Top 5 Johnny Depp Films Where He Isn’t the Main Guy

Posted on 18 October 2021
By Pierce King
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Johnny Depp has enjoyed one of the most successful careers in the entertainment industry. From his award-winning portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl to Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it seems like everything he touches turns into Hollywood gold. 

Indeed, Johnny Depp seems to personify the intriguing characters that he takes on. But did you know Johnny Depp starred in a few movies where he isn’t the main character? Here’s a short list of films where Johnny Depp didn’t play the lead.

Platoon (1986)

Directed by Oliver Stone, Platoon is an American war film. Johnny Depp takes on the role of translator Private Lerner. He originally had a much larger part in the movie, most of which was edited out of the finished film. While he’s present as a background character in the majority of the two-hour movie, he comes in full focus in the scene where he’s working as a translator.

The next time he enjoys some camera time, he is deeply wounded and put on a US army helicopter. This small and memorable role played by Johnny Depp didn’t give him much visibility or popularity. His smaller roles, like the one in Platoon, were recognized only after he made it big in the entertainment industry.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Freddy Kreuger from Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of the most notable characters of all time. Because of this movie, Johnny Depp was offered a string of supporting roles. The role of Glen Lantz, one of the many victims of Freddy Kreuger’s post-death killing spree, was originally intended for Charlie Sheen. However, as Sheen’s salary exceeded the show’s production budget, the producers couldn’t really afford to bring him on.

Enter Depp who brought his A-game to the film. In the movie, Depp tries to convince everyone of the implausibility of Kreuger’s existence. He only realizes how real Kreuger is when he accidentally falls asleep and the slasher sends him into an unlikely death by sucking Depp down into his own mattress. Blood and gore follow. 

21 Jump Street (1987)

21 Jump Street was a popular American TV series by the Fox Network. The series revolved around a group of young police officers who would work undercover to investigate crimes that involved teenagers.
Their youthful appearance allowed them to effortlessly blend in with the crowd. Without a reason to suspect anything, the teenagers continued to live their lives normally. When a crime presented itself, the officers would solve it imperceptibly without blowing their covers.

Depp played the role of Officer Tom Hanson in the series. The show covered everything from alcoholism, drug abuse, and hate crime to AIDS, child abuse, homosexuality, and sexual promiscuity. It’s actually based on a real-life undercover unit stationed in Los Angeles.

Depp’s stellar acting earned him national recognition and 21 Jump Street proved to be one of his best performances to date. He left the series in Season 4 to pursue his career in Hollywood.

Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003) 

An explosive, action-packed American neo-western action film, Once Upon a Time in Mexico features Johnny Depp as CIA Agent Sheldon Sands. Sands is responsible for recruiting the main character El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas). In the film, El Mariachi is asked to kill a corrupt Mexican general who brought about the death of El Mariachi’s wife and daughter.

While Banderas brought his acting chops to the table, the movie wouldn’t have been a complete hit if it weren’t for Depp’s skilful characterization of Sands. To be honest, none of the characters, with the exception of Depp, have many lines to begin with. If someone’s talking, it’s probably Depp. Additionally, when Depp was asked to contribute four to eight notes to the movie soundtrack’s melody, he came through with a complete musical composition. The movie showcased action at its finest.

It jumped from one action scene to the next without any restraint and exhibited a flair for unapologetic violence. As the body count continued to mount after every action scene, the movie still somehow managed to retain a goofy vibe. We have Depp and Robert Rodriguez (the movie’s director and writer) to thank for that!

Happily Ever After (2004)

Directed by Yvan Attal, Happily Ever After explores the intricacies of marriage, freedom, and fidelity. The French comedy-drama revolves around three friends and their tumultuous relationships with the opposite sex. While the film opens to show Vincent (Yvan Attal) and Gabrielle (Charlotte Gainsbourg) courting, they turn out to be married and have a child together. They go from being playful and passionate to bored and detached in a few years. When Gabrielle learns about her husband’s infidelity, she’s hurt but quickly realizes that she can find someone else too.

This is where Johnny Depp comes in. The movie is best known for Depp’s lengthy cameo appearance as the tempting stranger. As if his appearance and charisma weren’t enough, he also speaks fluent and impeccable French. 

The film also revolves around the constant fighting and screaming between Georges (Alain Chabat) and Natalie (Emmanuelle Seigner) while dissecting the intricacies of Fred’s (Alain Cohens) character. The plotline quickly builds to ask the real question: why is nobody satisfied with their lives? Despite the actors coming through with commendable portrayals of their characters, however, the overall movie was found lacking in charm and wit.

How many of these movies have you seen? Were you able to spot Johnny Depp in them? Are there other movies you recommend where Johnny Depp played supporting roles? Let us know in the comments below. If you love all things Johnny Depp, check out the Which Johnny Depp Character Are You? quiz from Brainfall.