Johnny Depp's Forgotten Roles

'The Lone Ranger' star from 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' to 'The Rum Diary'

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'Arizona Dream' (1993)

Depp was already getting a reputation for quirkiness, thanks to his work with John Waters (Cry-Baby) and Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands), when he starred in this odd black-comic indie movie. Directed by celebrated Bosnian filmmaker Emir Kusturica (it's his only movie shot in the U.S., with an American cast), the indie movie features an unusual, Sundance-worthy cast, including Jerry Lewis, Faye Dunaway, Lili Taylor, Paulina Porizkova, Vincent Gallo and Michael J. Pollard. Depp plays Axel, a Cadillac salesman troubled, like most of the characters, by strange dreams. He dreams of being an Eskimo fisherman; Dunaway dreams of building a flying machine, Taylor dreams of dying and being reincarnated as a turtle. Kusturica is a director who's at home with the absurd and the symbolic (see his masterpiece Underground), but even in the mythic and desolate landscape of Arizona, it's easy to suspect that the director has no idea what he's doing. (Indeed, Kusturica reportedly suffered a nervous breakdown, and while the cast waited for him to recuperate, Depp and Dunaway appeared in Julien Temple's 18-minute music video for Tom Petty's "Into the Great Wide Open.") Still, for a movie about people obsessed with dying, everyone seems to be having a grand time. Dave Grohl has reportedly cited the film as the inspiration for the Foo Fighters' song "Enough Space." As it turned out, Depp's role in Arizona Dream would not be the strangest thing he would do on screen, not by a long shot.

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