Johnny Depp Forbidden From Release in U.S.

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Johnny Depp at a press conference

Credit: Wikimedia/Harald Krichel

Even the most avid Johnny Depp fans may not be aware of some of the downfalls facing the actor.

Budding to stardom in the 1990s, one of the most notable collaborations in Johnny Depp’s career is with director Tim Burton. Their partnership produced some of Depp’s most iconic roles, starting with Edward Scissorhands (1990), a film that established his ability to portray quirky and eccentric characters with a sense of depth and vulnerability. This was followed by roles in Ed Wood (1994), Sleepy Hollow (1999), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), and more.

Johnny Depp looking distressed as Captain Jack Sparrow in 'Pirates of the Caribbean'
Credit: Disney

Depp’s portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is arguably his most recognizable and beloved role. His witty, unpredictable, and slightly off-kilter performance earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and turned Captain Jack into a pop culture phenomenon.

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While Depp excelled in these fantastical and eccentric roles, he also showcased his dramatic prowess in films like Finding Neverland (2004), for which he received another Academy Award nomination, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), and Black Mass (2015), in which he portrayed the notorious real-life gangster Whitey Bulger.

However, in the midst of a successful and long career, as well as legal battles with ex-wife Amber Heard, there’s one project that still remains extremely interesting for Johnny Depp.

Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow in 'Pirates of the Caribbean'
Credit: Disney

In The Brave, Johnny Depp portrays Raphael, an alcoholic Native American struggling to make ends meet with his family in a junkyard. Financially desperate, he follows a lead from a man he meets at a bar to meet McCarthy (Marlon Brando), a shady producer with intentions to create a snuff film.

In exchange for Raphael’s participation, including his own torture and death on camera, he is promised $50,000, a sum that could alleviate their dire circumstances, especially since their land has been bought by a corporation. Raphael agrees and plans to return in a week to fulfill the agreement. He receives a portion of the money upfront, which he spends on his family and community. However, doubts arise about the source of the money, particularly from his wife Rita (Elpidia Carrillo), given Raphael’s criminal past. He reassures her and seeks solace from the community priest.

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Meanwhile, Raphael’s former associate Luis (Luis Guzmán) becomes intrigued by Raphael’s sudden wealth and seeks involvement. During a village celebration where Raphael treats everyone to a feast, Luis approaches him, but Raphael firmly rejects him. Despite Raphael’s desire to leave his criminal past behind, Luis warns him to reconsider. Raphael and Rita then share a romantic walk to rekindle their relationship.

Johnny Depp in 'Cry-Baby'
Credit: Universal Pictures

Raphael also confides in the community priest, revealing his impending fate and asking him to ensure the money benefits his family. When the priest declines based on his principles, Raphael is disappointed and leaves. He later discovers that Luis attempted to assault Rita while intoxicated, prompting him to take a violent revenge. Raphael then undergoes a native cleansing ritual and bids farewell to his sleeping family. The film concludes as Raphael enters the location where his impending demise will be filmed.

After investing around $500,000 into the project, Kemp and Evans reached out to actor Johnny Depp, who was considering stepping into the role of a first-time filmmaker.

Initially hesitant about the script, Depp was drawn to its theme of familial sacrifice. He took time to contemplate the opportunity and eventually agreed to take on the project in 1994. However, he had specific conditions, including his involvement as an actor to secure proper funding and his insistence on complete creative control, including final editing rights.

An agreement was reached, and the film’s distribution rights sparked a competitive bidding process at the Cannes Film Festival, according to reports. Despite having a modest budget of $5 million, Depp committed to covering any additional costs.

Johnny Depp at D23
Credit: Disney

He enlisted Marlon Brando for a special appearance, refined the script with his brother, and commenced filming. The film’s success relied heavily on positive reviews and word-of-mouth due to its limited advertising budget.

While Depp anticipated harsh criticism from American audiences and remained steadfast in not altering the film to appease critics, the reception ultimately contributed to the film’s current reputation. Reviews were overwhelmingly negative, leading to difficulties in securing a distributor in the United States.

As a result, the film remains unreleased, even on video. Given Depp’s creative control and industry influence, it’s reasonable to assume that the film’s availability to the broader public may not occur anytime soon, if ever.

Did you ever see The Brave, starring Johnny Depp? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments!

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