10. Cry-Baby (1990)
Starting off the list is Depp playing a typical greaser, Wade Walker who sheds a single tear to make the girls go absolutely crazy for him. His bad-boy image is shaken up when he meets a pretty girl that is tired of being so square and then soon fall in love. He cries for real as he finally lets go of his troubled past. This film helped him break away from the heartthrob stereotype and the film has subsequently become a cult classic.
9. Black Mass (2015)
Released in 2015, by which time, Depp is no stranger to gangster movies or biographical dramas. This time he plays James Whitey Bulger who in charge of the Winter Hill Gang. Depp looks frightening with a balding haircut look and reflective glasses, giving one of his most compelling performances in years.
8. Donnie Brasco (1997)
Depp plays the true story of Joseph D. Pistone, an undercover FBI agent who works his way up the Mafia under the allies of Donnie Brasco. He befriends a mob hitman, Lefty Ruggiero played by Al Pacino. Depp works the screen as a believable mobster, giving a sensational performance.
7. Benny & Joon (1993)
This is the film that made Depp strike it big. He plays Sam, a cane-wielding, eccentric cinephile. His character becomes entwined with Joon, a schizophrenic that helps him overcome his illiteracy. He performs hilarious comic routines that pay homage to the likes of Charlie Chaplin.
6. Ed Wood (1994)
This was Depp’s chance to let loose and have some fun at a time when he was bored with acting. He plays the director Ed Wood in this biographical comedy-drama as he sets out to make the world’s most unpopular films. Depp shows yet again, that he can make audiences laugh, proving his worth as a dynamic actor.
5. Alice in Wonderland (2010)
We couldn’t have picked an actor more suited for The Mad Hatter. The film follows a traditional fairy-tale in a completely new way with an overload of CGI. Depp plays as someone that seems to have a number of personalities all bundled into one with extremes all over. He brings a sense of calmness and potential danger to the role with a Scottish Glaswegian accent.
4. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
Depp nails Benjamin Barker, collaborating again with Tim Burton. The story is driven by real existing myths of London, in this tale of revenge and human pies. Depp delivers a captivating performance as a man who has lost everything, turning into a vicious throat slashing barber. Also, who knew he could sing so well?
3. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
In this drug-fuelled visual spectacle, Depp plays Raoul Duke, a journalist on a mission to experience the Las Vegas scene with mind-altering substances. He abuses all manner of drugs, and enacts various acid trips, drug ups and come downs with conviction. Only he could be acting out paranoid episodes with such accuracy.
2. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
This was the start of repeated collaborations for Johnny Depp and director Tim Burton. Depp plays Scissorhands in this Gothic tale of struggling to be understood artist that just wants to be accepted. He has skills that garner both fear and respect allowing Depp to utilise the dimensions of this character. On one side we see his tenderness, and on the other, we see his dark side.
1. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
Johnny Depp was born to play this role, becoming an icon of swashbuckling pirates all across the seven seas. It’s ‘Captain’ Jack Sparrow, actually. A truly unconventional character that never seems to run out of ways to escape death. His character is a highlight for the entire series, that keeps it full of light comedy moments despite its dark themes.