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Johnny Depp has been on everyone’s lips in the last few weeks after the actor lost a libel suit in England for the qualification of “wife abuser” in relation to his ex-partner Amber Heard and its subsequent separation of the franchise “Fantastic Beasts” (“Fantastic Animals”), which he helped launch to fame. Now that the actor fights for his future relevance in what could be the end of his career, it’s interesting to review how Depp began his rise to stardom.
SIGHT: Johnny Depp: how the ‘young scissorhands’ found his career in tatters
The actor who didn’t want to be an actor
Johnny Depp’s first passion was music. This is how he discovered it when he was a child, watching an uncle who was the pastor of a church play every Sunday. “That’s where I got the urge: watching my uncle play the guitar with his little gospel group, in front of me“He recalled in an interview with Rolling Stone in 2008.
Son of John Christopher Depp, an engineer, and Betty Sue Palmer, a waitress turned housewife, the childhood of the future actor was unstable, with the family, of which he was the youngest of four brothers, moving two dozen times before finally staying in the town of Miramar, Florida, in 1970.
A fan of music, Depp convinced his mother to buy him his first electric guitar when he was 12 years old. “I conquered her in days. I closed my bedroom door, didn’t come out, and I taught myself how to play the chords. I started learning to play songs by ear“Said the actor.
At the age of 13 Depp joined his first band and at 16, when he was already getting jobs playing in clubs, he left school to dedicate himself to music, a decision that he soon began to doubt.
“My parents told me ‘ok boy, you dropped out of school so you can handle it yourself’. There weren’t many options. And I was very close to joining the Marine Corps when I realized something: I had only been out of school for two weeks. Could returnDepp recounted. “So I sat down with the director and said, ‘Listen to me, I made a mistake and I’d like to try again.’ And, blessed, he said, ‘Johnny, I don’t think that’s a good idea. You love your music and it’s the only thing you applied to. Go out into the world and touch ‘”. And that’s exactly what Johnny did.
When Depp was 17 he joined a band called Kids. Unlike their previous groups, this one had the potential to become a famous group, and they even opened for groups like the Ramones, Iggy Pop and The Pretenders.
In 1983 the group decided to try their luck and go to Los Angeles to seek support from a record company, but life in a large metropolis was different from what they were used to. “Suddenly we were no longer the big fish in a small pond, we were guppies (a very small fish species) and we were almost on the street. We had to eat so we ended up getting jobs.”
One of those jobs was selling pens over the phone, which Depp considered his first experience with acting.: “You are reading a whole speech. There was a character in the soap opera ‘General Hospital’ – his name stuck in my head – so he would call people and say ‘How are you? I’m Edward Quartermaine’”. Depp’s fate might have continued like this, selling pencils so he could survive the day to day while looking for his big break, if it weren’t for his landlord Nicolas Cage.
“The real story is that we were already friends. I was living in an old building in Hollywood called the Fontenoy, and I think in the end I rented an apartment to Johnny and he started living there“Cage stated in an interview with the New York Times in 2019.”In those days (Depp) was selling pencils or something like that to survive”.
It was during a Monopoly game that Cage asked the question that would change Depp’s life: “Why don’t you try to act?”
According to the “Ghost Rider” star, Depp was reluctant to change careers at first, but necessity ultimately led him to accept and meet with Cage’s agent. who sent him to an audition of what was his first film role in 1984 with “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (“Nightmare on Elm Street”).
In the Wes Craven film, Depp plays Glen, Nancy’s (Heather Langenkamp) boyfriend whose death from being ‘eaten’ by a bed is one of the most shocking scenes in the film.
However, his arrival at the movies also spelled the end of his time with the Kids. “I told the band ‘I’m going to do this thing, it’s eight weeks, and then I’ll come back.’ But it didn’t work out that way. They all went in their own direction”, dijo Depp a Rolling Stone. “I never wanted to be an actor. It just seemed like a good way to make easy money. I didn’t care what the movies were. If you paid me, it was fine. That was my philosophy”.
Separated from his musical group, Depp began to accept several minor roles in films such as “Private Resort” (1985), the detective series “Lady Blue” and the television movie “Slow Burn” (1986). That same year he would have a supporting role in the Oscar-winning film “Platoon” by Oliver Stone, an experience that allowed him to act alongside Charlie Sheen and Willem Dafoe.
But his true rise to fame occurred on the small screen, when Johnny Depp agreed to work on the Fox series “21 Jump Street” about a unit of youthful-looking policemen who infiltrated schools to fight crime.
In an interview with Rolling Stone in 1988, Depp confessed that he entered the series thinking that it would not last long. But a year later, the show had transformed him into a youth idol.
But Depp had other ideas about the future of his career. “I don’t want to build my career by taking off my polo shirt. I would like to cut all my hair, even my eyebrows, and try it that way. I don’t blame the TV stars who appear in teen magazines. They understood their situation, they took the offers that gave them quick money, but (their career) was dead in two years. I do not want that”. Johnny would have the opportunity to try his luck with his first leading role, a curious film entitled “Edward Scissorhands” (“The young scissors hand”).
The Secret in Their Eyes
Although they did not know each other, Johnny Depp was Tim Burton’s first choice for the protagonist of “The Young Scissorhands.”
The animator turned director had already broken schemes with his films “Beetlejuice” (1988) and his adaptation to “Batman” (1989), and now he was trying to tell the unusual story of a synthetic young man who was trying to adapt to living in a society that did not accept him.
While Johnny Depp was the first choice, it should be noted that he also interviewed other actors for the role including current star Tom Cruise, as well as Tom Hanks, Gary Oldman, Jim Carrey, John Cusack, Robert Downey Jr. and even the own Michael Jackson.
“I’m happy that Johnny played (the part). I can’t think of anyone else who would have done it for me that way“Wrote the director in his book” Burton on Burton. ” “I really didn’t know him. He hadn’t seen the TV show he was on, but he had seen his photo somewhere. I quite like people’s eyes, and especially with a character like this, who doesn’t really speak, eyes are very important.”
“Young Scissorhands” was not a huge hit at the time, but for Depp it forged his long-standing relationship with Burton, with whom he has made eight films to date. It also helped him create the reputation of an actor who gave life to marginal or misfits characters who accompanied him in films such as “Ed Wood” (1994), “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” (1998), as well as in successful franchises such as “Pirates of the Caribbean”, “Alice in Wonderland” and, until recently, in the Harry Potter saga “Fantastic Animals”.
Johnny Depp will no longer participate in the third installment of “Fantastic Animals”
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Johnny Depp: The Pencil Seller Who Didn’t Want To Be An Actor And Is Now A Real Villain | Amber Heard | LIGHTS