The Best Johnny Depp Performance Is In One Of The Kookiest True Stories Of The 90s

By Brian Myers | Published

Johnny Depp rose quickly from his TV role in the series 21 Jump Street during the 1980s into becoming an A-list actor by the end of the 1990s. Before his famed roles in the films Donnie Brasco (1997) and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), Depp was already a notable method actor who dazzled audiences with his portrayal of Sam in Benny and Joon (1993). Depp caught the attention of Tim Burton soon after and was cast into one of his greatest roles where he played the title character in the 1995 film Ed Wood.

Johnny Depp Becomes Ed Wood

Ed Wood is based on the first few years of famed B-movie director and screenwriter Edward D. Wood, Jr. Wood is mostly known for his 1959 sci-fi/horror film Plan 9 from Outer Space, a low-budget film with on-screen mistakes, acting flubs, and the worst acting. The Tim Burton film begins where Wood’s film career does and weaves the quirky personalities in Wood’s life into the terrible movies that he makes.

Covers Ed Wood’s Life

Ed Wood reveals that Johnny Depp’s character likes to wear women’s clothing, which is a tidbit about Wood that the director makes the theme for his film Glen or Glenda? The film was an absolute bomb but gave the movie version of Wood the opportunity to dress in the clothing that made him the most comfortable, even in places and among people who didn’t welcome or embrace it.

Friendship With Bela Lugosi

johnny depp

As Ed Wood continues, the director makes friends with an elderly Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau). Wood decides to cast Lugosi in his films, sealing their bond. The rest of the film is a semi-biographical account of the making of the film Plan 9 from Outer Space, with bits and pieces of Wood’s love life, financial woes, and eccentricities tossed in the mix.

An Award Winner

Johnny Depp shines bright in Ed Wood, but he had some co-stars that deserve equal accolades. Landau won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his contribution, which was made possible by his physical transformation by makeup artist Rick Baker. Baker made Landau a spitting image of the real Lugosi and won his own Academy Award that year for Best Makeup.

Even The Supporting Cast Is Amazing

Ed Wood also co-stars Bill Murray (whose scenes with Johnny Depp are hilariously memorable), Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex and the City), Patricia Arquette (True Romance), Jeffrey Jones (Beetlejuice), pro-wrestler George “The Animal” Steele, and Rance Howard (The ‘Burbs). The ensemble cast certainly does the film justice, with each talent on screen bringing their best to add the necessary amounts of flare and vibrancy to match Depp’s energy.

Available Through Video On Demand


However, the magic of Ed Wood was conjured up by director Tim Burton, who was able to deliver believable characters set against the screen life of a person (Wood) whose real-life antics are almost unbelievable. Burton’s choice of filming in black and white, the cheap drive-in style prologue and opening credits, and the set direction give audiences the feel of being transported back to 1950s-era Hollywood and living side-by-side with one of that city’s most zany people. Notwithstanding, Burton’s direction of Johnny Depp might have been the Oscar snub that year, the actor having a true breakout performance that many argue was as deserving of the little gold statue for Best Actor as Landau was in his category.

Ed Wood is a 4.5/5.0-star film, with Johnny Depp getting a 5.0/5.0-star rating for his performance.

You can view Johhny Depp in Ed Wood via renting the film On Demand with Vudu, Google Play, AppleTV, and Prime.