The Enigma That Is Johnny Depp | What Is The Depp Effect?

Whether you followed his recent trial or not, whether you agreed with the verdict or not (although with all the credible evidence provided along with a stellar legal team, how could you NOT), I can speculate with almost 100% certainty that you’ve heard of Johnny Depp.

Whilst I was recovering from the after effects of my second Covid booster (body aches, headache, fever) I was playing around with the channels on my new TV and discovered a million episodes of 21 Jump Street.

Warning: this might become a rambling, incoherent series of unrelated thoughts. I intend to blame it on the way my body reacts to vaccinations.

I remember the show and vaguely recall the character Depp portrayed, but was in the middle of my mom years so I didn’t really have time for anything except being a 24/7 mom. However, no matter what the storyline or who the other actors were, for me it was only and all about Johnny Depp.

If he had been a crappy actor, it honestly wouldn’t have mattered one single bit, but he wasn’t just another pretty face, more expressively beautiful than most — and even in that formulaic sitcom, his acting was nuanced and he had a finely tuned sense of humor. (And that hair.)

He might now own the title of one of the world’s biggest stars, but there seems to be something surprisingly authentic, genuine, and REAL about him — down to earth in spite of or maybe because of any eccentricity. I say “seems to be” because we’ve never met, so I can’t say for sure.

“You can close your eyes to the things you don’t want to see, but you can’t close your heart to the things you don’t want to feel.” —Johnny Depp

In my feverish state, I decided to try and unravel the magical mystery of Johnny Depp’s timeless attraction from his twenties to now at the age of fifty-nine.

Why did we all rally to support him during the trial? Why do we feel as if we are, as he says, his relatives?

Dedicated Depp fans travelled from all over the country to support him in court, standing in line for hours.

They’re buying and selling out his Dior Sauvage Elixir cologne.

They’re loud and proud on every social media platform; they’re at his concerts, they’re rewatching all of his films.

What is it? What is it about Johnny Depp?

I need to figure this out, at least before my fever breaks or the Benadryl kicks in and I fall asleep.

I believe his appeal goes far beyond looks and charisma.

There’s just something about him that defies explanation and maybe that’s the answer. His magical allure defies explanation.

I’m not fangirling here, I swear. I never had a true celebrity crush, not even on Brad Pitt who is pretty cute and a good actor.

Wait a minute. To be completely candid, back (way back) when I was in high school, it was Jim Morrison who touched my teenaged heart (I’ve written about that before) and even though I acted in a few films, no one ever ignited my fantasy-state until Johnny Depp came along, and not in a must-have-his-autograph or a hug or throw-my-bra-on-the-stage kind of way, more like I’d be content to pour us a glass of wine (or a mega-pint) and have a conversation with him, an exchange of thoughts and ideas, but it’d be REALLY hard not to also rudely stare at him. I wonder if he feels his face has been a burden.

I would like to ask him how he feels about the genetically random exterior arrangement of his facial features that causes women and men to feel like this Twitter poster: “that chiseled face or the eyes you can melt in”.

I’m mystified and I’m trying to suss it out. His eyes, lips, nose, cheekbones, eyebrows, voice; these things we all possess, but in Johnny Depp’s case, they crystalize into a human package that conjures up intensely personal devotion and loyalty, and a lot of screaming fans at his concerts.

After Nightmare on Elm Street and Platoon and Cry-baby (and especially that kissing scene), I was hooked, even though I’m aware that it was a John Waters parody spoofing Elvis movies and the juvenile delinquency scare films of the fifties,

He epitomizes the vulnerable, misunderstood bad boy with a heart.

Johnny Depp possesses a certain charming childlike, naive, and innocent quality — not childISH, but a childLIKE wonderment. I’ve also been accused of being childlike because I find neverending joy in things like butterflies and seashells and animals so I can relate.

I’m not wearing rose-colored glasses and I don’t ignore reports of his admitted drug use and alcohol consumption and other behaviors that I don’t share, but he exudes natural charm and charisma and intelligence and humor. Those are indisputable facts.

Could anything be more perfect than the Benny & Joon scene with JD’s homage interpretation of the Chaplin dinner roll dance? I think not.

How about What’s Eating Gilbert Grape with Leonardo diCaprio and the steamy scenes with Mary Steenburgen? Here’s a quote from Steenburgen: “And, oh my God, I loved doing What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. Who wouldn’t love kissing Johnny Depp all day?”

Maybe the director said it best…Lasse Hallström picked Depp to play Gilbert Grape because of the way he could express so much emotion through his face and eyes. As an aside, I was happy to see Kevin Tighe from Emergency! as the husband.

Here’s a few of my other favorite Depp films: Edward Scissorhands, Don Juan deMarco, Chocolat, Blow, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, The Secret Window, and The Tourist. I enjoyed his accurate portrayals in Donnie Brasco and Public Enemies, but I’m not fond of violence so I usually fastforward during those scenes. The next one I’ll watch is Minamata.

It’s funny, I’ve only watched clips of his Pirates franchise, but I’ll most likely queue them up too. He makes all of his characters spring to life and they become him and he becomes them, in every film, even the early ones.

As for his personal life, I was only vaguely aware that he lived in France, had a couple of children, played guitar, was friendly with Marlon Brando, and owned an island. I sort of remember hearing that he had a nightclub in LA and was in a band called the Hollywood Vampires, but I was too busy with my own life to focus on his.

I didn’t know he had gotten married until I heard that his now ex-wife had accused him of abuse in 2016, but I never really believed it — after all, it seemed out of character as he had never been accused of anything like that during or after his previous relationships.

