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Are these Johnny Depps’s 10 greatest movie characters of all time?

We choose our 10 favourite Johnny Depp characters

johnny depp films
Emmy Griffiths
Emmy GriffithsTV & Film Editor
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johnny depp films

If one thing can be said about Johnny Depp, it's that he is a truly versatile actor. His filmography is comprised of a labyrinth of unusual roles, from handsome leading men to creepy villains. The star has been praised for developing his characters and giving them identity by adding unique quirks through his voice and movement, meaning that he can take on the most bizarre of roles and make them fully-realised, believable characters.

The actor has always taken on memorable parts, and famously distanced himself from the typical leading man by taking on stranger characters, which was only helped by his professional relationship with the gothic filmmaker Tim Burton. Although the dad-of-two has almost too many roles to choose from, from the romantic to the gothic to the downright strange, click through our gallery to take a look at Johnny Depp's all-time greatest characters…   


black mass

James 'Whitey' Bulger – Black Mass

Described by Rotten Tomatoes as one of Johnny's "most compelling performances in years", Johnny played Whitey Bulger, a Boston gang leader. To prepare for the role, Johnny met with Whitey's attorney, Jay Carney, who would visit the set to give Johnny tips on capturing the criminal's personality in the film.


sweeney todd

Sweeney Todd – Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

In his first musical role, Johnny played Sweeney Todd, a once kind and happy barber by the name of Benjamin Barker, who is forever changed after being transported to Australia for a crime he didn't commit. Upon learning that his wife killed herself in his absence, Sweeney vows revenge and begins killing random people who go to him for a shave (all set to music, of course).


edward scissorhands

Edward Scissorhands

Johnny plays the title role in this strange gothic film about a man with scissors for hands who is taken in by an average middle-class family. This film marked his first collaboration with director Tim Burton, and the star took on the role after wanting to distance himself from his appearance in 21 Jump Street. The sweet, harmless character of Edward was loved by audiences, and the film remains a cult classic.


willy wonka

Willy Wonka – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

After Gene Wilder's iconic turn in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, taking over the role couldn't have been an easy task. However, Johnny was praised for his version of Willy Wonka after deciding  to go a completely different direction with the character, giving him an eccentric and spontaneous edge and an updated look.


mad hatter

Mad Hatter – Alice in Wonderland

It isn't easy to make a purely nonsensical character like the Mad Hatter sympathetic, but Johnny's portrayal of the Hatter's fragile mental state because of past events is inspired. Using a range of accents to show different sides to the Hatter's personality, Johnny also looked the part with an incredible costume and orange hair. Speaking about the role, Tim Burton said: "In a lot of versions it's a very one-note kind of character and you know [Depp's] goal was to try and bring out a human side to the strangeness of the character."


captain jack

Captain Jack Sparrow – Pirates of the Caribbean

The role that truly turned Johnny Depp into a household name was Captain Jack Sparrow. Loved by children and adults alike, Johnny gave the captain such unique quirks that Disney executives were worried about the reaction the audience would have to him. The star has since said that he based his performance on Keith Richards, who later played Jack's father in the third instalment of the hit series.


finding neverland

J M Barrie – Finding Neverland

In perhaps his most emotional role, Johnny portrayed J.M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan. The film focuses on his friendship with the Sylvia Llewelyn Davies and her five sons, and how they provided the inspiration for his most famous character, Peter. The touching film left not a dry eye in the house, and Johnny was praised for his portrayal.


chocolate 1

Roux – Chocolat

In Chocolat, Johnny played Roux, a handsome river gypsy who falls in love with Vianne, the misfit owner of a chocolatier in a sleepy French village. After the village boycotts the group of travellers, Vianne grows closer to Roux in what begins as an act of defiance. With a slicked back ponytail and a goatee, Johnny's role certainly stole the hearts of the audience!


gilbert grape

Gilbert Grape – What's Eating Gilbert Grape?

In the 1993 film, Johhny plays Gilbert, a kind man who cares for his disabled brother Arnie and is responsible for looking after their home, while their mother Bonnie keeps herself isolated. In a review for Variety, a critic stated that Johnny "manage[d] to command centre screen with a greatly affable, appealing characterisation".

sleepy hollow

Ichabod Crane – Sleepy Hollow

In the 1999 horror film Sleepy Hollow, Johnny Depp plays Ichabod Crane, a police constable who is sent to a town to investigate a series of gruesome murders. Refusing to believe the townspeople, who tell him the murders were done by a headless horseman, Ichabod slowly comes to realise the truth for himself. Speaking about preparing for his role, he said: "I always thought of Ichabod as a very delicate, fragile person who was maybe a little too in touch with his feminine side, like a frightened little girl."


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