The Story Behind Jack Sparrow, Edward Scissorhands And Willy Wonka: Johnny Depp Film Facts

By Rachel A

A renowned celebrity and a talented actor, Johnny Depp started his career when he was only 20 years old. It was the Academy Award-winning American actor Nicolas Cage who advised Depp to pursue acting. Consequently, The Nightmare on Elm Street became Depp’s first movie. Since the 80s, Johnny has starred in some of the most impressive and greatly praised films of all time. His roles such as Edward Scissorhands, Sweeney Todd, Willy Wonka, and Jack Sparrow won him accolades and carved a special place in viewers’ hearts. Recently, Johnny Depp has been in the news due to the defamation suit he filed and won against his ex-wife Amber Heard. Although the live telecast of this was super entertaining, did you know that many lesser-known facts about his films are simply incredible? Read on to find out the 35 things no one told you about Johnny Depp’s films!

But First, What Is Johnny Depp Famous For?

Johnny Depp is a versatile actor who has been a central person in Hollywood for over three decades. He is known for emotion-intensive roles as well as quirky comedy roles and has worked in more than 65 movies to date.

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Recently, he took his ex-wife Amber Heard to court and emerged victorious. Her defamatory comments regarding Depp had cost him his contracts worth millions, so he sought justice. Fans followed the news closely regarding the same, and his popularity grew over the past few months.

#1 In the Animated Film Rango, Depp Recorded Voiceover While Performing the Scenes

In fact, the entire cast of the movie acted out the scenes as if both their voice and body were being recorded. This helped them to convey their emotions better through their voice. But at the same time, it’s hard not to imagine how hilarious the film shooting must have been!

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What’s more surprising is that the animators used real-life footage as a reference while developing the film. The similarity in the animation and behind the stage scenes is remarkable. Only Johnny Depp can act amazingly that his actions are directly duplicated and applied to a cartoon.

#2 The Moment Where Willem Dafoe Slaps Johnny Depp’s Butt in Cry-Baby is Improvised

Released in 1990, Cry-Baby is a romantic comedy directed by John Waters. It features Johnny Depp as Cry-Baby Wade Walker, Ricki Lake as Pepper Walker, and Amy Locane as Allison Vernon-Williams. Willem Dafoe plays a short role of a corrections officer in the film.

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Known for his comedy roles, we see Willem Dafoe doing a similar enactment in Cry-Baby. He funnily slapped Johnny Depp’s butt, and the writers say that it was not a part of the script. The entire moment was improvised by Dafoe himself, and it sure did make us laugh!

#3 In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 40 Squirrels were Trained to Crack Nuts

Released in 2005, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a meticulously directed film. We were surprised to find out that instead of using CGI, 40 squirrels were trained to sit on a stool, crack open a walnut, and place it on the conveyor belt. 

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This wonder was achieved by the talented animal trainer Michael Alexander and his team. It took them 19 weeks to teach the actions to the 40 chosen squirrels. Initially, this number was supposed to be 100! Clearly, Johnny Depp always prefers to work on films with hardworking teams.

#4 Jack Sparrow’s Song “I’ve Got a Jar of Dirt” Was Also Johnny Depp’s Creation

In the second POTC movie, titled Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, we can see the cast of the movie reacting very surprised when Jack Sparrow childishly sings the song “I’ve got a jar of dirt, I’ve got a jar of dirt, and guess what’s inside it?” because it was not scripted.

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As usual, Johnny Depp went the extra mile to make the scene look natural as he teases the antagonist Davy Jones at that moment on screen. Davy Jones prepared to attack Jack Sparrow’s ship within seconds, and Johnny Depp shifted his expression from mockery to fear. This iconic comedy scene from the 2006 movie exists all thanks to Depp!

#5 Johnny Depp Loathed the Green-Screen Scenes in Alice in the Wonderland

There isn’t anything tangible to interact with while acting in front of a green screen. Most of the fictitious characters and effects are added in post-production. This makes it very hard for any actor to enact the scene. Plus, green is a very depressing color in such a large quantity.

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It’s no wonder that Johnny Depp hated shooting these scenes. Fans know that Johnny Depp is a fun-loving man who doesn’t like monotony – and we can see this in the roles he chose throughout his career. Still, he managed to deliver an authentic performance, making us fall in love with his talent.

