to all those who have remained steadfast in their support of me. I feel at peace knowing that I have finally made it.”

However, the jury in the case also ruled that Depp had slandered Heard and awarded her in compensatory damages of $2 million. Her spokeswoman said, “As Johnny Depp says it’s going forward, women’s rights are going back. The ruling’s message to victims of domestic violence is…fear to stand up and speak out.”

next step: Depp hasn’t filmed since Minamata, a sincere effort to portray a conscientiously troubled artist. He continues to participate in many documentaries, music videos and shorts. He has signed on to star as King Louis XV opposite actor and director Mayouin in “Jeanne du Barry” about the king’s last official mistress. That’s one path forward for Depp, as it has been for Woody Allen and Roman Polanski: The Outwardly Funded Indies. “This case did no harm [Depp] in Europe,” said one of the independent producers.

An independent distributor added, “He’s going to be getting European B2 movies for a while. It’s been a while since he’s done a great performance. He’s been great on The Rum Diary, which was so weird doing more than just artwork. If he’d really gotten up, It has to have a good, sturdy part. Producers think they can get it for a lower price. I can’t see the signs or Disney is renting it. It’s going to take a long time.”

Hollywood is mixed about Depp’s recovery potential. Awareness of Depp’s ardent fan base should support some shows. Many cite his gentle warmth and generous charitable work for Make-a-Wish and other organizations. But he’s never won an Academy Award like Cage, and he hasn’t shown much interest in performing normal at times. Nor has he shown any evidence of a serious effort to be vigilant either.

EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, Johnny Depp, Kathy Baker, 1990. TM and Copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp.  all rights are save.  Courtesy: Everett Collection

Edward Scissorhands

Everett Group

“Johnny is great for the Dior ads and the occasional rock concert, but Mel Gibson is fine,” one manager wrote in an email.

“I think he has a chance to be over a mile,” one studio producer wrote. “Downey is the best example. Although all he was hurting was himself. If I was responsible for Johnny’s career, I would ask him to do some pure art films that show how great he is as an actor. Then with some time and some reminders of what he is capable of doing.” , I was going to try to put him in the role of the villain in a bigger movie…then see what happens.”

One specialty distributor said Depp has yet to appear in the cast lists. “It’s viable,” she said. “You can tell how much support he got. He has always been a special actor, and he still is.”

Professional advice: While fans had hoped that Burton would play Depp as Gomez in the upcoming TV series “Addams Family,” Depp’s best hope for the future is that Burton or another top-tier manager will take a chance. Depp loves character roles, and meaty supporting roles should come his way. The studio isn’t likely to count on him carrying a big-budget movie unless he proves himself – as Downey did – by going to rehab and staying clean.

His victory over Heard did not play well in many quarters. He should remain humble and not gloat.

The best way to reclaim Depp’s status as a top-notch movie star is to forget about the salary and make fewer, higher quality movies. The more movies he makes, the less likely they will turn out well.

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