Johnny Depp's Forgotten Roles

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

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'Platoon' (1986)

Depp and his then-fiancé, a pre-Twin Peaks Sherilyn Fenn, both auditioned for roles in the 1986 skateboarding movie Thrashin'. They both won their parts, but the producer overruled the director's choice of Depp. Fortunately, he landed a small role in Oliver Stone's Oscar-winning Vietnam War movie. He plays Lerner, a soldier in the platoon who speaks some Vietnamese and is wounded during an ambush. Again, he's not given much to do; he's just one grunt among many (including fellow future stars Forest Whitaker, Kevin Dillon, John C. McGinley and Mark Moses). Still, the realistic boot-camp training that the cast underwent before the shoot helped introduce Depp to the immersive, Method-like acting technique that would become his hallmark. Plus, the visibility in a prestige picture must have helped him land his starmaking role as a baby-faced sleuth on TV's 21 Jump Street, a role Depp has said he took primarily in order to work with a fellow Vietnam movie vet, Apocalypse Now's Frederic Forrest.

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