When he was great: Benny & Joon (1993), Ed Wood (1994), Donnie Brasco (1997), Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas (1998)
Since then: Alice In Wonderland (2010), The Tourist (2010), Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), The Rum Diary (2011)
There once was a time when Johnny Depp was one of Hollywood’s bravest, strangest, and most unpredictable actors—hell, he was the epitome of those adjectives. Taking on oddball roles as quickly as he’d sign onto more straight-faced, prestigious films, Depp continuously went against those pretty boy looks and “Sexiest Man Alive” claims to embody characters that defied instant accessibility; from quirky parts like Edward Scissorhands to the hard-boiled anchor of the great crime drama Donnie Brasco, he could do it all, and unlike anyone else in the game.
These days, sadly, Depp does one common, repetitive thing, and frankly, not even all that well. Resting comfortably (for him, while it’s uncomfortable for us) in a formulaic, I’m-a-weirdo shtick that first began to frustrate in the vapid Alice In Wonderland and reeked of paycheck in last year’s Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, his once-singular sensibilities feel stale. And when he does drop the goofiness, Depp appears to act on disinterested auto-pilot, like in the unbelievably flat The Tourist.
Looking ahead, Depp doesn’t seem to be on the verge of a turnaround, unfortunately; first up, he’ll play a Goth-y vampire in the painfully obvious Tim Burton flick Dark Shadows, most likely followed by turns in The Lone Ranger (Pirates, déjà vu?) and a recently announced redo of the old monster-hunting TV show The Night Stalker (Dark Shadows, much?). How long will it be until Depp stars in a Munsters movie?