The Johnny Depp narrated Doors documentary When You’re Strange: A Film About the Doors opened in select cities this past weekend. In light of the film's release, we decided to take a look at some of the other voice work from the accentless man from Kentucky.
Called an "egoless star" by Entertainment Weekly, Johnny Depp, 46, is a three-time Academy Award nominee and five-time People's Choice Award winner. He is also known for his consistently offbeat character choices. We’ve been casual fans of Mr. Depp since his early days as the insubordinate undercover cop Tom Hanson on 21 Jump Street, but after learning about his brilliant voice roles — Yogi Victor! Jack Kahuna Laguna! — we have a whole new respect for the dude.
Let’s kick off the deep Depp voice retrospective with When You’re Strange. Directed by Tom DiCillo (not be confused with Don DeLillo), the documentary is comprised solely of rare video clips of the band shot between 1966 — a year after they formed — and 1971 — the year Jim Morrison died in a Paris bathtub. The film received mixed reviews, mainly for its lack of actual interview footage and sparse narration by Mr. Depp. Still, if you ever paid even a little attention to the Doors, it’s hard to deny that Johnny's cool and smokey voice isn't the perfect choice to tell band’s story. Watch + listen to the trailer below. Jim Morrison would be proud.
Narrating a Doors documentary might seem like a natural fit for the man that once played Hunter S. Thompson (check out the following clip of Mr. Depp reading letters he received from Mr. Thompson while filming Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas), but would you believe he also lent his voice to an animated surf god worshiped by a talking sponge and starfish?
In April 2009, Mr. Depp voiced the character of “enigmatic surf guru” Jack Kahuna Laguna (or "JKL") in a 10th anniversary episode of SpongeBob SquarePants called "SpongeBob vs. the Big One." Jack, who perhaps not coincidentally shares the name of Mr. Depp’s 8 year-old son, is first discovered by SpongeBob, Patrick and Squidward after they're stranded on a remote tropical island. Kahuna Laguna shows the three how to surf and ultimately ride "the big one," a tsunami, to make their way back home to Bikini Bottom.
As if the tsunami surfing action and meditative sound of Mr. Depp's voice wasn't enough, The Monkeess' Davy Jones makes a cameo appearance as himself when the Flying Dutchman is banished to Davy Jones' Locker later in the episode. Watch/listen to the enlightened "JKL" in the clip below.
Before Mr. Depp played a surfer dude, he lent his voice to another water flick and it's probably not what you're thinking. In 2006 he joined forces with Kate Winslet to narrate Deep Sea 3D, an IMAX fim that explored the depths of the ocean to examine life in the deep blue sea. Take a listen to Mr. Depp and Ms. Winslett (interestingly both actors have blockbuster sea voyage movies on their resumes) explain how jellyfish work in the clip below.
In 2005, Mr. Depp made his big screen animated debut when he teamed up with director and longtime collaborator Tim Burton for Corpse Bride. Mr. Depp played Victor Van Dort, the shy, almost forty-year-old virgin wisked away to the underworld to mary an undead bride (played by Helena Bonham Carter, another Burton regular) while his breathing wife-to-be, Victoria (Emily Watson), waited in the land of the living. The stop-motion feature carried on the same dark, wintery feel of some of Mr. Burton's other films, notably, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Edward Scissorhands.
Check out this behind-the-scenes clip of Mr. Depp and Ms. Watson voicing their respective roles.
While many considered Corpse Bride as Mr. Depp’s forray into the world of animation, it actually happened a year earlier when he appeared in a May 2004 episode of King of the Hill called ”Hank's Back." Mr. Depp voiced Yogi Victor, a yoga instructor Hank reluctantly entrusted to help heal his injured back.
Watch the following clip to see a few excellent scenes between Hank and Yogi Vic. Anyone who's ever taken a yoga class can likely empathize with most of the storyline.
Finally, in 2007 Mr. Depp took his role as Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise to the virtual world, and lent his voice to the videogame Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow. Listen to a clip of the Keith Richards-inspired pirate in Playstation 2 form in the clip below. (Note: the video isn't great but good enough to recognize the voices.)
For an actor that has appeared in almost 50 films and makes very selective — not to mention quirky — on-screen choices, it’s nice to see that Johnny Depp is as creative about his voice roles as he is about his mainstream work. And considering that his next animated film is due out next year, we have a feeling we'll be hearing much more from Mr. Depp in the future.