Johnny Depp has played iconic characters in some of the most treasured films to have made their way to cinemas over the last 30 years, yet, surprisingly, none of them provided him with more joy than an appearance on a cult British sketch show.
Realistically, Depp has always been a maverick. He often attempts to give off the impression that he’d prefer to be operating on the periphery rather than a mainstay inside the Hollywood clique, but that isn’t necessarily his reality. Whatever role he’s cast in, Depp brings a larger than life zest to it, one which makes him stand out from the crowd.
His quirky personality is something he leans into at every opportunity, and his slightly irregular edge is what he strives to find within a programme. Depp finds comfort within things that break traditional conventions, and no sketch show did that better than The Fast Show.
It was unlike anything that had come before in the genre. No sketch lasted for longer than three minutes, some only lasted a mere matter of seconds, and often characters didn’t have names. It helped set a precedent for the next generation of sketch programmes and broke down barriers forever.
Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson’s invention was undoubtedly revolutionary, even if only in the small world of sketch comedy. The last episode, aptly titled ‘Last Ever’, featured self-anointed superfan Depp, who portrayed a customer of ‘The Suit You Tailors’.
Even though it was only a minor role, Depp later commented, “It was absolutely one of my proudest achievements. No question. It was one of my favourite things to have been on the last Fast Show.”
During an appearance on The One Show in 2020, Whitehouse elaborated on their relationship and said, “He was a big fan of The Fast Show. He was quite obsessed with it.”
He continued, “I do remember I did work with him on something. And unless he saw me coming and quickly stuck it on, when I went round to see him in his trailer, there it was – The Fast Show was on.”
Meanwhile, speaking to The Guardian in 2015, Whitehouse revealed that Depp went as far as declaring him as “the finest actor of all time”.
However, the comedian disagreed, adding: “But that’s a bit silly, isn’t it – how does he know? I recently did a little cameo in a film of his, Through the Looking Glass, and he said, ‘Hey man, I’m going to look after you, make sure you’re OK’. Never heard from him again. So Mr Depp can piss off,” he joked.
A cameo on a niche, British comedy series doesn’t come with the same titanic pressure as steering the ship on a Hollywood blockbuster. A place where everybody is looking at you to lead by example, and there are hundreds dependent on you. When he turned up on the set of The Fast Show, he could act with the shackles off, and it’s clear from his liberated performance that he loved every second of it.