Johnny Depp is truly a Hollywood legend with some of the most iconic roles ever in cinematic history. From his start as an undercover cop investigating high school crimes in 21 Jump Street to his loveable pirate Captain Jack Sparrow saving the world in Pirates of the Caribbean, Johnny’s made his mark in Tinseltown as both a heartthrob and an award-worthy thespian.
While he hasn’t been seen on the big screen lately due to his legal troubles, including losing his role as Gellert Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts franchise, the embattled star, 58, still has an impressive resume to showcase. Let’s look back at some of his most memorable characters, below.
Glen Lantz in ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’
In 1984, Johnny scared his soon-to-be legion of fans with his turn as doomed boyfriend Glan Lantz in Wes Craven’s iconic horror film A Nightmare on Elm Street. While it was Johnny’s first big picture in Hollywood, audiences couldn’t take their eyes of the handsome actor even if they didn’t know him by name yet.
Officer Tom Hanson in ’21 Jump Street’
Johnny became a household name by playing the brooding, sexy cop Tom Hanson in the Fox police procedural from 1987 to 1990. The show’s plot consisted of young-looking cops going undercover to investigate crimes in high schools and other teen hangouts.
Johnny played the eponymous role in Tim Burton’s 1990 classic Edward Scissorhands. The dark fairytale about an artificial man with scissors for hands is often considered one of Johnny’s best performances. It also teamed him with leading lady Winona Ryder, who was one of Johnny’s most famous romances.
Sam in ‘Benny & Joon’
Johnny’s quirky acting choices are best exemplified in Benny & Joon. Playing Sam, Johnny sweeps Mary Stuart Masterson’s differently abled Joon off her feet with his charming eccentricities. It was the closest the actor came to a romantic comedy.
Raoul Duke in ‘Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas’
Terry Gilliam’s adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s seminal work Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas allowed Johnny to stretch his skills as journalist Raoul Duke, who takes an incredible number of drugs while reporting in the City of Sin. Although it was a critical and commercial failure at the time of its release, the movie has since become a cult classic.
Playing an undercover FBI agent in the 1997 titular film Donnie Brasco, Johnny showed he could carry a film with both bravado and heart. His turn as a family man struggling to make amends with his mafia-infiltrated double life won over fans and critics.
Ichabod Crane in ‘Sleepy Hollow’
Working with his favorite collaborator, Tim Burton, once again, Johnny brought the iconic character of Ichabod Crane to life. In this dark adaptation, Ichabod is an investigator seeking to find the identity of the Headless Horseman.
Willy Wonka in ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’
Based on Roald Dahl’s book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the film reunited Johnny with Tim Burton once again. Here he played the eccentric candy maker Willy Wonka and he’s never been weirder, or better.
Captain Jack Sparrow in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise
Here is the role that awarded Johnny his first Best Actor Oscar nomination and his way into the hearts of millions. Johnny took his Keith Richards-inspired character of Captain Jack Sparrow in the Disney hit Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (and its sequels) to the next level. And the rest is history.