Did Johnny Depp’s Movie Roles Play a Part in His Decline?

But why is the rum gone?

If you haven’t already heard, actor and musician Johnny Depp has recently had a downward spiral. He has partaken in assault, drug use and excessive spending. The most recent headline regarding Depp involved alcohol and drugs as he punched his current crew member in the ribs and now faces a lawsuit. He has been involved in many other cases as well, some of which include his own suing because of financial complications.

It is believed that much of Depp’s destructive behaviors started after his divorce from Amber Heard in 2016. Fans, however, know that his movie roles haven’t always been the most cheerful, which is another reason why he might be acting out.

Johnny Depp
Some trace the beginning of Depp’s destructive actions to his divorce. (Image via Sick Chirpse)

Looking back at one of his most well-known roles, Depp played Captain Jack Sparrow in the series “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Jack is a mischievous pirate who has skills, guts and humor. Depp himself possesses all three of these characteristics, and he might have even taken a liking to some of the pirate’s behavior, including his occasional heavy drinking. Can you really call yourself a pirate if you don’t down some rum?

Depp’s drinking festivities have been a problem for quite some time now, causing chaos in his affairs, including the past accusations made by his ex-wife and the aforementioned encounter with his crew member on the set of “City of Lies.” While he has caused damage using his fists and other objects, thankfully no pirate swords were involved to make matters worse.

Moreover, following the death of Depp’s mother and his divorce from Heard, a video was released to TMZ showing the actor destroying cabinets and drinking an enormous glass of red wine, clearly distraught. The outburst can be seen as just one of many, which leads to other films Depp was in.

Built-up anger and pain can be seen in both “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?” and “Edward Scissorhands.” In “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?” Depp’s character, Gilbert, has both love and patience for his family, especially his mentally impaired little brother Arnie. Nonetheless, Gilbert’s severely obese mother and Arnie become too much of a burden on him, causing him to finally snap, which entails hitting Arnie multiple times.

Another conniption occurs when Depp plays Edward in “Edward Scissorhands.” The personality of his character is lonely, cautious and easily frightened, but as the townspeople begin to turn on him, Edward becomes scared and angry. In one scene, he uses his scissor hands to ruin the walls and other decor in a house. Viewers can see that he was pushed into having this outburst just like Depp was.

I think it’s appropriate to ask: What’s eating Johnny Depp? Of course, the fictional roles he played dealt with people and events that eventually led him to snap, so maybe the same scenario is happening in reality. Depp could be seeing his characters cracking and others forgiving him for his actions in film, bringing him to expect that same understanding from people in his own life.

It his interview with Rolling Stone, Stephen Rodrick wrote, “It wasn’t out of the ordinary for Depp to send an apologetic text or e-mail a few hours after an outburst.” These apologies were present in various circumstances including those with Joel Mandel, one of the founders of financial company TMG, when Depp would respond angrily to Mandel’s concerns about Depp’s spending extravaganzas that they found unsustainable and unpredictable.

The Mad Hatter, who Depp played in the 2010 version of “Alice in Wonderland,” certainly brings out Depp’s own madness, as he dove into the unpredictable actions of the Mad Hatter by bringing them into his own life.

Johnny Depp
Like his character of Mad Hatter, Depp has shown unpredictable actions. (Image via Multiglom)

Those actions were mildly different than those of his character though, and includes using various drugs, sometimes not even knowing what’s in them. Depp admitted that he has been struggling with acute depression since his personal and financial affairs began spinning, most likely causing the “madness” he has shown in his struggle with drugs.

One of his mentors, the late journalist Hunter S. Thompson, used drugs with Depp, giving him “a pipe filled with a sticky resin,” and Depp never asked what the drug was. He only enjoyed the high, along with the high of pharmaceuticals and other drugs he did with Thompson. Depp still uses drugs at times, causing his unpredictable Mad Hatter behavior, though it is also this unpredictability he displayed when he was high on the set of “City of Lies.”

It’s possible that many other reasons could explain Depp’s actions aside from his divorce and his movie roles, including his childhood life and the death of close friends. In fact, you might hope for an explanation in order for him to continue his devious and mysterious personalities on the screen.

And while some stick to the theory that his delving into dark fictional characters has done nothing to help the darker influences of his real life, some fans might say that some of Depp’s roles actually influenced his life in a positive way.

Take for instance, his visits to hospitals dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow to spread gold among patients. Hugging, high-fiving and hosting a pirate party for patients at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, Depp acted as his character for five-and-a-half hours in 2017.

He might have been dressed as a pirate, but the personalities of his other characters surely shined through as well. Gilbert Grape’s kind and patient heart was present while Depp talked and laughed with the kids, and Edward Scissorhands’ will to help others must have been on Depp’s mind as he used his movie role to lighten the spirits of the patients, looking for nothing in return.

Sure, Depp’s characters all have a dark side with remarkable personalities, some of which can be seen in his own actions, but everyone goes through ups and downs and Depp is no different. He’s just living and learning, with or without the influence of his eccentrics.

Michelle Dreyer, Southern New Hampshire University

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Michelle Dreyer

Southern New Hampshire University

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