Johnny Depp is celebrating his 60th birthday.
The actor has been entertaining audiences since he first appeared on-screen at the age of 21 in the 1984 horror movie “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” playing Glen Lantz. Depp has since transformed for a handful of roles over the years, including his latest project as Louis XV.
Depp premiered his new film, “Jeanne Du Barry,” at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2023, marking his first big appearance since his defamation court case against ex-wife Amber Heard a year ago.
Depp received a lot of praise during his controversial appearance at the film festival, reportedly receiving a standing ovation – alongside the cast – over the film. It prompted Depp and the film’s director to tear up.
As the actor marks a milestone birthday, here’s a look back at his on-screen transformations and roles over the years:
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21 Jump Street – 1987
A few years after his big-screen debut in “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” Depp got a starring role on the hit FOX series “21 Jump Street.” In the show, Depp plays young-looking police officer Tom Hanson, who along with three of his colleagues, gets sent back to high school on an undercover mission to investigate crime in schools.
During a November 2015 interview with The Guardian, Depp looked back on his audition for the series, saying that “it was a last-minute thing” and he only auditioned because he needed the money. He famously left the show in 1990 after its fourth season after admittedly trying everything – even destroying his trailer – to get fired from the show and take on more serious roles.
His departure from “21 Jump Street” opened the door for Depp to strike a partnership with director Tim Burton.
Edward Scissorhands – 1990
After years of starring as a police officer on “21 Jump Street,” Depp appeared as the main character in “Edward Scissorhands,” playing the titular character.
In the film, Depp plays Ed, an animated human being created by a scientist who dies before he can give him proper hands, leaving Ed with blades for appendages. Ed is found by a kind housewife who takes him in, and while the neighborhood initially accepts him, they quickly turn on him and he becomes an outcast.
To create the look of Ed, Depp wore a wig of overgrown, messy black hair, skin-tight leather outfits and an intensely pale face with scars all over.
The makeup artists who created Ed’s look, Ve Neill and Stan Winston, were nominated for an Academy Award for best makeup at the time. While they lost to John Caglione Jr. and Doug Drexler of “Dick Tracy,” Neill and Winston managed to bring to life one of Depp’s most famous transformations.
Pirates of the Caribbean – 2003
Depp started playing perhaps his most iconic character, Captain Jack Sparrow, in 2003 when “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” the first movie in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, was released.
Jack Sparrow is a rum-obsessed pirate who in the first movie is looking to win back his ship, The Black Pearl, from his former first mate who stole it from him. In the later movies, with his group of companions, he attempts to avoid paying his blood oath to Davy Jones all while on the run from other pirates and trying to evade capture from the British.
The character often got himself in trouble, but always managed to get himself out of it.
“I started thinking about pirates in the 18th century and how they were kind of the rock ‘n’ roll stars of that era, and I thought, who’s the greatest rock ‘n’ roll star of all time, the coolest, and for me, it was Keith Richards hands down. And so I took that inspiration of Keith,” Depp told SceenSlam when promoting the movie.
“More a memory of how he is, how he behaves, this grace, an elegant wit and wisdom that he has and that I admire, so there was that.”
He also took inspiration from the cartoon Pepe Le Pew, whom he called “a skunk who basically had blinders on.” Depp explained that Le Pew “only saw his own reality,” noting that it didn’t matter what was going on around him because he didn’t see any of it, which describes Jack Sparrow.
To fully embody the character, Depp wore a long wig with sections of it braided and decorated with beads, topped with a bandana and a pirate hat, and he wore loose-fitted clothes and very worn-in boots.
In addition to the clothes, Depp also wore fake teeth to make them looked stained as well dark eyeliner around his eyes and little braids in his beard.
Depp was so convincing as Captain Jack Sparrow, he earned an Academy Award nomination in the best lead actor category for the role in the first movie. Ultimately, he lost to Sean Penn for his performance in “Mystic River,” but he did win the SAG Award that year.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – 2005
When Depp signed on to play Willy Wonka in the 2005 film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” he had the unique challenge of differentiating himself from Gene Wilder, who first played the character in the 1971 movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”
One of the ways in which he accomplished this difficult task was through his appearance on-screen. As opposed to Wilder’s curly long locks, Depp wore a short brown wig, giving himself a bob. While he kept Wonka’s signature top hat, his was darker than Wilder’s bright purple accessory.
