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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Johnny...you impress me...how'd ya do it?

First of all, HI!!! Between various trips this summer and my book deadline that's fast approaching, I've been offline a lot more than usual lately. But, while I'm not allowing myself much by way of goof-off time until the manuscript is polished and turned in, I did need to take a mental break from revisions for a few hours this weekend...and I chose to spend it watching a handful of old episodes of 21 Jump Street.

Who else remembers this show? Johnny Depp, very clean cut. An '80s pretty boy who made the idea of a young cop undercover in a high school delightfully appealing. (He fought off gang members and drug users, put bullies in their place, and even had time to make out with the hot young English teacher--once he'd flashed his badge, of course, and his real age was safely revealed.) I remember the show fondly, if not with much critical accuracy. I liked the boppiness of the title track (sung by Holly Robinson, now Holly Robinson Peete) and the collection of young actors on the show, particularly Johnny. He delivered his lines well enough for the expectations of this youth-focused crime drama, but I fully admit he gave me no indication whatsoever back then that he'd grow into the versatile and wildly transformative actor he's become.

So, I found myself wondering, HOW did this happen??? What made him leap from typical young '80s actor to one whose dramatic prowess and unique characterizations have become legendary? What clicked for him in this artistic realm? What inspired him to elevate his acting craft to a level so far above that of many of his peers?

I liked Johnny 20+ years ago and thought he was "cute." I respected his growing skill throughout the years, too. But now, having watched so many of his later films and then seeing anew his early work, I'm deeply, overwhelmingly impressed by his growth as an actor, and I hold that level of profound improvement up as a kind of beacon of hope for all of us in the arts. If he could raise the bar for himself like that, perhaps the rest of us are also capable of reaching higher... Anyway, maybe I'm the only one who feels this way, but it's inspirational to me ;).

For those of you who are Johnny Depp fans, what films are your favorites? Would love to hear!

18 comments:

Pamela Cayne said...

Hard to beat Pirates, though Benny & Joon and Once Upon a Time in Mexico are high up there, too. I should probably read more interviews he's done and see what he says about his transformation. Regardless, I hope he keeps making movies!

Sending lots of book (finishing and promoting) hugs!!!

Melissa said...

I will always love "Edward Scissorhands." Such a beautiful and emotional story. He was cute in "Benny and Joon" too.

Nancy J. Parra said...

Wow- those two pictures are amazing. I must admit the second -older-one is more heart stopping to me. :D

My dd has every movie the man ever made in her collection- she is a student of film. I loved the one where he played a gypsy? and the heroine owned a chocolate shop. DD would kill me if she knew I couldn't remember the title. But since she is off to school, well, I can't ask her.

Hugs, N

Edie Ramer said...

The first time that Johnny struck me as special was in Chocolat. (I should watch that again.) I really admire him for the different roles he takes on. He could easily have been an action or romantic comedy star, but he took a different route.

Marilyn Brant said...

Pamela~he was remarkable in Pirates, wasn't he? I thought he did a great job with Don Juan DeMarco, too... And THANK YOU for those hugs xoxo.

Melissa~I agree with you! I think Edward S. was his first really well-acted role (I think it even came before Who's Eating Gilbert Grape). He touched my heart playing Edward ;).

Nancy~I *love* that second photo! That may be my favorite one of him... Yeah, he was cute in 21 Jump St. but, ohhh, he was HOT in Chocolat (the movie your DD loves ;).

Edie~Chocolat is one of my faves--I have to see it again sometime soon, too. Several years back, I read the novel by Joanne Harris (the book the film was based on) and enjoyed it, but I really loved the lighter touch of the movie, and I adored Johnny in that role. Sigh ;).

Robin said...

I thought he was fabulous in Pirates too. Especially the first one. And I adored Chocolat.

Happy vibes coming at you during this busy time!

Marlyn said...

My favorites are "Chocolat", "Gilbert Grape" and "Benny & Joon".

tonya kappes said...

He's one of my favs. I loved 21 jumpstreet!! I liked Edward Scissor Hands and Chocolate. I do love his current stuff to. BUT I also wonder what made him become the mysterious actor he is. He's from Kentucky and I don't know any KY boys who act like him...YUMMY>

Marilyn Brant said...

Robin~thanks so much for the happy vibes!! (I appreciate them. ;) Hope things are going wonderfully well for you!

Marlyn~I keep wanting to see Benny & Joon again because I only watched it once, years ago... Love, love, love Chocolat!

Tonya~I didn't know he was from KY! And, yes, you're right--he's very mysterious. He's gone through a lot of different stages. Like Pamela said, I feel as though I should read more of his interviews--I bet they'd be interesting!

Susan McBride said...

I'm late to chime in, but...YES, I watched "21 Jump Street" and thought Johnny was cute way back when. I'm with the votes for "Edward Scissorhands"--truly amazing performance. And I loved him in "Chocolat," too. He really is so versatile, and he's even hotter in his 40s than in his 20s (IMHO). ;-)

Brittany Roshelle said...

Definitely the movie Chocolate! I hope your new book is going great!!

Marilyn Brant said...

Susan~ohhhh, yes, he *is* even hotter now, in my opinion, too!!!! And all of those chocolate-eating scenes in that film... Mmmm... :)

Brittany~another "Chocolat" fan--yay!! And thanks for the good wishes on the manuscript--I appreciate them!!

Ashley Amanda said...

I am a HUGE Johnny Depp fan, have been for years. Not just because he's gorgeous, but like you said, because he's so versatile and has a talent for acting that has really set the bar for young aspiring actors and actresses looking to fill his shoes someday. Honestly I can't pick a favorite movie because his roles are so unique in every movie he plays. I love Pirates obviously and his hilarious character really makes the film! His role in Chocolat takes my breath away! But seeing those movies, it amazes me that he can also play in movies like Blow and be a dead beat addicted to drugs, or Edward Scissor hands and play a physically deranged sweetheart. Or how about Secret Window, a psychopathic author or even sleepy hallow. Each role he has played has proved to be just as unique as the last. I also thought it was really considerate of him to help Director Terry Gilliam finish "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus", which Ledger was still shooting when he died tragically (Another favorite of mine), by stepping in as a stand in character to complete the story.

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

I know that this comes a surprise, but I am not a Pirates fan. I love Johnny in the movie but the movies are take it or leave it.

I love and own Chocolat. He's completely wonderful and wise as well and handsome and endearing in that movie.

miriama said...

I picked up Season 1 at Walmart for five bucks! I think he is an amazing actor. My husband's favorite movie of his is From Hell. I couldn't possibly pick just one. I think the next time someone asks me what one thing do I want on a desert island it will be Johnny Depp.

Marilyn Brant said...

Ashley~thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on Johnny and his films! It's incredibly hard for me to pick a favorite of his, too, because -- as you said -- he manages to portray each character so uniquely. LOVE that about him!

Tina~I could watch Chocolat over and over ;). I've got the theme song ("Breathless" by the Corrs) in my head right now, too!

Miriama~LOL about your desert island pick! I love it! I think you're going to get a lot of agreement on that... ;)

Vesper said...

I haven't thought of him this way, but, yes, I think you're right and he's an inspiration. Anyway, he's one of the actors I admire the most. He's such an interesting, intriguing, eccentric figure...

Good luck with your manuscript! This is so exciting!

Marilyn Brant said...

Vesper~hello!!! Thanks for the luck (I'm getting down to the wire now ;) and for visiting. Hope all has been going well for you this summer!