But then he caught his big break. And as it often happens, his big break wasn't a role, but a person. Wayne became friends with legendary director John Ford, who pulled some strings and got Wayne his first leading role, and later cast him in Stagecoach. That movie made Wayne a star and gave birth to "The Duke," the drawling caricature Wayne would play in movie after movie after movie after movie (just repeat that 150 more times).
Edward Scissorhands. Captain Jack Sparrow. Raoul Duke. Mort fucking Rainey. All legendary roles that probably wouldn't be quite as legendary had they not been played by Johnny Depp.
Initially, Depp had no intentions of being an actor. When he was younger, his mother gave him a guitar as a gift and he had his sights set on being a rock star, and even ended up performing in various garage bands. Eventually, Depp dropped out of school to dedicate more time to his music. When he tried to return, his principal actually advised him against doing so, and to follow his dreams instead.
Despite having the world's coolest principal, his hopes for a career in music began to dwindle. Depp married a make-up artist who introduced him to Nicolas Cage, who told the young hopeful to try acting (advice we continue to offer Cage to this very day). Instead, Depp divorced the make-up artist, probably because she introduced him to Nicolas Cage.
Just like Gibson, one day, for no discernible reason, Depp accompanied a friend named Jackie Earle Haley to an audition for a horror movie about an ugly janitor who kills children through their dreams.
It was there that Wes Craven spotted Depp and asked him to read for the part of the protagonist's boyfriend who dies in the most vomit-inducing way possible. Depp nailed the audition and went on to become an iconic movie actor, while his friend was doomed to roles as smelly hippies, smelly perverts and smelly psychopaths.
The lesson? If a friend asks you to drive him to an audition, fucking do it.
Be sure to check out Fitzgerald's friend Thad over at CallMeThad.
For more 411s (that's Hollywood for: information) on the humble beginnings of major players, check out 6 Inspiring Rags to Riches Stories (That Are Bullshit). Or find out about the riches to rags stories we have to offer, in History's 6 Greatest Examples of Financial Fail.
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