In addition to the change in hair and wardrobe, Depp wore white powder – to achieve Wonka’s pale look – fake teeth and purple contact lenses.
Along with the character’s appearance, Depp told Australian TV host Rove McManus during a 2005 interview on “Rove Live” that he stopped watching the 1971 film to prevent himself from pulling inspiration from Wilder, instead looking elsewhere for his inspiration.
“No one really specific, there was just sort of memories I had of childhood, watching children’s shows, guys like ‘Captain Kangaroo’ and ‘Mr. Rogers Neighborhood,’ just remembering how odd their speech pattern was, the way they spoke to kids with this sort of ‘Hi, children, how are you today?’” he said in a mocking voice on “Rove Live.”
Sweeney Todd – 2007
In “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” Depp played the titular character, Sweeney Todd, who at the start of the movie is just returning to London after being imprisoned in Australia for 15 years for a crime he did not commit.
Upon his return, he finds out from a neighbor the same men who put him in jail later assaulted his wife, leading her to attempt suicide. He also finds out his daughter, Johanna, now a teenager, is being held hostage by the same man as he keeps her locked away upstairs in his home.
Once he learns the fate of his family, he is set on a path toward revenge – reopening his barber shop and becoming a serial killer in the process.
In order to embody Todd, who spent the past 15 years in prison, Depp wore white makeup on his face to make him look as pale as possible, and he used the makeup to make his eyes appear sunken. Depp’s character also notably had a white streak through his black hair.
Depp found a lot of success in the role, getting his third Academy Award nomination for best actor in a leading role for his performance.
Alice in Wonderland – 2010
By the time Depp landed the role of the Mad Hatter in the 2010 live-action version of “Alice in Wonderland,” he and director Tim Burton had worked together more than a few times. The pair had developed a great working relationship and collaborated to create the character’s iconic look.
During an interview with MovieWeb in May 2010, Depp explained that he did a lot of research to prepare for the role. He learned the term Mad Hatter comes from the 19th century and was used to describe hatmakers who would develop a variety of symptoms, including slurred speech, irritability, depression, sunken eyes, cracked skin and fried hair due to mercury poisoning from the toxic ingredients used to glue the hats together.
“I think [the Mad Hatter] was poisoned – very, very poisoned,” Depp told the Los Angeles Times in a 2009 interview. “And I think it just took [e]ffect in all his nerves. It was coming out through his hair and through his fingernails, through his eyes.”
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Informed by the historical context behind the term Mad Hatter, costume designer Colleen Atwood, hairstylist Terry Baliel and makeup artists Valli O’Reilly and Patty York got to work bringing Burton and Depp’s vision for the character to life.
In the movie, Depp’s cheeks were contoured just enough to make them appear properly sunken in, the hair on his head and eyebrows are orange and look as if they’ve been struck by lightning at all times, his skin is very pale, and he has orange spots on his hands, which comes from the orange tint of the glue.
“Johnny did a little watercolor rendition of how he saw his character, and the makeup grew from there,” York told the New York Post in a 2010 interview. “His character suffers from mercury poisoning – on one eye, I used lavenders and purples, and on the other, I used turquoise and light blue and dark blue, and there’s a little touch of green in there.”
According to Atwood, the costumes were based on what a hatter would wear in the 1800s but were also informed by the history of the profession, saying, “When we found that out, we were given a whole new license of exaggeration.”
“I made him all these portable scissors and ribbons so he could still make hats on the run,” she told the New York Post. “And then I had the thimbles he uses on his fingers to fiddle with that make sounds. The thing that’s great about Johnny is you give him those things, and he immediately takes to them and makes use of them.”
The character’s hat was burned to give it an aged look, and there were many different versions of his coat in varying colors, used interchangeably depending on the character’s mood. The colors include, gray, brown and teal.
