When Johnny Depp Made Good Movies

There was a time, especially in the early-to-mid-'90s, where if Johnny Depp was on the billing, then the movie was guaranteed to be good — even if it wasn’t necessarily financially successful.
Throughout much of his career, Johnny Depp made career choices that were damn near unimpeachable. And, a few of his early films — like Edward Scissorhands and Nightmare on Elm Street — became instant classics. Of course, there was an undeniable method with which Depp chose roles. He loved oddballs and eccentrics with weird hair, bizarre mannerisms, and affected accents. For a long time, playing complex weirdos was a trajectory that worked for Depp.
Then, over time, something changed. Depp clearly lost his way. His characters ceased having that bit of vulnerability that grounded the character and reminded the viewer that the role was actually of a three-dimensional, complicated person, and not a live-action cartoon, as evidenced by Depp's flat portrayal of Willy Wonka in 2005's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. That's also the point where it became clear to audiences that Depp's fruitful partnership with director Tim Burton was starting to go stale.
Soon, we were left with a Depp who took on roles that seemed weird, but lacked depth and that kernel of relatability that was apparent in past work. His tendency of choosing movies that are weird just for the sake of being weird is apparent in the incomprehensible marketing art for his latest vehicle, Mortdecai.
However, instead of dwelling on his baffling career trajectory, let's take a look back to when Depp chose movie roles that were both compelling and enjoyable. If you haven't already seen the movies we share ahead, we recommend you check them out this weekend. It's better than blowing your money at the box office on another Depp flop.

More from Movies

R29 Original Series