Johnny Depp has been on a bit of a bad run lately (and by “lately”, I mean “since 2009”). While still somewhat “bankable”, the A-List actor hasn’t truly “acted” since Michael Mann’s Public Enemies (which, if you know that film or Mann’s body of work as a whole, ain’t exactly saying much). Outside of a cute cameo in 21 Jump Street, Depp has relegated his craft to slathering on makeup and wearing “a bunch of funny hats”, calling into question his overall likability as a performer. To boil it down into silly catchphrases: instead of a “McConaissance” what we’re witnessing is a “Deppcline” (Trademark! Print Money!). For a more detailed look at the degeneration of Depp, I’d advise checking out Britt Hayes’ breakdown of the man’s career and the questionability of his “great actor” status over at BAD.
But now Depp is trying his hand at the “superhero” game (sort of), as the actor’s currently in talks to portray Harry Houdini in Lionsgate/Summit’s The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero.
While we’re on the topic of the “law of diminishing returns”, this Houdini project has cycled through quite a few directors over the years. Gary Ross was originally considering the film as a potential Hunger Games follow-up in 2012. When that didn’t happen, Joe Wright (Atonement, Anna Karenina) flirted with directing. Now Dean Parisot (Red 2) has settled on bringing the escape artist to the big screen (ugh). Penned by Noah Oppenheim (The Maze Runner) and based on the book by William Kalush and Larry Sloman, The Secret Life of Houdini portrays the master magician as a secret agent investigating the occult.
Depp is coming off of Wally Pfister’s unwatchable Transcendence, will appear in Disney’s star-filled musical Into the Woods this December, and is currently shooting the Whitey Bulger biopic Black Mass (a film destined to live in the shadow of Scorsese’s The Departed). Once that’s completed, Depp will move on to the Alice in Wonderland sequel Through the Looking Glass (woof). It’s uncertain whether The Secret Life of Houdini or Pirates of the Caribbean 5 will be the actor’s next project after that. Lionsgate reportedly wants Houdini to go into production this November, which means Depp wouldn’t be able to start shooting Pirates until 2015.
No word on what kind of hats Depp plans to wear, but if I were to guess I’d say…bowler. Definitely bowler.