Johnny Depp's Talent Runs As Deep As His Resume : Tell Me More Actor Johnny Depp’s newest film The Tourist hits theater thjs weekend. Guest blogger Jimi Izrael takes a look at some of the performer’s most "essential" films.
NPR logo Johnny Depp's Talent Runs As Deep As His Resume

Johnny Depp's Talent Runs As Deep As His Resume

Johnny Depp stars as "Frank" and Angelina Jolie as "Elise" in Columbia PIctures' The Tourist. Peter Mountain hide caption

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Jimi Izrael is the author of The Denzel Principle: Why Black Women Can’t Find Good Black Men and a regular contributor to Tell Me More.

The Tourist, a thriller starring Johnny Depp, opens in theaters today. Depp has become a heartthrob to millions, with a prolific resume that sparkles with great performances. But to an entire generation, he is mostly known for his role in Donnie Brasco, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise…and not much else.

There are essential Depp films which most are not familiar with.

He might be the critics’ darling now, but there was no inkling of that when he first appeared on Fox TV’s  21 Jump Street, as the baby-faced narc, Officer Tom Hanson. The guy with a name like a popular 80s hair grease and a pensive glance, has gone from prime-time schlock to one of the best film actors of his generation.  He’s done many great films and a few stinkers, but has left some benchmarks in his wake.

Therefore, I give you… the Essential Depp.

Nightmare on Elm Street -- The obligatory teen screamer every actor seems to have in their past, whether they want one or not. The film was a classic, but his performance was not. Worth seeing to get some idea of how far he has come. You need to know how bad he was in order to appreciate how good he is.

Cry-Baby -- This film should have been the end of his career. An anti-"Grease" send-up by the otherwise brilliant John Waters, this film is mostly forgotten by all but a must-see for the sheer ‘camp’ of it. All along there are hints that though he mails this performance in, he knows better and will move on well from here.

Edward Scissorhands -- This was the film that demanded you take Depp seriously. Everything changed after this. Tim Burton brought a Golden Globe-winning performance out of him that makes this a holiday classic. It crafts a new modern mythology – like Frosty the Knife-Wielding, Mildly Maladjusted, Socially Awkward Snowman. GOOD.  After this, there clearly was no stopping him.

Don Juan DeMarco -- Depp and Marlon Brando team up to save an awful script.

Blow -  More believable than his turn as Donnie Brasco, this docudrama, about cocaine cowboy George Jung, is a Depp classic.

Sweeny Todd – This movie makes Ben Kingsley’s version look like a Disney film.

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