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Might As Well Jump
Johnny Depp came to Los Angeles in the mid-1980s to be a rock-and-roll musician, not an actor. He went to his first audition on a whim, at the urging of pal Nicolas Cage, and walked out with a featured role in Wes Craven’s landmark horror film, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). Johnny Depp has been acting ever since.
The earliest pieces in our archive are newspaper articles from 1987, when Johnny had just started work as undercover cop Tom Hanson on the Fox TV series 21 Jump Street. Florida newspapers proudly play up the “local boy makes good” angle, and a syndicated TV columnist interviews the new cop on the block. These articles capture Johnny at a rare moment when he is excited about the prospect of playing Hanson and sees the Jump Street scripts as affording an opportunity to help people.
By 1988, Jump Street was a bona fide hit—the biggest ever on the new Fox network—and Johnny Depp was a teen idol, a role he found as humiliating as it was absurd. Magazine articles find him mulling the perils of being “a product” and wishing to put as much distance as possible between himself and the role that made him famous. In 1989, deliverance arrived . . . in the person of maverick director John Waters, who cast Johnny as the Elvis-like lead in his musical satire Cry-Baby, which coincidentally happened to spoof celebrity.
The 1989 US Magazine article is the first major profile of Johnny Depp; it shows a young actor attempting to leap from TV to feature films, and trying desperately to shake off the “teen idol” label that hangs around his neck like an albatross. Neither the writer nor Johnny knows if he will succeed.
-- Part-Time Poet
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23 -- TV
Guide, Elaine Warren
March -- YM Magazine, Mary Kaye Schilling
April 23 -- Sun Sentinel, Monika Guttman
June 13 -- US Magazine, Bill Cosford
September -- 16 Magazine
September -- SPLICE Magazine
December -- Rolling Stone, Johanna Schneller