‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ director: Johnny Depp ranks with Valentino, Gable and Bogart

May 30, 2011 | 3:03 p.m.
johnny depp rudolph valentino Pirates of the Caribbean director: Johnny Depp ranks with Valentino, Gable and Bogart

Rudolph Valentino (circa 1918) and Johnny Depp (Bison Archives/Getty Images)

Johnny Depp will be remembered as the greatest star of his time and history will rank him with celluloid legends such as Humphrey Bogart, Rudolph Valentino and Clark Gable, according to Rob Marshall, the director of “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” the Disney seafaring adventure that (for now) stands as the biggest international box office hit of 2011.

“He’s as vivid as those great stars of the past, Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable and Errol Flynn,” Marshall said. “Many, many, many years from now, when people look at this generation of Hollywood, he will be considered the great star of this era. He’s his own thing and he takes major chances every single time he makes a film.”

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Marshall, the 50-year-old filmmaker who was nominated for an Oscar for “Chicago,” said he had been told by “Pirates” producer Jerry Bruckheimer to expect something special from Depp once the cameras began rolling and that’s precisely what happened.

“I remember Jerry saying to me once that Johnny could have been a silent film star — and it’s true,” Marshall said. “He’s like a Rudolph Valentino. He has such a command of expression without words. The humor and the feelings he can convey with his face alone is extraordinary. He’s this consummate artist who is also like the nicest, most generous man. The comparisons that come to mind with him are Charlie Chaplin and Errol Flynn. He’s a throwback to another time. To me he is, honestly, a star from another time. He is that unique.”

Depp will be seen in “The Rum Diary,” due in October, which reconnects him to the legacy of the late Hunter S. Thompson. This summer he will be in England filming a big-screen remake of “Dark Shadows,” which will be his eighth film with director Tim Burton, and his crowded list of upcoming projects includes a reunion with director Gore Verbinski to make a “Lone Ranger” film and, perhaps, a fifth “Pirates” voyage.

— Geoff Boucher


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39 Responses to ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ director: Johnny Depp ranks with Valentino, Gable and Bogart

  1. rachel says:

    Yeah,for me Johnny Depp is a big star,I think he is the best actor these days,I love him ,and I saw all his movies, he is great,congratulations to him.

  2. Maha says:

    “I remember Jerry saying to me once that Johnny could have been a silent film star — and it’s true,” Marshall said. “He’s like a Rudolph Valentino. He has such a command of expression without words. The humor and the feelings he can convey with his face alone is extraordinary."
    -This is definitely not the first time I've heard these thoughts about this guy. In fact, I've read it *quite* often, often enough to convince me that his co-stars and crew who practically fall in love with him after working with him, might actually be speaking true words.
    "He’s this consummate artist who is also like the nicest, most generous man. The comparisons that come to mind with him are Charlie Chaplin and Errol Flynn. He’s a throwback to another time. To me he is, honestly, a star from another time. He is that unique.”
    -Also not the first time I've read these epithets about him. It's interesting to note, Depp was/is a huge fan of silent movies, and Buster Keaton and Chaplin. Doesn't surprise me if he's picked up artistic traits from them.
    His generosity and niceness are mentioned quite often, too. This is the guy who dressed up as Cap'n Jack and spent an evening with sick kids at the hospital, just because he felt like it. Showed up at a school fulfilling a 9-year old girl's request she wrote him in letter. Gifted his hat to a boy who wrote a fan letter to him, and said he liked his hats (along with gifts for each of his 4 bros). And a deed that goes way back- he had pizzas flown in from another city because a crew mate told him he hadn't had a decent pizza in a year, and he missed it (somewhere in the very late '80s).

    • Wow!

      I didn't realize that Depp was such a class act, too! It's so nice to read these kinds of "good" things about celebrities doing "good" with their celebrity. Meaning, I love hearing about celebrities doing really positive things, but not necessarily doing them as publicity stunts – doing them almost under-the-radar. I'm sure the pizza thing that Depp did back then got some coverage, but I'm pretty sure (at least from the way you described it), that Depp wasn't doing it to get his name in the news.

      With Love and Gratitude,


  3. Jan says:

    Although his latest projects are mostly concentrating on a young audience (he's mostly influenced by his kids to watch his movies, perfectly reasonable), and mostly of blockbuster fame and most recently, less critical acclaim (Tourist and POTC) his earlier (critically acclaimed) work, and even the Pirates movies, will stand the tests of time. His roles are so diverse, the stories so different, you can never tire of them. And he's perfect in all of them- his mannerisms, his unspoken emotions… brilliant work.

