Vanity Fair, Johnny Depp talks once more about how his swishy, sloshy performance as Capt. Jack Sparrow in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie sent the suits at Disney into a minor panic during filming, going so far as to ask if the character was meant to be gay. “And so,” says Depp, “I actually told this [Disney exec], ‘But didn’t you know that all my characters are gay?’”In an interview with Patti Smith in
Needless to say, Depp is/was kidding – somehow I doubt that the married-with-kids FBI agent Joe Pistone (a.k.a. Donnie Brasco in Donnie Brasco) is meant to be read as a closet case. And yet, Depp’s career is indeed a trove of outré outsiders. They may not be explicitly homosexual per se, but they certainly live on the fringe of society and/or stereotypically manly, heterosexual male behavior – especially when he teams up with longtime
companion director Tim Burton. To wit:
Edward Scissorhands in Edward Scissorhands A pale-faced loner who dresses in all black, has a thing for buckles, sports dark emo hair, has a gift for creating fine art with scissors (for hands), and pines for Winona Ryder.
Ed Wood in Ed Wood An over-the-top filmmaker whose films have been lionized as high (if unintentional) camp, with a penchant for dressing in women’s angora sweaters.
Ichabod Crane in Sleepy Hollow A fastidious forensics expert with collection of oddball eyewear, whose progressive ideals put him at odds with larger society, when he’s not sort of pining for Christina Ricci.
Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory A confectionary genius/loner with a coterie of pocket-sized men doing his bidding, with a perfectly coifed bob, exquisitely milky skin, elegant purple gloves, a tailored burgundy suede jacket, and a custom-designed walking stick.
Sweeney Todd in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street A hair stylist and male grooming expert whose inky black tresses sport a wildly eccentric shock of white hair, and who quite often for seemingly no reason breaks into Broadway showtunes – and Sondheim at that.
The Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland A proud designer of one-of-a-kind berets, bonnets, and chapeaux, he also clearly has eyebrow extensions.
You’ve got to hand it to Depp: He’s built himself into a 21st century global superstar and deservedly beloved national treasure playing men who, for want of a better phrase, might as well be gay. But am I crazy for wanting to see what he could do with a character who is, you know, actually gay? (Somehow, his brief dual cameos as a transvestite and closeted Cuban officer in Before Night Falls, and his role as a vaguely bisexual 17th century English lecher in The Libertine don’t quite seem to cut it.) Or would that perhaps be too on the nose for an actor who relishes in puckishly frolicking along the margins?