It wasn’t until her op-ed in 2018 that I started to foment thoughts that he was being targeted and falsely accused because at the time, everyone was jumping on the #MeToo bandwagon. I had experienced my own #MeToo moment in the past with a casting director so I was sympathetic to the cause.

And then there was the trial. I’ve written about that here and here.

Like millions of others, I was mesmerized by Johnny’s testimony, impressed by how he could talk about that incredibly painful childhood with dignity, grace, authenticity, and candor. And humor.

After that, attorney Camille Vasquez guided him through excruciatingly personal details about the physical abuse he suffered by his ex wife and that made me respect him even more. It couldn’t have been easy for any man to be so publicly vulnerable and admit he was a victim of intimate partner violence.

At the end of the trial, Johnny Depp won. With the verdict on June 1, the jury overwhelmingly sent a message that he had been defamed with malicious intent.

More random commentary: “He is yummy on a visceral level – wild, those cheekbones, his penetrating gaze from those soulful eyes.”

“His dark features and his phenomenal bone structure: his cheekbones, his jaw , his eyes and his hair. Oh and his nose ! He just beautiful!!! He s crazy handsome.”

He continues to win as he tours Europe with the legendary musician Jeff Beck.

Interestingly, I discovered that as far back as 2016, there was research into the “Depp Effect.”

Trying to figure out what makes a person attractive has been a hot topic in the scientific community: Do pheromones draw us to others, or face shape, or certain mannerisms? Researchers from several institutions continue the quest with their most recent question — are male faces with feminine features considered attractive? Scientists from the University of Otago, Warwick Business School, and the University of California, San Diego set out to examine the “Johnny Depp Effect,”which involves women tending to prefer men with feminine faces. Their researchrevealed that this effect holds water in some situations, but not all.https://www.medicaldaily.com/johnny-depp-feminine-androgynous-375978

I disagree with their premise that Johnny Depp has feminine or even androgynous features. He is simply a one-of-a-kind rarity that absolutely defies being placed in a category.

Did I unravel the enigma? Nope. Did I solve the mystery? Also nope. At the end of the day, I think I have to admit that there isn’t a way to rationally explain Johnny Depp. He’s a combination of many enigmatic factors, but the bottom line is how much his essence resonates with all of us.

He is who he is, and I wish him every happiness.

Finally, this from Dakota Johnson, “Working with Johnny Depp was the most gratifying and inspiring thing I’ve ever done. The atmosphere on set was pretty dark, but Johnny was….he is a unicorn”

P.S. I just wish he’d stop smoking!

From Fandango, a complete list of Johnny Depp films: https://www.fandango.com/people/johnny-depp-170087/film-credits

Filmography

YEARTITLEROLE
2021Minamata (2022)W. Eugene Smith
2018Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of GrindelwaldGellert Grindelwald
2018City of LiesRussell Poole
2018Sherlock GnomesSherlock Gnomes
2018The Professor (2019)Richard
2017Murder on the Orient Express (2017)Ratchett
2017Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesCapt. Jack Sparrow
2016Yoga HosersGuy Lapointe
2016Alice Through the Looking GlassMad Hatter
2015Black MassWhitey Bulger
2015MortdecaiCharles Mortdecai
2014Into the WoodsThe Wolf
2014TuskGuy Lapointe
2014TranscendenceDr. Will Caster
2013Lucky Them
2013The Lone RangerTonto
2012Dark ShadowsBarnabas Collins
2011Hugo
2011The Rum DiaryPaul Kemp
2011Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides 3DCaptain Jack Sparrow
2011Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides An IMAX 3D ExperienceCaptain Jack Sparrow
2011Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger TidesCaptain Jack Sparrow
2011RangoRango
2011RangoLars
2010The TouristFrank Tupelo
2010Alice in Wonderland (2010)The Mad Hatter
2009When You’re Strange: A Film About The DoorsNarrator
2009The Imaginarium of Doctor ParnassusImaginarium Tony #1
2009Public EnemiesJohn Dillinger
2007Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. ThompsonNarrator
2007Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet StreetSweeney Todd
2007Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s EndJack Sparrow
2007Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers: Running Down a Dream
2006Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten
2006Gypsy Caravan
2006Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s ChestJack Sparrow
2006Deep Sea 3DNarrator
2005Tim Burton’s Corpse BrideVictor Van Dort
2005Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)Willy Wonka
2004The LibertineJohn Wilmot, Second Earl of Rochester
2004Finding NeverlandJames Barrie
2004Secret WindowMort Rainey
2003Once Upon a Time in MexicoAgent Sands
2003Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)Jack Sparrow
2001From HellInspector Frederick George Abberline
2000The Man Who CriedCesar
2000Chocolat (2001)Roux
2000Before Night FallsBon Bon
2000Before Night FallsLieutenant Victor
1999Sleepy HollowIchabod Crane
1999The Astronaut’s WifeSpencer Armacost
1999The Ninth GateDean Corso
1998Fear and Loathing in Las VegasRaoul Duke
1997Donnie BrascoDonnie Brasco/Joe Pistone
1995Dead ManWilliam Blake
1995Don Juan DeMarcoDon Juan DeMarco
1994Ed WoodEd Wood
1993What’s Eating Gilbert GrapeGilbert Grape
1993Benny & JoonSam
1993Arizona DreamAxel Blackmar
1991Freddy’s Dead: The Final NightmareTeen on TV
1990Edward ScissorhandsEdward Scissorhands
1990Cry-BabyWade “Cry-Baby” Walker
198721 Jump Street (1987)Officer Tom Hanson
1986PlatoonLerner
1984A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)Glen Lantz

2 thoughts on “The Enigma That Is Johnny Depp | What Is The Depp Effect?

Now it's your turn to share your pearls with me. Cheers!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s