USA | Nov 9, 2020

Hollywood would be barmy to toss aside Johnny Depp

Al Edwards

Al Edwards / Our Today

Reading Time: 5 minutes
Actor Johnny Depp (Photo: REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/Pool)

After losing a big libel case and being branded a “wife beater”, there are those who are pronouncing that Johnny Depp’s acting career is now dead.

Lending support to this was the recent announcement that he is to be terminated from the upcoming ‘Fantastic Beasts’ movie.

It shouldn’t be forgotten that Depp continues to be a highly gifted actor with a career spanning over 30 years. Think of his performances in ‘Edward Scissorhands’, ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape’, ‘Black Mass’, ‘Blow’, ‘Public Enemies’, ‘Donnie Brasco’, ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’, ‘Finding Neverland’ and, of course, ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’.

That bloke is finished and will not be getting anymore roles? His talent cancelled by cancel culture? Please!

Many seem to be writing Depp’s obituary, piling on the dirt over the casket.

Johnny Depp as the dark wizard, Gellert Grindelwald, in Fantasatic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

Lawyer Mark Stephens said: “This is devastating for Depp. He is now toxic. He will be known forever as a wife beater, a drunkard and a druggie. It will be written on his headstone.”

Wrong! He will go down in history as one of the best actors of his generation who played diverse roles creating some of the most intriguing characters ever seen on screen.  That is what will always be remembered. He will join the likes of Marlon Brando, Orson Wells, Lawrence Olivier and Richard Burton as best in class.

Depp is renowned for the roles he played as a young man and for his place in pop culture but he has extended his repertoire as the years have gone by while exhibiting  depth and range. His craft has endured, and he has never been flavour of the month.

Depp in arguable his most iconic role, Captain Jack Sparrow of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

At 57, there is a long road ahead for Depp and he will continue to fascinate and delight audiences. Those who are quick to write him off should recall that some of the greatest actors put in stellar performances in their later years. Cream always rises to the top.

Think Clark Gable at 60 in John Huston’s ‘The Misfits’; Clint Eastwood at 62 in ‘Unforgiven’; Burt Lancaster at 70 in Bill Forsyth’s ‘Local Hero’; Paul Newman at 57 in Sidney Lumet’s ‘The Verdict’ and at 77 in  Sam Mendes’ ‘Road to Perdition’.

For him to come back will be like climbing Mt Everest without oxygen, barefoot and in his underpants.

Mark Borkowski, celebrity crisis management expert

American celebrity crisis management hotshot Mark Borkowski was particularly dismissive, practically pronouncing the last rites on Depp’s career.

“His reputation is in tatters. Having lost the libel case, he will always be known as a wife beater. Wherever he is interviewed by a journalist, he will be asked about this and if he is a wife beater.

“It doesn’t get any worse for him. Hollywood is very corporate and risk adverse with its money. Those making film franchises will not want to take the risk. This is a personal disaster for him. For him to come back will be like climbing Mt Everest without oxygen, barefoot and in his underpants.”

Depp as Sweeney Todd in 2007 film Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

Oh yeah? Keep watching. Depp will be forlorn for a while and will feel the weight of the opprobrium thrown his way. Some studios may go along with the MeToo# and cancel culture sentiment but he must look to his talent and gifts and wait for the tide to turn. He will be back.

READ: Johnny Depp out of ‘Fantastic Beasts’ after losing ‘wife beater’ case

Mickey Rourke was written off as well. Then, aged 56, put in one of his finest performances in 2008’s ‘The Wrestler’, sparking renewed interest in his career.


Depp’s Jack Sparrow in the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise is perhaps one of the most definitive and iconic characters of cinema in the last 20 years. There has been talk that Depp will no longer reprise the role and will be replaced.

That will not find favour with audiences and will turn out to be another George Lazenby following Sean Connery as James Bond situation or, for that matter, Jeremy Renner playing the lead role in ‘The Bourne Legacy’ when everyone wants to see Matt Damon as Jason Bourne.

Johnny Depp is Jack Sparrow – end of story.

Yes, Disney is very corporate and has to very politically correct –  more so in these times, but it cannot discount that the five movies that make up the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise have brought in worldwide box office receipts of US$4.5 billion.

And who is largely responsible for putting those bums on seats? There you go.

Disney should not be quick to readily discard one of its brightest stars. Depp has brought the company much glory. It should be a rule of thumb  to be good to those who are good to you.

With the proliferation of digital entertainment platforms like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon there are vehicles that can showcase Depp’s undeniable talents and would be delighted to work with him.

Actor Johnny Depp gestures as he leaves the High Court in London, Britain July 28, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Toby Melville)

Back in 1997 he directed ‘The Brave’, in which he starred with Marlon Brando. It was not well received but since then he would have learnt considerably more about the writing and film making process. Depp may well want to turn his hand to directing and focus more on what he does behind the camera.

He is a professed lover of documentaries, once saying, “I am psychotic for documentaries. I adore them, you know. He has been working on a documentary on his friend Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones which is going through editing and should be released shortly.

Physically abusing spouses cannot be condoned, yet more often than not there are two sides to the story. It can get complicated. Better to treat your nearest and dearest with respect.

Steven Heller of the law firm Collyer Bristow opined, “Unfortunately for Depp, it is highly likely (his libel case) to have been a career-ending decision.”

For all movie lovers’ sake, let’s hope not.


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