I think it’s safe to say you’ve had a rough go lately. In the past few weeks alone, there was the tragic death of your mother, the split and abuse allegations from your wife, Amber Heard, and the whole dog smuggling incident in Australia. Not to mention the steady string of box-office bombs year-after-year in The Lone Ranger, Mortdecai, and now, Alice Through the Looking Glass.
This adventure in Wonderland is a psychedelic trip that results in a lethal overdose of time-travelling buffoonery. It’s a product designed to capitalize on modern moviegoers’ fixation with fantasy. It hopes beautiful imagery will have enough chutzpah to make up for a lack of everything. But perhaps the biggest issue with Alice Through the Looking Glass is the Mad Hatter’s origin story.
The entire premise of is the film centred around The Mad Hatter’s past; a completely original concept that stretches far beyond the source material found in Lewis Carrol’s story.
In your preparation for the role of Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland, you had a strong rationale as to why your version of Mad Hatter acted the way he did. He was moulded after 18th century felt manufacturers. Back then, mercury was a key element in the production of hats, and anyone wearing those hats would eventually succumb to mercury poisoning and go mad. It was a dark and twisted origin that could only be allowed in a Tim Burton rendition of Alice in Wonderland.
If this was the beginnings of your character in Alice Through the Looking Glass, the entire film would’ve been different. It might have actually been good. Unfortunately, your creative preparation was thrown down the drain in exchange for a heart-warming story about a mischievous young boy who just wanted the admiration of his father when designing hats.
With your creativity stripped, your performance suffered. Your portrayal this time around didn’t possess your usual calibre of eccentricity. Your performance was muted. I could see the lack of passion in your eyes. You didn’t command the screen. You weren’t the Johnny Depp you usually are when you’re in character. You weren’t the vibrant Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland, you were Hatter Tarrant Hightopp, the god awful birth name given to your character in Through the Looking Glass. It’s even the official name of your character on the Alice Through the Looking Glass IMDB page.
And herein lies the issue with Alice Through the Looking Glass; you’re too important.
This might seem harsh but I’m not writing this letter as an attack. On the contrary, I’m writing it as a tribute. With all the bad news hitting you at once, I’m here to tell you that I still respect you. You’re Johnny Depp! You used to be my all-time favourite actor when I was younger. I was entranced by your performances in Pirates of the Caribbean and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. So much so that I still hold a grudge against Freddie Highmore, the young lad who got to be featured in not one, but two high profile movies with you.
Despite how horrible the plot and execution is in Alice Through The Looking Glass, the film’s very existence is a testament to your star power. No other actor playing the role of the Mad Hatter would be able to justify an entire story revolving around a secondary character.
Whatever people say about your career, there is no doubt that you’re the master of enigmatic performances. When people see your name attached to a project, they know they’re going to get a passionate portrayal.
Call me biased, but I do not blame the sleep-inducing events of Alice Through The Looking Glass on you. I blame the writers for having you be the revolving point when you should’ve never been one, and for not letting you steer your rendition the way you would’ve wanted.
Even though you’re not at the top of your game anymore, you’re still high in my books. If the allegations between you and Amber Heard are true, that would change things for me, but until then, keep doing you and stick to your creative guns.