December 17th, 2009
12:10 PM ET

Johnny Depp on stepping in for Heath Ledger

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Filling in for the late actor Heath Ledger in Terry Gilliam’s “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus,” was an unbelievably sad privilege says Johnny Depp, who was called in to supplement Ledger’s role in the half finishing film alongside actors Colin Farrell and Jude Law.

Ledger’s tragic death in 2008 left the film without a leading man. The Hollywood heavy-hitters stepped in to each play an incarnation of Ledger’s character, a mysterious loner who helps Dr. Parnassus, played by Christopher Plummer save his daughter’s soul from the devil.

"Though the circumstances of my involvement are extremely heartrending and unbelievably sad, I feel privileged to have been asked aboard to stand in on behalf of dear Heath,” Depp said in a statement to Moviefone.

“He was the only player out there breathing heavy down the back of every established actor's neck with a thundering and ungovernable talent that came up on you quick, hissing rather mischievously with that cheeky grin, 'Hey ... get on out of my way boys, I'm coming through!' And does he ever!!!"

Gilliam's film opens in New York and Los Angeles on Christmas Day and in the rest of the country on Jan. 8.

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Filed under: Celebrities • movies

soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Kitchen Towels

    Johnny Depp is my idol. such an amazing guy -;-

    December 16, 2010 at 1:30 am | Report abuse |
  2. Thu Lakin

    Johnny Depp. I have been a fan since late 80's he has come a long way I am only a year and half behind him in age I THINK he's most talent and hottest man alive

    October 7, 2010 at 3:06 am | Report abuse |
  3. Natalie White

    Johnny Depp is not only very handsome but a very talented actor.";

    September 9, 2010 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Zoey Diaz

    Johnny Depp is a handsome actor and he is great in acting too. this guy has really the talent to do great movies.,*,

    July 24, 2010 at 2:58 am | Report abuse |
  5. Savannah Scott

    i love his movie Edwards Scissorhands, i think it is one of Johnny Depp's best performance aside from Pirates of the Caribbean.`:`

    June 11, 2010 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  6. Snowpirate

    Years ago I compared Heath to Johnny and Tom Hanks – who all have a remarkable talent for playing wildly different characters very convincingly. I'm anxious to see Dr.P, but I don't know that Heath could top the Joker for a last role.

    And while I think Johnny could make a fabulous villain for Batman, I think the only one who could play the Joker with the same intensity and gleeful mayhem is Christian Bale. American Psycho? I think that's what made Batman so extraordinary was that it was like Batman looking into a twisted mirror.

    December 21, 2009 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Capital D

    I actually thought no one could replace the joker (Heath Ledger) but i may be wrong, johnny depp should be the one in the joker's return... definitely not a bad idea... spread the word, maybe the movie director may agree that bad a$$ johnny is probably their best bet...

    December 17, 2009 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mike

    Hands down, Johnny Depp is the only one who could pull off playing the Joker in Batman. I hope it happens.

    December 17, 2009 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. R laws?

    You are aware that res ipsa loquitur means an injury would not have happened in the absence of the defendant's negligence?

    December 17, 2009 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Gozar

    will depp step in for the joker role too? i think he's the only actor who could fill those crazy shoes

    December 17, 2009 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ray

    Damn, I thought this was going to be about taking his place as some other villain in the next Batman movie.

    December 17, 2009 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. nada

    Very similar. Both sexually ambiguous.

    December 17, 2009 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. rjg

    I think Johnny Depp is a great actor and will fittingly fill in for the very much missed, Heath Ledger.

    December 17, 2009 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JP

    I am positive Johnny Depp will do an outstanding job. He is a great actor and puts his heart into what he does.

    December 17, 2009 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dirk

    Depp as the Joker???????

    Hey! It could happen!!!

    December 17, 2009 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Dianna W

    Johnny can adapt to any role he's given and will do well in this as well. Especially in light of doing this for someone who's death he felt very tragic.

    December 17, 2009 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  17. JaydaLynn

    I read somewhere that all three of the actors, Johnny, Colin, and Jule donated the eagers from doing the movie to Heath's daughter.

    December 17, 2009 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  18. melissa morris

    i love both of them !!!!

