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D–E Entries
  Johnny Depp
  Meyer Dolinsky
  Faith Domergue
  James Doohan
  David Duchovny
  David Duncan
  Harlan Ellison
  Roland Emmerich
  Maurice Evans
(1963– ). American actor.

IMDB credits Despite his inarguably important contributions to science fiction film, I have long hesitated to write about Johnny Depp, as I was unable to resolve the basic conundrum raised by his body of work: was the man genuinely eccentric, a free spirit naturally attracted to, and suited for, the sorts of bizarre and unconventional roles that other actors would avoid? Or was his predilection for unlikely projects nothing more than a shrewd career move? In support of the second theory, consider Depp's situation in the late 1980s: having risen to prominence due to his role in the television series 21 Jump Street (1987-1991), he was undoubtedly being offered all of the teenager roles that, a few years earlier, had gone to members of the 1980s "Brat Pack"; and even then, Depp could discern that their careers were headed for the toilet, and he knew that if he followed in their footsteps, a similar fate awaited him . And so, he may have resolved, I will avoid all of that young-angst stuff and instead seek out weird, offbeat roles for directors like John Waters and Tim BURTON, carving out a niche for myself as Hollywood's go-to guy for strange assignments that will keep me employed when I can no longer portray high school students. And that shrewd scheme worked, far better than Depp ever could have imagined.

I will avoid offering a definitive judgment on that question, but I am increasingly inclined to embrace the cynical explanation for the trajectory of Depp's career, largely on the grounds that, in tackling one offbeat role after another, he consistently fails more often than he succeeds. Granted, his Jack Sparrow for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) and its sequels was an inspired creation; in Ed Wood (1994), he seemed to understand the character of Edward D. WOOD, Jr. better than director Burton; his Sweeney Todd in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) was at least serviceable, in sharp contrast to the inept work of costar Helena Bonham CARTER; and he could be effective in more subdued roles like J. M. Barrie in Finding Neverland (2004) and computer scientist Will Caster in Transcendence (2014), a film with issues that were unrelated to the quality of Depp's performance.

On the other hand: in Edwards Scissorhands (1990), he could never move beyond a monotonous, hurt-puppy expression, one reason that overrated film is so unwatchable; Sleepy Hollow (1999) demonstrated his capacity to be utterly boring; his misguided reinterpretations of Willie Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) and Barnabas Collins in Dark Shadows (2012) were insults to the performers who originated the roles, Gene WILDER and Jonathan FRID; while merely annoying in Alice in Wonderland (2010),  his development of a new character unobserved in Lewis Carroll's novels, the Morose Hatter, utterly doomed its sequel Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016); and I suppose I don't need to mention his disastrous approach to Tonto in The Lone Ranger (2013). Surely, if Depp truly understood what it was like to be an unusual outsider, unsettlingly different from his peers, he could have rendered these outré characters more persuasively; but all too often, he seems tentative and uncertain as he endeavors to craft another distinctive persona. And, while it is uncharitable to criticize someone on a losing streak, his recent string of box-office failures does suggest that film audiences are increasingly unimpressed by his talents.

Still, once actors rise to the top of the Hollywood ladder, it takes a long, long time for them to fall, and Depp will likely remain a prominent presence in films for decades to come. In addition to yet another Pirates of the Caribbean film, he is scheduled to appear in remakes of Murder on the Orient Express and The Invisible Man; he will long be welcome to play occasional supporting roles like the Wolf  in Into the Woods (2014) and Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) and its announced sequel; for fun, he can make uncredited cameo appearances in films like the big-screen version of 21 Jump Street (2012) and the music videos of Paul MCCARTNEY: and if nothing else, he will always be able to cover his alimony payments by providing voices for animated films like Corpse Bride (2005) and Rango (2011). But whether he will ever again offer a memorable performance is one of the many unanswered questions that his career provokes.

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