The Pitch: Johnny Depp

The purpose of this column/series is to emulate how a meeting would go between a studio executive and a person, a passionate person, with an idea (pitch) for a movie. In this case, or every case for that matter with regards to this series, yours truly is that aforementioned passionate person.

Now that was the polite way of putting it.

In reality, the uninspired suited gatekeepers, who hold all the green light power, need a blunt kick to their out-of-touch bloody skulls! Yeah, they say you get more with honey (being nice). And in order for some these over-paid clowns to buy into a cinematic concept, and then move forward with funding the production, being nice can be the ideal approach. But since the world, specifically the realm of Hollywood, is already fake enough with people constantly masquerading with tactical kindness, let’s just cut the crap and, ironically, have a black-and-white old-school chat. 

It’s not that Hollywood fucks it up all the time, but they sure do miss golden opportunities that can be quite baffling to the fans.

And that brings me to this week’s pitch/bitch: Johnny Depp’s Next Flick.


Johnny Depp?

Your character needs to break character.

As mixed messaged as that may sound, the reason you are sitting in a chair positioned in front of every major studio captain is that we need to shake things up a bit, cool guy.

I know, “shake things up,” with regards to you… Yeah, believe it or not, we do. Even though you constantly play eclectic characters just about every year, they’re starting to bleed into each other, my man. We can’t even hear or see the nuances because we’re being assaulted by familiar layers from your impressive repertoire. So by “shaking things up” I mean get back to something resembling “normal” onscreen.

Full disclosure though, I’m a Johnny Depp fan. Anything you do, I’m in. But let’s look at from a musician’s POV, something I know you’re quite fond of (and I’m insanely jealous that you got to rock out with Aerosmith and Alice Cooper): if a band plays/writes songs in the same key with the same arrangements over-and-over again, unless you’re an Andrew W.K. or Motorhead die-hard, it doesn’t have that resonating and/or entertaining punch to keep people engaged for the long run. And that seems to be what’s happening lately with you, my smoky friend.

Now by all means, (please) keep playing “Captain Jack Sparrow” until you require electrotherapy to stop the voices; but in using another music metaphor: let’s dial down the distortion and riff with less reverb for a change.


We’re not looking to do a complete makeover here. Sure we want to strip away the over-produced elements that go into your respective crafting of a character, but we also want to keep the essence of J. Depp.

So what I’m proposing… actually, what I’m ordering… is that we place you in a routine R-rated comedy. And to show that I’m not completely full of myself, we’ll even allow a genre choice of either going action or mild drama.

This notion sprung into my ever-working mind from seeing your refreshing cameos in such things as Adam Sandler’s painful Jack and Jill, and the under-appreciated HBO series Life’s Too Short. The natural timing you had along with the casual delivery you project out was pure hilarity; something that was frequently noted in the lovely critics’ reviews by the way. I know you have an impulse at this point to reference things like The Tourist, Public Enemies, and The Rum Diary; suggesting that you broke things up between the larger-than-life roles you yearn for. And while you may have done a solid job in those suckers, the scripts were dry as Janice Dickinson’s vag – which ironically probably looks like Keith Richards’ face.

What we need to find is a blunt balance where you don’t have to go over-the-top. Think somewhere between James Franco’s recent work in This Is the End and Steve Martin’s Parenthood. Well, yeah, perhaps that the latter point was messed up. How about this: we need to land you a Jack Nicholson As Good As It Gets/Something’s Gotta Give scenario. Hell, having you step into Hugh Grant’s ‘90s outfits (scripts) could be a collaboration that could execute a sweet cheeky emotion. That’s the sound we’re looking to rock out!


The setting or atmosphere of this movie has to be something us normal folk can relate with. And while the aforementioned Jack Nicholson tone from As Good As It Gets subtly requires the charisma of playing a slightly unorthodox character, just remember the key words: SUBTLY and SLIGHTLY. But please, don’t go so tonally low that we get the bland character you did in Secret Window or The Ninth Gate. And although some are clamoring for a revisit to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas style, and by some, I mean the cash-big-checks-with-little-creative-work-puppet masters behind you, please tune them out.

I’m envisioning a role that either has you maneuvering through an atmosphere where your character is fairly well-known in some sort of marquee industry yet not too comfortable in his own skin, which leads to a serious of awkward encounters with humans. Or, how about playing an unlikely mentor of sorts, marching to the beat of his own drum, who resides in a small town (ex. Sam Rockwell in The Way Way Back)? The latter could be just a riotous (yeah, that’s a real word) as the former!

Granted, the story arcs are similar to covering a song from the past, but what will make this all feel unique is a repackaged version of you fronting the artistic piece. It’s a concept worth rolling with Sultan of Style. Not doing this, would lead to more frequent quotes/criticism that Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, and Jason Statham tend to get. You know, the career-is-stale saying, “It’s Johnny Depp in a Johnny Depp movie.”

Last thing we want is a string of sour notes as you embark in the second-half of your movie tour, so let’s rock this one time, savvy?

Oh, and while the “backing band” sitting behind will try to persuade you otherwise, just remember… the only instrument they can competently play is the skin flute. 

Joe Belcastro is a contributor to CraveOnline and the writer of the weekly series The Pitch. Follow him on Twitter @TheWritingDemon.