Thespian Nicolas Cage revealed in an interview with NY Times that friend Johnny Depp originally did not have plans to act. According to him, it took quite a bit of persuading to get Depp to consider the idea. Apparently, in the early 1980s, the two of them buddied around Los Angeles together. While Nicolas Cage came from the Coppola family of filmmakers and changed his name both to honor comic book character Luke Cage and not to make too much of his connections, Depp had moved to LA in hopes of finding a record deal. Between the encouragement of Cage and the inspiration of James Dean, Depp eventually fell into auditions. Forty years later, the world of cinematic pirates will never be the same.
Johnny Depp first started playing in local bands in Florida. His dream was always to be a rock star and his band The Kids did have some success in LA. Pre-cinematic fame, they opened for rock legends like Iggy Pop and Talking Heads, but never quite broke through. Then, after a game of Monopoly (as the star of Con Air tells it), Cage set him up with an agent. “She sent him out on his first audition, which was A Nightmare on Elm Street,” Nicolas Cage shared. “He got the part that day. Overnight sensations don’t happen. But it happened with him.”
Soon, he was cast in Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street. He quickly became an indie idol with films like Benny & Joon, Cry-Baby and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. Johnny Depp sometimes broke through to a larger audience, as with Tim Burton’s 1990 hit Edwards Scissorhands. But it wasn’t until 2003 when he truly emerged as an A-list superstar with Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. For most of the early 2000s, Depp starred in big-budget blockbusters.
But during all that time, Johnny Depp continued to pursue rock music. He collaborated with Oasis, Pogues singer Shane MacGowan and did a lot of soundtrack on his movies. It was generally regarded as a typical celebrity vanity project. But it is notable that no matter how successful Depp got, he was always trying to kickstart a musical project. However, as the 2000s went on, his public image was tarnished.
Allegations of abuse by Johnny Depp’s former spouse Amber Heard and legal issues with the nation of Australia diminished him in the public eye. It also likely didn’t help that among his many musical collaborations, alleged sexual abuser Marilyn Manson and accused perpetrator of sexual misconduct Ryan Adams were both notable. By the time he founded a rock band called The Hollywood Vampires with Alice Cooper and Aerosmith’s Joe Perry in 2015, his star had already begun to dim.
It may be possible that Johnny Depp is priming for a comeback. However, it does seem unlikely whether musical or cinematic. Probably his most recent notable cinematic release is one of his least-loved films currently streaming on Netflix. He has also been removed from the Fantastic Beasts franchise of Harry Potter-adjacent films. For the third film in that series, he’s been replaced by Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen. You can see him in the trailer here. While Johnny Depp no doubt achieved stardom in one field, it does seem a little sad that he never quite got it in the one arena he always wanted.