    December 17, 2009 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Alexandra

    If anyone could step into a role like this, it would be Depp.
    Clearly because of previous roles, he is the perfect choice!
    One will surely have melacholy thoughts while watching knowing what Heath Ledger could have brought to it, and Depp may be able to capture that spirit of him as well ~

    December 17, 2009 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Al Soucy

    OH NOOOOO.... I spelled gets as get's... Who will berate me for my punctuation?

    December 17, 2009 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Al Soucy

    Johnny Depp is the new Michael Jackson. "Wacko Deppo"
    Why is it that a lot of talented individuals have to become extreme wackos ?
    Is it not enough that their fame get's them enough attention?

    December 17, 2009 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Jason

    Oops I meant let Joker die instead of Harvey in my previous hadn't kicked in yet. Damn you blogs for not allowing post posting editing.

    December 17, 2009 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Jason

    Speaking of someone stepping in for Heath, perhaps Johnny Depp should step in and take the role of Joker. Someone of his caliber NEEDS to or the greatest superhero of all time won't be able to continue his greatest excursion ever filmed.

    I mean come on, we finally get a fantastic Batman series, one that did the cowl justice, but now it's put on hold because wuite simply, who could match Heath's performance?

    Had they changed the end of the film, and let Harvey die instead of Joker, we wouldn't have this issue. So let Johnny Depp step into the clown face and give it a whirl. All due respect to Heath, but I want Batman back!

    December 17, 2009 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  24. ryan

    Depp has done a great thing here. His role in Public Enemies displayed that he can be the antagonist of C. Bale in a future Batman movie. Bring the joker back with Johnny Depp!

    December 17, 2009 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Rose

    & this is why people mag. made Johnny Depp is the sexiest man of the year. He has away of capturing our hearts and keeping the spirit of Heath alive.

    December 17, 2009 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Victor

    Imagine if they had done a film together. That would have been a treat!

    December 17, 2009 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  27. A. Smith, Oregon

    Johnny Depp is a real stand up actor. Johnny Depp is immensely talented and yet he somehow has a handle on his ego which literally destroys many successful Hollywood actors.

    December 17, 2009 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  28. tj

    wow, JD is very eloquent. he clearly learned a lot about himself from all that time spent hanging out with hunter.

    December 17, 2009 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Anon

    I lol'd when heath died.

    December 17, 2009 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  30. SeesSparrows

    I saw the headline and thought that Depp was going to be playing The Joker in the next Batman film. He'd be great.
    Oh well. Carry on.

    December 17, 2009 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  31. James N. Dent

    Depp is da-man... Long live the memory of Heath Ledger... THE JOKER LIVES!!!

    December 17, 2009 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Mandy

    Heath Ledger fans have been waiting for this film for a long time. I applaud Depp, Law, and Farrell for stepping in to help finish the film so Heath's fans can see his last great work and also for donating all proceeds to Heath's daughter, Matilda. Can't wait to see it!

    December 17, 2009 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Tony V

    Very classy of Johnny (and all the actors in this movie), Heath Ledger was truly a remarkable talent, glad all his peers knew it.

    December 17, 2009 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Dan L

    JD is real, a true human being. He shows this in almost everything he does. I hope Heath's family finds some peace through the tributes his peers continue to lay upon his departure. We still and forever miss him and his statements made through his chosen art. We are grateful for the short time we had him........grateful..

    December 17, 2009 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  35. Kat

    A truly bitter-sweet scenario, but I love Johnny Depp. I didn't watch the movie "The Dark Knight for a long time after it was released onto DVD, because I was saddened by Heath Ledger's death. No, I'm no celebrity. Not even close, but I think most people feel a bond with actors and actresses that they love when their emotions are so raw and in display for all to see and experience. In the end, I think my watching the movie was a great tribute to the lost actor.

    I know Johnny Depp will do a parallel job to the job Heath would have done.

    December 17, 2009 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  36. R Laws

    Res ipsa Loquitur! When the going gets weird, the weird indeed turn pro...

    December 17, 2009 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  37. Debra R

    I think Johnny will do well...Heath's loss will be felt for a long time

    December 17, 2009 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |

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