Comedy Impact Report 2011: Bigscreen Bigshots

For a star who once proudly claimed he’d “probably never be in a big Hollywood blockbuster,” the past year must have come as a bit of a shock, even to Depp. In full comedic mode, and with an impressive variety of roles that aligned nicely with the actor’s idiosyncratic style and persona — wayward chameleon, slippery pirate, international swindler on the run, rum-soused journalist — Depp blew past mixed reviews and drove “The Tourist’s” global take to $275 million, followed by “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” with more than $1 billion worldwide and “Rango,” which pulled in $245 million worldwide.

The only (not wholly unexpected) recent B.O. disappointment on his resume? The anemic $5 million debut for his passion project, “The Rum Diary,” which stars Depp (who also co-produced) as a dissolute, hard-drinking journo stranded in ’60s Puerto Rico, based on a thinly disguised version of the late gonzo journalist (and Depp pal) Hunter S. Thompson. Next up, Depp stars as a vampire in Tim Burton’s “Dark Shadows” and as Tonto in Gore Verbinski’s “The Lone Ranger,” which he promises will, like “Pirates,” feature “a kind of fascination with the absurd, somewhat of an irreverence. But you need that.”

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