Johnny Depp has left the building.

4 October, 2008

No he’s not dead, but really, who fucking cares?

I was informed today that the only two interesting projects on his IMDb — Shantaram and The Rum Diary — have been removed from his IMDb page. These are films that have been in pre-production for years. These are films that have always been one step away from being made. Depp just has to finish Pirates 3 first. Depp just has to finish Sweeney Todd first. Depp just has to finish Public Enemies first. Easy money much, Johnny?

The Rum Diary ticks me off in particular for two reasons: 1. Hunter S. Thompson badly wanted him to make the film in the last years of his life. When he died, Depp decided to go through with it as a tribute to him. Well guess what? Thompson died three years ago. What’s the hold-up? 2. The film was to be written and directed by Withnail & I scribe Bruce Robinson who hasn’t made a film in nearly 20 years. Here he is with another shot at making a great film and he can’t do it because he has to sit on his ass while Depp adds more projects to his plate. What sort of projects? Pirates 4 and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. Oh I get it. Weird guys. Greeeeeeeeeat…

(The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is an exception, obviously, given the circumstances of his casting. That and Gilliam is leagues better than Burton.)

In the past five years, Depp has been nominated for 3 Oscars, all of which pale in comparison to his 1990s work. Replace Pirates, Finding Neverland and Sweeney Todd with Ed Wood, Dead Man and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and the portrait of the actor is radically different. One suggests an actor not afraid to take real risks. An actor playing with a wide variety of roles suited to the visions of a wide variety of voices. The other suggests a sell-out who is just a little too comfortable in his niche. His deeply annoying fan-base doesn’t help. “Cast Johnny Depp as The Riddler! Why? Because he’s eccentric! Oh ok that makes sense!”

When Keira Knightley makes one period piece after another, she’s bland. When Johnny Depp makes one cookie-cutter piece of Burtonesque mediocrity after another, he’s… something else. I hate to say it but one of the great American actors has lost it.

UPDATE: Apparently Depp was recently spotted in Mexico location scouting for Rum Diary, supposedly set to start filming in January 2009. He damn well better be.

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