Johnny Depp, golden boy of Hollywood, who has the fortunate distinction of wearing a sundry amount of hats in his profession, and has transcended himself to become known as a worldwide dynamo in the cinematic field, a massive success story that has spawned countless franchises, small independent films held close to the vest, eclectic films that stretch his talents and our imaginations, and a plethora of other career spanning genres, celebrates his 50th birthday today.
From smash blockbusters like his salty and charismatic portrayal of grizzled Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean series to his countless turns with Tim Burton, where he’s played characters as diverse as Edward Scissorhands, Barnabas Collins, The Mad Hatter, Sweeney Todd (in which he showed an unexpected penchant for singing), and Charlie, who ran his Chocolate Factory, to playing real-life figures like John Dillinger and Hunter S. Thompson (of sorts), and mythological literary figureheads like Tonto in the upcoming Lone Ranger, there is really no stone that hasn’t been turned by Depp’s allure, confident acting style and gregarious, low-key yet positively enigmatic off-camera presence.
First known to the public on an early Fox-TV success 21 Jump Street, Johnny Depp has now become synonymous with the A-list of Tinseltown. He’s one of its biggest, brightest lights, blindly accurate and penetrating in Hollywood’s wide and expansive ocean of talent and non-talent. Liked and revered by all, there really isn’t much polarization when it comes to his works, regardless if the film itself was in question critically. He bounces back from failures, (Dark Shadows, The Tourist, The Rum Diary), his prolific attitude and output of work keeps him fresh, unpredictable, and constant in the public and professional eye, and he remains one of Hollywood’s most bankable and financially successful stars, on an all-time film grossing list with such like minded and adored stars as Tom Cruise, Will Smith, and to a lesser extent Bruce Willis, but unlike those aforementioned ones, seems to be on his own radar. His choices for his films for the most part have been adventurous, the aforementioned work with Tim Burton showcases this to full aplomb.
Again, even when the choices seem to go astray, he is still like the coolest guy in the room; for example, his Hunter S. Thompson projects (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a Terry Gilliam-directed vehicle adaptation of Thompson’s thought to be unfilmable 1972 tome of an excessive lifestyle on the road in the West Coast) and Bruce Robinson’s The Rum Diary put Thompson’s visage on the map and somewhat elevated him to more of a mainstream, and his turn in Dark Shadows, a wrong headed film by Burton, which adapted the cult late sixties, early 70s TV goth soaper to the big screen, had rock shocker Alice Cooper in it. Or witness his key friendship with Rolling Stone that still hasn’t somehow gathered moss Keith Richards. It’s a testament to the cool quotient of Depp’s allure that brings him these friendships and key moments – he really does transcend the pretentiousness of being hip off stage and seems to have a natural knack for putting his finger on the pulse of what is generally cool, and the world sees him in awe because of it. He continues to be one of the few actors in Hollywood who can do this, a kind of latter-day James Dean even if you will, coincidence or not that they share the same initials.
So a happy 50th to Johnny Depp, master actor, key figure, someone who is deserving of all the success and adoration he has gotten and continues to get in Hollywood. In a celebrity excessive world today where “stars” are churned out with the propensity and pretentious rate of McDonald’s hamburgers on the assembly line, Johnny Depp proves time and time again that you can make it look easy, put your energy in the right places, work hard, and be sincere at what you do, and that can enable one to hit the jackpot time and time again. Here’s to a rarity in Hollywood: a sincere, true, nice guy with a kick ass attitude in all that he seems to do. Happy Birthday, Johnny.