#6 Depp Adopted the Horse from Sleepy Hollow

After watching Johnny portray sensitive roles with ease, it doesn’t surprise us that he is a kind and sensitive man in real life. When he heard that Goldeneye, the horse who played the role of Gunpowder (Ichabod Crane’s horse in Sleepy Hollow), was going to be put down, he decided to adopt him.

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The one-eyed horse was being auctioned off, so Depp decided to show up at the auction. He put in the highest bid and took Goldeneye home with him. If you loved Johnny Depp before, you will completely love him now!

#7 A Red Spot of Syphilis Appears on Jack Sparrow’s Jaw

Throughout the POTC series, viewers have noticed that a red spot appears on Johnny Depp’s face. Visible just next to his jaw, this mark was meant to be because of syphilis. Don’t worry – Johnny didn’t have this in real life!

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It was supposedly a joke between Johnny and his makeup crew that Jack Sparrow suffered from syphilis. Starting from the very first film released in 2003, the red spot becomes progressively more noticeable across the Pirates of the Caribbean series.

#8 For Donnie Brasco, Johnny Depp was Given Shooting Lessons by the FBI

When acting in a movie based on true incidents, actors often meet with the real-life people involved in the story. To better understand the character, this is precisely what Depp did when he played the role of Joseph D. Pistone (an undercover FBI agent) in the 1997 movie Donnie Brasco.

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But Johnny didn’t stop at a few meetings with Pistone. He went the extra mile and signed up for shooting lessons conducted by the FBI. He wanted his action scenes to look almost identical to a real-life FBI agent, and after watching the movie, we can see that he genuinely succeeded.

#9 Jack Sparrow’s Popular Catchphrase “Savvy?” was Improvised by Depp Himself

Johnny Depp always gives a personal touch to his performances. He gets into the character and acts not only as the script dictates but also as the character would behave in real life. This is exactly what he did while starring as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003).

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The role demanded a bizarre personality, so Johnny came up with the catchphrase “Savvy?” and Jack Sparrow can be seen using it as often as a normal person would use “Got it?” or “You know?”. This unusual word became so beloved among fans that Johnny Depp used it throughout the movie series.

#10 Depp Wore Purple Contact Lenses in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

This is truly the smallest detail one could notice – the color of a character’s eyes. And yet, there are scenes in the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where the purple hue in Depp’s eyes is visible. In fact, we feel that the quirk of his character wouldn’t be possible to convey without these majestic eyes!

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Wearing contact lenses is a messy idea, and it often affects vision. Despite the discomfort, Johnny Depp delivered a flawless performance in the film. The next time we rewatch the movie, it’ll be impossible not to keep fixating on his eyes’ beautiful purple eyes!

#11 All of Depp’s Tattoos Were Smartly Hidden in POTC Series

Johnny Depp’s tattoos are a reflection of his fun, live-in-the-moment personality. But when he starred as Jack Sparrow in the movie series Pirates of the Caribbean, the makeup crew had to work extra hard to conceal all of his body art.

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Voluminous and frizzy hair, excessive clothing, and charcoal smudges hid Depp’s tattoos. The makeup team’s hard work sure did pay off – they achieved a trademark look for Jack Sparrow that’s not just loved by the fans but also the most memorable thing about the POTC series.

#12 Depp was Dragged by His Horse While Shooting for The Lone Ranger

Johnny’s roles in movies have always pushed his emotional boundaries. The range of expressions he can deliver on-screen is proof of this. But he has also pushed his physical boundaries while playing the role of Tonto in the 2013 movie The Lone Ranger.

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When filming a horse-riding scene, he slipped off the saddle and fell. The horse dragged him for a few feet before it was stopped by the crew. We cannot imagine the pain that must have caused Johnny, but we’re glad he was okay!

#13 The First Time Johnny Depp Encountered Amber Heard Was While Filming The Rum Diary

While shooting for the movie adaptation of the book The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson, Johnny Depp, and Amber Heard met each other for the first time in 2009. Filmed in Puerto Rico, they played the role of Paul Kemp and Chenault respectively.

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It was only after 2011-2012 that they started dating officially. Johnny Depp had recently broken up with Vanessa Paradis, a French singer, model, and the mother of his two children. Heard and Depp got engaged in 2014, married in 2015, and filed for divorce in 2016.

