Discover the cinematic gem close to Johnny Depp’s heart! Dive into the film that holds a special place in his soul.

Johnny Depp’s Top Favorite Films: A Deeper Look into the Actor’s Cinematic Tastes

Johnny Depp is one of the most acclaimed and beloved actors of his generation.

Over the course of his 40 year career, Depp has brought to life some of the most iconic characters in modern cinema through his transformative and deeply committed performances.

While Depp is known for his collaborations with directors like Tim Burton and for playing eccentric characters, his tastes as a film fan run deeper than just blockbuster fare.

In a 2009 interview, Depp revealed his five favorite movies of all time – films that have clearly had a profound impact on both the artist and the man.

Let’s take a closer look at these five films that Johnny Depp holds near and dear to his heart.

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Down by Law (1986)

The first film Depp named was Down by Law, the 1986 neo-noir comedy directed by independent auteur Jim Jarmusch.

The black and white film follows two American men – a disc jockey and a pimp, played by John Lurie and Tom Waits – who are thrown in a prison in a fictional South American country after being framed.

There they meet an Italian immigrant zookeeper, played by Roberto Benigni, who doesn’t speak English. Forced to bond out of necessity, the three escape from prison and make their way through the swampland back to New Orleans.

Down by Law is a quintessential Jim Jarmusch film – low budget, quirky, deadpan in its humor but with an underlying sense of compassion.

The director is known for his ability to find poetry in everyday people, and the stranded characters in Down by Law feel fully lived in and real despite their absurd circumstances.

For Depp, the film’s idiosyncratic characters clearly resonated with him on a personal level.

Like many of Jarmusch’s works, Down by Law celebrates independent spirits who live life on their own terms, following their own internal rhythms – a theme that no doubt appealed to Depp’s own free spirit.

The film is also a prime example of Jarmusch’s singular directorial voice, one that blends humor, humanity, and stylistic panache.

For an artist like Depp who is drawn to unique cinematic visions, Down by Law was surely an early discovery that left a lasting mark.

Ed Wood (1994)

Unsurprisingly, another favorite of Depp’s is Ed Wood, Tim Burton’s 1994 biopic about one of the most legendary “worst directors” of all time. In the film, Depp gives one of his most celebrated performances as Edward D. Wood Jr., the cross-dressing creator of the infamous Plan 9 from Outer Space.

Ed Wood was Depp and Burton’s second collaboration, following 1990’s Edward Scissorhands, and sees Depp fully surrendering himself to the role.

He perfectly embodies Wood’s boundless enthusiasm, creativity and stubborn optimism despite constant failure and rejection.

Under Burton’s direction, Depp brings an incredible warmth, humor and pathos to the role, turning Wood into a tragic figure of artistic expression.

For Depp, Ed Wood was likely meaningful for allowing him to dive deep into another unique individual and give voice to an misunderstood outsider.

The film is also a valentine letter to the art of independent filmmaking, celebrating Wood’s can-do spirit and do-it-yourself attitude despite working with no budget.

It’s clear Depp connected with Wood on some profound creative level and appreciated the film for how it handled its subject with empathy, humor and respect.

Working with Burton again was also surely a comfort for Depp in such a transformative role.

Ed Wood demonstrates Depp’s abilities as a chameleon actor willing to fully disappear into a character, and remains one of his most beloved performances.

To Have and Have Not (1944)

An earlier work that found a fan in Depp is the 1944 Howard Hawks romantic adventure To Have and Have Not, based on the Ernest Hemingway novel and starring Hollywood icons Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

Set in French Martinique during World War 2, the film sees Bogart as a cynical fishing boat captain who gets talked into ferrying French Resistance members out of the country. It was Bacall’s breakout role and featured the beginnings of her legendary off-screen romance with Bogart.

To Have and Have Not is considered one of the prime examples of classic Hollywood film noir, with its shadowy settings, moral ambiguity and underlying current of danger.

But it’s also hugely entertaining, featuring sharp dialogue, charismatic stars and an undeniable chemistry between Bogart and Bacall.

For Depp, clearly part of the appeal was getting to witness the magic of two of cinema’s greats, Bogart and Bacall, at the very start of their partnership.

As an actor deeply fascinated by the history of Hollywood, Depp surely admired Hawks’ stylish direction and the performances that helped launch two iconic careers.

The film’s mix of noirish intrigue, romance and witty banter no doubt left Depp with a hankering for Old Hollywood glamour. It’s a film that’s stood the test of time.

Time of the Gypsies (1988)

A bit of an outlier pick among Depp’s favorites is 1988’s Time of the Gypsies, directed by legendary Yugoslavian filmmaker Emir Kusturica.

The film is set among the Romani people in Yugoslavia and follows the story of Perhan, a young Romani man who aspires to be a thief and live freely outside the rules of society.

It’s a glimpse into the Roma culture rarely seen in Western cinema, featuring non-professional actors and in the Romani language.

As one of the few foreign language films Depp cited, Time of the Gypsies shows his willingness to embrace international cinema and stories from cultures outside his own experience.

For Depp, an artist always eager to explore new perspectives, the film must have been a richly textured look at a misunderstood community and way of life.

He likely appreciated Kusturica’s ability to find poetry in everyday people, similar to Jarmusch.

The film celebrates the outsider spirit and sense of rebellion and independence that seems to appeal strongly to Depp’s sensibilities.

It’s also a testament to how traveling and open-mindedness to other cultures had clearly expanded Depp’s cinematic tastes beyond just Hollywood fare.

Withnail and I (1987)

Rounding out Depp’s favorites is the cult British comedy Withnail and I, directed by Bruce Robinson in 1987.

The black comedy follows two unemployed actors, Withnail and “I” (played by Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann), who escape their squalid London flat for a holiday in a ramshackle country house.

Hijinks, drunken misadventures and encounters with eccentric locals ensue in the film, which has become a staple of British comedy.

Withnail and I is a quintessential odd couple road trip movie with sharp dialogue and truly bizarre humor.

For Depp, it was likely the characters’ boozing antics and dysfunctional friendship that appealed most. As an actor who often plays loose cannons and eccentric souls, Depp seems drawn to stories about misfits, outcasts and those living on the fringes.

The comedy’s blend of heart, social commentary and absurdity is also right up his alley. Having spent time living in the UK himself, Depp surely found humor and recognition in the film’s portrait of lost British souls. It’s a cult classic that has endured due to how relatable and hilarious its characters remain, even for an American audience like Depp.

Final Thoughts

This selection of five films gives important insight into Johnny Depp’s tastes and what resonates most with him as both an artist and a film fan.

More than just blockbusters, his favorites celebrate independent voices like Jarmusch and Kusturica, iconoclasts like Ed Wood, and character studies that get to the heart of misunderstood individuals.

They run the gamut from Hollywood classics to obscure foreign films, but are unified in their focus on outsiders, misfits and artistic underdogs.

More than just entertainment, these films clearly left thoughtful impacts that have informed Depp’s own creative ethos over time.

While he may not publicly name his absolute top three favorites, this lineup from 2009 shows the cinematic works and filmmakers that have truly inspired Johnny Depp over the years.

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