Movie News & Reviews

Truly, madly, Depply

In one of the iconic lines from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Willy Wonka, played by Johnny Depp, tells Mr. Salt, "You're really weird."

And in a perfect world, Mr. Salt might have replied, "Speak for yourself, Owensboro boy."

In the past decade, Depp has made something of a franchise for himself playing weirdos from history and literature — or both, in the case of Hunter S. Thompson.

That streak continues Friday with the opening of Alice in Wonderland, like Charlie and several other Depp masterpieces, directed by Tim Burton. Depp's take on the Mad Hatter looks almost literally like the 1951 Ed Wynn version for Disney — on acid.

But that is what we have come to expect from Depp considering ... Ed Wood (1994): If you ever watched Plan 9 From Outer Space wondering, "What kind of person could make this ... thing?," Depp's performance as the notoriously bad director gave you a good idea who. Don Juan DeMarco (1994): There's often a sweet side to Depp's characters, which really showed in this story of a young man who thought he was the greatest lover of all time, Don Juan. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998): Depp's performance as Raoul Duke, a character based on Louisville native Hunter S. Thompson, was the blueprint for numerous Depp characters who lived life by their own rules. Depp, a close friend of the late Thompson, will again adopt his persona in the forthcoming The Rum Diary. Sleepy Hollow (1999): And then there's a creepy side, like his performance as Ichabod Crane in this graphic Headless Horseman tale.The Pirates of the Caribbean movies: Depp says he drew on rock star Keith Richards as inspiration for his signature role, Capt. Jack Sparrow, the absurdly confident (and just absurd) pirate from a Disney theme-park ride. He will reprise Sparrow for the fourth installment, On Stranger Tides, which reportedly will begin filming in 2011 in England. The Libertine (2004): Depp threw himself so deeply into this role as the notoriously debauched poet John Wilmot, the second Earl of Rochester, that the film was a little hard to watch. Finding Neverland (2004): Playing Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie, Depp let us see a soul that could write a classic about a boy who wants never to grow up — though reality was apparently much less idyllic than this movie. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007): Who else could lead the big-screen adaptation of the most ghastly musical ever written, and make us care about this psychopath?

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