#14 A Tribute to Secret Window (2004) in Black Mass (2015)

Johnny Depp plays the role of Mort Rainey in Secret Window, where he has a dialog, “Her death will be a mystery, even to me.” In Black Mass, there’s a scene where John Connolly (played by Joel Edgerton) says to Whitey Bulger (played by Johnny Depp), “I don’t know how your brother does it, the nine kids.” To this, Whitey responds, “It’s a mystery, even to me.”

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Although this has been confirmed by the movie crew, fans cannot stop speculating that this is Johnny’s secret (and perhaps unintentional) way of paying homage to his role in Secret Window. Or, maybe it’s just memory playing games and making him repeat his dialogs unconsciously.

#15 Hunter S. Thompson Appears in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas During A Flashback Johnny’s Character Has

Released in 1998, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was based on a book of the same name, written by Thompson. The story is based on actual incidents that Thompson witnessed, but in the book, his name is Raoul Duke. Depp plays the role of Raoul in the movie version.

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In a flashback of the 60s, Raoul transports to his past in slow motion. Raoul points to real-life Thompson in a bar of free spirits and says, “There I was. Mother of God, there I am!” If these references are confusing you, here’s the gist: Johnny, aka Raoul, aka Thompson’s past, was enacted by Thompson himself.

#16 Johnny Depp Convinced Winona Ryder to Play the Role of Kim in Edward Scissorhands

Rated 7.9/10 on IMDB, Edward Scissorhands is one of the greatest masterpieces ever produced in American cinema. In the movie, exceptional performances were delivered by Winona Ryder (Kim) and Johnny Depp (Edward Scissorhands). But it is a little-known fact that Johnny convinced Winona (his girlfriend at the time)…

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…to play the lead role alongside him. Even though she had already committed to starring in The Godfather: Part III, she accepted Depp’s suggestion. We’re thankful to Johnny for making this happen because Edward Scissorhands wouldn’t be the same without Winona!  

#17 Jack Sparrow’s Hats Were Made of Rubber in Pirates of The Caribbean

While shooting for Pirates of The Caribbean: The Curse of The Black Pearl, Johnny Depp kept losing his hats, or they fell overboard. When he had lost ten leather hats this way, his costume designer decided that it was time to develop a cheaper and smarter alternative.

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The benefit of rubber hats was that even if they fell into the water, they didn’t sink. And, if Johnny lost them somewhere on set, they weren’t as expensive as a leather hat. Jack Sparrow wears the same clothes throughout the movie, so it is a pleasant surprise to know that at least the hat was changed every now and then!

#18 Johnny Depp Agreed To Fantastic Beasts Before Reading the Script

When Warner Bros. studios offer you a film based on a novel by J.K. Rowling, there’s no need to ask for a script. You always accept the offer – and this is precisely what Johnny did. He played the role of Gellert Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts series and was loved by the wizardry fandom.

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Depp said he was a big fan of the series and didn’t need to second-guess his choice. However, in the third movie of the series, Depp was requested to step back from the role due to his troubles with Amber. He had shot only one scene but still got a $16 million pay-out!

#19 All of Johnny’s Scenes with Blinking Eyes and Reflection Were Digitally Removed in Dark Shadows

When it’s a Tim Burton movie, we know that even the finest details will be paid attention to. So, when Johnny Depp portrays the character of Barnabas, the vampire in Dark Shadows, it is bound to be impeccably edited in post-production.

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In the movie, Barnabas breaks the heart of Angelique, a witch. She makes him a vampire, and two centuries later, he returns for vengeance. The role required Johnny to look emotionless and scary – so much that he couldn’t even be shown blinking his eyes!

#20 The Design for Jack Sparrow’s Character was Depicted in a Drawing by Mark McCreery

One of the reasons why Johnny Depp seems like such a natural in Pirates of the Caribbean is because the role of Jack Sparrow was written especially keeping him in mind. So, when the initial designs were drawn up by the film crew, Johnny’s face was used.

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The initial concept art made by McCreery depicts a Johnny as a classic Errol Flynn-style pirate. The evolution of Jack Sparrow’s character from that image to the actual look we see in the movie was made possible by Depp’s input. For anything quirky, Depp knows best!

