Between Johnny Depp's birthday last year and his birthday today, a miraculous thing has happened. My mother, who used to cringe at his face and never remember his name and could not, for the life of her, understand why I love him so much- she almost screams out his name when he comes on TV, with obvious appreciation and delight in her voice. This is not because I have bombarded the house with his pictures, because I haven't (yet). It is also not because she's been watching any of his films, because she hasn't (she's into Hindi soap operas). It is simply because he is such a fantastic actor that watching mere minutes of him at his art makes you a fan. And I have seen 25 of his films (he's made 40+. I am depressed).
John Christopher Depp II was born on 9th June, 1963 to a waitress and a civil engineer. With a childhood of constant shifting and family tension, an adolescence of rock 'n' roll and struggling in L.A. in his late teens and early 20s, including a job as a telemarketer for fountain pens- today, on his 47th birthday (and he looks gorgeous as ever) Johnny Depp is one of the biggest stars of Hollywood and also amongst its most critically acclaimed actors. But this is almost copied from Wikipedia. So what is it that makes me love him so very much, and call him my most favourite actor ever?
Though it sounds terribly clichéd, but it is his choice of characters and roles and the way that he enacts them perfectly, to the point of becoming the character itself for everyone. He is a chameleon actor, and so very apt at choosing such different roles that you never know what he is going to do next. But it isn't the choice alone. I mean people like Taylor Lautner who go from being part fish in one film to part dog in another, that science and nature would fall at their feet! However Johnny Depp, who indeed plays characters that are poles apart, but he puts his soul and thoughts and feelings into it, and creates a character that is so very different than what must have been written in the script, though infinitely better of course. He himself has said, "With any part you play, there is a certain amount of yourself in it. There has to be, otherwise it's just not acting. It's lying." This has to be my most favourite quote on acting, because there is truth in it. I have always thought that the best of actors are those who are able to do a variety of roles, but their own identity is never lost it. I'm digressing here but Meryl Streep, who is considered to be the greatest actor of today, can play a Holocaust survivor, a writer obsessed with orchids, a selfish actress with an obsession with beauty, a paranoid aunt, a fashionista from hell (clichéd again), a formidable nun and a beloved cook brilliantly, and still be Meryl Streep. It is absolutely amazing!
- Captain Jack Sparrow- Actually, I might have never put this character up in this list, because it is my favourite character of all time. But as a JD character, it would be my second favourite. I know that didn't make any sense, but what I mean is that Capt. Jack Sparrow is not JD, he is a person himself. What JD has managed to do with this character is that he has literally breathed life into it. Talking about JD and talking about Capt. Jack are two very different things. Call me a crazy fan, but there must be people who agree with me. Yes Capt. Jack is based on Keith Richards; yes none but JD could have played him so mesmerisingly; yes it is a desecration for anyone who assumes the identity of Capt. Jack except JD, but Capt. Jack is not just a character. He is the ultimate cult hero- a pirate, a drunk, a warrior, a genius. The fact that JD played him just adds to his character. And thus being not a character, Capt. Jack Sparrow as a character, is JD's second best yet. Capt. Jack is a hilarious, ingenuous pirate who can get out of any situation using his wit, sword and conversation skills. He is to be revered for his love of freedom and rum. JD got his first and very-eagerly anticipated Oscar nomination as Capt. Jack, and also the superstar status he has, and not necessarily enjoys, today.
- J.M. Barrie- Oh this role and this film! JD's most poignant and touching role to date. As the reclusive playwright with the imagination of a child, JD plays J.M. Barrie when he had met the Davies family and wrote the play that is as everlasting as the boy himself, Peter Pan. I had always loved the children's tale, but when I saw this film and how Barrie was enchanted by the everyday games and plays of the Davies boys, which led him to write it, I grew to love it so much more. It is Barrie's Neverland that we see in the play, and it is JD's Barrie who shows us the Neverland and its humble beginnings in the film. His love for the children and their mother, who is played by another favourite of mine- Kate Winslet, his indifference and ignorance of the real world, his gentle manliness, his kiddish delight; all of which led to JD's second Oscar nomination, is a nothing but sheer pleasure to watch.
- Sam- I have already written about this role in Benny and Joon and how it should have been Sam and Joon instead because JD is simply superb in this role. He plays an eccentric young man, who can make bread rolls dance and toast bread using the iron and also swing by windows. I love characters like these- old-school, funny and sweet. And JD was just that.
- Ed Wood- Even though JD has played nothing but eccentric and abnormal characters in Tim Burton films, I personally think nothing comes close to Ed Wood. Ed Wood is based on the real life cross-dressing, terrible director of the 50s, whose films now have a cult status. He is blindly optimistic, filled with weird ideas that always manage to fail. His creepy vision and deplorable effects, and affection to equally insane characters like Béla Lugosi and Vampira- the character is spot-on crazy genius! JD is genuine and funny and light-hearted and stunning in black and white, even in a dress. His ability to just morph into the role of the nutty filmmaker is extremely commendable.