Johnny Depp attends the "Jeanne Du Barry" press conference at the 76th annual Cannes film festival at Palais des Festivals on May 17, 2023 in Cannes, France.

Johnny Depp, born John Christopher Depp II on June 9, 1963, in Owensboro, Kentucky, is an award-winning actor and successful musician. He was the youngest of four siblings. Johnny’s mother Betty Sue was a waitress and his father John Christopher was a civil engineer. His family moved around a lot during his childhood, eventually settling in Florida in 1970. His parents divorced when he was 15 years old, and his mother later married Robert Palmer, whom Depp called “an inspiration.”

Depp’s Early Career

Depp began playing guitar at 12 years old. Four years later, he dropped out of high school to be a professional rock musician. After just two weeks, he tried to go back to school, but his principal encouraged him to follow his dream of being a musician. In 1980, Depp began playing in a band called The Kids. The band found success in Florida, so they moved to Los Angeles to pursue a record deal and renamed the band Six Gun Method. The band split up and Depp’s first wife Lori Ann Allison introduced him to Nicolas Cage. The two hit it off and became drinking buddies. At this point in time, Cage told Depp he should pursue an acting career and would help him get an audition for 1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street. Depp had no acting experience but became inspired after reading James Dean’s biography and watching Rebel Without a Cause. Depp landed his first role as Glen Lantz. Landing role after role, Depp became a teen idol in the late ’80s.

The Peak

Over the next decade, Depp starred in a number of Tim Burton films, beginning with Edward Scissorhands in 1990. He starred alongside Hollywood legends like Al Pacino in Donnie Brasco and Marlon Brando in Don Juan DeMarco. By the time the early 2000s came, Depp landed his best-known work as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. At this point, Depp made hit after hit at the box office with works such as Corpse Bride, the Pirates of the Caribbean films and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet-Street.

Though the actor has an impressive collection of films he’s starred in, there were also many flops. On top of some failures, Depp faced major backlash for portraying a Native American in The Lone Ranger. Next was a lawsuit when filming City of Lies after a crew member sued Depp for assault. After receiving all this negative publicity due to allegations of domestic violence and substance abuse, Disney dropped the actor. It wasn’t until 2022 that Depp won against his ex-wife, Amber Heard in a defamation case. In 2023, Depp made his “comeback” to Hollywood opening up the Cannes Film Festival with Jeanne du Barry.

Take a look below at Johnny Depp’s best movies of all time, ranked.

  • 9. The Tourist

    During an impromptu trip to Europe to mend a broken heart, math teacher Frank Tupelo (Depp) finds himself in an extraordinary situation when an alluring stranger, Elise (Angelina Jolie), crosses paths with him in this 2010 thriller. Their seemingly innocent flirtation turns into a dangerous game of cat and mouse.

  • 8. Public Enemies

    In this Depression-era crime drama, Depp portrays the notorious, charming bank robber John Dillinger. The FBI declares him to be “Public Enemy No. 1.” Depp had a real-life connection to his character, as his stepfather committed burglaries and robberies and spent time in the same prison Dillinger helped his associates escape from.

  • 7. Black Mass

    Depp’s makeup alone made him look just like Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger. The biographical crime drama is set in 1975 starring Benedict Cumberbatch as his brother Bill. FBI agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) convinces Whitey to help the agency fight the Italian mob. The film features an ensemble cast with Kevin Bacon, Jesse Plemons, Peter Sarsgaard, Dakota Johnson, and Corey Stoll.

  • 6. Rango

    Depp stars as the titular character, a pet chameleon who becomes stranded in the Mojave Desert of Nevada after his terrarium accidentally falls out of his owners’ car due to an accident. In this Gore Verbinski-directed fantasy Western, Rango seeks to find the desert town of Dirt.

  • 5. Corpse Bride

    In this 2005 stop-motion musical, Depp stars as Victor Van Dort, a timid but good-natured young man who is engaged to Victoria Everglot for social and financial reasons. However, while rehearsing his wedding vows in the forest, Victor trips and places Victoria’s wedding ring on an upturned root. This root turns out to be the skeletal finger of a naive, dead girl named Emily (Helena Bonham Carter). She takes him away to the Land of the Dead.

  • 4. Edward Scissorhands

    Burton’s childhood upbringing in suburban Burbank, California, inspired Edward Scissorhands. The filmmaker felt isolated and unable to communicate with others and maintain friendships as a teenager. His idea of the scissor blades for hands comes from a drawing he made as a teen of a thin, solemn man. In preparation for the role, Depp watched many Charlie Chaplin films to study creating sympathy without dialogue.

  • 3. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

    In Tim Burton’s adaptation of the 1971 original, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Depp made his character completely different from Gene Wilder’s version. To get inspiration for his character, Burton and Depp modeled their Willy Wonka from children’s television show hosts like Bob Keeshan and Fred Rodgers. Depp also based Wonka’s unique voice on how he imagined President George W. Bush would sound like “incredibly stoned.”

  • 2. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

    Of all the musical films out there, Depp’s demon barber role as Sweeney Todd is the best one. Mixing in horror, this was the first film the actor was required to sing in. Instead of hiring a vocal coach to prepare for the role, Depp asked one of his old bandmates to help him and record demos.

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

    Depp’s best role is the lovable drunkard, Captain Jack Sparrow. He earned widespread acclaim for his performance and received an Academy Award and a Screen Actor’s Guild Award. Depp said he modeled the character after the Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards and Looney Toons’ Pepé Le Pew.

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