Top 10 Greatest Johnny Depp Movies of All Time

Updated on September 16, 2016

1. Pirates of the Caribbean

Johnny Depp's character as Captain Jack Sparrow is probably the most famous of all. He nailed the role - the dark makeup, pirate attitude, rum lover, excellent gun and sword fighter, and a happy-go-lucky person. Isn't he the hottest pirate in movie history?

Fun facts:

  • Originally, he wanted Jack Sparrow to have no nose and be afraid of silly things like pepper and the common cold. However, Disney rejected his idea.
  • He wore contact lenses which served as sunglasses so he wouldn't be squinting in the sun all the time.
  • He also improvised Jack Sparrow's catch phrase, "Savvy?"
  • Captain Jack is portrayed as having gold teeth in the film. The gold teeth were Depp's idea, but he predicted that executives would want fewer gold teeth, and told his dentist to implant more gold teeth as a bargaining tool. Sparrow's final number of gold teeth in the film was what Depp had envisioned all along.

2. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

It may be Captain Jack Sparrow who is our all-time favorite Johnny Depp character, but we couldn't deny the fact that he's a splendid killer in Sweeney Todd. In this movie, he's not just some Benjamin Barker who seeks revenge, but one who can sing while giving a nice shave. He really is a demon barber!

Fun facts:

  • There are some scenes in the movie where Sweeney opens his razor very quickly. It is actually a mechanical razor. There is already a button that he would press to have the razor open, which he hides with his finger. He personally requested the prop department to design this razor for him, as he had difficulty handling the real razors.
  • In preparation for his role, he had recorded demo tapes of himself in West Hollywood, working with old friend and music producer Bruce Witkin to shape his own vocals without a voice coach. He also practiced singing the musical while filming Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007).
  • The extra-large jacket costume he worn in the movie is a Belstaff dark leather trench, designed exclusively for him.

3. Edward Scissorhands

Johnny Depp's character as Edward Scissorhands is just a proof that he's not always the cool or bad guy. He can also be a sweet, innocent gentleman who's not hard to love. We all want to give Ed a cuddle, right?

Fun facts:

  • Johnny Depp admitted that he "cried like a baby" when he first read the script.
  • He convinced Winona Ryder to appear in this film, so she dropped out of The Godfather: Part III (1990).
  • This is fascinating: Edward says only 169 words in the film.
  • This film is the first collaboration between Tim Burton and Johnny Depp.
  • If you're caught by Edward's amazing topiary, well, they aren't real. They're just welded steel armature wrapped with chicken wire, where artificial greens were punched in.

4. Sleepy Hollow

His character as Ichabod Crane is portrayed very well that it richly blended with the dark atmosphere of the movie. Another movie by Burton, he was praised by Roger Ebert, saying "Johnny Depp is an actor able to disappear into characters, never more readily than in one of Burton's films."

Fun facts:

  • During the final scene, Johnny Depp did all of the stunts, where he is dragged by the horse. No worries, he had bullet-proof clothing underneath his wardrobe.
  • According to history, Ichabod Crane was a very unattractive man. Johnny Depp offered to add prosthetics to his face to make himself look ugly, but Tim Burton wanted to base the character on Crane's more unattractive personality traits - more on his reported squeamishness and eccentricity.
  • He initially found the idea of Christina Ricci being his love interest in the film to be rather odd, seeing as he's known her since she was nine years old.

5. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

The sweet world of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of our childhood movies. Johnny Depp's Willy Wonka looks funny and vibrant, which is just visually appealing for children. Rolling Stone magazine wrote, "Depp's deliciously demented take on Willy Wonka demands to be seen. Depp goes deeper to find the bruises on Wonka's secret heart than what Gene Wilder did. Depp and Burton may fly too high on the vapors of pure imagination, but it's hard to not get hooked on something this tasty."

Fun facts:

  • Johnny Depp was the only actor Director Burton considered for the role.
  • Depp signed on the role without reading the script under the intention of going with a completely different approach than what Gene Wilder did in the 1971 film adaptation.
  • Depp and Burton derived Willy Wonka's character from children's television show hosts.
  • As a child, Johnny Depp was allergic to chocolate. Quite ironic, right?
  • This is Depp's second chocolate-based movie. His first chocolate movie is called Chocolat (2000).

6. Finding Neverland

Finding Neverland is a movie which shows that Johnny Depp can play a protagonist's role in a fantasy world without wearing colorful makeup. His role as J.M. Barrie, though understated, was a promising one. He brought just the right amount of grace and charm to the real-life story.

Fun facts:

  • Throughout the movie, there were three scenes deleted. Directly after filming those scenes, Johnny Depp told the director that they would end up deleting those scenes. Guess what, he's right!
  • Johnny Depp was the first of the cast members to sign on to the film. Kate Winslet was next.
  • During the formal dinner scene, Johnny Depp played a prank by placing a "fart machine" under Julie Christie's chair. He had a remote control that he used to trigger a fart sound from the device. The children are laughing so hard at that than from playing with the spoons.

