Romeo played by Johnny Depp. Now that I would have liked to see. He has, to be sure, scrupulously avoided playing the gorgeous romantic leads that his looks would have made possible, but in his lost vulnerable Gilbert Grape and Sam (of Benny and Joon) days he would have put more depth, or at least idiosyncrasy, into Romeo than most of the callow young fellows (DiCaprio being the admirable exception) I’ve seen. According to Steven Daly in Johnny Depp – A Retrospective Marlon Brando told Depp to do Romeo before it was too late. Sadly he didn’t heed Brando’s advice and it is too late.
For Romeo. But not for Shakespeare. For whatever reason Johnny Depp has avoided Shakespeare for all these years – and seriously, why has he ?!?!? - isn’t it high time that he changed that? He’s excelled as so many weird characters that taking on Shakespeare would hardly tax his talents.
I’ve long harbored a hope that he would do Macbeth. Add a little more anguish and uncertainty to his John Dillinger in his Public Enemies and we’d have an awesome Macbeth. Unfortunately, I recently saw in the newspaper that a new Macbeth is being filmed with Michael Fassbender so Macdepp is probably not going to happen.
But just think of Jack Straw as Puck or Feste or even Lear’s fool. Think of Lear! Johnny is still too young but with make-up, a gray wig or another ten years (Lear isn’t necessarily all that old) and his acting skills would give us an excellent crazed, cruel and sad old man.
Crazed and cruel. His Sweeny Todd would only have to add a touch of military arrogance to become Titus. Even the pies are all ready.
Depp’s decadent cynical Libertine combined with his unhappy but noble Mad Hatter in 15th century costume and there we would have Henry IV – regal but regretful of having usurped the throne of Richard II, haunted by his crime and dying of some dread disease.
Imagine the kindly gentle J.M. Barrie in Finding Neverland as the generous and bountiful Timon of Athens and then…I can’t actually think of a comparable Depp role for the Timon transformed into the hateful misanthropic hermit he became after being betrayed by his friends but that’s what makes it so challenging. There’s still room for development in the Depp depths.
Caliban. Richard III. Claudius…
This weekend Hal and I are going to start a Depp marathon. One film a week. It will take about a year. By that time I hope to have been reached by the announcement:
DEPP DOES SHAKESPEARE IN NEW FILM – FINALLY!
P.S. A word about the marathon. It will be in roughly chronological order but it won’t include absolutely everything JD has done. No Jump Street for example because this is a movie blog, not a TV blog. I’m omitting his second film Private Resort because it just sounds so bad (horny teenage boys chase bikini clad girls. JD himself is reported to be embarrassed about it as well he should be). I don’t have Freddy’s Dead - the Final Nightmare because JD only has a cameo role and the film sounds pretty stupid. I don’t have L’Inconnu but I’m hoping to get it before that point in the marathon (2004). I’m going to include a couple of documentaries, Lost in La Mancha and When You’re Strange but I don’t have everything. JD’s presence will raise the ratings of the mediocre films but I’ll try to rate all the films as films and restrain from raving just because he’s in them. They are, as we all know, a mixed bag!