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Hooray For Hollywood
The years 1990-1993 chronicle Johnny Depp’s breakthrough from small-screen heartthrob, as Officer Tom Hanson on 21 Jump Street, to mesmerizing movie protagonist—a feat often attempted but seldom achieved.
Johnny served notice that he was more than a pretty face with leading roles in two 1990 films. As Wade Walker in John Waters’ musical satire Cry-Baby, Johnny mocked celebrity-mania (and his own recent past), yet brought unmistakable movie-star charisma to the role.
Even more impressive was his work as the outcast hero of Tim Burton’s fantasy Edward Scissorhands; deprived of the use of his hands (which were replaced by metal blades) and his voice (Edward utters only 169 words in the film), Johnny relies on his eyes to make Edward’s emotions transparent. The film garnered tremendous critical acclaim and won Johnny his first Golden Globe nomination as Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical. It also marked the beginning of his long collaboration with Tim Burton.
Johnny turned down conventional Hollywood fare—he didn’t want to be “the guy with the gun”—to portray a series of damaged innocents in small films with strong ensembles: Axel Blackmar in Emir Kusturica’s surrealistic coming-of-age tale, Arizona Dream; the gentle, barely literate Sam in the offbeat romance Benny & Joon (1993); and the unappreciated Gilbert in Lasse Hallstrom’s What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), who sacrifices his own dreams to try to hold his dysfunctional family together.
Although Johnny’s brilliance as an actor does not go unnoticed, during this period the media displays just as much interest in Johnny’s off-screen life, especially his engagement to Edward Scissorhands co-star Winona Ryder. Also, since Johnny despised the way the 21 Jump Street publicity machine advertised him as being exactly like Officer Tom Hanson, he takes pains, in these interviews, to demonstrate all the ways he is not like the role that made him famous.
-- Part-Time Poet
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January 10 -- Sun
Sentinel, Amy Wilson
April -- Interview Magazine, John Waters
April 4 -- Los Angeles Times, Chris Willman
May -- Movieline, Stephen Rebello
May -- Sassy, Christina Kelly
May -- YM Magazine
June -- Sky Magazine, Tony Fletcher
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Globe, Matthew Gilbert
May -- Details, Chris Heath
May -- Harper's Bazaar, Susan Morgan
May -- US Magazine, Betsy Israel
May 7 -- Entertainment Weekly, Ryan Murphy
July -- Sky Magazine, Stephen Rebello
July -- Smash Hits, Leesa Daniels
August -- Film Review, David Aldridge
October -- GQ Magazine, Johanna Schneller
December 8 -- Knight Ridder, Judy Gerstel