Calling Johnny Depp a Sellout Is Pure Insanity

Whether or not you like Johnny Depp, you have to admit he's one of the most interesting and versatile actors working in Hollywood. Ever since Edward Scissorhands, Depp has earned critical acclaim for his eccentric film roles, and he seems to have an uncanny knack for choosing scripts that highlight his unconventional appeal.

Despite his impressive character resume, it really wasn't until Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl came out in 2003 that Depp officially became a superstar. Thanks to the movie's massive success and the multibillion-dollar trilogy franchise it created, Depp is now a household name, but according to some fans, he's also a sellout.

So, you can have artistic integrity or you can have commercial success—but you can't have both without being a sellout? I call bullshit, and so does Depp.

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Ten years ago Depp brought one of the most memorable characters in movie history to life: Captain Jack Sparrow. As a result, he also earned his first Oscar nomination, became the highest-paid movie star of all time, and signed on for two Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. Suddenly, people who were praising him for his unconventional roles were turning up their noses at his participation in the big-budget Disney franchise.

Depp talked about this phenomenon in
a recent interview with The Guardian, saying he has no regrets:

Pirates was a film I did just like any other one, I made that choice the same way I made every other choice. (...) I think I went into it innocently, and it became what it became. And now they want to tear me down. Instantly, as soon as I did Pirates II, they say: "Oh, he's selling out." What the fuck does that mean, selling out? What if I did Ed Wood II, is that selling out? I mean, it's not like I was ever looking to become franchise boy, I was never looking to become anything like that. I just latched on to a character I loved.

You know, I believe him. In my opinion there's only one worthwhile Pirates movie of the bunch, and that's the first one (which I love beyond all reason), but I can understand his desire to continue playing a role that was obviously so perfect for him. Depp could probably make a thousand more amazing movies and people would still talk about his performance as Captain Jack, because that character is pure movie magic.

Besides, it was mostly likely his success in
Pirates that led him to some of his subsequent award-winning box office hits, like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Finding Neverland, and Sweeney Todd. (Let us not speak of The Tourist.)

If Depp is a sellout, his lifestyle certainly doesn't show it: he pretty much stays tucked away from the limelight in France with his two children and long-time love Vanessa Paradis. He may be a billionaire, but he seems happy enough running his vineyard and occasionally emerging to take on more oddball films like the recently-released Hunter S. Thompson biopic
The Rum Diary.

I think it's pretty ridiculous to accuse an actor of selling out because he turned into box office gold, but I doubt Depp gives much of a damn. He'll just keep on following his own path, proving that success has nothing to do with what people say about you.


Do you think Depp sold out by agreeing to do the follow-up Pirates films?



Image via Flickr/nicogenin

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