The Claws of the Night: Johnny Depp’s Debut in Horror Cinema

2024-02-26 09:30:00

In 1984, a very young Johnny Depp took his first steps as an actor in a classic of horror cinema, “The Claws of the Night”, Freddy Krueger’s first nightmare. A look back at beginnings marked by thrills.

Did you know that Johnny Depp made his screen debut in a great horror classic? Barely 20 years old at the time, the American played a supporting role in the first part of a cult saga made up of nine films.

In 1984, Johnny Depp was unknown, far from the international star he would become with his role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean, a saga from which he believed he would be fired from the filming of the first part. No, in the mid-80s, the young American was an anonymous person who didn’t even want to become an actor. What he wants is to be a musician.

The story is funny: it is Nicolas Cage, with whom Johnny Depp is friends, who will set foot in the actor’s stirrup. “We were good friends and when he was winning a game of Monopoly, I looked at him and said, ‘Why don’t you try acting?’” Cage told the New York Times in 2019. “He wanted to break into music at that time and he said, ‘No, I can’t play.'”

Nicolas Cage insisted and arranged a meeting between his agent and Johnny Depp, which resulted in an audition for the horror film Nightcrawler, starring the terrifying Freddy Krueger. The actor will obtain a significant role thanks to successful casting but also because, according to director Wes Craven, his daughter and a friend of the latter would have been particularly seduced by a photo of the young man.

One of the many victims of the terrifying Freddy…

In Freddy – Chapter 1: The Claws of the Night, the first part of the Freddy saga released in French theaters at the beginning of 1985, Johnny Depp plays Glen Lantz, the boyfriend of the heroine played by Heather Langenkamp. After dozing off, his character dies in a very gory scene to discover below.

Be careful, this extract is particularly violent and should therefore be reserved for an informed audience.

Johnny Depp seems to have taken this first experience as an actor very seriously. “He really worked hard to be Glen,” actress Heather Langenkamp said on the Inside of You podcast. “I couldn’t tell you if he really enjoyed acting in the film because he was very involved and serious in what he was doing.”

After playing in Freddy – Chapter 1: Claws of the Night, in 1987 Johnny Depp obtained one of the main roles in the series 21 Jump Street, which brought him great notoriety. Then will come Cry-Baby and Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands. The rest, everyone knows…

False Connection: the blunders and errors of Freddy, the claws of the night

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