Dark Shadows – 2012
In 2012, Depp starred as vampire Barnabas Collins in the horror movie comedy “Dark Shadows.”
In the movie, he plays a man who in the 1700s broke the heart of a witch. The witch ultimately turns him into a vampire and buries him alive in retaliation. Centuries later, Barnabas manages to escape his grave and return to his home, only to find out the witch has returned and that he must protect his family in 1972 from her wrath.
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To play a vampire, Depp packed on white powder makeup on his face and made his eyes very dark. He also wore a jet-black wig that featured jagged bangs.
Along with the makeup and hair choices, Depp wore prosthetics on his ears – to give them a more pointed look – as well as on his nose and fingers.
“In every film that I’ve been lucky enough to do with Tim, there’s always some form of torture. The nails were Tim’s idea. They were the length of the fingers,” Depp told Collider in 2012. “But it was OK because I had a troupe of people who would help me go to the bathroom. They had to have treatment afterwards, but they’re OK now.”
The Lone Ranger – 2013
In 2013, Depp played Tonto in the Disney film, “The Lone Ranger,” a movie remake of the show with the same name from the 1950s. Depp recalled watching the show as a kid and wondering, “‘Why is the f—ing Lone Ranger telling Tonto what to do,'” making sure to change that in his film.
“I liked Tonto, even at that tender age, and knew Tonto was getting the unpleasant end of the stick here,” Depp told Entertainment Weekly in May 2011. “That’s stuck with me. And when the idea came up [for the movie], I started thinking about Tonto and what could be done in my own small way try … to attempt to take some of the ugliness thrown on the Native Americans, not only in ‘The Lone Ranger’ but the way Indians were treated throughout history of cinema, and turn it on its head.”
Depp went on to reveal his own Native American heritage, saying, “My great-grandmother was quite a bit of Native American, she grew up Cherokee or maybe Creek Indian – makes sense in terms of coming from Kentucky, which is rife with Cherokee and Creek.”
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The inspiration for his character’s look came from a painting he saw by artist Kirby Sattler that featured a Native American who had stripes going down his face, which he felt symbolized “the separate sections of the individual.”
“There’s this very wise quarter, a very tortured and hurt section, an angry and rageful section, and a very understanding and unique side. I saw these parts, almost like dissecting a brain, these slivers of the individual,” Depp told Entertainment Weekly in 2012. “That makeup inspired me.”
Throughout the movie, Depp portrayed both younger and older versions of the character, so he also wore prosthetics when filming in order to look the appropriate age.
“For old-age Tonto, it’s a full upper-body-aging makeup that has rarely been attempted. It’s got hair punched into the arms, it’s got hair punched into the shoulders, in places on the face,” the film’s makeup artist, Joel Harlow, explained. “I wanted to make the eyes look just as old as sympathetic. What I did is I double stacked contact lenses in his eyes, to make the lower lid sort of droop down, [creating] the illusion that his lower lid sagged as did the rest of his face.”
Another piece of the character’s appearance inspired by the painting was Tonto’s iconic headpiece, which made it seem as if a bird is perpetually perched on top of his head.
“It just so happened Sattler had painted a bird flying directly behind the warrior’s head. It looked to me like it was sitting on top,” Depp said. “I thought, ‘Tonto’s got a bird on his head. It’s his spirit guide in a way. It’s dead to others, but it’s not dead to him. It’s very much alive.'”
Jeanne Du Barry – 2023
In his first performance back since his defamation trial against ex Amber Heard, Depp starred in “Jeanne du Barry,” playing Louis XV. Both Depp and the movie were reportedly well-received when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2023 – despite Depp’s appearance being controversial – and featured a major transformation for the actor.
The movie follows a young woman named Jeanne, who has dreams to escape the confines of her working-class life. She somehow manages to charm her way up the social ladder and causes quite the scandal when she gets King Louis XV to fall in love with her and invite her to move to Versailles with him.
To properly get into character, Depp had to transform himself into French royalty from the 1700s. Much of the transformation had to do with the clothing, which included long embroidered coats, colorful vests over white shirts with ruffled collars, and high socks and ruffled breeches.
Source: Fox News