Over the past years or so, Johnny Depp’s reputation has seen more peaks and troughs than a drove of pigs hiking the Himalayas. After being pretty much blacklisted from Hollywood following Amber Heard’s infamous op-ed piece for The Washington Post, in which she accused the actor of domestic abuse, he managed to reclaim significant fragments of his former glory. Yet Depp remains a divisive figure in Hollywood, and not just because of the Heard/Depp trial. For some, he’s one of the greatest character actors working in the industry. For others, he’s an over-indulged wacko.
Take Brian Cox for example, who once lashed out at Depp’s acting in his memoir Putting The Rabbit In The Hat. As a revered actor of both stage and screen, Cox knows a thing or two about his craft, having worked extensively with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theatre, where he received critical acclaim for his portrayal of King Lear. He would go on to win over fans of the small screen with his depiction of media magnate Logan Roy in HBO’s Succession. That’s not to mention the fact that he’s won an Olivier Award, an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe.
Depp’s path towards stardom was quite different. The American actor, who relocated to Los Angeles with his band as a 20-year-old, decided to pursue acting on the advice of drinking buddy Nicholas Cage. After securing roles in films like Nightmare on Elm Street and Private Resort, Depp found himself stumbling into a career he’d scarcely been able to imagine a few years before.
In one particular passage of Putting The Rabbit In The Hat, Cox seems to dismiss Depp’s brand of acting, labelling the actor “overblown” and “overrated.” He went on to write: “I mean, Edward Scissorhands. Let’s face it, if you come on with hands like that and pale, scarred-face make-up, you don’t have to do anything. And he didn’t. And subsequently, he’s done even less. But people love him. They don’t love him so much these days, of course.”
That last line suggests that Cox felt able to criticise Depp’s career because of the controversy that surrounded him at the time. It’s a common thing when actors are “cancelled” to dismiss their entire body of work without s second glance. Cox would later express regret over his “harsh” comments during a conversation on Jimmy Kimmel Live! When asked if he’d heard anything from Depp following the book’s publication, the actor said: “I heard a lot from his — they call it a fan club, but I think it’s some kind of CIA agency that works on his behalf.”
Cox then went on to confess that he’d written an addendum for the book in which he re-framed his remarks. “I just thought I was being a bit harsh,” Cox said. “You know what it’s like; you go for the easy joke. And I went for the easy joke.”