7. What's Eating Gilbert Grape

This is the kind of movie that shows how versatile Johnny Depp is. His role as Gilbert Grape is just so enchanting, it would make you feel emotional right away. In addition to his performance, young Leonardo DiCaprio is also astonishing. Variety magazine told that, "Depp manages to command center screen with a greatly affable, appealing characterization."

Fun facts:

  • Johnny Depp felt really bad about having to insult Darlene Cates' character, "Momma", and would often apologize to her after shooting. Depp said to Cates, "Man, I want you to know how much I hated having to say those things about you, or about your character."
  • He also had the idea of playing Gilbert Grape as someone who seems constantly half asleep/half awake--someone numb to the peculiarities in his life. Juliette Lewis completely agreed with his interpretation of the character. Even still, he's worried he was boring by playing Gilbert so mildly. Lasse Hallström, however, agreed with Lewis, and thought that Depp nailed the part.
  • Johnny Depp admitted that he got easily irritated by co-star Leonardo DiCaprio during the filming of the movie. In an interview, Depp said, "It was a hard time for me, that film, for some reason. I don't know why. I tortured him (Leonardo DiCaprio). I really did. He was always talking about these video games, you know? I told you it was kind of a dark period... 'No, I will not give you a drag of my cigarette while you hide from your mother again, Leo.'" Depp concluded, "I'd say the absolute truth is that I respect Leo a lot. He worked really hard on that film and spent a lot of time researching. He came to set and he was ready to work hard and all his ducks were in a row."

8. Donnie Brasco

This rich,satisfying movie is adapted from Joseph Pistone's novel about his own experiences as an undercover FBI mole. Depp himself played Pistone and his alter-ego, the titular Donnie Brasco. Critics praised his performance especially: a Salon.com review hailed his performance as "sensational." New York Magazine called him "graceful" and found his acting highly believable: "We can believe that the mob might take him for a tough, ambitious young hood—he has the wariness and the self-confidence that creates an aura."

Fun facts:

  • In preparation for his role, Johnny Depp met with Joseph D. Pistone in person for a number of times. He also took shooting lessons from the FBI.
  • He spent months together with the real Joseph D. Pistone before shooting. Most of the time they lifted weights together.
  • One of the many reasons why Johnny Depp was chosen to cast as Brasco was because he looked kind of Italian. In reality, he says he's "One part Cherokee and the rest mutt."
  • Al Pacino was originally going to play Brasco. However, when he switched to Lefty, he recommended Johnny Depp.

9. Ed Wood

Another film directed by Tim Burton, the 1994 biopic stars Depp as cult filmmaker Ed Wood. It may not be as popular as some of the other Burton-Depp collaborations, but this movie proved that Depp is more than capable of handling different roles, even without all the flashy makeup and costumes. Though it is not a box-office hit, it earned several praises from other critics and audiences alike, and earned Depp a Golden Globe nomination.

Fun facts:

  • Johnny Depp has said that his characterization of Edward D. Wood Jr. was a mixture of "the blind optimism of Ronald Reagan, the enthusiasm of the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz (1939) and Casey Kasem."
  • Ed Wood's Hollywood home overlooking his nightclub "The Viper Room" was previously owned by Bela Lugosi.
  • This is Tim Burton's first R rated film.

10. Alice in Wonderland

Another colorful role by Johnny Depp is being the Mad Hatter in the 2010 Alice in Wonderland movie. Mia Wasikowska, the actor for Alice, said that, "both (Alice and Mad Hatter) feel like outsiders and feel alone in their separate worlds, and have a special bond and friendship." Burton also explained that Depp "tried to find a grounding to the character ... as opposed to just being mad."

Fun facts:

  • This film marks the 7th time Johnny Depp has worked under the direction of Tim Burton.
  • Johnny Depp admitted that he found the process of filming on a green screen "exhausting", and "befuddled by the end of the day". He also said that he prefers "an obstacle" while in filming.
  • Tim Burton and Johnny Depp worked hard to give the Mad Hatter more depth and presence than in past portrayals. In fact, the pair swapped sketches and themes for the character prior to creating this new version.
  • Johnny Depp watched the Scottish comedy show Rab C. Nesbitt (1988) to perfect his character's Glaswegian voice.

What is your favorite Johnny Depp role?

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Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        mitch_026 

        22 months ago

        It's funny to know how young Leonardo used to annoy Johnny during the filming of What's Eating Gilbert Grape. I can't imagine how they filmed Arnie's bathing scene, they must be laughing so hard at that!

      • profile image

        Ella 

        23 months ago

        His Edward Scissorhands is his most adorable character. Ed Wood is underrated. He's simply brilliant there

      • profile image

        anon 

        23 months ago

        cool

      • Cee-Jay Aurinko profile image

        Cee-Jay Aurinko 

        23 months ago from Cape Town, South Africa

        Johnny Depp is my all-time favorite actor, so I had to read this hub. Thank you for taking me down memory lane Mare-sensei! I don't remember watching Sleepy Hollow, so I'll have to check that one out to add to the list. I'm kind of dissatisfied that The Window didn't make it on here, but they're all good picks.

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