In a recent interview with BBC, Hollywood icon Johnny Depp set the entertainment world ablaze when he publicly mulled over his own retirement in exchange for what he referred to as “quieter things”.
“I wouldn’t say I’m dropping out any second, but I would say it’s probably not too far away,” Depp said.
The idea of the Depp’s retirement is not unreasonable. The veteran recently turned 50 years old and has taken on a daunting schedule, pumping out ten feature films in five years, with five more motion pictures currently in production. Nevertheless, the thought that we may soon be without the great Johnny Depp has sent fans into a frenzy.
Though Depp has publicly claimed that he does not take the words of his critics to heart, one cannot help but speculate that his sudden disenchantment with acting may have roots in the fact that many of his recent films, such as this summer’s The Lone Ranger, have been picked apart like road kill. A recent pattern seems to support the notion that the Hollywood tycoon may be in a bit of a rut. This is not to say that Depp is not a talented actor, but only that Depp has become somewhat of an exhausted commodity. Like the once unique local restaurant turned national chain, Depp’s formerly authentic style became a mass produced, watered down, inferior product of its’ former self.
Depp’s downward spiral began with the first installment of Pirates of the Caribbean in 2003. His loveable creation, Jack Sparrow, was the most quirky, and eccentric character that he had ever portrayed. So quirky and eccentric in fact, that Disney nearly pulled the plug on Depp for fear that he was exaggerating his Keith Richards impression just a little too much. Over $600 million later, Disney began to sing a different tune, and the company felt obliged to run the Jack Sparrow character into the ground with three sequels (soon to be four). This success, paired with the monetary triumphs of the Tim Burton and Johnny Depp duo doomed the once diverse actor to wear either braided facial hair or white face paint for the bulk of his career thereafter. What became worse was that each and every character that Depp portrayed was forcefully constructed to match the eccentricities and quirkiness of Jack Sparrow. The performances were so quirky that they became boring and exhausting to watch. The characters were so eccentric that they were no longer independent personalities, but were all very much Johnny Depp in an obligatory and artificial strain to be whimsical.
Films like The Lone Ranger, Alice and Wonderland, Dark Shadows, and the three most recent Pirates of the Caribbean installments faired well in the box office, but all were torn apart by critics.
In fact, of Depp’s last ten live action films only two have a Metacritic score above a 60 (and only four of his last 16).
This means that, for the most part, Depp’s efforts are failing to impress those who judge films for a living. It is true that the performer has all the talent and star power that anybody could ever dream of, but Depp can no longer rely on his eccentricities in order to single handedly tilt films in the direction of positive reviews and quality cinema. He swears that this opinion has little effect on his decisions to retire, but until he breaks out of the cocoon he has placed himself in, many will question his true motives for leaving acting behind, and even more will lament over the talented genius who fell victim to his own success.