#21 In Sweeney Todd, The Barber Played By Johnny Depp Dulls The Razor Before Killing Judge Turpin

Released in 2007, Sweeney Todd is another classic by Tim Burton, which means there is perfection in every scene. This particular movie is full of gory visuals, and Johnny Depp does his best to depict the cruelty of his vengeful character.

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Sweeney Todd has a vendetta against Judge Turpin (played by Alan Rickman), so when he finds the perfect moment to kill Turpin, he wants to make the death as painful as possible. We can see thoughtful film direction as Johnny Depp blunts the razor against the strop so that the deathly cut made by the razor causes excruciating pain.

#22 Leonardo Dicaprio Was Bullied By Johnny Depp While Filming What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

The 7.7 IMDB-rated film What’s Eating Gilbert Grape was released in 1993. Johnny played the role of Gilbert while Leo played the role of his brother Arnie. In a later interview, Johnny Depp admitted that he was unintentionally hostile towards Leonardo Dicaprio on set.

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Depp said, “It was a hard time for me, that film, for some reason. I don’t know why. I tortured him. I really did.” However, he also said he truly respects Leonardo and is a great fan of Leo’s work. Despite what we know about the actors’ relationship on set, it’s hard to deny the perfect brotherly bond that can be seen between them in the film.

#23 Because Hatmakers Worked with Mercury (A Toxic Metal), The Hatter in Alice in The Wonderland Behaves “Mad”

White skin, red hair, extravagant eyes – the role of the Hatter played by Johnny Depp in Alice in the Wonderland (2010) is something we can never forget. This masterpiece is based on a children’s story, directed by Tim Burton and featuring stars like Anne Hathaway and Alan Rickman.

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According to science, mercury exposure can kill a human’s neurons. This can change your behavior, make you tremor, and vomit. It can also weaken your teeth and cause them to drop out of you mouth. Since hatmakers used to work with mercury, Johnny Depp’s character behaves madly in the film.

#24 The Shrunken Head of Jack’s Mother is Tied to His Belt in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)

This creepy artifact first appeared in the film Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, released in 2007. We expected the entire POTC series to be a horrific comedy tale, but this shrunken head truly pushes the limits of sinisterness.

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It is always a great idea to spend time with our parents, but Jack Sparrow seems to have got the method wrong. Besides, the dead must be allowed to rest in peace, not dangling on a leather belt! If this shrunken head is creeping out spectators like us, we can’t even imagine how uncomfortable it must have made Johnny while he wore it.

#25 A Nightmare on Elm Street Has a Scene of Blood Spouting from The Bed Towards The Ceiling. This was Shot in An Upside-Down Set

Directors often prefer to shoot real-life scenes instead of using CGI for complex storylines. This helps them achieve a more realistic visual that enhances the movie’s filmography. The director chose to do this when he had to shoot a scene of blood rushing from the bed to ceiling.

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An upside-down set was created, where the bed was actually hung from the ceiling. When the fake blood erupted from it, it automatically rushed to the floor – which was the ceiling in the scene! The director Wes Craven had to sit in a race car seat strapped to the set’s ceiling to film this scene.

#26 In Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Jack Sparrow Has An ‘X’ Scar On His Right Cheek

When you get a scar, it’s usually just a line. Getting an ‘X’ shaped scar is logically impossible, yet Jack Sparrow seems to have one on his cheek. Like many other bizarre things in POTC, this idea was also suggested by Johnny Depp himself.

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Depp convinced his makeup team to add this scar to his look by saying, “If you end up with a cut on your face, it’s just a cut… But an X? He must have woken up and found that someone put a deliberate X on his face.”

#27 In Murder on the Orient Express, Ratchett (Played By Johnny Depp) Can Not Get A Bodyguard Due To His Face

In the movie, there’s a scene where Ratchett opens his closet on the train and looks at his face in a close-up, round mirror. A few scenes later, Ratchett offers the job of a bodyguard to Detective Poirot (played by Kenneth Branagh).

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Ironically, Detective Poirot declines Ratchett’s job offer saying that he does not like Ratchett’s face. This movie is perhaps the only place where you will see someone rejecting Johnny because of his face. Who else would say no to such a handsome person?