    He definitely will be remembered for a long time to come. I'm hoping, and kind of know that once his kids a grow little older, he'll get back to his smaller, finer stories that perhaps, even if they weren't mainstream box office successes, were a canvas for his art. Until then I'm okay with watching more Captain Jack Sparrow, and his brilliance as such in Rango.

    Can't wait for The Rum Diary, though!

  4. med says:

    Agreed! And that's skill of acting that wins so many people over!

  5. BillieB says:

    I absolutely agree with Marshall but to me he is better than they were because he is so real. There is nothing about that man that is fake. I grew up with those actors that were mentioned and they were not real they existed only in magazines and on film where Johnny is one of us, with a lot of money and so very talented but still real. Hope that makes sense.

    • Glenford says:

      I totally agree with you. Back then it was more about glitz and glamour, and you never knew what the celebrity was like in real life..

  6. Theodore Markham says:

    That's laughable. He plays comic book characters, not men. He's a human cartoon. An aging hipster who will never be considered even in the same room as Sean Penn, much less the top tier of actors. As for Gable, Bogart, there place is firm for the ages. If Depp wants to be Valentino, good for him.

    • virginia ennis says:

      i am 68 yrs old and have been crazy for johnny for years, and – call me naive – but i disliked humprey bogart intensely until he did "african queen" and stopped trying to play a hearthrob – which he was not…clark cable was extremely handsome, and a decent actor for his time, but johnny is different, and has always taken the chance to do quirky yet successful arthouse and/or different mainstream movies…and he has definitely taken chances with his career that pay great dividends… this i admire…plus my grandchildren adore him and think me cool for all the depp trivia in my brain and have sat and happily watched such things as"gilbert grape". benny and joon" etc

    • Jan says:

      You surely don't think his work in Dead Man, Donnie Brasco Sweeney Todd, Public Enemies and Blow weren't comic book characters? You should learn a bit about the subject before commenting on it, otherwise makes your comment ignorant.
      His work is extremely diverse in matter of characters. He seems to have covered the base of serious acting the first decade of his movie career, now he's covering the base of playing more outlandish characters. Just goes to show his diversity.

    • Glenford says:

      You sir are extremely ignorant. Comic book characters? So I guess John Dillinger was a comic book character that Johnny Depp played in Public Enemies. All you need to do is google or wiki his works and it will show you the talent this mam has. You obviously know nothing about the subject so please refrain from saying your crap sense! And as far as talent goes.. Ill bet JD can play any of the characters that your favorite actor plays, but they cannot do all the characters that Johnny has played.. And that to me is what makes him great among any other actors of any time.. His depth!

  7. Avi says:

    I agree…He is a living legend!!

  8. Gail says:

    Depp probably wants to be Depp. Who would want to be VALENTINO, for the love of God? This Depp is an exceptional actor with an exceptional range of ability, and anyone who doesn't recognize that fact is simply ignorant.

    • Maha says:

      Love your comment. I basically care more about making a name for yourself than following in the name of others- after all, they made a name for themselves to, right? Original is always more valuable than imitation.
      Depp seems to be thinking the same.

  9. Tiffany says:

    Johnny is a wonderful man. Working hard for his family, the only time you see him on TV its always about 1 of his movies, its never drama. When he does each of his characters in each movie he really makes the character like no one else could I honestly believe, the characters just shine. I'm proud to have him as a icon, he's very inspiring, mostly playing those characters no one else could so wonderful. So Theodore I can't even grasp why your so incredibly jealous or whatever your reason to make a nasty comment and can't simply be happy for someone passing normal boundaries with extreme brilliance in great acting!

  10. rita johnson says:

    i have been a johnny depp fan for a long time.he is simply wonderful in every movie he does,he is my all time favorite actor,but he also seems like such a wonderful person.i have all of his movies and love every single one!!!i agree with rob marshall that johnny should be right up there with clark gable, humphrey bogart, and rudolph valentino.he is deffintly unique in a great way.no he wont be considered even in the same room as sean penn,because hes much,much better than him, in my opinion.

  11. Steve Wimer says:

    Depp is the new Bogart? Depp is a cool comic book character. I don't dislike him, but to compare him to Bogart is stupid. These Pirate movies were made for the money, pure and simple, with poor storytelling. Anyone involved with them should not be proud, except for the first time around, which was a good movie.

    • med says:

      I think you should see more films with Depp. Yesterday I watched yet again Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and couldn't stop to admire the talent and versatility of Johnny Depp. So I would advise everyone who heard of Depp only after the Pirates go and see his earlier work, before making your judgement!

      • Glenford says:

        Thank you! All these ignoramus retards keep judging JD based on his Disney movies..

