In need of somewhat Johnny Depp to get you into the Halloween spirit? We’ve got you covered.
Johnny Depp has been portraying loveable eccentrics for nearly all of his profession. With outlandish costumes, elastic facial expressions, and adaptive vocals, he slips seamlessly from maniacal and mad to playful and perverse or compassionate and confused. What higher time to rejoice Depp’s most beloved characters than during spooky season — when his fans shall be exiting their homes decked out with scissors for hands or a red suit and a top hat?
‘Edward Scissorhands’ 1990 | Max
Depp and famed director Tim Burton began their longtime collaboration with the heartwarming dark fantasy Edward Scissorhands. The film follows Edward (Depp) — the product of a scientist’s unbridled urge to create an animated human being. The scientist dies before he can finish assembling Edward, leaving the gentle soul with a freakish appearance made threatening with razor-sharp scissors for hands. Exploring themes of isolation and difference, Depp captures Edward’s vulnerability and innocence with an otherworldly beauty and nuance. There’s a poignant sense of tragedy inherent to the character eager for connection, however the film boasts memorable moments of caprice and charm as a consequence of Depp infusing the character with innocent smirks and bewitching peculiarity.
‘Sleepy Hollow’ 1999 | Max
Based on Washington Irving’s 1799 novel The Tale of Sleepy Hollow, the story follows Ichabod Crane (Depp) as he investigates a series of decapitations within the small town of Sleepy Hollow — only to confront a ghostly headless horseman and unravel a dark web of betrayal and witchcraft.
As could be expected of a Depp character, Ichabod boasts eccentricities and quirks that highlight his off-kilter personality and unorthodox approach to detective work. From his aversion to blood (which is just not exactly convenient for a person in his line of labor) to his fastidious attention to detail, the character is a quizzical Depp at his finest. Freakish and boasting a methodical approach to speech — that’s directly detached and astute — he’s the unconventional progressive operating inside (and against) a society steeped in tradition.
‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ 2005 | Prime Video
In 2005’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Depp takes on the beloved Willy Wonka in a whimsical yet dark retelling that reflects Tim Burton’s signature surrealistic and quirky filmmaking approach. Depp’s Wonka boasts a more mysterious demeanor than his predecessor and is sort of unpredictable. Despite the character’s general air of caprice, his intentions seem tinged with a slight nefarious undertone. Combining a childlike wonder (and vocal delivery) with a melancholic interior world, Depp creates a Wonka that’s crazed and ceaselessly buoyant, lovable yet barely fear-inducing.
‘Dark Shadows’ 2012 | Hulu
Turn the clock back to 18th-century Maine and follow Barnabas Collins (Depp), a wealthy and powerful playboy, who sets his personal doom into motion when he breaks the guts of a witch, Angelique. Angelique turns Collins right into a vampire and buries him alive. When he emerges from his coffin two centuries later, he not recognizes his hometown of Collinsport, and his once-grand estate is in damage…as is what stays of his familial legacy.
From looking at lava lamps in awe to brushing his teeth within the mirror sans reflection, Depp devours this role with an ideal fish-out-of-water performance. “How soon can the horses be ready,” he asks of his ‘70s family, to which Michelle Pfeiffer replies, “We don’t have horses. We have a Chevvy.” “What sorcery is that this!? He indignantly proclaims at a television set playing The Carpenters, before snatching away the back panel and asking the “tiny songstress” to disclose herself. From his distinctive physicality — marked by graceful yet stiff movements — to his one way or the other alluring charm within the face of utter preposterousness — Depp’s Barnabas pays homage to classic Vampires while offering up those beloved Burton-esque idiosyncrasies.
‘Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street’ 2007 | Hulu
How could we omit the throat-slitting barber of Fleet Street on a vengeful quest to right a past improper that involved him losing the love of his life? Depp lends his vocals to the 2007 Tim Burton-ified version of Stephen Sondheim’s magnum opus in a retelling which will lack the Broadway musical’s sense of satire and fun but offers up a compelling Depp instead.
Depp sings well enough, nevertheless it is his maniacal darkness and unrelenting mercilessness selling the part. He is brooding and haunted, cold and calculative yet tragedy-stricken and melancholic. Pushed by grief and misery, despair has led to his menacing nature, and Depp captures such complexity with each song he serenades audiences with. He is a killer. He is a hunter. He is a monster, but we’re on his side from the get-go.
‘Into the Woods’ 2014 | Disney+
Depp lends his vocals to a Stephen Sondheim adaptation once more for Disney’s 2012 musical fantasy Into the Woods. The musical is a beloved twist on classic fairytales equivalent to Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and more that guarantees to warn audiences to watch out what they want for — and watch out what they do to attain such desires — for all dreams fulfilled bear consequences.
Though Depp boasts quite a small role within the film, it’s memorable and worthy of a spot on this list. He plays The Wolf — who gets the prospect to sing the playful and sexually-laden number “Hello, Little Girl” to an innocent yet curious Little Red Riding Hood. With a twitchily smirking lip and a sniffling nose to get a scent for his “meal,” Depp transforms into the ravenous wolf with snarls and growls in addition. He’s directly a scheming salesman and an alluring beast. Laying on the bottom and swinging his tale as if it were a feather boa, Depp cons his prey with the promise of pleasure.
‘Alice in Wonderland’ 2010 | Disney+
Though not probably the most critically acclaimed film on this list, Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter is the definition of dream casting. The film follows Alice as a teen returning to Wonderland, yet she has no recollection of the place she visited as a young girl (except in scattered dreams). Down the rabbit hole, she goes, where she runs into some dear old friends — including Hatter.
Depp’s Hatter is strictly what you’d expect. Boasting a childlike enthusiasm and an limitless supply of energy, Depp’s wide-eyed expression perfectly complements Hatter’s gentle interior. He’s colourful — each literally and metaphorically — and boasts that tinge of melancholy customary of Depp’s Burton-created characters. Eccentricity meets sympathy. Captivating in his utterly crazed performance, the character’s unpredictability and expressive intensity make him probably the most compelling presence on the screen.