#28 Johnny Depp Took Home A Gorilla Statue From The Set Of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

In the movie, we can see a giant gorilla statue at the entrance of the Bazooko Circus Casino. This statue now rests in the front yard of one of Johnny Depp’s houses. We don’t know why Johnny took it home, but we have some ideas.

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Actors often take home a souvenir from the sets of their movies. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was one of Depp’s best movies, so it isn’t surprising that he took piece with him. Besides, Johnny has quirky choices, and the gorilla fits right into his genre.

#29 In Scream, Tatum Riley Wears A Number 10 Jersey, Similar To What Johnny Wore in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Both the movies were filmed by the same director – the talented Wes Craven. This is why Tatum Riley, played by the actress Rose McGowan, sports a similar-looking sweatshirt to Johnny in A Nightmare on Elm Street. In fact, this isn’t the only homage to past horror movies that we find in Scream.

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For example, the opening scene of Scream, where Drew Barrymore gets a call from an unknown caller is exactly like Black Christmas and When A Stranger Calls. Another reference is made to the horror movie Halloween when Casey in Scream says that her favorite movie is Halloween.

#30 Depp As Willy Wonka Kept Flaunting His Teeth Due to a Childhood Trauma Caused by His Dentist Father

According to the novel on which the movie is based, Willy Wonka had a strict dentist father who did not allow him to eat sweets. His father made him wear elaborate dental attachments and was obsessively protective of his teeth. This made Willy develop the habit of constantly displaying his teeth to show how perfect they were.

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Johnny Depp had done wonders in his portrayal of Willy Wonka. Playing such an eccentric role is not easy, but Depp brings out even the tiniest details of his character easily – be it childhood scars, the pride he has in his chocolate factory, or the quirk in his attitude.

#31 Jack Sparrow’s Pistol Was The Only Real Gun In Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl

No pirate film is complete without fighting scenes where arms and ammunition are used. In Pirates of the Caribbean, we see the use of guns throughout, but none of them are real, except one used by Johnny Depp occasionally.

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However, to avoid unexpected injury due to a misfire, Jack Sparrow only used gun replicas in the scenes except where he had to actually fire the gun. He uses a set of two flintlock pistols that were made in 1765.

#32 The Etching Shown in Mortdecai Has Inconsistent Chronology

Johnny Depp plays the role of Mortdecai, an art dealer who was trying to locate a missing Goya painting. During his search, he found an etching showing a room with a huge mantelpiece, and the Goya painting was kept inside that room, where a spectator was admiring it.

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The room is actually a real-life lithograph made in the 17th century. The Goya painting (made in the 18th century) does not actually exist in it, but the movie writers photoshopped it into the lithograph. As a result, the etching shows a person from the 17th century admiring a painting that wasn’t painted until the 18th century – a chronological inconsistency.

#33 A Reference To Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) Exists in Rango (2011)

Johnny Depp plays the role of the real-life Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. In Rango, Hunter plays a small role as himself and has only one dialog – when Rango hits Hunter’s car’s windshield, Hunter says, “There’s another one.”

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In Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter hallucinates and sees bats. So, when Rango hits his windshield, Hunter assumes it must be another bat from his imagination. This is likely a reference to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, whose scene is recreated in Rango.

#34 Keith Richards Was De-Aged To Play The Role Of Captain Teague, Jack Sparrow’s Father

Keith Richards is an English musician born in 1943, clearly an elderly person. But POTC directors thought he would be perfect for playing the role of Sparrow’s father. They had to make Keith Richards look a few decades younger to achieve this.

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Removing the effects of aging is not an easy task, so it must have taken hours to perfect Keith’s look. Kudos to the makeup and costume crew of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales for achieving a faux youth for a man in his seventies!

#35 In 21 Jump Street (2012), Johnny Depp’s Character’s Name is DB, A Reference to Donnie Brasco

Depp plays a small role in this movie, appearing as DB – an undercover officer, for a few scenes where he blames Schmidt (played by Jonah Hill) and Jenko (played by Channing Tatum) for being at fault. He says to them, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is to infiltrate a gang like this?”

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In the 1997 film Donnie Brasco, Johnny had played the role of undercover officer Joseph D. Pistone, who goes by Donnie Brasco while camouflaging as a thief in a gang. Depp’s role of DB in 21 Jump Street (2012) is possibly a reference to his previously played role.