    • Maha says:

      I think it's poor judgement on your part to just compare his Pirates work. Laughable.
      What about his work he's done in the career span of 25 years? I can name quite a few excellent, and some not so excellent works of his that were a completely different vein of work than the Pirates theme.
      Also, you may not like the Pirates movies that much, but when you say they were done just for money, who do you think gives them the money? The audience. And quite a majority, since they earned quite well. *Why* do you think they spend their money to watch it, if it's that disastrous and should be hated? Is someone forcing them to do so? Held at gunpoint? Blackmailed?
      None of these. It's quite simple- they love the franchise, and they love watching the movies. Anyone involved has the right to be as much proud as they want to, of all the movies. They've earned the fans and the name to do so.

    • Glenford says:

      Yes these movies were made for money AND entertainment by DISNEY! So think about who Disney is trying to entertain. And if you want good storytelling for your age that Depp is in, then I suggest you watch his earlier works.

  12. brettghampton says:

    Theodore and Steve: That Depp plays these "comic book characters," as you dismissively state, and brings them to life as fully realized people who are interesting is a testament to the fact that he is, in fact, a very good actor. And unlike Sean Penn and many of the others to whom he's been compared, Depp has a significantly more diverse resume of characters that he's played over the years.

  13. aggirl says:

    Had to post my immediate reaction to his future projects.

    Can't wait to see what he will do with the _Lone Ranger_, especially the meeting with Tonto and who might be cast in that role.

  14. Miu Miu says:

    I've read the comments here.
    Look, Depp's movies all in all, have quite a wide range of genres and themes.
    If you want to go for artsy, indie movies, he's got those. If you want a good story in an "intelligent" film, he's got those. If you want a rom-com, he's got a couple (sort of). He's got a fairy-tale. He's got bio-stuff. If you want bizzarre, visual treats, he's got those. And, if you just wanna have fun in a Pirates world, he's got 4 of those too!
    You can't really base your judgement because of your distaste in ONE of these areas in his career- it's definitely very unfair to his whole collection of very admirable work!
    I have to say, though- why compare? I remember a younger Depp's quote in which he said that everyone was comparing anyone to someone based on just a sample of their career, and that it shouldn't be so.
    I think he has (and so does everyone who is really worth admiring) carved his own name from the choices he has taken over the road he travelled.

  15. rita johnson says:

    for those of you who think johnny depp only as a comic book character needs to see more of his wonderful movies,i could watch him 24/7 because hes very handsome and very talented.for those of you who keep making negative comments i think you are just jealous cause hes talented, rich, very good looking,and you are not.

  16. Bill Greenlee says:

    As much as I like Clark Gable, the only Rhett Butler that could ever be, and Humphrey Bogart the only Sam Spade and Rick Blaine, Johnny Depp has soo much more range as an actor. We should remember, though, that those from the past were titghtly controlled by the studios and never had the freedom to try the things that Johnny does. I have enjoyed him since 'What's Eating Gilbert Grape?'. No everyone of his films has been wonderful but all have been interesting. Each one of the men are a product of their times and Johnny should be grateful to have the opportunties to try the things he does.

  17. Anne McNeff says:

    I've known this all along,,,he is special…and it shows in his movies…never the "movie star" always the actor.

  18. wrtrprod7 says:

    Oh please.
    No way.
    Quit sucking up.

  19. Glenford says:

    I can't think of any other actor that can play the Capt. Jack Sparrow and Mad Hatter characters like he did or any better. Do you?

  20. odali says:

    of course he is a wonderful actor and he doesn't need to be compared to anyone, he is unique like everybody else and among the actors he is the one most people like

  21. vikki says:

    i love him he is my dream love well, everyone should love him he is sooo swet i love him(i just said that LOL) he is a wonderful man and well, his wife is wonderful i wishe he cam to my granddaughters school! that would be a dream come true for her she also loves him so very much

  22. jordan says:

    jonny deep is gorgeouss espeacilly at Captian Jaxk ;)

  23. johnny only fan says:


  24. Thom says:

    Please Depp is NO Valentino, so let's not get ridiculous here for the sake of cheap PR.

  25. that s was a great story

  26. Kaitlin says:

    I really want Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swan or Turner (Keira Kightly) Back in the movies because it hurts me for them not to be in it :““““““““““““““““““`- (Super sad face)

  27. Kailtin says:

    Im really upset William and Elizabeth arnt in the movies anymore. I SERIOUSLY CRIED!!! LOL! But i really wish they could fit them back into the movies somehow. THT WOULD BE AWESOME!!!!!!!

  28. michael antonio says:

    Somebody must have been smoking some serious weed to make that comparison. Firstly, Valentino would upstage Depp in any movie. Secondly, Gable would overwhelm Depp in any of his films. C'mon!

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