ARTE portrait of a reluctant Hollywood star

Johnny Depp once conquered Hollywood with unusual roles – although he actually wanted to be a rock star. An ARTE documentary looks back on the actor’s beginnings in the dream factory.

“In the Eyes of Johnny Depp”

Documentation • 15.01.2023
• 10:15 p.m

Jack Sparrow, the Mad Hatter, Edward Scissorhands, Willy Wonka – these are just a few of the many notable characters Johnny Depp has played in recent years. The extraordinary characters he gave voice and face made him one of the best paid and most prominent actors in film history. No two roles are alike, and Depp’s ability to transform and transform underdog characters into a unique event has been felt throughout his career. But who is this man behind all the legendary film characters? In the documentary “In the Eyes of Johnny Depp”, which is now being broadcast for the first time, director Régis Brochier provides insights into the beginnings of the career of the 59-year-old, who actually didn’t want to be an actor. To set the mood, ARTE is showing the thriller “Donnie Brasco” at 8.15 p.m. starring Depp and Al Pacino.

Fans of the exceptional talent will probably do well to see their star far away from the headline-grabbing legal mud fight that he has been fighting with his ex-partner Amber Heard for months. With old recordings and excerpts from interviews, the audience is shown the early career and the first important stations of the Hollywood star. The story of how he made the leap from unemployed punk rocker to successful actor still has something fairytale about it. In spite of everything. Of course, the roles that made Depp so successful are also taken up in the film: characters who couldn’t be more different and actually always polarized. A changeability that amazes. What potential!


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“Although all of these faces tell us something about the extraordinary Hollywood actor, no picture shows him as undisguised as this portrait of a young rock musician,” says the documentary right from the start: As a young man, he moved to Florida Los Angeles because he wanted to make his breakthrough as a musician.

Outsider figures became Depp’s trademark

Success came surprisingly suddenly: after his role in “Nightmare” (1984), all doors in the American film industry were open to him. “The change from musician to performer was abrupt and confusing,” recalls Johnny Depp of the time. Through his role in “21 Jump Street – Tatort Klassenzimmer” (1987-1992), the musician became the involuntary idol of the then young Americans – and a hit with the press. He was quickly labeled as an untouchable, beautiful REBEL, with whom Depp could never identify. Just as little as with the concentrated attention and its sudden popularity.

Over time, the ex-partner of the “Joe le taxi” singer Vanessa Paradis embodied more and more outsider figures, which he put his stamp on. Weird characters like Captain Jack Sparrow (“Pirates of the Caribbean”), Willy Wonka (“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”) and the Mad Hatter (“Alice in Wonderland”). Everything looks like a brilliant success, like being on the sunny side of life. But it soon seems like the father of two is becoming increasingly trapped in the underbelly of Hollywood. At some point the various negative headlines came. Finally, the highlight is the trial between Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard.

An important film in Depp’s career was “Donnie Brasco” (1997, directed by Mike Newell), in which he played the FBI agent Joseph Pistone, who is infiltrated as an undercover cop in a New York mafia family. In addition to Depp, who knows how to shine with a tough performance, Al Pacino, Anne Heche and Michael Madsen can also be seen.

“In the Eyes of Johnny Depp” – Sun. 15.01. – ARTE: 10:15 p.m

Those: teleschau – der mediendienst GmbH

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